Last August I was asked by my amazing mentor and trainer Kate Hopewell Smith to second shoot for her at the incredible Hindu wedding of Rukmini and Craig at Blenheim Palace. Of course I jumped at the chance. I absolutely love working with Kate. Throw in Blenheim Palace and a Hindu Wedding and you have a dream come true. I wont lie – my heart skipped beats thinking about this wedding. I had never photographed a Hindu wedding before. Kate sent me details on weddings she had done plus websites to research. I have to admit by the end of the day I was totally blown away to the point of tears. It really was the most incredible experience and I cant thank Kate and Rukmini enough for asking me to help photograph this day.
I met Rukmini in the room they used to shoot Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral where Rukmini was getting ready. I was completely in awe as I entered and think I may have squealed at Kate with joy. Rukmini looked completely stunning. It was my job to photograph the Barat Craig so after a brief and lovely greeting and a couple of quick shots I left Kate and Rukmini and drove to Blenheim Palace.
The Hindu marriage ceremony is primarily based on the marriage of Surya, the daughter of Savita (The Sun) to Ashwinikumar, as described in the Rig-Veda, one of the oldest Hindu scriptures. After Ashwinikumar wins the chariot race, Savita gives away the bride in a splendid ceremony. It is written in Sanskrit, one of the oldest language in the world.
Think of the actual wedding ceremony as if it were a romantic story, where the bride and the groom come to the Mandap, separately, as if unknown to each other. Then they fall in love and ask the parents’ permission to get married. We explain them what the Hindu marriage means and they accept the obligations that go with it. During the various rituals, the couple commits to remain faithful to each other and repeat the pledge in front of the Fire God, the Agni and all the witnesses. Then, they walk seven steps together commiting to seven marriage vows to each other, about their future life together. We all bless them and wish them a very happy life and they leave the Mandap as a newly married couple!
Swagatam & Madhuperk- Welcoming Groom & his family
The Barat, the singing and dancing procession of the groom and his family, reaches the wedding venue. The bride’s family welcomes them with Aarati and sweets, as a symbol of happiness and good tidings to come and escort them to the wedding hall. It was my job to cover The Barat Craig. It was such an amazing experience. There was so many beautiful colours. Craig and his family started off on the driveway to Blenheim Palace with the drum player leading our way to greet Rukmini’s family.
After the Hindu ceremony we went outside for image. Beverages and canapes were served as we whisked Rukmini and Craig off around Blenheim for their Bride and Groom shots.
Whilst we were away the Orangery was getting set up for the English ceremony. Rukmini then got dressed into a traditional english wedding dress and her sisters into their bridesmaids dresses. There was a live quartet playing as she entered and made her way towards Craig, her father giving her away.
After the ceremony Rukmini changed into her evening attire. She looked absolutely stunning. We made our way to the Orangery where it was all laid out for their wedding breakfast. After everyone had eaten the speeches took place. I always look forward to speeches. They make me laugh just as much as they make me cry. Rukmini gave the most amazing and beautiful speech, which in my opinion summed up the entire day. The love between both Craig and Rukmini was so pure and beautiful and their families coming together that day and embracing it the way they did was a lovely thing to experience. At the end of the wedding breakfast everyone got their dancing shoes on. There was even a conga line at one point. The celebrations ended and we made our way outdoors where both families said goodbye to Rukmini and Craig as they drove away over the coconut.