Joanna Sue Photography » Lifestyle photography based out of Raleigh, NC

Shawn and Jessica

I don’t really know where to begin with this wedding. Jessica and Shawn wanted to include both families in their wedding day and celebrate with an Indian ceremony in the morning and a traditional ceremony in the afternoon. When Jessica called me up last year and told me of her double-ceremony wedding day, I felt excited and nervous all at once. There were so many intricate details and moments to capture. On top of everything, it was my first time shooting an Indian ceremony. The day began at 8:30 in the morning. We peeked in just as Jessica and Shawn were finishing breakfast and getting ready in their own rooms. Can I take a moment to say how aesthetic the Bradford is, with their knotty wooden floors, light walls and loads of big windows. It was an ideal venue from a photographer’s stand point. We were scurrying around trying to get all the details from both ceremonies: the sari, the jewels, the bangles, the shoes, the wedding dress, the reception dress, the flowers, the spices..the list goes on. I’m sure I walked around with my eyes wide open, just taking in all the colors of the clothing, the sounds of the women’s songs in sanskrit, and the smells of the burning spices and incenses.

One thing that struck me as we went about the day was how involved their families were in the details of the ceremony. Mother, sisters, cousins, uncles, fathers, aunts all participated in the stages of the Indian ceremony. Shawn’s aunts and cousins helped Jessica and Shawn dress and sang through the early stage of the Hindu ceremony, her uncles carried her down the aisle in a basket; each family member had a role to play. And if you thought that throwing rice at a wedding was of a European origination, guess again. I think rice was included in almost every phase of the Indian ceremony, as it symbolizes prosperity. In fact, the Hindu Ceremony closes with all those older than the bride and groom throwing rice at them as means of wishing them blessings of a prosperous marriage.

The ceremony is usually the most difficult part of the day, especially when venues have certain spacial limitations or we can’t get very close to the bride and groom, but with this ceremony I couldn’t get close enough. Shawn’s family were insistent that I get as close as possible to get every moment, every detail, every phase of the ceremony.  I think my favorite part of the ceremony was when they played the game. Traditionally, in the Indian culture, the bride and groom would not have dated or known each other very well. As you can imagine, they would have been quite nervous and the game was meant to relieve some nerves. The priest tossed some gold rings in the bowl and on the count of three the couple retrieved the ring with one hand. The first to secure it wins. The whole crowd of guests laughed and cheered while Shawn and Jessica dueled. If I remember correctly, Jessica won two out of three.

After the Indian ceremony, we shared in some wonderfully authentic Indian food followed by shaved ice, while Jessica and Shawn shed their morning garb and shook the rice from their heads. I thought that they would have been absolutely exhausted, but Jessica looked as fresh and stunning as ever. The sun fell slowly behind the trees as they said their vows and were announced husband and wife for the second time.

The day couldn’t have played out more beautifully. Although there were two families represented in the two ceremonies, the distinctions between them dissipated as they all gathered around the table with plates full of some of the best Indian food I have ever had (the curry rice, fried plantain and the ladoos were mouth watering) and shared their stories of the Shawn and Jessica’s relationship. These two people are very loved. That much was evident.

Congratulations my friends. Thank you for making us a part of this exciting day.



Venue: The Bradford

Hair Stylist: Lillian Self

Wedding Planner: Muse and Delphia

Caterer: Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe

DJ: High Impact Entertainment 

Dress Designer: Mermaid Bridal

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