There is literally an infinite amount of options for how and where to plan a wedding. I wouldn’t say Adele and Eric considered ALL of them, but they certainly did their due diligence when planning the perfect celebration for them.
Adele’s family was set on having us as their photographers (much to our delight) since we photographed Adele’s brother Daniel and his wife Davina’s wedding a few years ago outside Monaco. Being the first item checked off the to-do list gave us the rare opportunity to be along for the ride of all potential wedding options as they were up for consideration.
Their final choice was the perfect compromise: a destination weekend trip to the famed Stone Barns at Bluehill Farms (as seen on Chef’s Table) just outside New York where many of their guests live and work. The result was a perfect balance of embracing their Jewish culture, heritage, and tradition and throwing a memorable, kick-ass party to satisfy their mostly younger crowd of many, many, MANY friends (Eric had 14 groomsmen!).
This balancing act was maintained throughout the weekend, beginning with a more intimate Shabbat dinner on Friday night, where Adele’s mom told the incredible story of the family’s Shabbat candlesticks that have survived war and many generations, followed by hilarious (albeit occasionally embarrassing) speeches by the bridal party (every single member – did I mention the 14 groomsmen?!). The next day you could practically feel the party energy building throughout the day as traditional Jewish ceremony and formal dinner made way for an epic dance party that only gained in momentum through the night.
It was such a pleasure to be there once again for this wonderful family to eternalize yet another memorable celebration. We also loved getting to know Eric and his many bromances and the bonds and friendships that have made both Adele and Eric who they are.
If you think planning a wedding is stressful, then imagine planning a wedding where none of the guests even know you are engaged, let alone getting married! Zohreen and Rishi thought that having a surprise wedding would be simpler and more fun, but let’s just say only one of those turned out to be true!
Guests were invited to the wonderfully eccentric Paramour Estate in Silver Lake to witness an elaborate proposal planned by Rishi. Instead, they were welcomed by the bride and groom revealing the surprise from the mansion’s balcony just an hour before their wedding ceremony.
To add an extra layer of anxiety, the only people who were in the know ahead of time – the two sets of parents – did not know that Zohreen had convinced a very special guest to officiate: Reza Aslan. Oh and a third surprise? Rishi’s brother decided to propose to his girlfriend at the reception and with the bride and groom’s blessing (they were all for more surprises!), he shocked everyone when he got down on one knee (she said yes!).
Despite all the surprises, there was another theme very much at the heart of this whole celebration: the fact that this union was more than two individuals coming together, it was two faiths, two cultures, two families from different backgrounds. Rishi is Indian Jain and Zohreen Pakistani Muslim so the love and acceptance of both families was not lost on anyone who was present. Reza drew from his personal life as a partner in an interfaith marriage as well as his professional life as a world-renowned religious scholar to officiate the ceremony with the perfect blend of honest, sweet, and funny while paying tribute to both of their backgrounds. But it is Rishi’s testament of love during his vows that stood out to me as one of the most beautiful I have heard in my 10 years as a wedding photographer. Rishi’s voice broke as he declared: “I will always be a part of your community. I will always fight for your community to make sure that your community is safe.” These words meant everything. To acknowledge the struggles of Zohreen’s Muslim community and to vow to stand by it is the ultimate declaration of love as far as I am concerned.
We could not have been more thrilled to have been entrusted with not only the task of capturing this truly awesome event, but with all the secrets and surprises that came along with it. Zohreen and Rishi, thank you for choosing us!
And a special Thank You to photographer Adam Kealing, who flew in from Austin to help us cover this wedding!
Van Ann and Mario’s love story feels like the plot of a classic romantic comedy set in New York City. Two people from completely different backgrounds – one of Vietnamese decent and the other Puerto Rican – build a friendship over a common love of good food until one day our male protagonist finally makes it out of the friend-zone as our female protagonist realizes that what she was searching for in a partner was right in front of her all along.
Van Ann and Mario shared this story with us when we met them for dinner in New York a year before their wedding. They were excited to incorporate many elements that have defined their relationship over the years – like Shake Shack (the topic of their first ever conversation) and Chick-fil-a (to which Mario famously won a year’s worth of sandwiches for his obsessed bride-to-be). Their faith was also at the centre of the celebration, with Van Ann’s father, a paster, officiating the ceremony. And of course, delicious food, an homage to the many meals over which their relationship developed, was shared family-style at the reception.
Vintage china place-settings, a ladder strung with vintage lightbulbs over the head table, a custom doorway leading to the ceremony, and super fun pink lighting on the dance floor… no design detail was overlooked either! Van Ann and Mario collaborated on the design in a true labor of love.
But perhaps the sweetest gesture of all, was when Van Ann gave Mario two letters to open before the ceremony. One was addressed to him, and the other to his departed father whom she never met. It was the most beautiful way to acknowledge the absence of such a significant individual on such an important day and honour his memory. It said a lot about Van Ann. Needless to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Mario read the letter.
It was a lovely celebration, true to this couple and their relationship, and it was such a pleasure to document it.