This past weekend we were fortunate enough to celebrate Jason and Helen’s wedding in NYC. We started our morning in the Solita SoHo Hotel, followed by some more prep in the beautifully historic Chinatown. For the wedding ceremony, we ventured out to the Community Church of Great Neck in Long Island, and continued on with our evening celebration at Jade Asian Restaurant in Flushing.
One of the most exciting things about Chinese (more specifically, Cantonese) weddings are the bridal party games that take place before the ceremony. Typically, these games take place at the brides’ family’s home, are administered by the bridesmaids, and given to the groom + his groomsmen as a fun challenge. Once when the gentlemen “pass” these challenges, there is often a monetary negotiation that takes place next. Traditionally, this money serves two purposes: one, as a monetary “thank-you” to the bridesmaids for all the care + planning + support they’ve done for the bride leading up to the big day; and two, as a bribe to allow for the groom’s entrance into the home. With Jason and Helen’s wedding day, the groomsmen were shown only a little bit of mercy. From the spicy chili paste / wasabi shot concoctions to passing along the seaweed without hands to the heart-shaped waxing strips, we were all happy to see the gentlemen enter the home without any longterm scars.
Throughout the day, we were constantly amazed by how love-centered their wedding was. We’re not talking about the romantic, mushy kind of love, but rather, how much their solid relationships with their bridal party, their countless family members + all of their friends were evident as the day passed. It was every bit authentic as it was effortless for us to witness. The relationships that this couple has fostered together + within their larger community really made it feel like we were photographing a celebration, and not simply another big event with a really large checklist.
Congratulations once again to Jason + Helen on your new marriage!
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We’re very proud to showcase our latest set of wedding photos from this season. For all of you who have been waiting for this blogpost, well… it’s finally here! We were blessed with the opportunity to spend an entire day with our lovely bride and groom. The wedding day preparations took place at The Palace at Somerset Park, one of Central Jersey’s finest wedding venues. With an incredibly outgoing + friendly bridal party, we immediately felt at home even before things got busy. From the sporadic dance parties to the champagne toasts, their bridal party really knew how to have fun.
Having experienced so many firsts this year as a photography duo, we are proud to add “photographing a Coptic Orthodox wedding” onto our list. Rowais and Marti’s ceremony at St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church was unlike anything we had ever experienced before. A beautiful blend of culture, visuals, history, linguistic diversity (we spotted Greek, Coptic and Arabic among the church decor), coupled with a full house of wedding attendees, this is surely a wedding we’ll be reminiscing about for a long time.
The rest of the evening was spent in full-fledged celebration. From the great food (did we mention we love the food perks with our jobs?) to the dancing, we relished every moment of the night… obviously, behind our cameras. Other fun activities that our bride and groom had incorporated into the reception included a professional Caricaturist and a great photobooth.
Congratulations to our wonderful newlyweds Rowais + Marti, and we’re so thankful that you chose to include us in your wedding day!
We had an incredible time yesterday documenting Mike and Lorraine’s wedding day celebrations. The first half of the day was spent chowing down, relaxing, and preparing alongside some close friends + family. For their afternoon wedding ceremony location, they chose the beautiful Kirkpatrick Chapel in New Brunswick, an architectural gem that dates back to 1873. One of the coolest & most unique aspects of their wedding ceremony was the incorporation of the “Handfasting” tradition. This ancient Celtic wedding ceremony tradition involves a set of thirteen different colored ribbons that are wrapped around the bride and groom’s hands, thus symbolizing their eternal bond as a couple. Tradition says that this particular practice is where the phrase “tying the knot” comes from. How neat is that?
After the ceremony, we spent a lot of time with our newlyweds doing portraits in and around the historic little town of Cranbury, New Jersey. The evening celebrations took place at the gorgeous Cranbury Inn with cake, filet mignons, dancing and a whole lot of friends + family to boot. One of our favorite images from the day is near the end of this blogpost– check out the floor-level shot of Mike, Lorraine and Lorraine’s cousins taking celebratory “shots” (more like “glasses”, in our opinion…) together.
