Sarah and Sriraj go way back, back to their days in high school. So when he contacted her about photographing his wedding day it was natural for her to be excited. When he told her that the big day would include both Hindu AND Christian celebrations and ceremonies her excitement quadrupled!
Leading up to Danielle and Sriraj’s big day, we did a lot of planning! Sarah quickly realized that there would be a ton going on and some extra studio work would help to elevate some of the weekend and day-of urgency. Danielle brought all her Indian outfits into the studio to practice putting them on and get some great images of each one; hanging up and her in them. This was just the start! In Indian culture, there are a few pre-wedding day celebrations/traditions, and the couple asked Sarah to document it all!
On the Thursday before the wedding, Danielle wore one of the outfits previously photographed during a mehndi ceremony, which entailed her having her arms and legs decorated with henna. One of the traditions is to write the groom’s name in the henna design for him to find later on! Her friends and family joined as well as Sriraj’s family! On Friday morning, the Ganesh Puja prayer ceremony was held, it was quite an experience to watch and document. That night, team SHP attended and documented the Garba, which is a big dance party with performances to celebrate the couple. The couple and some family and friends did a few choreographed dances and then the dance floor flooded to perform the Garba. We knew that if the Garba was just a glimpse into what the next day would be like, we were in for a ton of fun!! The walls and the floors shook from the music and jumping, it was absolutely epic!
The morning of Danielle and Sriraj’s wedding day started with getting ready at the Jefferson Clinton. Danielle, her mom, best friend and Sriraj’s sisters got their hair and makeup done together with some upbeat music playing in the background. Danielle sipped on her bridal Starbucks drink as she waited for her turn. Once makeup was set, it was time to get Danielle into her traditional Indian wedding gown. This involved an expert in pinning lehenga’s and adding the finishing touches, Pinal. She helped Danielle drape the lehenga around her waist and pin it to her head. Danielle’s mom looked on as she tearfully reflected on how her daughter had grown into a beautiful woman. They shared an emotional moment together as Danielle was patiently pinned into her dress. Everyone was in awe as Danielle adorned her henna covered hands and arms in bangles and traditional, colorful, sparkly jewelry. Sarah was fascinated and excited to be documenting it!
Meanwhile, Sriraj quickly got into his Sherwani with his brother, brother-in-law and nephew by his side. They discussed a few last minute details (and toasted to the groom with shots of fireball) before heading out to get in place for the first look.
Given that Danielle needed some guidance when purchasing her outfits, almost everyone had seen her traditional dress except for her dad, so it was important to her to share a first look moment with him. We made our way to the alley by The Blue Tusk to orchestrate a first look. After a sweet and tearful moment with her dad, Danielle went around the corner to hide so Sriraj could get in place! With his back to her, she slowly walked up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He turned around and immediately embraced her before taking a step back to glimpse the full sight of her in a traditional Indian wedding gown. Afterwards, Sarah realized she had placed the couple right under the elephant at Bistro Elephant, and we reveled in the perfection of the placement for a moment.
With a jam packed day ahead of them, the couple, Sarah and Wesley made quick work of capturing some lovely images around the Armory Square area before parting to prepare for The Baraat.
We think every groom should have such a celebration. The street right in front of Sky Armory (where all the rest of the day’s actions would be taking place) was shut down to traffic. Sriraj got on a horse 2 blocks away and the DJs led the large group down the street with their van pumping out celebratory music along with a bhangra dhol drummer. Everything came together perfectly and you could feel the energy flowing as Sriraj’s friends and family danced down the street to celebrate his arrival to the ceremony. Once Sriraj reached the venue doors, Danielle’s parents were there to greet him and officially start the Hindu ceremony portion of the day. The Pundit guided Danielle’s mother through the blessing and welcoming and then they entered the venue.
The Sky Armory did an awesome job fitting nearly 300 guests into the ceremony area. The altar was framed by a Mandap, which the both ceremonies took place under. Sriraj was blessed by the Pundit and then Danielle was asked to enter the ceremony space. The Hindu ceremony commenced, and it was another awe-inspiring experience to document! Once the ceremony was finished, Sriraj’s nieces and nephews bribed him for his shoes! Come to find out, this is a common tradition, since the groom cannot leave the ceremony without his shoes, and it is a fun way for the kids to participate by adding some playfulness.
Guests then went to the 2nd floor of Sky for tea and cookies while Danielle and Sriraj gathered with family for some portraits. Before too long it was time for Danielle and Sriraj to change into their Western attire for the Christian ceremony. Guests smoothly transitioned back down to the ceremony space with help from the Sky staff.
The Pundit who performed the Hindu ceremony started things off by highlighting some similarities between the Hindu and Christian religions. Danielle’s best childhood friend, Seamus, took the helm as officiant for this ceremony. He guided them through lovely vows and had them seal those vows with a kiss. And like that, Sriraj and Danielle were married twice over in as many hours!
Cocktail hour commenced on the 2nd floor, flipped by the Sky staff in the time it took the Christian ceremony to play out. Guests were offered several signature drinks playing on the themes of love and fall, as well as an impressive spread of cheese, olives, and bread. Sarah took the couple up to the roof top at this time to take advantage of the gorgeous evening light. While Jenn documented the amazing reception space on the 3rd floor. With a mix of different table sizes and shapes, gold accents, twinkle lights, awesome purple uplighting and beautiful white floral arrangements on the tables AND hanging from the ceilings, the space was truly magical! The couple made a lovely display in memory of those they have lost and laid out a traditional guestbook for everyone to sign.
The rest of the night kept in line with the magic the whole day had held thus far. Danielle and Sriraj were introduced to the reception with a roaring applause. As the first song began to play, fog covered the dance floor, and engulfed their gliding feet as they danced for the first time as husband and wife. Toasts, cake cutting and parent dances quickly followed. Everyone must have been very eager to get back to the dance party that had been put on pause at the Garba the night before, because most of them forgot about dinner and flooded the dance floor in honor of the newly weds. Everyone danced and danced and danced! So much so we had to ask Danielle and Sriraj if they even ate dinner because we were convinced they hadn’t moved away from the dance floor! That’s how epic it was!
Guests were treated to a buffet that included traditional Indian dishes like Mahkni and butter chicken. (Boy were we excited!!!) Members of Sriraj’s family had previously met with the cook at Sky to teach him how to make these dishes, which we think is a pretty awesome, unique opportunity. A once in a lifetime chance kinda thing! After filling up, the focus went back to and remained on the dance floor. Even an impromptu limbo ensued! At least half of the guests remained on the dance floor until the very last song! As the night came to an end, Sriraj and Danielle grabbed the last opportunities for photos with friends as they said their goodbyes (or “see-you-soon”s to those gearing up for the afterparty at Benjamins!).
We hope you enjoy some highlights from Danielle and Sriraj’s best day ever (and an epic first for SHP!):
Featured Wedding Vendors || Indian Wedding Dress – Indian Couture | Western Wedding Dress Vendor – NY Bride | Western Wedding Dress Designer – Allure | Venue – Sky Armory | Makeup Artist – Brianna Horton | Hair Artist – Danielle Osborne | Florist – St. Agnes | DJ – Amplifire Entertainment | Videographer – Kammer Films |