Photos from Labdhi and Manoj's multi-day Indian wedding celebrations in Ahmedabad, India, beginning with an energetic Sangeet at Sangath that featured dance performances from their family and friends. The following morning we captured them getting ready in separate suites at the Novotel Ahmedabad before their ritual-filled Hindu ceremony and ballroom reception at Panchratna Party Plot.
I first heard from Labdhi and Manoj via phone last summer, Inquiring about doing an e-session in Southern California. While chatting about their upcoming nuptials, they told me that they were planning a traditional Hindu wedding in Ahmedabad in December. I had photographed a wedding in India back in 2010 and told Labdhi and Manoj that I would love to go again. While there were a few logistic hurdles at first, everything fell into place, and I was so honored that they selected by as their Indian wedding photographer for their wedding in Ahmedabad, India.
I flew out to the western state of Gujarat in December, and in particular the pulsing city of Ahmedabad. I had a couple of days to rest and recover from my jet lag before the four day celebration kicked off. The first day was to be the bridal shower at Labdhi’s parents’ house, just a short walk from where I was staying at the Novotel Ahmedabad, followed by a Mehndi party the next day where the girls adorn their hands in traditional henna patterns.
Sangeet photos at Sangath:
But it was on the third day that the party really started, with a lively Sangeet where Labdhi and Manoj’s family performed dance routines for them at Sangath in Ahmedabad. This was a really vibrant and colorful event, with the women all wearing gorgeous saris and so much joy and movement to capture. Labdhi and Manoj did a ring exchange and were offered trays of gifts from their family and friends. Earlier on in the evening before guests arrived, we did a nighttime couple portrait session, backed by a sea of candles.
The following day was the Hindu ceremony itself, preceded by a Baraat party where the groom’s family paraded through the streets of Ahmedabad to be welcomed by the bride’s family. While I’ve photographed Hindu weddings before, each time they are a little different and I loved discovering all the unique rituals that this couple had decided to incorporate into their special day.
Getting ready photos at the Novotel Ahmedabad:
We began in the morning at the Novotel Ahmedabad where Labdhi and Manoj were getting ready for their wedding day. While Labdhi had decided on a more private getting ready setting, with just herself and her sister/cousin-in-law, Manoj was surrounded by his family while they conducted a traditional Saat ceremony.
This was a mixture of Hindu religious rituals and playful games, with his female family members covering his head with oil and throwing dry rice, before enthusiastically trying to rip his clothes off as he changed into his bridal attire. I photographed Manoj as he added the final touches to his traditional Indian wedding suit and playfully fist-bumped his nephew, as well as while his mom applied eyeliner and he had his bridal turban fitted.
Portraits at the Novotel Ahmedabad:
The couple had decided on a first look session which we staged near the pool area of the Novotel Ahmedabad. They were both looking incredible in their rose-colored bridal attire as I captured portraits of them together and separately during this session, and I particularly liked the creative photo of Labdhi with her Henna hands.
Baraat photos at the Novotel Ahmedabad:
It was then time for the Baraat, with Manoj driving through the streets of Ahmedabad in a car while professional musicians and performers escorted him and his family in a lively procession. There was so much joy and celebration to capture as the females on both sides of the family danced together and both fathers embraced while Indian rupees were waved above their heads in a good luck gesture.
When Manoj arrived at the entrance to Panchratna Party Plot where the Hindu ceremony was to be held, he was greeted by Labdhi’s parents and family members, including her wonderful cousins Ushir, Utsaya, and Harsh. Labdhi’s mom tried to playfully grab his nose in what must be an Indian wedding ritual, before he and his soon-to-be bride were lifted above the crowd.
Ceremony photos at the Panchratna Party Plot:
We then headed to the main area of the Panchratna Party Plot for the Hindu ceremony, with Manoj being escorted onto the mandap stage to await his bride. Labdhi’s father and the groom conducted some religious rituals before Manoj was covered by a white cloth as his bride entered the room.
They exchanged flower garlands and a prayer was said, before numerous different Hindu rituals were performed. Female family members threw flower petals over the couple, and together with the vibrancy of everyone’s attire, it was such a rich visual event to capture. I got creative with some close-up details shots of the offerings being made, as well as a playful moment when Harsh grabbed Manoj’s toe!
There was an Indian wedding tradition where the groom has his shoes stolen by the bride’s friends and has to bribe them to give them back, as well as a playful game where a whisper is said into the bride’s ear and passed around. Many of these rituals were familiar to me and it was really fun being able to capture them.
Reception photos at Panchratna Party Plot:
After Labdhi and Manoj left their Hindu ceremony, they returned to the Novotel Ahmedabad to freshen up and change before returning to Panchratna Party Plot for their reception. This differed from a Western-style wedding reception, with the newly married couple standing on a stage where they greeted each and every guest who came to congratulate them. Photographs were taken of each family group, before they left for the evening.
There was plenty of food on offer, however, and a cake cutting ceremony in front of an elegant gold backdrop. But with so much dancing having already taken place throughout the course of the day and the previous evening’s Sangeet, this was more of an occasion for Labdhi and Manoj to wind down and spend a few moments with each of their wedding guests.
Once the majority of people had left and it was just the couple’s immediate family and Manoj’s relatives from Mumbai, I grabbed the couple for another short nighttime couple portrait session. It had been an incredibly busy, but enriching few days, and I feel like this final portrait of them together encapsulated the love they were both feeling at this time.
Wedding photos in Ahmedabad, India:
It was an absolute honor to be the photographer for Labdhi and Manoj’s wedding in Ahmedabad, and I really want to extend my thanks to all of their family and friends who welcomed me so warmly. With destination weddings, it really is the people I meet and connect with throughout the event that makes it so incredibly special, and the week I spent in Gujarat is one I will never forget.