“There are a few things in life so beautiful they hurt: swimming in the ocean while it rains, reading alone in empty libraries, the sea of stars that appear when you're miles away from the neon lights of the city, bars after 2 am, walking in the wilderness, all the phases of the moon, the things we do not know about the universe, and you.”

— Beau Taplin

Southeast Asian Indian, Pakistani Weddings Jewish Weddings “Fill up my cup, Mazel Tov!”

“There are a few things in life so beautiful they hurt: swimming in the ocean while it rains, reading alone in empty libraries, the sea of stars that appear when you're miles away from the neon lights of the city, bars after 2 am, walking in the wilderness, all the phases of the moon, the things we do not know about the universe, and you.”

— Beau Taplin

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No repetition

of someone else's wedding

I encourage you to laugh, cry and dance because your wedding is a celebration of YOU, two in love. It is YOUR story and not isolated set of individual photographs. I would be honored to be a part of it.

I have recently photographed a traditional Muslim wedding in Miami. As a Miami wedding photographer, I have always been interested in different cultures and was very pleased to participate in a real Muslim wedding.  The wedding pictures will follow soon.  First let me share with you what I have found out about Muslim wedding traditions.

While Islamic weddings have been known to be multi-day festivities, the actual wedding ceremony is simple and to the point. The wedding is not restricted to just the ceremony and is instead divided into three ritual stages: pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding.

Prior to the wedding, the pre-wedding stage, sweets and fruits are exchanged and family and friends visit the bride and groom’s homes. This pre-wedding time increases the excitement among the families. Traditionally, the bride is not seen for forty days. Only family is allowed to see her as she rests at home in preparation for the wedding day. Best Miami wedding Photographers love taking wedding photos at a wedding where the bride and the groom doesn’t see each other before the ceremony

Recently we photographed a wedding in Key West, Sunset Key. The cottages on Sunset Key belong to the Westin hotel. It is on a little island and you have to take a lovely boat ride from the shore of Key West.  As a Key West Wedding photographer it is always a pleasure to shoot a wedding in the Keys on the beach facing the ocean with the warm breeze floating over the bride and groom. Key West is a close drive for us, so think about us as you look for  the best of the Key West wedding photographers!

Traditional Indian Weddings

I have recently photographed an Indian wedding in Miami.  Being a Miami wedding photographer has several advantages.  One of them is that you are exposed a huge variety of different wedding cultures. Guys, I will tell you a secret.  If you want to have real fun you have to go to an Indian wedding.  Get invited, crash one, marry an Indian woman/man, do anything to get in!  You won’t regret it!

Indian weddings are colorful and joyous events, which can last for several days depending on the bride and groom’s religious and cultural beliefs.  Wedding photographers  in Miami are usually booked for several days.  With a traditional Indian wedding, it is not purely about uniting two people, but about bringing together two families, as well as rituals, which emphasize the day in a stunning array of dance, music, food and celebrations.

First of all, India is a gigantic country with many religions, including; Hinduism, Sikhism, Muslim, and also Buddhism.  With each of these religions there are different festivals that take place during the wedding ceremony.

The venue of each wedding depends on the religious beliefs of the families.  A Hindu wedding takes place in a temple which can be a preferred temple of the bride’s family.  A Sikh wedding takes place either at the groom’s home or in a Gurudwara, which is a religious Sikh building.  A Muslim wedding is a grand affair and can either take place in the bride or groom’s family home or in a large banquet hall.  A Buddhist wedding is focused more on the social binding of two people, and can therefore take place in a licensed Buddhist temple or a court. Each of these venues are selected for their own religious significance.

Indian Wedding Costumes

In India the predominant traditional wedding dress among Hindu brides is called a Sari.  A sari is an uncut and unsown piece of cloth that is wrapped around the bride’s body, and is worn over a choli (tight-fitting blouse) and a chania (skirt petticoat).
Brides also wear a lahanga suit, or a salwar kameez. The lahanga suit is a full skirt, which is worn with a choli and odhani. Salwar kameez is a complete outfit which consists of trousers gathered at the ankle, and a three-quarter-length embroidered tunic with a dupatta shawl of red and gold.

