Washington D.C Elopement | Natalie + Piyush | Washington D.C Wedding Photographer
From the moment I met Natalie and Piyush I just loved them. Natalie has such a warm and welcoming personality that it’s so hard to not instantly just love her and Piyush and their family was just welcoming and kind that I felt part of their group that got to witness this special day for them. When they booked me to capture their elopement in DC I was thrilled. They both have families that are far away from the DC area and are planning celebrations in India and Iowa over the next year but really wanted to have an intimate ceremony that reflected both of their cultures and their home in DC with their immediate family.
We met on OKCupid while both living in DC - he was a grad student at U Maryland (moved here from Bombay) and I was working in DC after living in Africa for several years. Our first date was at Cafe Citron and then Kramer Books in DuPont Circle.
Piyush proposed at the Taj Mahal at sunrise with a ring we designed together with a DC based Etsy jeweler. His lucky number (7) is incredibly important to him and a significant number in Hindu traditions, so he proposed at exactly7AM. He found a secluded corner and we were early enough that masses of tourists hadn't arrived yet - so it was just us, in front of this amazing, astounding wonder of the world that is a testament to eternal love and iconic India. (The Shah who built the monument did it in honor of his wife, who died giving birth to their 14th child. He spent 22 years and used most of his immense wealth to build a building worthy of her love - such a romantic story). Piyush is a romantic, one thing I love so much about him, so it was a beautiful and perfect proposal. We then spent 2 weeks in India with his family and while there, designed our wedding rings at his family jeweler so my two rings are from India and DC, both designed by us.
We chose the Woodrow Wilson House because we wanted to get married 1) outside, ideally in a green garden and 2) near DuPont Circle. We also wanted to include Meridian Hill Park because our apartment is across the street and we love taking Nelson to the park and enjoying the drum circle. We appreciated the very DC-like significance of the Woodrow Wilson House as the post-White House residence of a former president. Wilson also signed the 14th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, so in a year with America's first woman president possibly being elected, it felt like a great fit to us as a couple and our politics (I went to Wellesley, as did Hillary), as well as a beautiful location in our neighborhood.
Piyush's family is Hindu and I was raised Methodist in Iowa, and my stepfather served as our officiant. We wanted the ceremony to reflect both of our cultures and fully include both families, so there were several elements that helped create a fusion celebration:
1) Rings - we knew we wanted to exchange rings (a part of Indian and American weddings). Since it was just our immediate families, we also wanted to include the idea of ring-warming, where everyone at the wedding blesses the rings (quietly or aloud to the group) so when we look at our rings, we remember all the love and support we have from our families. It was amazing to have everyone speak. We also both have a 2-year old niece, so they carried our rings to the wedding.
2) Garlands - in Hindu weddings, garlands (aka jayamaala) are exchanged as a symbol of welcoming the couple to each family and accepting each other as husband and wife. We exchanged garlands of marigolds that had been blessed by the local Maryland Hindu temple, and also made mini garlands for the "flower girls".
3) Prayers - both of our mothers led traditional prayers - my mom recited the Lord's Prayer, and Piyush's mom and sisters chanted the Gayatri Mantra, one of the most important prayers in Hindu tradition.
4) Vows - in Hindu weddings, the couple walks around a fire 7 times to reflect the 7 vows they are making to each other. We didn't have a fire and wanted to use the American tradition of writing our own vows, but we made sure to have 7 different vows to reflect Hindu practices (and Piyush's lucky number).
5) Something old/new/borrowed/blue - we also wanted to include this more American tradition, so I wore the wedding necklace/earrings that Piyush's mom wore at her wedding 35 years ago in India, which had blue gems.
6) Mehendi - henna (mehendi) is an important tradition for Indian brides. We had a small mehendi ceremony with friends a few days before the wedding, and I had my hands and feet decorated by Piyush's mom and a close friend from college who is an artist in DC.
Thank you for letting me be a part of your day I am excited for you both as you embark on your new journey together and many more wonderful memories to come!