Amy & Seva PhotoFilm

So excited to have amazing photographer Kevin Mullins on the blog today, i’m a big fan of documentary style wedding photography.

Instead of images from the wedding, we have a Photofilm, here he tells us exactly what it is and why he went for the idea..

“I really wanted to produce a “Photofilm” which is actually just stills, set to music (rather than moving film) which really encapsulated both the look of the day, but more importantly the feel of the day.  I shoot in a 100% candid style, which means every image is as it happened on the day.  There is no direction from me the photographer.

After the two day event I realised very quickly that each day needed a separate photofilm because of the very different rituals and subtle religious differences.  The Hindi day starts very colourfully and with the Baraat being so vivid and the sound of the drummers beats I really wanted to capture this especially.

The Sikh day began very early and was a very more subdued affair for the choice of music aids the viewer in their appreciation of this beautiful ceremony.  As the afternoon celebrations began with the disco I realised quickly that there was a very big paradox in terms of the morning and afternoon and again, I wanted to use music to help aid the viewer with this – hence the much louder, much more dance orientated music.

As a photographer, I concentrate on human emotion and my images are 100% focused on delivering a viewing experience to the client from the guests point of view.  I don’t want my images to be “the photographers idea of what the wedding should have been” – rather, I want my images to be a true documentary of the actual events that happened, and from a guests eye point of view.  I think the Photofilms in this case add a bit of dynamic to this lovely wedding and I know both Amy and Seva love them.”

From the Bride…

Wedding Highlights:

Meeting and greeting. Up on the stage, all I wanted to do (as well as get married) was see everyone and talk to all our friends and family. For a lot people, the actual ceremony can be quite hazy – particularly in Indian weddings where you are so focussed on doing religious things and pronouncing Sanskrit correctly, you miss everything else! I spent a lot of time looking around the room, seeing everyone’s faces, seeing what they were wearing and feeling the love. Knowing all these people had come to share our moments with us felt incredible; and seeing everyone looking so beautiful (men included!) was just wonderful. I couldn’t get around the room fast enough!

The biggest highlight of all was sitting up on stage with the person I’d waited for, for much of my younger years, and being able to show him off to the world (as far as I could in a marquee)!

Most meaningful moments:

There were quite a few of these for me. The first was being walked down the aisle by my eldest male cousin Jim and my Uncle from my maternal family. I remember Jim being confused as to whether he was to continue walking me to the end of the aisle or not, to which I grabbed him and said in front of everyone that I wasn’t walking without him! I will treasure that walk with the two of them forever.

The second, was seeing Seva for the first time. Mainly because I designed his outfit and wanted to see him in it…! But also because it was the beginning of forever!

Finally what meant most to me, was saying goodbye to my Mum, Dad, Sister, Brother in Law and my baby Nephew when I left. Traditionally, Bride’s bawl their eyes out as they are leaving their parents and family, but I was too happy to be marrying Seva to do that! This goodbye was different, and it was very strange being so happy, and so sad at the same time. It is impossible to forget the shape of my Dad’s eyes and the look on his face when I turned to leave.

Biggest Challenge:

The biggest challenge by far, was making arrangements to cater for two different ceremonies and traditions, and satisfying two families with different beliefs, all at the same time. There are elements of the Hindu ceremony which were important to my family. Likewise, there are elements of the Sikh ceremony which were important to his family. The main element of both ceremony’s, is walking around a fire. In both cultures, it is by tradition that this only ever happens once, so we were to decide whether to do this the Sikh way, or the Hindu way. After many compromises and discussions, it was done the Sikh way. The meaning behind taking these vows around the fire is the same in essence, and as the Sikh ceremony was a much shorter length of time and a more spiritually focussed ceremony, it seemed practical to do it this way.

The second biggest challenge was wearing an outfit that matched me in weight for the reception…and being able to dance in it. I gave up trying to look elegant and danced my heart out anyway!

