Weddings

madhuri + gaurav | DOWNTOWN ATLANTA + MANDIR WEDDING

In my opinion, the way families and friends come together in celebration is one of the absolute best parts of a wedding day, and getting to capture the delight and devotion between them and for the couple is a feeling that seriously can’t be beat! The weekend-long wedding celebration of Madhuri and Gaurav’s marriage was unlike anything I’d ever experienced, which really shouldn’t have been a surprise after reading about Gaurav’s elaborate proposal on BuzzFeed. Their wedding weekend was one jaw-dropping, pulse-pounding moment after another, and I am so grateful to have been there to commemorate it all.

The night before the wedding, my 16 hours of wedding weekend coverage began with a combined Mehndi and Sangeet party that honestly looked like it had danced its way right out of a movie! During the Mehndi party, the bride has a red-orange stain applied to her palms, feet and the backs of her hands for the wedding, while the Sangeet party celebrates the union of two families with music and dancing. Lots and lots of dancing! Every color imaginable swished and swirled through the room like glittering, jewel-toned clouds. But even the brilliant fabrics couldn’t match the vibrancy of the couple, their families and 400+ guests. Laughter echoed throughout the Marriot Marquis in downtown Atlanta, and the cheers that erupted when Neha Kakkar, contestant-turned-judge of Indian Idol, stepped onto the stage for a special one-night performance could probably be heard on the street outside.

The festivities of the first night carried on until well past midnight, but Madhuri was up to have her hair and makeup done at a drowsy 3 a.m.! I arrived around 5 a.m. to photograph the last moments of the bride getting ready, then off we headed to the BAPS Mandir in Lilburn, GA, for their sunrise first look. The holy space was all peace and silence, a fitting way to begin the most important day of their lives. As the sun began its sleepy ascent into the sky, Gaurav saw his bride in her wedding lehenga for the first time, and the love in his eyes shone more brightly than any sunrise. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, and who could blame him!

Fueled by a crazy combination of adrenaline and electric energy pounding through me, we headed into Atlanta for the ceremony. Gaurav, followed by a parade of dancing, cheering guests, rode horseback between the towering Atlanta skyscrapers to Southern Exchange Ballrooms where the wedding and reception were held. The ceremony itself was brimming with emotion, especially during the moment when the veil between the bride and groom was dropped.

When the venue was flipped from ceremony to reception, I was in awe of Madhuri and Gaurav’s style on display. The use of gold, twinkle lights and flowing fabrics gave the room a magical, luxurious feel, as did the floral arrangements by the husband and wife team of Bowman & Clark. Still somehow filled with energy, even after the party of the night before, the brand new husband and wife, their family and friends lit up the dance floor with both planned performances and exuberant, spontaneous spins and sways.

The weekend long celebration of Madhuri and Gaurav’s union was an incredible feat made possible by their extraordinary vendors, especially Envi Event Planning. Large weddings are jam-packed with unique challenges, but they are also infused with a special grandeur and exhilaration. The opportunity to photograph such a magnificent occasion was one I’ll always treasure. Check out some of the fun and magic from Madhuri and Gaurav’s wedding celebration below!

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"And when you appear all the rivers sound in my body, bells shake the sky, and a hymn fills the world."

PABLO NERUDA

@cassievalentephoto