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Unobtrusive, Soulful, Real

Sonal & Wesley – Destination Indian wedding & Reception | Meliá Desert Palm, Dubai

As a Dubai wedding photographer, there’s nothing I love more than capturing the beauty of my city and its loved-up couples. The wonderful Sonal and Wesley chose to get married at the stunning Meliá Desert Palm, an idyllic outdoor wedding venue in Dubai. Sonal is Indian and Wesley is South African, and so their wedding theme was a unique and fascinating fusion of cultures – notice the zebra-print seat covers, palm leaf centre-pieces and safari-themed table decorations!

The weather on the day was glorious (one of my favourite things about destination weddings). The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the atmosphere was filled with excitement and anticipation. No wonder, then, that every scene from this Indian wedding created a stunning photograph. Wesley made a dazzling statement to kick things off by arriving for the Baraat in a seriously pimped-out Jeep, accompanied by traditional Dhol players (Indian drummers) as friends and family cheered him on.

The excitement only built as the guests took their seats to wait for the bride. Dressed in a delicate pink sari embellished with resplendent gold detailing, Sonal walked down the aisle beneath a bright pink and purple “Phoolon Ki Chadar”. This colourful floral canopy was held by male members of the bride’s family to shelter her as she walked, and made the photographs of her entrance all the more stunning. One of my favourites is the moment the cloth was lowered and Wesley saw his soon-to-be wife for the first time– his emotion and pride is so evident in his eyes.

A lot of Sonal and Wesley’s guests had travelled from abroad, and so the bride and groom wanted to make sure everyone felt a part of the traditional Hindu ceremony. The moment when all of the guests threw a cascade of flower petals during the “Pheras” (when the bride and groom walked around the ceremonial fire) was definitely one of the most memorable moments. As the beautiful ceremony drew to a close, the sun began to set, casting gorgeous golden light over the scene (and creating a truly breath-taking backdrop for photographs!).

When it was time for the outdoor reception, the day erupted with even more laughter, joy and dancing. The scene looked magical, with the tables glowing beneath a canopy of lanterns. The couple entered wearing an expression of utter happiness, toasting their guests with fizzing glasses of champagne. The electric atmosphere continued into the speeches. The bridesmaids got creative by remixing ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ to make it all about the happy couple’s journey, which went down a storm with the crowd!

After the couple’s emotional first dance together, DJ Krash got everybody up and dancing with a mixture of styles, like Bollywood, Afrobeats and R&B. This Asian wedding was full of life, energy and good times, and I felt privileged to be part of it as a documentary wedding photographer.

Venue: Meliá Desert Palm | Decor: Design Boulevard | Hair & Make-Up: Angelique Turner | DJ: DJ Krash | Sound & Lighting: Alliance Events

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