Funniest Moment of Wedding Reception:

For me personally…this was the part where my Father in Law and my Sister’s Father in Law had a dance off!! I don’t think either of them knew each other very well, and the two couldn’t be more opposite if they tried! My Father in Law is very spiritual, and my sister’s Father in Law is a party animal who helps my Dad keep all the local pubs in business! It wasn’t a scene I could ever imagine, but picturing the two of them in my mind, going crazy on the dance floor together, never fails to bring a smile to my face!

About the Ceremony:

The Hindu ceremony was as traditionally done as possible, minus the vows taken around the fire. In Hindu customs, the chunni ceremony must happen before any wedding. The chunni ceremony is conducted by the groom’s family. The bride is showered with gifts brought by the groom’s family. As we decided to do the vows around the fire the Sikh way, we decided to replace the fire in the Hindu ceremony, with the chunni ceremony, which took place at the very beginning before other various religious acts.

The Sikh ceremony was also done traditionally. As Namdhari Sikh’s conduct weddings slightly differently, the wedding took place early in the morning, both Bride and Groom wore simple white clothes and prayers were recited throughout, followed by blessings. Vows were taken by circling the fire four times.

Cultural Traditions Included:

For the chunni ceremony that took place at the Hindu wedding, my gifts included, a sari, make-up, nail polish, jewellery, bangles, bindis, hair clips, sindoor (red powder that is placed at the tip of a woman’s hair part symbolizing she is married) and mendhi (henna). The most important gift is the chunni (represented as the Sari). It is always in a shade of the traditional wedding colour, red, and is presented to the bride-to-be by her Mother in Law. The significance of the chunni ceremony is to begin the process of welcoming the bride in to the family.

Seva’s entrance was welcomed by an unmarried sister of mine with coconut. Seva then brought to the ceremony by my parents and the ceremony “kanyadaan” is performed. Kanya, means unmarried girl, and daan means giving away. The Mahraj (priest) tied string around both our wrists to keep evil away and string was placed around both of us by my parents, placing my hand in his. Various acts were performed by us and our parents, with the inclusion of fire and water and blessings.

At the end of the ceremony, my hand prints were taken from my palms for my parents to mark my marriage and leaving home.

The Namdhari Sikh wedding ceremony is called “Anand Karaj”. For this, both of us were required to wash our hair on the morning of the wedding, and wear simple white, new clothing, together with the 5 k’s, which are 1. Kesh (hair) 2. Kanga (comb) 3. Kachera (undergarment) 4. Kara (steel bangle) and 5. Kirpan (sword). Prior to the ceremony, we both recited the Ardaas (main prayer), and we joined the main hall as regular members of the congregation.

I was required to bow down to Seva and place a white mala (woollen garland) around his neck and sit next to him. After this, we were both given Amrit (holy blessing with water) and were given Naam (the holy mantar, 5 times).

Part of the Amrit ceremony was having water sprinkled onto our hair and in our eyes, drinking holy water, and repeating holy words 5 times. We were then tied together with white cloth to represent the union of two souls, and circled the fire (havan) four times. Part of the vow is that we shall not part until consumed by the fires of cremation (death).

After all the religious traditional stuff, we went back home to have a big party!

Most important lesson learned from the wedding:

A famous marriage quote for Indians is: “you don’t just marry the man, you marry his whole family”. In Indian culture, that is generally the case, but as they say “love always prevails”. You marry because you love, and sometimes it means giving, doing or changing things you wouldn’t normally. It’s easier to carry on living, doing and planning things how you want to or how you have always dreamed of when you are ready to get married, but it’s also important to remember that you can’t choose the person you fall in love with and sometimes without realising it, a compromise isn’t so much a compromise when giving so, doing so, or changing so, makes you happy because the person you love is happier for it.

Outfit Shopping:

A lot of shopping was done in India, mainly in Ahmedabad which is in Gujarat and Amritsar which is in Punjab. These clothes were to create a collection of suits and outfits that I would need after marriage.

The main wedding outfit was bespoke designed in London, and made in India.

Designer: Mona Vora. Jewellery and accessory shopping for the wedding outfit and for all other outfits took place in Southall, Wembley and Green Street in London; and Leicester.

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