Photography: Impressions by Annuj
Cinematography: iCapture Studio
Day of Coordination: The Experience by James
Wedding Make Up & Hair: Iris Artistry
Bride Wedding outfit(s): Aarathie Super Centre
Bride jewelry: Aarathie Super Centre for manavarai saree jewelry
Bride shoes: Aarathie Super Centre
Groom outfit(s): Aarathie Super Centre
Groom shoes: Aldo
Other Groom accessories: Aarathie Super Centre
Bridesmaids outfits: Aarathie Super Centre
Saree draping services: PleatsByArts for bridesmaids & Pure beauty by Latha for bride
Groomsmen outfits: Aarathie Super Centre
Engagement/Wedding rings: James Allen (engagement ring) & Aarathie Super Centre (wedding bands)
Wedding decorator: Ruben's Wedding Service
Florist: Spring Florist
Print Services (invitations, stationery, wedding pamphlets): Invites - Shastra Cards (India)
Live musicians: Kobini Ananth (ainnervoice)
Catering/food station/food services/dessert station: Royal Catering
Wedding Venue: General Sikorski Hall
Reception MUAH: Nilo Haq
Reception decor: Geethams Event Decor Inc.
Bride Reception outfit(s): Golden Silk Outlet
Bride shoes: Ted Baker
Groom Reception outfit(s): Indochino
Groom accessories: Zara & Amazon
Groom shoes: ALDO
Photo booth services: SDE Weddings
Cake: Spring Bloom Cakes
Catering/food station/food services/dessert station: J&J Swagat
Reception favours: Haribo gummies
Reception Venue: J&J Swagat
I think there’s something in the water at my studio. It has been a stellar month for Impressions by Annuj as I now got my second MyWed Award win. This wasn’t even a part of their usual awards round, but was selected on its own in between rounds! What an honour it is to not only be chosen by the Editors but then released mid-round! Definitely one of my favourites from 2017.
I'm here today with Dil and Vino's engagement shoot that we had in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Dil loves hot air balloons so she (along with with her head organizer of a sister, Neluja) planned for us to be there during their hot air balloon festival! It was a great trip with an amazing crew (Dil and Vino were accompanied by two friends AND her sister - talk about #squadgoals!). Check out my favourites from their shoot - leave a comment below with your thoughts!
“The Thaali Shot” – sounds intimidating, don’t it? If you’ve been a part of a Tamil wedding (or are going to have one), specifically a Hindu one, this article is for you. But be warned... it's a doozy - very long, but very thorough. It wouldn't be an ULTIMATE guide to anything if it was four sentences and a photo, right? So go and grab a cup of tea and come back when you have a minute, or ten; I'll wait.
Each part of the wedding day has its perks: early morning prep bustles with nerves, giddiness, and anticipation, post ceremony is laced in joy, love and warmth, and the reception is drenched with tear-filled speeches and sweaty moves on the dance floor. With all of this said, my very favourite part of a wedding is the ceremony itself. A large portion of our clientele are Sri Lankan Tamil Hindus and the moment that the wedding becomes official, the tying of the Thaali (wedding necklace) is riddled with excitement and adrenaline. The bride was just whisked away to quickly change into her koorai saree (wedding saree), and makes her way down the aisle clutching on a maala (garland). Headed towards her patiently waiting, soon-to-be husband, they are ready to embark on the rest of their lives together. The couple's nearest and dearest come up on the stage, flowers clenched between fingers, ready to shower the couple with blessings. The priest nods to the groom to go ahead and tie the knot as the band blares in climactic excitement, the guests pray, and thrown floral petals shower over the bride and groom. Whether shooting or as a guest, you will always find my eyes welling up with tears. It is beautiful, emotional, and exciting every time - it never gets old.
Being able to look back at that sentimental moment that is so special to couples and their loved ones. Unfortunately, for a myriad of (absolutely legitimate) reasons, the photo can end up being less than ideal. As you can imagine from the description above – there is no shortage of stress, especially on the part of the groom. Typically, Annu and I don’t like to orchestrate moments. If any of the mishaps outlined below happen, we don’t turn into directors - we let it happen naturally and we will adjust accordingly to get our shot. BUT! We also have the unique perspective of being behind the scenes to literally hundreds of weddings – we’ve seen one or two Thaali moments in our day. With this knowledge, we like to advise (read: warn) our couples of different things that can happen during that moment – just in case they’d like to avoid that and it might subconsciously sink in :). I myself like to know all angles of a situation, so I can make an informed decision, which is why I tried to think of everything that could possibly influence that perfect Thaali moment.
Before we get into the weeds of what makes or breaks a Thaali shot, there are a few things that are good to get some context on.
