Archive for the ‘islamic weddings’ Category

Roda and Yahya are so laid-back and easy to talk to. They came to me looking for candid wedding photography but also for someone with multi-cultural shooting experience. They had come to the right person. We chatted about our mutual love for travel and Islamic traditions. Although I consider myself quite worldly I hadn’t shot an Islamic wedding before. Since Roda and Yahya’s families are mixed, they told me that the wedding would attempt to include all ethnicities and cultures that represented their families. How cool was this! They did this by having an East African promise ceremony following the engagement, a Muslim religious ceremony (with catering from over 5 ethnic cuisines!) and a more hybrid wedding reception with their western cultures. They had many cultures represented: Canadian, Somali, Yemeni, French, Mauritian Indian and Palestinian! Yeeeyy to diversity!

I asked Roda about her engagement story and how she met Yahya. This is what she had to say.

“Yahya and I actually knew of one another for years but never met in person. We ran in the same circles, he lived 2 blocks away from my house and one of his friends dated (and eventually married) one of my best friends but through all those years we only heard of one another but had never met! Finally after 7 years of this running around, we had a chance meeting online when I was travelling and he convinced me to cut my round-the-world trip short so I could give us a chance. Friends convinced me it would be worth it and after some negotiating for some future all expense paid travel deals from him, I accepted and flew back to Toronto! lol.  When we finally met, it was a ” holy moly, it was you all along!?” type of reaction; we really were an unlikely couple..but we’ve made it work for the last 4 years! 🙂
After Yahya had done the traditional asking my grandmother/ family elder for my hand in marriage, he surprised me with a day full of all the things I love: sunsets, peonies, sushi and poetry. He topped it off by presenting me with the most perfect vintage engagement ring that I had been gushing over in magazines. It was a beautiful day.” 🙂

The wedding day went off without a hitch other than my pathetic attempts to say Yahya’s name properly which was mildly embarrassing. Every time I did, the couple would quietly giggle until I finally blurted “I’m not saying your name remotely correct am I?” The couple laughed and agreed. I still went on to pronounce his name 20 different ways but in the end I think we all realized that I was a lost cause about it.

There were a few other details that I came to learn about Islamic weddings. The first and foremost important detail I learned is that no one is in a hurry AT ALL. I’ve shot all sorts of weddings where people are generally in a hurry. But this wedding was as laid-back as one could imagine..and I mean hours “late”. It did make me nervous at first because I felt like it would end up being my fault. I soon learned that it was not just Roda and Yahya. It was the entire guest list. I rushed to the reception hall thinking we would need to catch up on photographs and no one was there! haha. Not a single soul. I just laughed to myself and thought, well someone needs to relax.

The rest of the night came with ease and soon enough speeches and eating was on the way. Afterwards, the men left the hall to lounge in the lobby and the women congregated to dance with ease and remove their hijabs. It was a wonderful moment to witness and I was really blind about what was happening. The women laughed and danced and sang and freed their gorgeous hair to the beats of the music. I had a blast photographing them! I wished that my second shooter Scott could see how much fun we were having but at the same time it felt so special that he didn’t. It was an experience that helped me understand their traditions and value the bonding of women.

Travel is my drug because I am so interested in cultures and traditions around the globe. My camera is my journal, my eye and my reason to have the privilege of bonding with people I might never of had the opportunity of bonding with. Weddings are so deeply rooted in everyone’s culture that it is something everyone understands. I love family and friends and of course parties. At least once in a person’s life it is great to bond with every person who is meaningful to you. Having them all in one place is so special. I love my job. I love that I am a complete stranger walking into all the details of two people’s lives and extended family. I am the voyeur who gets to capture these special moments in time and watch family dynamics. It is truly lovely. My photos will be the ones you grab for if your house burns down. They are truly a treasure. I can only hope that strangers from all walks of earth invite me to capture their special day. I never want to become a machine and create shooting recipes for my clients. Boredom is not bliss. I thrive off of learning about people’s way of life and I try to capture what captivates me and of course embodies that culture. When I am surrounded by new experience and something I don’t fully understand, I use my camera to connect me. I am always welcomed into social circles that way and am amazed at how much a camera bridges that gap. When clients ask me if I have experience in Jewish weddings or Chinese weddings, I say yes but explain that should never be a deciding factor in hiring someone. A new eye and a new experience always creates good imagery. A good photographer seeks to find something unseen.

Thank you so much Roda and Yahya for welcoming me into your multi-cultural wedding day. I had a blast and we got some gorgeous shots! Good luck in Abu Dhabi!

xo – april

roda+yaha1 roda+yahya2


Wedding theme and motif: I love all things vintage, lacy with a touch of glam so a 1920s elegant reception was decided. Feathers, soft garden roses and glitz galore! Colors were pinks, white and metallics with a touch of black.
Number of guests: 200
Your best moment: There were so many fun, touching and utterly hilarious moments that it’s hard for us to decide! Our first look, when the charleston was played  and our entrance with the arabian drummers are top 3!
Honeymoon: Yahya did promise a world tour honeymoon after I gave up my trips for him when we met so as of summer 2014 we are moving abroad for 2 years! 🙂
Ceremony location:Shangri la gardens, Markham
Priest church officiating:Family friend
Reception location:Chateau Le jardin, Woodbridge
Bridal gown Tara Keely with custom bolero and headscarf ( hijab) by bride’s grandmother.
Bridal party attire :Blush pink and champagne custom dresses
Groom’s tux and suit:custom
Cake:the incredible Deepa from Spring Bloom cakes. Independent, small home baker that made my hand drawn pic come to life!
Catering and food:Riaz Catering ( such a nice man! SUCH a kind sweet gentlemen with years of experience. THE go-to Afghan caterer.
Wedding planner:Gwen from Lush Lux Event planning.
Event decor:Manti from Hidden Treasures. Completely understood my vision and created for us an enchanting space.
Favors: personalized arabian aromatic oils: diy by grandma, mom and aunt.
Music: family dj: Mona
Hair and makeup: saba malik-elements of beauty
Flowers: Margaret and her team from Florida Flowers made all my centerpieces.  The attention to detail and taste of this woman is superb. Looved working with her!
Stationery: my personal diy. Im in love with paper and obsessed with fonts; I would do it all over again!




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