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Cambodian Destination Wedding

When this bride and groom decided to have their wedding in Cambodia, they knew they wanted to make it extra special. After spending two weeks traveling, the wedding party ended their trip with a traditional, awe-inspiring wedding. Captured by Brighter Lights Media, this video not only highlights the true beauty of Cambodia, but the unique cultural traditions that make this video so special.

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From the Bride and Groom… This event was about much more than just our wedding – it was about bringing together family, friends and loved ones to experience a new place, culture and set of traditions together. We currently live in New York City (and Matt is originally from Boston), so while Ratavy’s family is Cambodian, many of the people who traveled with us on this trip were from the US. And for many of them, this was their first trip to Asia. We knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many of the people coming, so we wanted to organize a trip around Southeast Asia, and ensure that it would be a memorable journey from start to finish.

The two weeks before the wedding ceremonies, me, Ratavy, & our closest friends and family traveled to Bangkok, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, exploring all of the unique things those places had to offer. From navigating Bangkok’s incredible rooftop bar scene, to taking in the beauty of a sunrise over Angkor Wat, to charting a boat down a Cambodian river and riding elephants to the top of a mountain for a breathtaking sunset, everyone on the trip got to experience something totally new, and they did so together. It is impossible to capture everything that happened over those two weeks in a short video clip, but this teaser beautifully captures the essence of the journey, the sentiment of the group, and the epic proportion of the events that transgressed.

The actual wedding festivities took place over a day and a half period, which was reduced from the typical three-day traditional Cambodian ceremony. This was the first exposure to a traditional Cambodian wedding for both Ratavy and I, so we were learning on the fly, showing gratitude and respect at each step along the way, and focused on ensuring that we didn’t make a total fool of ourselves. The ceremonies ranged from the Melymuka family presenting a plethora of fruit as a gift to Ratavy’s family, to a “hair cutting” event where friends and family symbolically snipped away the past to prepare us for our future together, to a ritual with a line of nine monks positioned directly in front of us, chanting in unison. The ceremonies were a huge success, involved plenty of bowing, and provided great exposure to a new and different set of cultural traditions for everyone.

Cinematography: Brighter Lights Media | Floral Design: Sofitel Phnom Penh | Catering: Sofitel Phnom Penh | Hotel: Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra

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Cultural Nepali Wedding Inspiration

While we strive to keep this blog a true place of positivity and pretty, our hearts weigh heavy for those effected by the recent natural disasters in Nepal. It’s a tragedy we couldn’t overlook, which is why when Nina & Wes Photography reached out with images from their latest workshop, it felt like the perfect time to share. Take a glimpse at their time in this beautiful country with more info on how to help relief efforts below.

From Nina & Wes PhotographyThis bridal session was born out of our time spent in Nepal. We wanted people to be able to experience Nepal through the different elements of the session. We had a spread of spices that are found throughout Nepal and used in many of their cuisines. Bits of copper and brass can be seen with those elements, which were found and purchased in the streets of Kathmandu. Marigolds were central to the shoot, as you can see marigolds on any given street in Nepal. We loved seeing them draped over the bride who is wearing a stunning Carol Hannah dress that seemed to sparkle in the Nepali sunlight.

Just before Wes and I married, I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal for four months, doing volunteer work with street children and elderly women. I grew to love Nepal greatly, and have ached to return ever since. As a wedding photographer, it is easy to get swept away into all the pretty details and amazing people we meet as we capture one of the most special days of their lives on film. But my heart has always been happiest when working to make a difference in the lives of others, which always seems to do the same in my own life when I work towards that goal.

About 20 months ago, I woke up with an idea about a special kind of photography workshop. I wanted to do something more with our business. I wanted to go beyond business, and do something more in the world…something that would have lasting impact. Most photography workshops focus mainly on building your portfolio and growing your business, which is great and needed. But it can get competitive, and can cause you to lose focus on what is really important in this world…loving others, and giving back what we have been given. The Beyond Workshop focuses not only on encouraging photographers to be successful in their businesses, but to take their success and give back to those in need. We are asking the question…What is the meaning of success? Is it more money, bookings, and bigger houses? Or is it doing your absolute best in what you do, and taking that and giving back to the world that has given so much to you.

100% of the profits from this workshop go to orphan care and human trafficking interception in Nepal. None of the vendors take any pay, and this year we were able to give almost $8,000 to those in need in Nepal! The first half of the workshop is spent in classroom sessions revolving around business, and the second half of the workshop is spent doing volunteer work in Nepal. We had an amazing group of people this year, that gave everything they could to help this workshop succeed. Each attendee had their own part to play, and as the days unfolded, it was a joy to see each one of them fall in love with the country of Nepal.