If you have two photographers at your wedding - they are probably going to go with two angles at this point:
Angle 1: The wide angle - this is either done from front and centre, or just off to the side - depending on the set up of the priest's ritual area, the decor, and the guests. This is done to not only capture the couple, but also the loved ones around them showering them with blessings.
Angle 2: Off to an angle - probably about 45 degrees from the couple to get that optimal profile of both of them. This helps to show the connection between the bride and the groom in that Thaali moment.
Another thing to know about is that there are three options of going about the tying (screwing) of the Thaali.
Option 1: Let the Thozhi do it (Perfect Thaali Photo Moment Risk Level: Low). Traditionally, this is the way the Thaali was always tied - only recently did brides and grooms insist on having the groom put it himself. The plus side of this is that it increases your chances of getting that photo because there's a huge relief of pressure on his part and he can concentrate on “not ruining" the photo (you'll hear more about this soon). Added bonus points for keeping the parentals happy by going the traditional route with this option.
Option 2: Let the groom do it, take the safer route, and get the "good photo" (Perfect Thaali Photo Moment Risk Level: Medium). In this option, the groom takes the Thaali and places it around the brides neck, but his full position goes behind her. His concentration is fully on the Thaali, and as long as he doesn't block the bride from the front, you have a decent Thaali pic where the bride's face is in full view. The plus side is that there is far less risk of the bride being blocked, the down side is that there is no full connection between the bride and the groom in this pivotal moment. I think people who are realists like to go with this option because it's the best of both worlds - you get the groom do to the Thaali himself (something that is very important to couples, myself included) and you still get a beautiful photo.
Option 3: Let the groom do it, take the riskier route, but get the best possible photo (Perfect Thaali Photo Moment Risk Level: High, Frequency: Rare). Whenever we lay out the options for a bride and groom, they almost always go with this option, no matter how risky. Today's couple wants to have it all - the groom put on the Thaali and the picture perfect moment. This is a difficult option, for sure, but it is by no means impossible. Below, I'll get into all of the complications that can arise.
For this example, I turn to our own wedding! Somehow, Annu and I lucked out with our priest making Annu sit for the Thaali, something I wasn't expecting at all. I remember when Annu “came at me” with the Thaali, I said “yo, you gotta stand!” And he replied with “no, the aiyar told me to sit”. A “Thaali shot”, or how to get it, was not at all on my mind during that time - it was sheer luck. By shooting multiple weddings, I’ve come to realize that it’s almost only the priests from the Rochester Hindu Temple that ask grooms to do it this way, most ask groom’s to stand. But! If you can manage to get your priest to approve a seated Thaali tying at your wedding - you're golden!
Now that you have some background, I present to you all things that can influence that "Perfect Thaali Shot"!
1) Prep in advance - Typical thaalis come with a screw in the back and most of the time, the screw comes out completely. I'm not sure if it was the efforts of my detail-oriented mother-in-law or her jeweler, but she got one where the thaali screw locks so that you can't get it out completely. You can screw it in, and you can screw it out so that you can separate both sides, but you cannot take it off. Doing this helps one big issue that has happened on MANY mandirs - dropping and losing the screw. That is definitely not fun. What some do to avoid this fiasco is use a safety pin right at the Thaali moment. Instead of fumbling with a screw they have a safety pin that they just stick through and lock into place - they replace it with the screw when they get home after the wedding. Some don't want this route as they want to have the actual screw locked in for the Thaali moment - it's all up to you and what you prioritize.
2) PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! - Another part of prepping is practicing. Whether it is being put on by the groom, or the thozhi (matron of honour), or an aunty, it's a good idea to get used to it ahead of time. This is especially true because South Asian jewelry stores don't always follow the Western worlds methodology of "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey", so sometimes you think you're tightening it when you're actually screwing outwards! (Hence why the screw fell on the floor!). When couples have asked many questions about their Thaali photo in the past, we've even advised that they practice the motion ahead of time. Once the bride is off to change into her Koorai, Annu usually gets the groom to practice with the Thozhan!
3) The groom! - And here is where there is big pressure put on the groom. He has to do everything he can to not block the bride, especially her face. The main culprits of a blocked bride are:
literally standing in front of her
A groom standing directly in front of a bride really hurts that front and centre angle. A groom who stands in front of his bride also hurts the side angle as he can't really look at his bride and therefore that connection is gone. Ideally, the groom should stand just off to the side of the bride - do not go any further than one knee in front of her!
