As we were walking back from our initial meeting with Chandni & Jack at Leisure Lodge Resort in Diani a few days before the wedding festivities were about to kick off, something caught my eye. Fishermen. Fishermen on the reef. The reef was about 800m out to sea. Between us and the reef was just an expanse of ocean. Either deep blue choppy sea, or calm turquoise waters, depending on the tide. The three of us had the same thought at the same time. We looked at each other and kind of agreed at that very moment that we were going to shoot them on the reef. Not sure yet how we were going to get them there or how long we would have whilst they were there. On the actual day of the shoot, suddenly John the GM of the hotel, rushed to us and said the dhow was ready and we would need to leave at that very moment otherwise there was a significant risk of the tide coming in very quickly. As Chandni & Jack boarded the dhow, I waited with a lot of fear (they don’t know that till now!) and anxiety at the hotel, with my wildlife lens looking out for them. A couple of minutes later, I spotted them as tiny dots on the horizon, playing on the sandbank at the reef with no care in the world and then sailing in their own private swahili vessel. The tide was approaching very fast and I knew we probably only had a couple of minutes before they would have to sail back again. This was my fear. But luckily for me, both Chandni & Jack were clued up and the oarsmen were very experienced. About 5 minutes later, as Jack helped Chandni off the wooden dhow back onto the sand, I saw the glimmer in their eyes. That spark. That spark that day was enough to tell me that they’d had an incredible time out at sea, but what they didn’t know was that I had an even better time capturing it! Such a fearless couple and made it completely worthwhile!
‘Most of all, have respect for each other, as Aretha would preach’, said the father of the bride whilst addressing Chandni & Jack in his speech at the Reception. However he didn’t need to say this. From the time we got to know them, we realised one thing; Chandni and Jack have so much respect and love for each other. And their family and their friends. You could see it when they talked, when they danced, when they played. It was a fabulous relationship that we watched as bystanders; a relationship that most couples would only be able to aspire to. Chandni is definitely a top contender for the most unbridezilla bride of the year for Cheka!
Starting off with 2 back to back religious ceremonies in the sweltering heat didn’t deter both Chandni & Jack to be extremely attentive throughout the ceremonies. This was followed by a pithi ceremony where Chandni’s cousins and aunts couldn’t wait to rip apart Jack’s t-shirt and smother him in pithi. To wash off and cool down, they all ran into the sea straight after the pithi ceremony. It was a sight to behold – about 30 people, most covered in yellow paste running across pristine white sands into turquoise waters. What we all thought was seaweed actually turned out to be sea urchins. Poor Jack got 11 urchin spikes stuck in his foot but that did not stop him from setting the dancefloor on fire later on that evening at their Mehndi Pool party. The beach wedding the next day was idyllic – I’d try and describe it here but there is no way I would do it justice. Think blue skies, the blue Indian Ocean and the crisp white sand as perfect props for Jack and Chandni looking absolutely amazing for their big day. As Chandni walked through coral caves to make it to the altar, the look on Jack’s face when he saw her was priceless. The wedding kicked off with a fight for the groom’s shoes as is customary at Hindu weddings, followed by a deep and meaningful ceremony and then some fun games towards the end. Long negotiations for the return of the groom’s shoes ended up in Jack being a few hundred dollars poorer but he still had a huge smile on his face. The grand finale was the beachside Reception where Chandni and Jack walked in to sparklers and a live band. Some amazing performances followed by a lot of very crazy dancefloor moves mixed in with a lot of alcohol and tasty food made for a perfect night. It started raining at about midnight but that did not stop them – we got a text message from Chandni at 5.30am the next morning and it said ‘We’ve just finished the Cave Rave. Party on!’
Thank you Chandni & Jack, and your family and friends for taking us in as new friends. Thank you for your trust in us. And thank you for allowing us to document the most precious days of your lives. It was a beautiful three days, an amazingly unpretentious wedding. There was a lot of love and friendship amongst everyone at the wedding, and it was shared in abundance. One Love!