Relatives of the bride will spend several hours dressing her so that she will look her best, thus ensuring her good luck and future prosperity. Wedding garments are generally made of materials such as silk and velvet, and are often embroidered and trimmed in gold thread, which is also believed to bring good fortune and prosperity.
Probably the most preferred color for the traditional wedding dress is red. The reason is that red symbolizes abundance, joy, life, energy and fertility. While red is considered the most auspicious color for weddings, it is totally up to the bride and groom to decide which colors they are going to wear. Most colors can be worn at an Indian wedding, however both black and white are considered inappropriate colors for a wedding. Pink, and maroon are popular colors for garments as well.

Hindu Wedding Dress

A Hindu wedding is a bright and joyful event; the bride’s sari is traditionally made from silk and decorated with crystals.  The color of the sari is often red and white, as it is believed that this symbolizes fertility and purity.  The overall effect of the bride’s sari is to make her look beautiful and elegant.

The groom traditionally wears a sherwani, which is knee length and looks like a coat with buttons up the front.  This is the paired with churidars, these are baggy around the legs but tight around the waist and ankles.

Sikh Wedding Costume

After the engagement party, the groom’s mother presents the bride with a chunni or veil.  This veil is embroidered with a picture of Punjab to bless the wedding and marriage. They believe that this blessing will bring them prosperity along with a successful union. The Sikh grooms outfit is quite similar to the Hindu groom, as he also wears a sherwani and a pair of churidars.

Muslim Wedding Outfit

The Muslim Indian bride traditionally wears a ghunghat, which is a veil that completely covers her face as well as a ghagra cholli and a chanlya choli.  The outfit is normally red in color and is decorated with gold thread, mirrors and pearls or crystals.  In addition to this, the bride wears gold jewelry and a garland.  Some Muslim brides wear a lahanga suit or salwar kameez. An Indian Muslim groom wears the traditionally Indian wedding attire; this as with Hindu’s and Sikh’s consists of, a sherwani and a pair of churidars.  Often, the wedding sherwani is decorated with crystals.

Buddhist Wedding Attire

A Buddhist wedding is a primarily a simple affair.  Nevertheless, the bride is always dressed beautifully by wearing a Bhaku, which is often made from silk.
The Buddhist bride is the decorated with jewelry which is made from precious and semi precious stones, this jewelry is often worn around neck or her forehead.  To complete the outfit, the bride wears gold bangles on her arms. The groom also wears a Bhaku, but it is made with sleeves.  Along with that, he wears a waistcoat and a sash around his waist.

The Wedding Ceremony

The rituals leading up to a traditional Indian wedding can often last for several days or even weeks.  With each of the religions, there is a different timescale of events. However, keep in mind that each event is jubilant, filled with bright colors, and has plenty of music, dancing, and feasting.  Then when the wedding day arrives, it is time to mark the event with more rituals and celebrations.

Hindu Wedding Ceremony

The first part of a traditional Hindu wedding is called madhupaka, this is when the groom receives a gift from the bride’s father.  The groom then makes his way to an altar, where a holy fire burns in its centre.  Once his bride is next to him, the bride takes his hand and leads him around the fire four times to symbolize Hinduisms four goals, whilst they are walking they recite their vows to each other.  To finalize the marriage the priest offers blessings to the newlyweds.

Sikh Wedding Ceremony

When the bride and groom are next to each other in the Guru Granth Sahib Kirtan, the groom holds a sword in one hand and his bride’s hand in the other.  The groom must then lead his bride around the temple whilst the bhaiji recites hymns, these are then sung by the bride and groom.  Once the final hymns have been sung the ceremony is complete and they are united.

Muslim Marriage Service

The procession of the venue is one of fun and frivolity, with bands playing and minor pranks being played on guests.  The service is presided over by the Maulvi who reads selected verses from the Quran.  The marriage is then completed after the proposal and acceptance from the bride and groom.  The marriage contract is then signed and the ceremony is complete.

Buddhist Marriage Ceremony

A Buddhist wedding is one of the simplest wedding ceremonies in India, there is very little in the way of rituals, as it is intended to be seen as a social event to unite two people in common faith as one.  During the ceremony the bride and groom recite their vows and then light candles and incense sticks.  They are then asked to offer flowers to Buddha.

As you can see, each religious belief in India has their own unique way in celebrating marriages. These traditional Indian weddings are deeply rooted in their culture and are given uttermost importance. In these events, you will also see a display of the richness of their culture in terms of their rituals, clothing, and even the venue.

If you are familiar with Indian wedding traditions, please feel free to send me an email with any comments or details regarding this exciting and colorful cultural event!

