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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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Safa and Stephen-Wedding-886

A Persian ceremony under an elegant and symbolic shawl held up by the bride’s closest friends was a beautiful start to the celebration. Add in a magical dusting as sugar cones are ground together above Safa and Stephen’s heads – to shower them in sweetness, of course. And an elaborate Persian wedding spread, or Sofreh-ye Aghd, looks like something out of an editorial photo shoot, stretched luxuriously across the floor and laden with stunning colorful details – honey, pomegranates, herbs, almonds, each one signifying a different blessing for the newlyweds. The light, the fresh ambiance of garden roses and lilies, the warmth of the entire night. Perfection. The kind of perfection that makes a scroll-through worth your time.

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Congratulations to this beautiful couple whom I got to know as I documented their big day from start to finish with pre-wedding preparations at the stately Mid-America Club and the Hyatt Hotel, to portraits around the Shedd Aquarium overlooking the city skyline and in Tiffany & Co. Celebration Garden.

DJ Ped Sultan Farazandeh kept the party going all night for this couple that loves music and dancing. Between a surprise dance for Safa performed by her groom and his twin brothers, and cake knife-wielding bridesmaids taunting Stephen to fork over cash in exchange for cake, the night was beyond festive and joyous, rightly so. This wedding had one of the most packed and vibrant dance floors I’ve ever seen and all of their guests truly had a blast!

The joy and love Safa and Stephen share absolutely radiated from them, creating a beautifully emotional and incredibly fun, yet intimate celebration. Scroll through for a peek into their special night!

xo, Melissa

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Safa and Stephen’s Wedding Guide ::

Venue, The Mid-America Club  //  Bride’s Attire, Romona Keveza gown, ZIGIsoho shoes  //  Bride’s Hair & Makeup, Chris Connor //  Wedding Consultant, Misha Newgen // Florist, M&P Floral and Event Production  //  Cake, Bittersweet  //  Caterer, The Mid-America Club  //  Music, DJ Ped Sultan Farazandeh //  Videographer, Lexoria Films  //  Officiants, Alen Takhsh, Alireza Partovi

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my favorite peeps-263-Edit

It’s just so perfectly meme-worthy: The meltdown going on in the middle complete with a pack of peanuts, Dad and Mom looking totally casual about the whole thing, and big bro Max, whose expression is totally like #OMGnotagain.

But really, this is one outtake from a slew of other amazing shots with an amazing family that I love to call my friends. I’ve known Jamie and Shawn for nearly four years, ever since big bro was only a peanut, learning to sit up on his own and picnicking in the park with my Lil G. This family of three that I photographed in 2012 has now turned into four – with the addition of sweet 11-month old Rowan, or RoRo as we all call him.

chicago family portrait mini session lincoln park

Unfortunately for me, they now reside on the East Coast, but returned to Chicago for a whirlwind weekend visit – their first time back, and which Jamie had insisted, “would only be complete with a Melissa Diep family session.” Well, consider yours truly flattered. Here’s what I have to say to you, girlfriend: #ItsAllAboutTheHair #MoveBackNow #MidwestIsBest

Scroll through for more of this delightful family and the spectacular backdrop courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo – I’m certain they will capture your hearts as they have mine!

xo, Melissa

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Hair and makeup provided by Tran B. Nguyen.

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