Gabrielle & Zee’s Walima – Cornwall Asian Wedding Celebrations
Gabrielle and Zee celebrated their walima (the Pakistani wedding reception where the groom’s family welcomes the bride) at the end of August and it was a flurry of colour and smiles. Instead of an engagement session, these two asked if I would photograph the mehndi session, and I was immediately excited about photographing the process of Gab getting her henna done.
Gab and Zee are both wonderfully warm people by nature, so what followed shouldn’t have caught me by surprise, but for some mysterious reason, it did. What really caught my attention about this wedding was the groom’s father, Bashir. It’s not often that I meet a father as expressive with his affection as Bashir, and he made me think of my own dad. The night of Gab’s mehndi party, I happened to be in the hallway during a very brief little conversation between Bashir and Gab, when Bashir told Gab how everyone there had nothing but love for her. They were proud of her. They were there for her. Even just thinking about it now makes me a little misty-eyed. When I heard that brief little talk, I knew that the walima was going to be something special – and it was. This little talk set the tone for the rest of the celebrations and gave me real insight into who these people really are. They value one another. They are honest. They vocalise their thoughts. All of the parents are ridiculously – and rightfully – proud of these two adults. All of which I saw as they shared their day on Saturday.
At the end of the mehndi party, I left with a smile on my face and could wait to get started on Saturday morning.
Photographing the prep period when both bride and groom are in the same house but are not wanting to see each other prior to their first look was an almost comical challenge, but everyone handled it beautifully. It also meant that I got to bounce back and forth between the bride and the groom, which presented unique opportunities in terms of blending the story together. There was a heavy emphasis on relationships during the prep. Gab was excited to have her closest friends get so involved in the walima; there had been a closet-raiding session the night before so that the girls all had traditional suits to wear, and there was a lot of laughter as everything got placed correctly. Zee was thrilled to have his cousins visiting from the UK and shared SO MANY laughs with them during his prep process. The mood in the house that morning was relaxed and jubilant. I could tell how much they both enjoyed having these people with them. Zee’s grandmother, aunt and uncle has also flown in from Portugal (there were quite a few guests who traveled for this celebration, which was awesome) and I had a good laugh getting to know a bit about his Avo’s sharp wit and snappy personality.
One of the things I loved about this wedding was all of the hugs! Get an expressive couple together with their family and friends and you get hug after hug after hug
The party went on as parties tend to do – lots of laughter
a few tears
and LOTS of dancing.
The day after the walima, I missed a call and found a heartfelt voicemail from Zee thanking me for the work I did the day before. I was both surprised and touched by the gesture, in an age where so few people pick up the phone to make calls. I still have it as a reminder of this day and of how genuine these two human beings truly are.
Gab and Zee, I’m so thankful for the way that you welcomed me into your home, your lives, your culture. Sharing laughter with you and your closest gang of supporters was a wonderful way to spend a summer Saturday. Yours was a celebration I won’t soon forget!
I’m Ang – a Cornwall, Ontario-based photographer with a passion for capturing light and photographing natural moments in life as they happen. I love working with couples from Cornwall and around the world on their wedding day so that I can capture the little details and emotions that are shared during the day. Please explore more of www.momentusstudio.com to see more examples of Cornwall, Ontario wedding photography. If you’re part of an Asian community and are looking for a photographer who LOVES documenting your culture, then please get in touch! I’d love to talk to you.