Wedding Photographers’ Favorite – Jewish Wedding Traditions

“Fill up my cup, Mazel Tov!” You’ve probably heard that line in the Black Eyed Peas latest hit song, “I gotta feelin’” But, do you know at what event where Mazel Tov can be heard the most?

It’s at a Jewish wedding ceremony.

A Jewish wedding is full of rich tradition, including rituals that honor not only the bride and groom but also their obligations to the Jewish people. The wedding day is regarded as the happiest and holiest days of their lives, when all of the couple’s past mistakes are forgiven and they merge into a new and complete soul.

Prior to the wedding, it’s customary for the bride and groom to not see each other for the entire week prior to the ceremony. This helps to build the excitement of the big day. Fasting is also a large part of many Jewish holidays, and a wedding ceremony is not any different. The bride and

groom fast for the day before the ceremony until the reception.

The actual wedding ceremony is relatively short, only lasting 20-30 minutes. Both the bride and groom walk down the aisle with both of their parents. The ceremony takes place under a Chuppah, a canopy on four poles that can decorated with flowers or draping. The Chuppah symbolizes that the bride and groom are starting a home together that will always be open to guests, which is a biblical tradition of the wedding of Abraham and Sarah.

Once the procession is complete, the couple signs the Ketupah, the wedding contract. This is an ornate and beautiful document that outlines the expectations and duties of the couple once they are married and is displayed in their new home.

Then, the bride circles the groom two times while blessings are recited over the wine that both the bride and groom drink. Following this is the giving of the rings, which are simple bands, with no details, no stones, and no engraving on them so there is nothing to distinguish the beginning from the end.

Since this is a religion rich with history, after the exchange of the wedding bands is one of the most important parts. The Sheva Berachot, or seven blessings, are recited over another glass of wine. A parent will wrap the couple in a Tallit, a prayer shall. The couple may invite seven friends or family members to recite each one of the blessings or have the blessings sung in traditional Hebrew. This is to recognize the intimacy and significance of the moment. The Sehva Brachot is the real heart of a traditional Jewish wedding. This liturgical part of the ceremony celebrates the themes of joy and celebration and the ongoing power of love. It’s not an accident that there are seven blessings as they relate to the seven days of creation.

After the wedding vows have been exchanged, the groom steps on a wine glass as family and friends yell “Mazel Tov” (literally meaning “good luck has occurred” and is used as a way of saying congratulations). The breaking of the glass has a few different interpretation. One symbolizes that human happiness is fragile, which is a staple of Jewish history. Another is that the marriage will last as long as the glass is broken. A third is that people need to remember those who are suffering even in this joyous moment. The bride and groom as also left alone together for a few moments right after the ceremony (called the Yichud).

The Sheva Berakhot is also recited again at the wedding reception following the Birkat Hamazon (grace after meals). This second time of the seven blessings gives the couples another time to honor their family and friends. At this time, the wine is divided into two cups, which represent the couple. After the bride and groom have taken a sip, the rest is poured into a third cup, which is shared by the community. This tradition shows how the couple is connected together as one and how their new life is intertwined and shared with the community.

The wedding reception is a joyful and fun event filled with singing and traditional dances. One such dance is called the Hora. This lively Israeli dance is when their guests lift the bride and groom into the air on chairs while they hold onto either end of a handkerchief. This dance allows the couple to be celebrated as king and queen of the night.

Another tradition celebrated at the reception is the Krenzl, which means crowning. This ritual honors the bride’s mother when her last daughter is wed. The mother is crowned with a wreath of

flowers as all of her daughters dance around her. When parents whose last son has been married, they do the dance called Mizinke when the guests circle the parents and give them flowers and kisses.

In keeping with the Sheva Berakhot, the bride and groom are treated like royalty for the seven days following their wedding. While most couples are anxious to get away to a tropical spot for their honeymoon, Jewish couples spend time with the community to start their marriage on the right foot. For each of the seven nights, they are invited to dine at the home of a different friend or relative and following dinner, the seven blessings are recited again.  Back in the times when marriages were arranged, these meals served as a way for the couple to get support from the community and to get to know each other.

The Jewish people have a true passion for their religion, which is evident throughout all of their holidays. These traditions and rituals reign the most true when a wedding ceremony happens because it’s the joining of two hearts who become one within the community. To the people of Jerusalem, a marriage is considered to be the ideal state of existence because a man who doesn’t have a wife, or vice versa, is considered a life that is not complete.