I don’t shoot many destination weddings and this Nairobi Kenya destination wedding tops the lot! Warning: this could turn out to be the first and longest blog post for 2019. I also run the risk of using way too many adjectives to describe how wonderful this wedding in Nairobi, Kenya was.
I’ll set the scene first: A fairly large Indian wedding in Nairobi, Kenya; two large families coming together from all over the world; multiple ceremonies set over 4 days including family gatherings for prayers, the Mehndi hand painting, the Nikah or engagement, the actual wedding and the reception. It was going to be long and intense. And I couldn’t wait to for it to start!
Their families had already hired official wedding photographers to covering the main events of the wedding. However Sam’s family had asked me to document the wedding for them in my own style.
The first day was lovely and relaxed with an informal Mehndi at Sam’s parents house. There was a big family lunch on the go with his aunts and cousins involved with all the cooking and serving. At the same time there were Mehndi artists decorating all the ladies hands and feet using henna in the most lovely and intricate patterns.
After lunch the garden was prepared for a prayer ceremony, blessings, celebratory singing and dancing then more food for all the guests. It was wonderful to be right in the midst of all this celebration.
The second day was set to be bigger than the day before. We started back at Sam’s parents with lunch and then everyone got ready into the most incredible sari’s and jewellery. We then headed off to Cloud Hotel and Suites, an upmarket hotel in downtown Nairobi, for the official engagement. Both families came together this night. The hotel was beautifully decorated and everyone was dressed and made up beautifully in the most vibrant colours. It was going to be a great night.
The engagement ceremony was followed by some dancing and to end the night the DJ played his best tracks which kept the dance floor packed!
When families come together like this I think it’s vital to take family portraits. So I looked round the hotel for a suitable spot and found the hotel pool. The background was beautifully illuminated with fairy lights and the reflections off the pool made these portraits really stand out.
Sam and Shezina were engaged now so the third day was the all important wedding! We started back at Sam’s parents just after lunch and everyone had gathered for Sam to put on his ceremonial turban. We then set off for Movenpick Hotel Nairobi, another beautiful Nairobi hotel for the wedding Ceremony.
As we were led to the ceremony by two drummers the family spontaneously broke into dance. This felt like a serious moment but even the most reserved family members joined in the celebratory dancing. By the time we got to the doors of the room the dancing had intensified and the drumming got louder and faster. It was quite a spectacle. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take any photos of the wedding ceremony itself as we had to leave early.
The fourth day came round far too quick. It seemed like just a few hours before that we were in the garden for the prayers and Mehndi. This was a night to savour though. Sam’s cousin had pulled together the most incredible evening reception at the well known Carnivore Restaurant. But this wasn’t like anything I’d seen here before.
Picture two huge clear tents to seat 300 guests, fire eaters and acrobats to receive the guests, a 20 foot LED display, raised stage with DJ and sound system, a huge Kenyan BBQ for the evening dinner, Playstation and table football for the kids and not forgetting the professional MC and dancers. The attention to detail was exacting and everyone had a fabulous time.
Towards the end of the evening I asked Sam and Shezina if they’d like some portraits. I wanted them to have some iconic portraits of their wedding as the venue was utterly gorgeous. 10 minutes later and we had some really beautiful portraits that the adore. 40 minutes later and I had all their family portraits done too.
And then right at the end of the night as the last guests left it rained. Hard!
My photo’s just about do it justice. It was was an incredible evening and a fitting end to a wonderful 4 days that brought these two families together.
Sam and Shezina, thanks for an utterly incredible time. This is why I shoot weddings.
If your’re thinking of a destination wedding in Kenya don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I have built up great contacts in Nairobi and can help with some of your planning and logistics.