To help the arms and elbows blocking the bride's face issue, the key is to bend with BOTH your back and your knees. You've gotta bend with your knees so you're not towering above your bride, and you have to bend with your back to get in close. BUT! If your squat game is too strong you may end up looking more like you are using the... *ahem* facilities, especially if you’re tall and your bride doesn’t have the tallest torso. Making sure that the seats you sit on are higher off the ground can help mitigate this risk as well.
Garlands and shawls have whacked too many a bride in the face. To avoid this, you cannot hover over the bride or bend too little. These usually happen when you're too tall and towering above your bride. When the groom screws the Thaali himself, this is at risk to happen if he blocks the bride too much - she gets a mouth full of flowers. If you've had a shawl that is loose for the beginning of the wedding, it might be advisable to pin that ish back while your bride has gone to change. Take a look below.
But no matter what, keep a smile on your face no matter what happens! This is the biggest and best moment of your wedding - being happy throughout your ceremony is what results in amazing photos!
4) Wanna know something that will ruin a very heartwarming, loving thaali shot? A phone. Bridesmaids, groomsmen, and all other guests - if you are on the stage, GET. YOUR. PHONE. OUT. OF. YOUR. HAND. This is not the moment for your shaky, terribly composed, and poorly lit photos or snaps #sorrynotsorry. This is about your loved ones and the pinnacle of their wedding ceremony. The couple has invested a lot of effort and energy (let's not mention money) into selecting their photographer and videographer, it is their responsibility to capture the moment and capture it well. Throw your flowers, pray, smile, send your good vibes... just leave your phone in the hands of someone who is off stage if you really want it that badly (then you can be in the shot too!).
5) Not enough flowers - bridal party, this is all you! Don't wait right until the veil is being ripped off and the Thaali is going on to run and grab flowers. The flowers should be found and readied when the bride leaves to change, as soon as the bride comes back and puts that garland on, the petals go out to everyone because you've got no more than two minutes before that Thaali goes on. If you hand it out too, too early, it gets squished in and fall out of impatient guests hands. Brides - make sure that you plan accordingly to have lots and lots (and lots) of flowers for this moment!
6) Guests, now that you have a ton of flowers in hand, spread yourselves across the stage. A lot of Thaali photos are lopsided. Guests gather on the stage and they're all on the side that the stage stairs are. If you're a guest, go to the other side! Bridal party - if you notice this off-balance, tell people to move! An even scattering of guests will bring balance to the photo and the showering of the flowers! When you throw, throw up, not directionally at the couple lol. If you stagger your throw to be just a bit after the original throw, you could give the photographer a chance at an extra click!
7) Take your time! One thing to keep in mind is that the tying of the Thaali is rarely happening as slowly as you think it is. This is something that I'll go over in a future post with general wedding tips but so often I find that the people on centre stage think that they are moving too slowly and that everyone in the audience is waiting around for them to hurry up - this is rarely the case. Don't feel pressured; only you think it's taking forever. Taking your time can give your photographer a chance to click once more or even get another angle.
I think that's it - didn't think that much could go into getting a great shot, did you? I'm going to keep this ending short and sweet. At the end of the day - the Thaali moment is so, so, so much more than a photo. Though obviously ideal, a Kodak moment should not be the main thing on your mind in that time. Even if you don't get a picture perfect moment, you've got yourself a picture perfect mate - am I right? :)
If you've got extra tips, please feel free to comment below and I'll either do a follow up or add the advice into this article for future readers. Please let me know if you found this article helpful in the comments below and let me know what you would like to see more of on this blog.
Wishing you beautiful Thaali moments, always!
It seems like it's a good week to be Impressions by Annuj - a Fearless Photo of the Day, my first MyWed Award, and now another SLR Lounge Award under my belt. It's great to be recognized by such acclaimed institutions in the industry!
This photo did so well on my Instagram - I think it's just about catching that moment that you might have missed or not remembered quite right. Guests loved seeing what they might not have been around for :)
I posted this on IG in B&W but then decided to go B&W for SLR Lounge. It's really hard to go B&W for South Asian weddings - there's so much beauty involved in all of the bold colour that is encompassed in their events that it's heartbreaking to let that go. I get asked all the time by other photographers how I go about deciding when to go B&W but it really depends on the photo. I think when there is a moment, or a lot of emotion coming out in an image, I want the focus to be directed to that and not distract a viewer with the colours so I might lean more towards the B&W. Otherwise, it breaks my heart to take the colour out!
Nowadays, everyone wins awards because there are so many new organizations trying to become the next big thing. There are very few that have been industry greats for years and really hold their name to a high standard, MyWed is one of them (along with WPPI, Fearless Photographers, SLR Lounge, to make a few). I have gotten quite a few Editor’s Choice picks from them but I just received my first award.