The earthquake that occurred on April 25th in Nepal has shaken all of us. So many of the beautiful places we visited, and historical landmarks that we marveled at, are now piles of rubble. As far as we can tell, though, our loved ones and the people at the organizations we volunteered at, are all safe. Some of them have lost homes, but they have escaped the earthquake without injury. For that we are thankful. 

This workshop is meant to inspire photographers to go beyond themselves and give back to the world in need. And through sharing images of this beautiful bridal session, we hope to remind people of the beauty of Nepal, not the poverty. Nepal is a country rich in history, and the people of Nepal are full of warmth and kindness. Walk down any given street in this enchanting country and have a conversation with someone…you may just find that you are invited in for some milk tea.

Some of the industry vendors that donated time or goods to help make our not-for-profit workshop succeed include: Magnolia Rouge, Jose Villa, Wildgrace Workshop, Paper Birch Designs, Julie Song Ink, Brown Linen Design, Kraft & Jute, Mrs. Box, Frou Frou Chic, Type A Society, Richard Photo Lab, State Film Lab, Goodman Film Lab, Carol Hannah, Gossamer Vintage, and Jacob Cecil.

A special thanks to Gautam Rai, our Nepali brother who made this workshop truly possible by arranging all of our lodging, meals, and volunteer opportunities. He was our translator throughout our time there, and he also helped our attendees see the importance of documenting the joy and warmth of the people of Nepal, over the poverty of Nepal. He and his wife, Rekha, along with 3 biological children, have adopted 11 beautiful girls, and have devoted their lives to orphan care, and are daily meeting the needs of others with what little they have. Since the earthquake, Gautam has been out in the streets from morning til night helping others. He and his family are a beautiful example of love in action.

If you are interested in helping the relief efforts that are occurring on the ground in Nepal, there are many amazing organizations that work tirelessly with the people there, not only providing aid right now, but long-term care after many other relief groups have returned back home. 

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PS: Info on next year’s Nina & Wes Photography Nepal workshop, March 15-27, 2016 right here.

Photography: Nina & Wes Photography | Cinematography: Colletta Films | Event Design: Abany Bauer | Floral Design: Type A Society | Wedding Dress: Carol Hannah | Jewelry: Mickey Lynn | Hair & Makeup: Heather Smith | Ribbon: Frou Frou Chic | Shoot Location: The Fort Resort | Styling & Design: Abany Bauer

Romantic Thailand Destination Wedding

This wedding right here, this unbelievably romantic and glamorous bash, is something out of a movie. That’s all I could think of as I went through Sandra Aberg’s beautiful photos, over and over again. The Wedding Bliss and IAMFLOWER worked magic, creating a wedding wonderland for these two lovebirds to say “I do” and we’re the lucky ones who get to obsess over these photos all day long.

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From Sandra Aberg… The story of how Bo and Nat met is like a fairytale. Their first meeting was 13 years ago. Bo was studying architecture at Cornell University and returned to Thailand for a short visit. During her time back she attended a university presentation with her best friend, and the professor giving the talk was Nat. They both remember each other from that first encounter. Nat remembers a skinny young girl that was not his student and Bo remembers the handsome architect. That was their first meeting but they did not see each other again until 10 years later on an airplane to Singapore.

Bo was going to see the World Architecture Festival and Nat was going to be a judge at the competition, and they recognised each other right away. They ended up spending the next four days together with their common friends and quickly realised how many common interests they had like design, arts, and architecture.

Bo had just moved back to Thailand after spending four years working in Shanghai, so Nat offered to show her around Bangkok for upcoming special arts events and exhibitions and they both grew very fond of each other. There was just one problem…

Bo’s father, a Chairman of Central Group, one of Thailand’s biggest conglomerates, had asked his daughter to sign a contract when she was 14 years old and before she was sent to study abroad. The contract stated that she should not have a boyfriend until she graduated!

Bo was confident and knew that Nat was the right one for her so she ran to her mother and asked for advice on how to make her father accept Nat as her boyfriend. Her mother arranged a meeting between Nat and Bo’s father. Bo’s father agreed to meet Nat but not for a general lunch or dinner. Instead, he requested to have an official one-on-one interview with Nat with the purpose of finding out if Nat would be the right one for Bo. He didn’t want the billionaire son-in-law but instead wanted to see the guy who was smart and had a good heart with great ambition, a guy who could take care of his daughter in life’s best and worst situations. After the first meeting, Nat passed the first round but was asked for more interviews with Bo’s family. After many interviews and tests Nat finally got approved by all members. Nat then surprised Bo with a proposal at The Siam Hotel Bangkok, the place where they had their first official date.

