Beautiful cultural wedding at One Whitehall Place
From the first time I met with Amena and Iman I wanted to photograph their wedding. They are the loveliest, happiest and warmest couple. A real joy to spend time with. It was also an exciting prospect to be photographing a cultural wedding that brought in ideas from different places and included Polish and Persian wedding traditions.
Amena and Iman have family and friends from across the globe and their cultural wedding at One Whitehall Place reflected this. The day started in a very low key way with just Amena, her sister and her mum getting ready in a room at Royal Horseguards Hotel, next door to One Whitehall Place. Amena chose to do her own makeup and had made a beautiful scarf to wrap her hair in. She chose a fabric with a subtle texture that perfectly complemented her elegant Pronovias wedding dress.
The couple had their Islamic wedding the year before, so a year on they brought everyone together again for their civil ceremony and to celebrate with a few more wonderful cultural wedding traditions. They had also chosen to do a ‘first look’ and have photos of the two of them before the ceremony. I do love doing first looks. The couple gets to spend some time together before the busyness of the wedding day starts and you have more time to wander and capture beautiful, natural photos. We were so lucky that on their wedding day the sun was shining and it was a wonderfully mild day.
As Amena waited for Iman to arrive, we watched the world go by along the Thames. She had a stunning view from her room at the hotel. An excited groom knocked on the door and entered the room with the biggest smile on his face. The couple hugged, clearly looking forward to the day ahead, and exchanged gifts. Our little group left the hotel to go for photos. We walked towards the river, went to the park by the hotel and wandered the surrounding streets. Very much capturing the beauty of the city and the stunning architecture around the area.
Time really flew by and before long it was time for the couple to prepare for the civil ceremony. The ceremony took place in the beautiful River Room at One Whitehall Place. They walked down the aisle together and said their vows surrounded by loved ones.Â A few nerves seemed to kick in but there were plenty of smiles and lots of laughter throughout the ceremony. As the end drew near, Amena’s mum took over to undertake the Polish wedding tradition of giving the newly married couple bread and salt. The bread is a hope that they will never know hunger and have abundance in their lives and the salt to remind that even in times of difficulty they must work through together.
Amena and Iman then walked back down the aisle as husband and wife and prepared for the next ceremony they were doing, the Persian blessing. The guests made their way into another room, which was set up with a beautiful low table decorated with a mirror, candlesticks, flowers, dried fruit, nuts, spices, bread and sweets. I have never seen this ceremony before and it was so wonderful. There was a little teasing as Amena pretended to ignore Iman at first until she felt he had passed the test and she raised her veil. The couple then sat under a piece of fabric as the married women in the family scattered sugar over them, to sweeten the marriage. There were a couple of readings and then the couple had to feed each other a little honey. Finally, their guests presented them with presents.
The newly married couple and their guests then made their way to the reception. There was lots of chatter and catching up with friends and family who hadn’t seen each other in ages. After a few family photos, I whisked the couple off for a few more pictures of the two of them. They wanted to make the most of the venue so we took a few inside and then headed out for a walk around. Amena and Iman seemed happy to have a little time together to take it all in. During our walk, I spotted a gorgeous place for photos, which happened to have a Police van in the background. The lovely officers offered to move the van and also asked the couple if they wanted a photo sitting in the vehicle. This is definitely a story to tell, the day you sat in a wedding dress in a Police van!
We made our way back to the venue in time for dinner, speeches and dancing. One final tradition took place before the cake cutting. The Knife Dance! When Amena and Iman told me about this I had images of knives being juggled and thrown about. Happily, it was much less risky. Their guests took it, in turn, to dance with the knife and tease the couple. Finally, they handed the knife to Amena and the cake was cut. The wedding was fully official and it was dancing time. Amena and Iman chose not to do the first dance so the music started and everyone took to the dancefloor. Iman’s dad had some moves on him, as did his brother and quite a few of the guys! It was great fun to be a part of this lively, happy and fun wedding. It was wonderful to experience some different cultural traditions and to capture this wonderful day for Amena and Iman. Hope you enjoy browsing through the photos.
“You captured the feel of our special day so beautifully, we honestly couldn’t be happier with our wedding photos. You went out of your way to understand the many different ceremonies and traditions we had weaved into the schedule of the day – so thank you! And thank you so much for being so amazing and making us able to re-live each moment so easily every time we look over them.” – Amena & Iman
Venue – One Whitehall Place
Brides dress – Pronovias
Grooms suit – Ted Baker
Cake – Sweet Tooth Factory
I really did enjoy photographing this cultural wedding, I hope you enjoyed sharing this special day too. If you love the idea of a London wedding, take a look at Edith & Freddie’s gorgeous wedding at RSA House or a beautiful Riverside wedding in Putney.
Thanks for popping by.