Part 1 of an epic six day wedding in central India

Shipra + Sumer

A destination wedding in Multai, India

I struggled to figure out where to start when I sat down to describe Shipra and Sumer’s wedding (you can see part 2 here), and then I remembered a poem I read toward the end of their week long celebration. It was written by an author named Suzy Kasseem and it perfectly summed up how I felt about this incredible country, its traditions, its richness, its vibrance, and its culture. 

If you hold this dazzling emerald up to the sky,
It will shine a billion beautiful miracles
Painted from the tears of the most high.
Plucked from the lush gardens of a yellowish-green paradise.

Look inside this hypnotic gem
And a kaleidoscope of

Titillating, soul-raising sights and colors
Will tease and seduce your eyes and mind.

Tell me, sir, have you ever heard a peacock sing?
Just hold your ear to this mystical stone and you will hear
Sacred hymns, flowing to the vibrations of the perfumed wind.

This six day celebration was one of the most incredible photography experiences of my life. I shot day after day of rituals and ceremonies, and it culminated in a final wedding evening that included a dinner with 1,400 people and a quiet wedding ceremony that began at 3am and continued until dawn. That evening, I was up for 26 straight hours, shooting for 24 in a row. New record!

Some of the first ceremonies took place in Sumer’s childhood home and in the surrounding neighborhood. I was blown away by the kaleidoscope of colors and contrast and texture. 

During this afternoon, Sumer had an intricate henna design painted onto his hands, and if you looked closely at one of the shots above you can see the face of his bride hidden between the lines.

I thought the drummer below had one of the coolest looks ever.


Sumer wasn’t the only one with a future spouse drawn into henna art. Shipra’s henna also featured the face of her future groom. Her design was so breathtakingly intricate that it took about 4 hours to apply to her hands and feet. 

The henna dyes the skin as it dries. To make it last longer, you coat it with a mix of sugar water and lemon juice, which hydrates the paste and lets it soak in longer. After it dries, you rub oil on your skin and allow the dried henna to slowly flake off. Over the next day or two, the henna darkens as it oxidizes in the skin. 

Stay tuned for a second update to this wedding in a few days.

Pin It on Pinterest