I rolled down the windows on my Ford Crown Victoria. It was the fourth of July and everywhere you looked people were barbecuing, splashing in pools and plastered in red, white and blue. I turned up The Lone Bellow and tapped my finger on the steering wheel as I drove away from a rollicking party celebrating the upcoming marriage of Justin and Nirali. I was reliving the moments of the day. I had just been with two beautiful families that would soon become one. The Lee's and the Patel's had both been welcoming, joyful and full of cheer and I could't wait for the wedding the following day.
Justin and Nirali also had an interesting situation regarding their marriage. They wanted to have both a traditional wedding, and an Indian wedding. So, at the beginning of June, my team and I attended Justin and Nirali's Engagement Brunch. Their friends and family all piled into Justin's parent's home ready to congratulate the couple and celebrate with them. Very sneakily, the bride and groom slipped away, and the guests were asked to proceed to the garden. You can watch their video below to see what happened next:
So, here I was on Independence Day, the sunset in my rearview and the most enthusiastic pyrotechnicians setting off the early fireworks. I had just attended their last party before their traditional Indian wedding, and I knew then that the following day and all it entailed was going to be a blast. Here are a few of my favorite moments from it:
Nirali's brother, Niraj, is a great guy. I had had the pleasure of filming Niraj's wedding to Alyssa back in April, which was how I got connected with Justin and Nirali. Niraj was helpful, kind and inclusive throughout all the time I spent with the family. He would happily stop to explain what was going on or offer to carry equipment, always with a big smile on his face! A favorite moment was just watching him interact with his sister, Nirali, and seeing how much he just loves and cherishes both her and his family.
In traditional Indian weddings, once the wedding ceremony is finished, the bride's family accompanies her and the groom to their vehicle to say goodbye. As we were walking out, Niraj held a shawl in his hands and explained to me how the brother puts this shawl around his sister's shoulders as she leaves with her new husband. It is literally meant to keep her warm and is a symbol of the brother's love and protection over his sister. I thought this was a truly beautiful moment, and quite literally elbowed the car driver in the face in order to get this shot on film.
Grandma's are usually my one of my favorite parts of weddings. They are affectionate, joyful and usually have a couple of good stories to share! Both Justin and Nirali's grandma's were fun to be around. At the party that took place the night before the wedding, I got the chance to chat with Justin's Grandma. She was just the sweetest lady. She asked questions about me and was genuinely interested in the answers. She also talked about Justin and Nirali with pride and affection. We stood near the screen door talking about everything that had taken place and all the details of the following day. I glanced over at her and saw her watching Justin and Nirali and she had the brightest smile on her face. I was overcome with how much love she has for each member of her family and hoped that one day I could gush about my grandchildren the way she gushed about hers.
I come across a lot of bridesmaids in my profession. I'm lucky to have such wonderful clients. But my wonderful clients are really just wonderful people. And wonderful people tend to hang out with other wonderful people and they are all just wonderful together. Nirali had some of the most wonderful bridesmaids that I got the chance to work with. I knew I was in for a treat when I was filming Nirali getting her makeup done and we heard loud Indian music coming from the street. All of a sudden, some of her bridesmaids walk in carrying a loud speaker, dancing and shouting "It's here! It's here! The big day is finally here!" Nirali started laughing and dancing in her chair, along with her sister Shreena and some other family members in the room. The bridesmaid's just put a huge smile on everyone's face and brought real joy into the experience.
The whole day, they looked out for Nirali. The made sure she had everything she needed to enjoy the day. The fixed her hair, kept an eye on her sari, made sure everything was running smoothly, and made Nirali proud on the dance floor (seriously, check out the feature video below to see some of their moves!)
My favorite moment with the bridesmaids was during the processional where Justin was riding a horse majestically up to the ceremony venue. Everyone is supposed to follow the groom dancing and celebrating, and thanks to the bridal party and some other fearless family members, the processional was full of dancing and merriment! This was easily one of the highlights of the day!
Now, it's easy for the wedding day to pass by in a blur. You have to take time to really savor and cherish moments. This is something that Justin was really amazing at. When I was going back through the footage, I really noticed that Justin would take his time. I saw him looking at Nirali, in her beautiful bridal sari, red headpiece and intricate jewelry. He didn't just glance at her in passing, he memorized her. He didn't just listen to the words that she said, he savored them. Watching these moments in post-production, finding these hidden treasures that I didn't even realized that I had captured was an unbelievably exceptional experience for me as an editor. Really, that is what Sparked Media Collective is all about. Capturing the moments. Savoring the moments. Being able to look back and remember all the love, hope, and awe that was bursting out of you in that very moment. This is the way that Justin looked at Nirali. These were the precious moments to prize. I hope you enjoy finding these moments yourself.