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This beauty, Priyanka, is totally a sensitive and hopeless romantic. I guess, because that’s me, too, in a nutshell, I really enjoyed photographing her all weekend during their mixed Indian and Catholic ceremonies. Her groom, Shawn, is simply an awesome dude. And these two together are incredibly beautiful souls who put their friends and family above all else – in fact, one of the first things Priyanka said to me was that, despite understanding the time limitations for portraits, she would rather spend most of that time photographing their wedding party!

I’m a little obsessed with Indian weddings. I think they are so beautiful – bright, vibrant, happy, and they usually include, oh you know, a majestic white horse, and that’s never a bad thing. But this one, Priyanka and Shawn’s wedding, might just take the miniature selfie-topped cake. That’s not surprising, considering it’s a gold, blush pink and red infused cultural beauty crafted by a talented team. Yanni Design Studio worked with the bride and planner extraordinaire Sabrina Hans Events to create a wedding that is going to haunt my dreams – in the very best way possible.

Scroll through to see more of the Hindu ceremony at Lincolnshire Marriott Resort, and all the elaborate rituals, from Priyanka and Shawn’s wedding weekend. Next week the Catholic ceremony and after party hit the blog!

(If you missed Part 1 featuring their colorful Sangeet and Mehndi, click here.)

xo, Melissa

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south indian wedding ceremony chicago lincolnshire marriot

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chicago indian sangeet

This, my friends, is what we call one crazy-gorgeous celebration: a three-day extravaganza with an explosion of vibrant colors and one love-filled moment after another. Indian weddings are my favorite, and I was lucky enough to get to spend the entire weekend shooting it all for Priyanka and Shawn, beginning with their Sangeet and Mehndi, followed by a rehearsal dinner and culminating in a mixed Indian and Catholic wedding.

As a photographer I love being a fly on the wall – observing all the rituals and customs that take place prior to a wedding ceremony. Here at the Sangeet, which took place at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort outside of Chicago, it is a time for celebrating, singing and dancing. This is a festive contrast to the Mehndi, an elegant ceremony in which the bride is adorned with henna. I’ve heard that some people believe that the darker the color of the Mehndi, the more the bride’s husband will love her – not that Priyanka will have any problems with this, judging by Shawn’s obvious adoration of her!

The entire weekend embraced so many gorgeous details – it’s like henna on a bride’s hands. With every go-through of the photos, there is something new to see. So go have a look. There is something beautiful, something different to inspire everyone. Priyanka and Shawn’s spectacular wedding will be posted next week!

xo, Melissa

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ritz carlton chicago syrian wedding

If I had just a few words to describe this Syrian wedding celebration at The Ritz-Carlton I’d say “tradition with a twist.” A modern, color-driven twist, that is. Together with NEKY Design, Rama and Samer designed a festive Syrian reception of cultural beauty and modern style, and gorgeous pops of emerald green everywhere you look.

Rama was a bejeweled beauty in a Stephen Yearick gown. She is wearing a custom long sleeved top with her sleeveless sweetheart gown – in Muslim culture, only the bride’s husband, father, and brother may see her exposed neck, shoulders and arms.

The radiant couple entered with a special cultural dance – it involved the bride being hoisted high atop a chair, with the men rejoicing and dancing their way to the door of the “women’s room.” In Syrian wedding tradition, the men and women celebrate separately. With the men gone, the women take off their headscarves – and boy oh boy (pun intended!), do they ever dance the night away! Glittery dresses, bright lippies graced the room. Of course, the groom is allowed in the women’s room – and this is where Samer danced with his beautiful bride for the first time.

Despite a segregation amongst guests, there’s something about this beautiful Syrian affair that feels completely exotic, seamless and wildly romantic all at once. Scroll through and see all the pretty below!

xo, Melissa

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Rama and Samer’s Wedding Guide ::

Venue, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago  //  Bride’s Attire, Stephen Yearick gown, Badgley Mischka shoes  //  Bride’s Hair, Shahd Refai  //  Bride’s Makeup, Maria Benvenuto  //  Wedding Consultant, Amanda Belton // Event Planner, NEKY Design  //  Florist, NEKY Design  //  Cake, Alliance Bakery  //  Caterer, The Ritz-Carlton Chicago  //  Music, Women’s: Shereen Jeeziya; Men’s: Ahmad Awad //  Videographer, Kay Hilai

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