Words could not even begin to compare to the photos from Aditi and Jon’s wedding day, but they can help detail a few intricacies of the Hindu wedding ceremony for readers unfamiliar with its rich history. Aditi and Jon chose to blend their cultures by celebrating their ceremonies back to back. It made for a really unique photo chronology, as you see Aditi undergo the transformation from one culture’s bride to another, exchanging her bright blue sari for a white wedding gown. But one thing that girl can’t change is her incredibly photogenic nature. Aditi possesses a very dramatic beauty and I had a lot of fun taking close-up portraits. The lens did not dim Jon’s obvious humor at all, either.
The day began with photos taken at the park across the street from the Reston Hilton. Aditi wore a heavily embroidered sari and the traditional mehndi on her hands. Mehndi is henna that is painted onto the bride (and sometimes close female family members) that signifies the strength of love. Jon donned a red Sherwani and pyjamas, the traditional long tunic and leggings, as well as a turban. The groom will often enter the wedding ceremony in a procession and this couple really made the most of it with a throng of dancing family and friends guiding his horse. I just love that photo of him among the procession, hands lifted against the metro backdrop, surrounded by a mix of western and Indian garb. It really captures how these two families are celebrating their union. The Hindu ceremony proceeded with many of its traditions that you can see in the photos. For example, the red powder painted onto the forehead is Kumkum, to bode good luck. And the fresh flower garlands are in the colors of red and white, important for their representations of fertility and purity. It’s a beautiful and intricate ceremony, emphasizing the importance of family and the transition of the couple into a new union.
From there, Aditi wore her white wedding dress and carried a bouquet of (red and white) flowers back to the four-poled canopy called a Mandap, where she and Jon pledged themselves to one another in a Christian ceremony.
As a wedding photographer, I get to experience many different wedding ceremonies. They are always unique, whether it’s by religion, or culture or any way a couple chooses to celebrate. In the U.S., sometimes it’s easy to forget that the way many Americans marry is laden with its own traditions, because those customs are so ubiquitous. It doesn’t change the beauty of a freshly cut bouquet, but it also doesn’t supersede the distinct splendor of any other celebration. Jon and Aditi, in honoring each other’s lineage, defined the best of both: at the end of all the finery are two people joining their identities in a bonding promise. That’s why the final photo says it all–the universal wedding day look is that very look of love.