I got married about 15 months ago, to an amazing artist and beautiful person, Mandakini. It has been just over 4 years since we met and our journey has been filled with our own share of joys, fights and plenty of love. As two creative minds, we share a similar worldview and appreciation of handcrafted objects/vintage architecture/all-things-pretty.
We started planning our wedding right after both our parents said yes. That gave us around 6 months of time to plan and organize a 4 day wedding affair for 400 guests. There was an endless list of things to do but the first and most important element was the venue. We did not want to get married in a conventional wedding hall which would have essentially been four blank walls dotted with the odd piece of gaudy decor. Both of us fantasized about getting married in an old temple but we soon realized that all the temples that we had in mind would have been logistically difficult, given the number of guests. After a lot of hunting, we eventually decided on an elegant venue situated very conveniently within the city and close to our houses, Chiran Fort in Begumpet.
As we approached the wedding date, my mind was of course concerned with the photo/video part of it. I had a lot of faith in my team so I had my very own wedding photography team covering the events and a good friend would be doing the wedding film. My wife had strict instructions for me to not meddle with the photographers and cinematographers during the events. She knew that I, being the perfection-obsessed person that I am, would inevitably point out minor errors (regardless of how well the team carried out their job) and wanted me to simply concentrate on the enjoying the festivities.
Time flew by and as the big day loomed closer, excitement and stress levels soared. One week, the house was getting repainted, logistics was being planned for all the guests, minor and major details were being tended to. Another week, the decor was being finalized, menus were sorted out and those last-minute frantic phone calls with the priest were just about getting done. And finally, once we got into the 4 days of wedding events, I was completely enveloped in the madness.
I spent a lot of time meeting relatives who remembered me without any facial hair, coordinating with multiple people arriving from multiple countries, constantly changing clothes multiple times a day and in the middle of all of this, trying to find time to eat. Even though I am a seasoned wedding photographer, I definitely felt unprepared for this sudden surge of things to do. It felt surreal to be the center of attention all the time, as opposed to my usual fly on the wall attitude during events. And the actual wedding day was an absolute whirlwind of activity. I was center stage, in the driving seat, living through all the emotions that I only was used to photographing. I recall grinning ear to ear most of the time but apart from that, all I know is that it was a feast for all my senses with all the colours, sounds and energy around me.
Immediately after the wedding, we whizzed off to Cambodia for a fortnight for our honeymoon and after we got back, my sense of curiosity slowly caught up and I was looking forward to seeing the photographs. The main wedding days were so packed with events and people that I was barely able to recollect the moments or the guests. Few fleeting memories were all I had so I was heavily relying on the photographs to recreate those 4 days of my life. And I think it is the same for most people getting married.
Once I got the photos, I excitedly scrolled through them to have an overview of everything that went on for those 96 hours. And after being satisfied with the first impression, I spent more time looking through them in detail and was personally looking forward to photographs of parents and loved ones. It isn’t often that they all come together, dressed up in their best, enjoying themselves. So when the occasion did happen, I wanted to make sure that there were plenty of good portraits of them – smiling, laughing and chatting, rather than multiple images of myself.
To sum up, lessons learned through the process of being on the other of the lens –
- Photographs of family are equally important as photographs of the couple (and it is vital that the photographer recognizes the family members)
- Every single wedding ritual carries a lot of meaning and significance
- Taking a candid photograph of the few moments of conversations between the couple amongst all the chaos, is a priceless memory
- Not interrupting the couple/priest during the rituals improves the couple’s experience by miles
- Things will get delayed, people will get stuck in traffic. Be patient.
- Making printed albums is important – if not today, decades down the line, they will be the only memories you have.
Even though I used to follow most of the above points before getting married, I feel that I am now more attuned to the finer details of the wedding days. Having been through the process myself, I understand all the emotions that the couple is going through on their wedding day. I know that they have had sleepless nights, barely any food and are looking forward to getting done with everything. I am in a better position to anticipate their expressions, capture fleeting moments and offer a smiling face of comfort when they glance towards me.
Currently listening to – MMMbop by Hanson
Currently reading – World in 2017 by The Economist