This was from a wedding I took nearly four years ago. I guess sometimes when you just know that you’ve got something good going, you gotta stick with it!
A big shoutout to Angell Liu for always being an amazing make up artist to work with!
What do you think of this pic? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Just a quick note to drop today to let you guys know that I won my first Fearless Photo of the Day award! Now these are different from regular Fearless awards as this full collection is curated by the Founder and Director of Fearless, Huy Nguyen. What an honour it is to have something selected by someone of his calibre!
This was a photo I took of Sinthubairavy and Shindujan at their engagement shoot in San Fransicsco. There are so many great photos from their shoot that I’ve yet to share. I smell a featured e-shoot coming soon!
We’re here today with Karen & Sumeet’s extravagant wedding. When thinking of all of their events, a few words come to mind: stylish, luxe, lavish, stunning. They are an extremely tasteful couple but they also luck out from being directly related to some industry bests. Karen’s sister is none other than the fashionista behind Zardozi couture and her cousin is Baljit from Baljit Gill Artistry - clearly a super talented family. From the Sangeets to the wedding to the reception, it was a feast for the eyes! Not only was the whole affair completely drenched in a regal vibe, but Karen herself is a queen! Take a look at her in all the pics and you try to tell me otherwise! Enjoy!
Hope you enjoyed their photos. If you did, please leave a comment below with what your favourite photo was, and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to our blog!
Be back soon!
Bride Sangeet Team
Bride MUAH: Beauty by BU
Bride Wedding outfit: Zardozi Couture
Bride jewelry: Zardozi Couture
Bride shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bride Hair Florals: Anandas
Decor: Diya Décor
Musicians/DJ: DJ EM - Frequency Entertainment
Venue: Verdi Convention Centre
Wedding MUAH: Baljit Gill Artistry & Xpressions Studio
Mehndhi: Sonia's Henna Art
Bride Wedding outfit(s): Zardozi Couture
Bride jewelry: Zardozi Couture
Matha Pati and Naath: Xpressions Jewelry
Bride shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bride Veil: Zardozi Couture
Bride Hair Florals: Anandas
Groom outfit, shoes and accessories: Zardozi Couture
Bridesmaids outfits: Zardozi Couture
Engagement/Wedding rings: Cartier
Florist (bouquet & garlands): Bloomen
Band Baja: Rahul the Dhol Guy
Wedding Venue: Shromani Sikh Sangat
Horse & Carriage: Caledon Horse & Carriage
Doves: Dove Release Toronto
Home backdrop decor: Lush Decor
Reception MUAH: Xpressions Studio
Reception decor: Diya Decor (everything besides listed below)
Red Flower Walls and Ornate gates for stage: Xclusive Designs
Bride Reception outfits: Zardozi Couture
Groom Reception outfit, shoes and accessories: Burberry
Dance floor decal: Marquee Design
Heart shape photo booth in lobby Pink Petals
Cake: Something Sweet Bakery
Entertainment: TDC entertainment
Band Baja: Rahul The Dhol Guy
Magician: J’s Magic
Singer: Deep Jandu
DJ: Official DJ EM - Frequency Entertainment
Reception Venue: The Venetian Banquet & Hospitality Centre
Tanya here with my first tips post on the IbA Blog. Now, for a bit of context: Annu and I complement each other in a lot of ways, we balance each other out. Where I like to be organized, he's more go-with-the-flow. Where he's a movie buff, I like TV shows more. Where I'm sorru-curry (aka rice and curry), he's a roti kinda guy. And when it comes to clients, he's the nice guy, and I'm tough love. I say the things that you may not want to hear but are always in your best interest - I'm not always the greatest at sugar coating either. So keep that in mind when reading my stuff - it's all done out of love :)
With that being said, I bring to you some tips to help you plan your engagement shoot (there are many more, I'll probably have to make at least another post).
1. Be mentally prepared – it is going to be a long day. A VERY long day. Most people don’t realize that for each final photo you see online, there are scores of the same pose, altered in slightly different ways and taken from different angles and different light settings. Though engagement shoots are very fun and memorable, they can be tiring as well. Make sure to have a good mindset and attitude going into it!
2. Keeping Tip #1 in mind… SLEEP! A good night’s rest is so important to help you last through your engagement shoot. Have everything laid out about 2-3 days ahead of time so all you have to do the day before is run through the things you’ve set aside and make sure you didn’t forget anything.
3. Also in reference to Tip #1… EAT! It’s going to be a long day. Don’t starve yourself in the morning because you don’t want a little cushion that can come with a hearty meal. Eat well and be energized. Trust us – if it matters that much to you, it is f