Weddings are a monumental moment in anyone’s life. This we know. But there is something that often receives less attention and is completely forgotten by the time of the wedding: the engagement. Engagements are typically handled on a more personal level. Couples are lucky to have a few pictures of the moment, if even that. This takes nothing away from the weight of the moment; it’s life changing. It can just be difficult to make the necessary arrangements to capture that moment from afar. We succeeded in capturing my engagement to Olivia, which seems so long ago, but it was not until the eve of 2014 that we were invited to be a part of a full blown engagement ceremony for Roma & Irfan.
The sheer size of and volume of attendance for this engagement ceremony may fool you into believing it was an actual wedding, but the families of Roma & Irfan simply knew how to celebrate the importance of an engagement.
What makes an engagement so important? To be frank, it is the moment that you let your significant other know that “I’ve weighed all the options and it is clear to me that you and I can only face the world together, not apart.” And with that, you solidify a commitment that is recognized officially on the day of your wedding. But that initial move toward commitment, it’s something that deserves more praise than it gets. Weddings are difficult, but engagements take on an enormous amount of pressure. If done right, the groom has to go through a crazy amount of elaborate planning in order to make an impact and get the reaction that you want.
Roma & Irfan’s engagement had less of the drama behind getting down on one knee (Irfan had already done that) and more of the celebratory part. The chemistry between Roma & Irfan is so obvious that it nothing seemed unusual about their choice of celebration. And on the last day of 2013? What a way to ring in the new year with all of your loved ones!
For us at A Peachy Life, this was our first experience at an Indian engagement ceremony and reception. One of the most infatuating parts of the experience was all of the excellent Indian music played throughout the day and evening. The music not only begs you to start moving — it forces it upon you. And the dancing fever is infectious — I think I saw every single person in the room (at least 150 people) at one point or another dancing on the dance floor. There’s an honesty to their music that is often more subtle in western music, but brought to the forefront here.
The families gathered inside of the beautiful St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater. As tradition would have it, Irfan’s family arrived downstairs and were individually greeted by Roma’s father and family members — welcoming them in to the celebration. The pre-ceremony consisted of a dazzling buffet of h’ordeurvres that worked just as a teaser of what would come later on.
The religious ceremony was a fascinating exercise in Indian and Islamic engagement ceremonies. Very traditional in nature and a breath of fresh air from the traditional Western types of ceremonies. The same principles remained, but there was an interesting formality where the groom sat in front of Roma’s brother during part of the ceremony. It represents an interesting agreement between the two families and the brother allowing Irfan to take his sister’s hand in marriage. Family in this tradition, like many Eastern traditions, is most important. Once the formalities were finished, Roma moved to the seat in front of Irfan and their engagement truly began. Irfan got down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage (again, but in a traditional sense). I truly admire the two of them for preserving this age old tradition. As progressive as we our in this generation, it is so important to try and bridge the gap with the past, even if it doesn’t make much sense to us now. Not everything has to be based in tradition, but it is admirable to maintain some element of tradition, if anything for the sake of the family. For me, it was imperative that Olivia and I have a traditional Vietnamese Tea Ceremony prior to our traditional Western wedding — it wouldn’t have felt right any other way.
The cocktail hour featured another dazzling display of cuisine (some in artistic form, see video). Engaging music filled the air in the background as family members mingled about with food and drink. The couple were hidden away polishing off their dance skills in preparation for their performance. Dance in the Indian Tradition is second, perhaps, only to food and drink in terms of its necessity for any sort of event. There is no life to a party if there isn’t dancing going on. Roma’s father recognized and invited many family members to the dance floor to perform a short dance while he thanks them for traveling. Family members from Roma’s side performed a few dances for the couple — very fun and entertaining. One of the best moments came when Irfan’s father took the stage to perform two songs for the engaged couple. It was just such an awesome moment and there is no doubt it must have meant a lot to Roma & Irfan.
I’ve been very fortunate to befriend Irfan through this entire experience. I always have a great rapport with the couples we work with, but it is rare to actually acquire a friend out of a professional relationship. He’s a great person and I feel honored to not only have filmed his beautiful engagement ceremony, but to also call him my friend. I truly hope everyone enjoys this film. It is our very first Indian / Islamic Engagement Ceremony film.
A special thanks to Amita from Moons and Balloons Photography for working with us that day and providing the most excellent photographs you see on this blog. She’s incredibly talented a very kind person. I would recommend her work to anyone looking for photography for a wedding or any sort of special event. She is one of the hardest working photographers I know.