Bilal and Saarah|Wedding| Morganton Community House

So far this has been the hardest blog post for me to write because it is so different from what I normally do and I don’t want to leave anything out.  I recently had the pleasure of photographing a wedding for Saraah and Bilal.  Both Bilal and Saarah have a Pakistani heritage so they had a traditional Pakistani wedding.   In a Pakistani wedding,  the bride does not traditionally wear white but instead vibrant, beautiful colors.   This wedding was a two-day celebration,  beginning at the brides parents home for an intimate wedding ceremony in her parents living room, followed by a Mehndi ceremony for the ladies in her family and community.  This event was so exciting, new and fun for me. I really wanted to dress for the occasion, so I contacted a friend of mine from a similar culture and she loaned me two outfits for the weekend.

I met with Saarah and her mother the day before her wedding and we immediately hit it off.   I had a feeling when Saarah contacted me on the phone that we wold get along well. I think the thing that impressed me so much about Saarah,  is how respectful she is of her parents and her family.    I don’t know if I have ever met a more kind and considerate family.   They made me feel right at home.  I never once felt like just the “Photographer”.    Part of the wedding is that the groom and his family bring gifts to the bride and her family.  As the groom, Bilal, and his family arrived,  they carried baskets and baskets of gifts in by the armfuls. Saarah’s Father, Mother and Brother greeted the guests as they came in.  Many of them flew in from out-of-state.    One of the gifts that Bilal brought to Saarah was the outfit that she would wear to her Mehndi.   The head covering (I believe) was worn by her mother in law and sister-in-law at their weddings.  Saarah did not have bridesmaids but many family and friends that were by her side the entire weekend.  Two of Saarah’s friends flew out from Kansas to be with her for her wedding.

For the wedding ceremony,  Saarah wore a bright pink dress.  Both Bilal and Saarah wore a garland of beautiful flowers around their necks.   Then after that ceremony, they are officially married.  The next part is the Mehndi.  This is a party just for the ladies.  Saarah changes into the orange outfit that Bilal brought her and then her ladies parade her downstairs under a scarf.  All the men but Bilal go outside to eat and the ladies give well wishes and blessings to the bride and groom.  Then Bilal goes outside with the men and then the ladies eat, sing, and get henna tattoos on their hands.  I even got one and it was beautiful.   The next day’s ceremony was a reception for family and community at the Morganton Community House.  The decor for this was very traditional and Bilal wore a suit.  However,  Saarah still wore a traditional Red Pakistani wedding gown and it was so beautiful and had amazing detail.

To honor the brides request, I shot this entire wedding with more of an editorial style with lots of candid shots rather than traditional wedding poses.  I did manage to get a few in at the end as everyone had flights to catch back home.  Saarah and Bilal left for their honeymoon and will be living in Virginia.  (Her mama cried when they were leaving.  It was so sweet.)

Shooting this wedding taught me so much as a person, photographer and friend.

2019-06-20_0001I love her shoes.  They actually fit either foot! (left of right) .  The Pakistani flag represents both of their cultures.  With Bilal’s wedding band displayed. 2019-06-20_0047Check out Saarah’s collection of bangle bracelets!  So beautiful! 2019-06-20_00452019-06-20_0099Saarah and her sweet mother, Neena.  2019-06-20_0046Saarah’s friends who flew here from Kansas to be with her for her wedding.2019-06-20_0021Beautiful family and friends with Saarah as she prepared for her wedding ceremony. 2019-06-20_00222019-06-20_00822019-06-20_00122019-06-20_00732019-06-20_00862019-06-20_00312019-06-20_00282019-06-20_0063They gave these treats away as party favors.  They even sent me home with some for my two kids.  2019-06-20_00752019-06-20_0011This is Saarah’s mother and her aunts.  2019-06-20_0053All the gifts brought in by the groom’s family.  Pictured above is the grooms nephew and also below holding the basket of green boxes of sweet treats. 2019-06-20_00772019-06-20_0066This is Saarah’s father and brother.  Such gentlemen.2019-06-20_00602019-06-20_00352019-06-20_0005It rained on the wedding day.  Bilal waits for his bride.  2019-06-20_00342019-06-20_00522019-06-20_00042019-06-20_0065This is their wedding ceremony. 2019-06-20_00392019-06-20_00372019-06-20_00292019-06-20_00672019-06-20_00832019-06-20_00702019-06-20_00892019-06-20_00932019-06-20_00342019-06-20_0041Saarah’s brother, brings her the gift that Bilal brought her.  It is the outfit she will wear for her Mehndi celebration.  2019-06-20_00382019-06-20_0040The headscarf has been passed down to her from Bilal’s family.  2019-06-20_00542019-06-20_00562019-06-20_00692019-06-20_00102019-06-20_0079To start the Mehndi, the girls bring Saarah downstairs under a scarf.  2019-06-20_00912019-06-20_00432019-06-20_00582019-06-20_00152019-06-20_00502019-06-20_00962019-06-20_00722019-06-20_0036All the ladies give Bilal and Saarah well wishes and blessings.2019-06-20_00882019-06-20_00782019-06-20_00902019-06-20_00322019-06-20_0059The henna tattoos begin.  The ladies sing, eat and then get henna tattooed on their hands. 2019-06-20_00032019-06-20_00082019-06-20_00252019-06-20_00162019-06-20_00302019-06-20_00192019-06-20_00142019-06-20_00202019-06-20_00262019-06-20_00442019-06-20_00492019-06-20_00512019-06-20_00982019-06-20_01012019-06-20_00682019-06-20_00612019-06-20_00712019-06-20_00872019-06-20_00092019-07-28_0004The reception was the next day at the Morganton Community House.  2019-07-18_00132019-07-18_00142019-07-18_00302019-07-19_00022019-07-19_00032019-07-19_00012019-07-18_00282019-07-28_00032019-07-28_0002Getting ready.  Her dress is ornate and detailed.  SO Beautiful!2019-07-18_00042019-07-18_00032019-07-18_0025Saarah’s father presents Bilal and Saarah as a married couple at the reception. 2019-07-18_00062019-07-18_00222019-07-18_00322019-07-19_00112019-07-18_00382019-07-19_0008Bilal face times with his mother who is in Pakistan.  2019-07-19_0010Saarah and her brother. 2019-07-19_00062019-07-18_00442019-07-18_00432019-07-18_00232019-07-18_0042I love all the colors!!!!!!!2019-07-18_0027Big family portrait!  2019-07-18_00452019-07-19_00042019-07-19_00052019-07-19_00092019-07-28_0005A few portraits before they had to catch flights.  2019-07-18_00332019-07-18_00362019-07-18_00372019-07-18_00352019-07-19_0007Saarah’s parents.  Such kind people. 2019-07-18_0026Her Mama was sad for them to go.2019-07-28_00062019-07-28_0007Saarah and Bilal,

This was such a beautiful wedding celebration weekend. Congratulations to you both!  I wish you all the best.


  1. Saarah Ahmad says:

    Thank you so much for being a part of our wedding Laura! You are such a joy to be around and have such a great talent and skill. Our guests loved you as much as my family and I love you! I literally can’t wait to see you again and work with you again! I’m thrilled to have found a new friend and family photographer.

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