Thanks again to Mike and Lorraine for having us at your wedding day, and we hope you all enjoy our latest set of wedding photos!
On the second day of their wedding celebration, Raheel and Zoya joined their loved ones at the Worlds Fair Marina Restaurant & Banquet Hall. Saturday’s schedule was a whole lot more relaxed; food, games, dancing, speeches and a full night of celebrating. As a photographer, observer and cultural outsider, it was fascinating to be immersed in a completely different kind of wedding than one I was use to. Many of the wedding practices had great significance behind them too; something that really made their two day celebration very special. When the Groom and his family entered the banquet hall, Zoya’s family showered rose petals on them as a traditional form of welcoming. When the time came, Zoya came out of the bridal room and proceeded to the ceremony area with her family members. Raheel and his family met them midway, whereupon the father of the bride symbolically joined their hands together– perhaps one of the most emotional moments of the evening. As husband and wife, they took their seats together on stage. After rounds of group photos and plenty of food, rings were exchanged and the cake was cut.
One of the most entertaining activities of the night came next: the “Juta Chupai” (the hiding of the shoe). In this lighthearted activity, the brides’ friends and family steal the groom’s wedding shoes. In order to get the shoes back, he must pay their requested ransom… in cash. After a little bargaining between both parties, the groomsmen pay the ransom and the game is complete. This payment (many hundreds of $$, believe it or not) also doubled as a thank-you gift for the tremendous amount of hours the bridesmaids devoted in making the wedding celebration happen… so obviously both sides bargained pretty tough.
The last few hours were celebrated with a whole lot of really fun dancing. In the final phase of the wedding ceremony, an event known as the “Rukhsati” took place. Zoya’s family gave their final blessings to the bride & groom, and wished them both a happy marriage. This was definitely the most emotional, tearful event for everybody. Although in many other cultures it may sound like a simple “goodbye”, for the bride’s family it was anything but. Her family was essentially saying farewell as Zoya literally ‘departed’ from her family’s household to join the new household that was her marriage. And my favorite images? The last three. In the few moments that the bride was alone, she is given her final, tear-filled goodbye by her own father.
Some time last summer, things got real crazy for us at Dreamlite. Our schedules were so over the top, we held off on uploading a half a dozen, full sets of wedding photos. It wasn’t that we were lazy; we simply didn’t want to upload a random assortment of photos, slap on some tag words and call it a day. You could say that we like to put in time, effort and a little bit of thought when composing posts for our blog. Well, here’s one of those exciting weddings you all missed out on. We’ve finally found time to share some of our favorite images with everyone, and here they are.
All in all, I (Jon) spent two and a half fantastic days with Raheel and Zoya. On one particular thursday evening, I met up for Raheel and Zoya to do their engagement photos in Central Park. Check out the full set here. The photos shown below are from that following Friday; a celebratory, prewedding tradition known as the Mehndi Ceremony. This ceremony centers around the celebration and honoring of the woman before she is “given away” by her family and friends in marriage. The women have henna intricately applied to their hands and feet, and everyone is dressed in vibrantly colorful attire. The bride-to-be, Zoya, was adorned with gorgeous jewelry, colorful garments and carefully applied henna on her hands and feet. In the end, this ceremony took place to both bless and celebrate the would-be-bride in the days before she becomes a wife.
After everyone had gathered for the marriage certificate signing with the Maulvi (religious officiant in white), traditional religious prayers were read and the certificate was signed. Raheel awaited on stage while his bride made her entrance alongside all the women from her family. The ceremony took place over a couple of hours- including Dholki (event where family members sit on the floor and sing traditional songs for the bride & groom), Mehndi Rasams (ceremonial activity involving the honorary feeding of sweets from relatives to the bride & groom), choreographed dancing and a slideshow presented by the bridesmaids. As with any indian/pakistani wedding celebration, you can’t expect to end the night without a whole lot of dancing.