Follow my Nikon footprint as I traverse the globe photographing a tapestry of colorful customs, intriguing wedding traditions in wedding destinations that will dazzle as much as delight.
My home country engulfing its magically diverse 'Rainbow Nation' roots as weddings weave through beaches, vineyards, bushveld safari's, wedding aisle tortoise-hoping, peacock peeking and early morning Hot-air balloon rides to name a few.
SOUTH AFRICA XHOSA WEDDINGS "Ukwenda" span two days of celebrations and include the whole community. Animals are slaughtered as a sacrifice to their ancestors inviting them to bless the occasion with money being thrown onto the freshly slaughtered animal skin. The newlyweds walk down the road and show themselves to the entire community (Ukucanda ibala) in beautifully matching black and white wedding attire.
SOUTH AFRICA ZULU WEDDINGS are filled with high octane energy, vibrant colors and spectacular dancing. The bride wears an impressive handwoven Zulu reed hat and during wedding day, changes outfits at least three times to show off her beauty to her in-laws. The Indlamu and Imvunulo are dances performed by her husband who is draped in impressive head rings, age wearing animals skins (amabeshu), ankle rattles, shields and weapons like the Knobkerrie to parade and show off his muscular strength and control of weapons.
Danes have a love for their flag bordering on obsession and as one can see, weddings are no exception. After the first dance, the groom gets thrown into the air, and his socks get cut off to give his wife her first chore as a married woman.
The land of red roses, red telephone booths, tailcoats and Tudor styled architectural wedding venues that transport you back to the world of William Shakespeare.
GREEK WEDDING TRADITIONS are rich in symbolism highlighted by the 'Crowning of Stefana' where a single ribbon attaches two crowns, placed on the couple's heads, crowning them King & Queen of their own home, and the famous tradition of smashing of 10,000 plates in unison with shouting OPA (oops) is used to signal abundance, good luck and ward off evil spirits.
HINDU WEDDINGS are an explosion of color and intricate rituals like the Mehndi ceremony where henna is applied to the Bride, whose red dress is covered with gold embroidery symbolizing commitment & fertility and a Mangala Sutra (a special bridal necklace). Fire is kept as a witness and Floral Garlands (Jai Mala) are exchanged welcoming the newlyweds into each other's families. Best of all are the Hindu "Pujari" (Temple Priest)--they all have an excessively calm and amusing way of delivering ceremonies.
JEWISH WEDDING rituals are incredibly intimate and inclusive, from the private 'Unveiling of the Bride' and the signing of the Ketubah document (always incredibly ornate) to the breaking of the glass underneath the Chuppah (fragile glass is a reminder of the fragility of marriage). Nothing says wedding celebration quite like the phrase "Mazel Tov". One of the most frenetic things to photograph is the "hora" - a traditional Jewish dance where the couple is often lifted up on chairs. Everyone from 2 to 102 years old gets involved. Pure bliss to witness all the magic and dance floor mayhem.
GERMAN WEDDING TRADITION of fish cutting in front of the wedding party is called Tattva. As fish symbolizes good luck and prosperity, and a symbol of unity between the couple and their wedding party.
PAKISTANI WEDDINGS are decadently colorful, highlighted by the groom's Turban. The Baraat entertainment includes the Groom's shoes being hidden by the bride's sisters/cousins and only returned for some cash.
One only needs to look at the amount of wine glasses on the table to realize that no other culture places so much emphasis on the wedding cocktail reception hour (vin d'honneur) as the French with their five-course meals, followed by exclusive top glass magical 'old school' entertainment. And all that gastronomic bliss set against the backdrop of the grand Chateau La Ferte-Fresnal. A rare wedding assignment indeed.
My 'adopted' country lives up to its reputation as a sublime melting pot of creative wedding ideas through all seasons, from ski lifts, to drag shows, Sheriff patrol cars, hula hooping brides and whiskey blending ceremonies.
The quintessential 'Destination Wedding' playground for American romantics. An intoxicating blend of endless white sandy beaches, with a healthy splash of tequila-soaked party vibes.
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