RHIA’S MATICOOR NIGHT

Rhia Ramlal and Michael Wagner had two wedding ceremonies in Florida on May 4th (Hindu) and 5th (Methodist). Rhia is originally from Trinidad. In traditional Hindu Trinidadian weddings, the night before the wedding (usually a Friday) there is a Maticoor. There are three different phases that take place on a Maticoor night: the actual Maticoor ceremony which involves dancing and digging of the dirt (both bride and groom conduct this part separately); the Saffron ritual with doop grass; and the rubbing of the Saffron on the bride’s skin, symbolic of the purification and beautification of the bride on the day of her wedding. The Maticoor night is mainly about the women in the Dulahin’s (bride) family preparing the Dulahin for marriage. Rhia looked gorgeous on her Maticoor night!

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After the actual Maticoor ceremony (digging of the dirt), the procession returns to the bride’s home where the Pundit will take over. The bride is usually in another area of the house and her mother is asked to bring her out to join the Pundit at the bedi/baghie for the puja. The Tassa drumming signals to everyone that a celebration is about to take place and the drummers lead the attendees to the maticoor ceremony.

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The bride’s father’s youngest sister, the poowa, parches the laawa (rice) over a fire and everyone dances while giving her money. “It is said that if the laawa does not parch properly this may be an indication of the amount of prosperity of the marriage.”

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DSC_9082  DSC_9091DSC_9095It was a really beautiful ceremony. Congratulations to Rhia and Michael Wagner!

KAMRAN’S BRIS

Camelia Ohi and Rob Martin met in high school and dated seven years before they decided to tie the knot. They were thrilled to receive their first daughter, Eva on August 1st 2008. Shortly after Eva was born, Camelia received the amazing news that she’d be having a second daughter, Mia. The two girls kept Camelia and Rob busy, but they wanted one more. In 2012, they learned that they would have their first boy. Camelia, in order to honor her father (and because she loved the name), decided to name her son Kamran after her father. Camelia’s parents are Iranian and her dad grew up practicing Judaism. After the birth of their children, Camelia and Rob have become more active in the Jewish faith, wanting their children to have some guidance and spirituality in their lives. When they asked me to photograph the bris, I had to look up the details of the ceremony because I had never photographed one before, nor had I ever seen one performed. A Bris, or “Brit Milah” is the Jewish ceremony of circumcision.

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Camelia’s parents live close to her and Rob and have a very nice house with lots of space, so they chose to have the event there. In addition, it provided for a more personal and private ceremony, with only close family and friends attending. Some may wonder how a procedure like this can be performed outside a hospital or pediatrician’s office, but after witnessing the event I can think of no better venue. Kamran underwent this meaningful rite of passage surrounded by the love and warmth of the people who care for him most.

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It is an honor to be invited to a bris, as this ceremony is a major event in the life of a Jewish man. The circumcision must be performed on the eighth day of the boy’s life and represents his acceptance into the Jewish community. The mohel, or a devout Jewish man who has been trained to perform the circumcision, must conduct the ceremony in order for it to be considered official. A close family member or friend – a sandek, holds the baby during the circumcision. In this case, Camelia’s father, Kamran, held the baby, comforting him during the ceremony. The love and concern for little Kamran was so moving. In less than 10 seconds the circumcision was over, after which I think you could hear an audible sigh of relief. Baby Kamran was given a sugary pacifier and almost immediately stopped crying.

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The Rabbi that conducted the ceremony was Rabbi Jillian Cameron and knows both Eva and Mia from Hebrew school. She cited eloquent and meaningful passages from the Torah prior to and after the circumcision. After the ceremony, traditional Persian dishes were served including fish and beef kabob, Persian rice, as well as the Jewish Challah bread, which commemorates the manna (or bread) that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. Each single loaf is woven with six strands. Together, both loaves have twelve which represent each tribe of Israel.

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What higher compliment can someone give you than inviting you to record such moving events of profound personal significance. I have known Camelia’s family for many years and it was so heartwarming to see how honored Camelia’s dad was to hold little Kamran during the ceremony. And I’m sure having lots of family support during this procedure was comforting for Camelia and Rob, who both shed tears throughout the ceremony. The Martin family has the love and support of a spiritual community, family, and friends, who all participated in this bris, welcoming the newest addition, Kamran Martin. And what a beautiful little boy he is!

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AMY AND DAVID

Amy and David met for the first time in middle school. Amy must have made an impression on David, because he looked her up many years later when she was in her 3rd year of college at UVA. They went out for dinner in Charlottesville and had a great time catching up. David asked her out a few months later when they were both home in Burke, VA. Their first date was May 19, 2000. David was so nervous that they got very lost on the way to dinner and ended up in a parking lot, but it was the start to a great relationship. They dated for many years and decided that they were meant to be together. Their proposal happened on the anniversary of their first date. David had conspired with Amy’s boss and gotten her down to UVa (her alma mater) on the pretense of a work related assignment. She was wandering around the Grounds taking photos when David appeared. He eventually pulled her to the courtyard where he presented her with an album recounting their years together and when she got to the end he pulled out a ring.

