Riya and Bill held their 3-day wedding event at the Brookfield Conference Center over Labor Day Weekend in 2021! I am so grateful that these two trusted me to capture their wedding weekend. Learning about their beautiful culture and its traditions is something I’ll never forget, so I definitely wanted to share it here!
Riya and Bill first met on a plane going from Wisconsin to Florida. They were both traveling with friends to go and see the big Packers game. They ended up seeing each other again at the game! They continued their friendship when they returned to Wisconsin and they’ve been together ever since.
Bill proposed to Riya in Austin, TX, during an Austin mural tour. Bill hired a photographer to photograph them during the tour. They walked up and down the famous South Congress Street looking at murals, and when they had just one mural left, the photographer asked Bill to step away so he could get some solo shots of Riya. Bill came back with a huge bouquet of roses and got down on one knee!
The couple was extremely kind and welcoming the entire weekend. They were so giddy together and a true joy to be around. Here is a breakdown of the celebrations leading up to the wedding ceremony:
Bridal Mehndi (men-dhee)
The 3-day event started on Friday with Riya’s bridal mehndi, or henna, which is painted onto the bride’s hands and feet. This took a few hours, and she had to stay completely still the whole time. While it dries, her bridesmaids helped her with different tasks like eating, using her phone, and yes, even going to the restroom.
This was an informal event hosted by Riya’s parents at their home. Close family and friends of Riya’s family gathered to sing wedding folk songs. The name of the event comes from the two-headed hand-drum that is played while singing. This was such a fun event to be a part of! I was smiling the entire hour I was there. The energy was so contagious and everyone was laughing, dancing, singing, and expressing so much joy I couldn’t help but feel it too.
The word ‘haldi’ means ‘turmeric.’ The Haldi Ceremony is a ritual meant to bless the bride and groom before the wedding. Turmeric paste, oil, and water was applied to both Riya and Bill by family and friends to give the couple a healthy glow. This ceremony is typically done the morning of the wedding, as Hindu weddings are usually at night. It’s also typically done separately for the bride and groom, but Riya and Bill did a combined ceremony the day before the wedding.
The Sangeet is a super important ritual, and it’s thrown by the bride’s family. ‘Sangeet’ literally translates to ‘music.’ At this event, both families and some close friends came together to sing and dance. This is when family and friends of the couple had the opportunity to perform choreographed dances before the dance floor opened up to everyone. Along with plenty of dancing, there were also a few mehndi artists at the venue doing small mehndi (Henna) designs for the female guests in attendance.
Sunday- Wedding day!
On the morning of the wedding, Riya received her bridal bangles, which are called ‘choora.’ The bangles are soaked in milk with flower petals. A priest was present to bless the bride, and the bangles were presented to the bride by her maternal uncle.
The Baraat is the groom’s wedding procession to the venue. While Bill rode in on a decorated horse, a DJ and dhol (drum) player played music and his family and friends danced around him. It was loud, fun and full of so much energy to kick off the day!
When the groom’s party arrived at the doors of the venue, the bride’s family was there to greet them. ‘Milni’ means ‘to meet one another.’ Corresponding key relatives from the bride and groom’s side met each other, embraced, and exchanged flower garlands before they headed into the wedding venue.
‘Shaadi’ means ‘wedding.’ This was the actual wedding ceremony (yay!). As guests arrived, snacks and beverages were available for them to grab and take to their seats. Riya and Bill had a semi-traditional American wedding processional, which ended with Riya walking down the aisle. Next, Bill and Riya sat under the mandap (a pillared structure, usually covered and decorated with flowers) with the pundit (priest). Programs with explanations of the various rituals performed were available to the guests. The priest told everyone exactly what to say/do, so there was no confusion.
After the Hindu rituals are complete, Bill and Riya read their vows to each other. Riya said her vows first in English, and when it was Bill’s turn, he surprised Riya and her family by first reading his vows in Hindi and then in English, which I thought was such a sweet gesture! Riya was completely shocked!
Next, they exchanged rings and were pronounced husband and wife! The couple left to take pictures and changed their outfits for the reception. The guests had some free time to go get lunch on their own, relax, or change clothes for the evening.
The reception had typical American traditions. There was a grand entrance for Riya and Bill, followed by their cake cutting, first dance, and of course, speeches. After the speeches, the dance floor opened up and the guests were allowed to jump into the buffet line. After dinner, there was even more dancing, and the dance floor was packed the entire night!
Riya + Bill – I truly had the BEST time photographing your wedding weekend! I am so thankful you gave me the opportunity to learn all about your wedding ceremonies and traditions! To know that you trusted me to capture your 3-day wedding means the world to me! You two are so genuine and so inviting. Cheers to your first year of marriage and many more to come! Hugs – Taylor
Venue – Brookfield Conference Center
Event Design – Dream Decor by Kiran
Hair – Lumani Beauty
Makeup – Kasandra P. Kvoda Glam
Videographer – Autumn Pershing Photography