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Amy-and-David-53-smallSince they got engaged at Amy’s college, they decided to have the wedding in Harrisonburg, where David went to school. Amy is Chinese-American and in her family, the expectation is to have a large Chinese banquet with numerous courses. They knew they didn’t want this traditional type of wedding but still wanted to be able to serve authentic Chinese food while also having some American dishes. They decided to go with Beyond, an Asian fusion restaurant in downtown Harrisonburg owned by family friends. It was the first wedding for the small, 2-story restaurant. The choice was an unconventional one given that dinner guests would have to be split between two floors and several of the tables on the first floor would have to be removed to make room for dancing, but it worked out well. Guests who wanted to be away from the dancing and music were able to relax and chat upstairs.

Amy-and-David-115-small Amy-and-David-94-smallThe couple did other things to try to incorporate traditional Chinese wedding details into their wedding. As with many Asian cultures, red is “the” wedding color, so red could be found in every detail. The Chinese “Double Happiness” symbol was featured prominently throughout the wedding: in the invitations, the menus, and on the sign-in poster. The escort cards/favors were small Chinese silk pouches that Amy’s sister had brought back from Asia. Inside the pouches were fortune cookies.Amy-and-David-112-small

Amy wore a second dress for dancing; a traditional red Chinese qipao or cheongsam. Amy’s sister, who lives in Asia, had a seamstress friend, make the dress. And her sister’s mother-in-law made last minute alterations to the dress. With the leftover fabric, the seamstress also made a matching red dress for Amy’s youngest niece.

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Conducting the legal ceremony prior to the wedding at the courthouse, Amy and David decided to opt for a traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony. In the Tea Ceremony the couple is introduced to each other’s family. They show respect and appreciation to their parents and married relatives by presenting them with tea. In return, the relatives give the couple gifts in red envelopes. In addition to participating, Amy’s sisters helped to direct the ceremony. Male family and friends of the couple formed the groom’s party, who brought in trays of fruits and sweets as a gift to the bride’s family.

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Since almost all of the guests were coming from Northern Virginia, all of the supplies for the wedding had to be driven down to Harrisonburg. The couple enlisted the help of their friends, to bring the cupcakes, the centerpieces, etc. The couples’ family and friends helped with setup of everything at the restaurant for the reception, from the table settings to the cake table. All of the cake stands on the cake table either belonged to Amy or to friends and family who brought theirs along. The floral centerpieces were made by Amy’s friend and cousin. Her cousin also made her bouquet as well as did her makeup.

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I have also known Amy since elementary school and was thrilled that she asked me to photograph the wedding. We were very close friends, but lost touch when we went to separate middle schools. In 2007, I met a mutual friend of Amy’s at work and we were once again connected. It was so great to see how happy Amy and David are together.

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Amy and David are both dog lovers (Amy is actually a dog trainer) and they wanted to incorporate their border collies into the wedding, so they had a custom cake topper made to replicate their dogs, Mango and Razz. The baker, Sweetz Bakery, made the cake with mango and raspberry filling. Amy is a big fan of cupcakes and her dogs, so they also included two flavors of cupcakes to reflect the dog’s names: Mango Passionfruit and Chocolate Raspberry. The week before the wedding, David found out that he had a gluten allergy. Thankfully Sweetz Bakery is very well versed in gluten free, dairy free cake, so just days before the wedding, the baker agreed to make the cake, as well one flavor of the cupcakes, gluten and dairy free. Phew!

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Years ago Amy bought boxes of DIY wedding invitations thinking that they would be of use either to her or her friends some day. No one ever took her up on using them for their weddings and the couple actually decided to go with modern Chinese invitations from Minted.com. But Amy used the paper from the DIY wedding invites for every other printed item for the wedding: save-the-dates, menus, table numbers, escort cards, signs for the cupcake flavors, and the “Love is Sweet” sign, which was hung on the Cake Table – all hand-made!

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The poms above the cake table were actually made in the car on the ride down to Harrisonburg, the day of the wedding! Amy also handmade the “I Do” bunting banner placed on top of the cake with the dog topper. The sign-in poster is something that Amy designed based on a template from Martha Stewart and an invitation design she saw online. This is one talented couple! All of the details and time and energy invested into this event made it a very personalized and beautiful ceremony. It was a privilege to photograph it!

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Vendors

Invitations – Minted.com

Restaurant – Beyond Restaurant

http://restaurantbeyond.com/

Hair – K.C. Felton Bridal Hair

http://theelegantartisan.com/?load=flash

Cake/Cupcakes – Sweetz Bakery

https://sweetzbakery.com/Home_Page.html

Cake Topper – AnimalCake Toppers

http://www.etsy.com/shop/AnimalCakeToppers?ref=shop_sugg

DJ – Leon Pearson of J&H DJ Services

http://www.facebook.com/pages/JH-DJ-Services/112975528776200

Rings – Protea Diamonds

http://www.proteadiamonds.com/

Wedding Gown – Alfred Angelo

http://www.alfredangelo.com/company/homepage.aspx

Bride’s Shoes – Ivanka Trump

http://www.ivankatrump.com/

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MEET DYLAN

Meet Dylan! He was such a treat to photograph! He’s a superstar just like his parents who met while practicing Acro Yoga. At 1 month, Dylan is already a very alert, sweet, and strong little guy. And he makes the best kissy faces! I can’t wait to see what an amazing person he grows to be.

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