After a big celebration in Bangkok, Bo and Nat decided to have a destination wedding to celebrate with only their close friends and family, which was about 250 people from all over the world. They chose Phuket as the destination due to the beauty of the beach and scenery. Also, they fell in love with the brand new hotel, Point Yamu by Como, situated at the tip of a peninsula with a stunning panoramic view. As architects they fell in love with the design and structure of the building and it just felt right from the first time they walked in there. To help them plan this amazing event they had the wedding planners from The Wedding Bliss take care of all the details and decor.

From The Wedding BlissThis wedding was the wedding of the year in Thailand and had to be treated that way. Nothing was left to chance and every detail of the day was carefully planned. Bo and Nat wanted a pure romantic western styled wedding at Point Yamu by Como and wanted to begin with a Christian wedding ceremony followed by a sunset cocktail reception and dinner.

Inspired by the already stunning scenery and amazing design, we created a beautiful outdoor venue on the main lawn of the hotel with a view of the ocean as a backdrop for both the ceremony and the dinner. The location was decorated with chandeliers and hanging flowers to create a complete luxury dream fairytale wedding. The colours were rustic gold mixed with blush pink, white and greens.

To enhance their common interest in architecture, the registration table was decorated with the couples favourite architect books and the wedding favour was an architect ruler with the tag written “The Measure of Love is to Love without Measure.” We also created a gallery with images from their engagement session hanging from the outdoor roof with jars with flowers and ivy to enhance the couples love for art. In the pool area we put up a big Bo & Nat structure to create a nice backdrop for pictures and fun.

The overall feel was inspired by Bo’s unique character and style – a beautiful feminine woman with both elegance and class. We came up with the idea of transforming the whole lawn into a European flower garden. We used all imported flowers such as Pink David Austin Rose, Soft Pink Cymbidium, Ivory Rose, Soft pink Ranunculus and grey leaf. Both the ceremony and the reception was held in this amazing setting and was changed from ceremony to dinner in under two hours to great delight and surprise for all the guests that in the meantime were enjoying the sunset reception at the pool.

Photography: Sandra Aberg Photography | Cinematography: Narakorn Photography | Floral Design: IAMFLOWER | Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta | Invitations: Rabbit on the Moon | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Jewelry: Anyallerie | Groom's Attire: Button Up | Wedding Venue: Point Yamu By COMO | Graphic Design: Farmgroup | Groom’s Bow Tie: Lanvin | Lighting & Sound: Final Cut AV Phuket | Makeup & Hair Day 1: Kanakorn Kamjatpai | Makeup Day 2: Nontapat Amornchai | Ribbon: Sling Ribbon & bow | Second Wedding Dress: Reem Acra | Veil: Oscar de la Renta | Wedding Planning: The Wedding Bliss By Nanya

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Fashion-Inspired Hong Kong Elopement Inspiration

Elopements seem to be coming across our desk more and more. Not just city hall style versions though, full scale weddings built only for two. And we sort of love it. So needless to say, this inspiration from Alea Lovely and Victorian Gardens, hit a note of perfection in our book. With a handful of different style options (not all shown so make sure to click the gallery!) and table decor, this is the very definition of pretty.

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From Alea LovelyFrom engagement session to honeymoon, we have created a fashion elopement storied editorial to inspire women to go with a little color and perhaps a few different gowns to accentuate their personalities and journey through the wedding process. All the gowns were made by the talented Vivian Luk.

Starting with a striking non-traditional high-low lavender gown for the couple’s mountain peak engagement session, we subtly coordinated the colors without being too matchy-matchy as a nice way to show how to bring a theme to your photo shoot without stifling each person’s personal style. We took this engagement session just a notch up by adding a flower crown and bouquet because who doesn’t love a reason to carry a beautiful bouquet. The Groom-to-be wore a nice brown tweed vest and matching pants that complemented the natural lavender and green color palette of this beautiful location.

For the ceremony, we used a more traditional (in the color sense) white gown. But when you look at the gown, it’s anything but ordinary. The gorgeous sheer sleeves, intricate detail and A-line structure would make any bride feel like a princess. The custom gold flower crown added a vintage touch to this modern fairytale. Adding a little bit of blush for the reception gown and making it strapless for a bit more comfort, it seems that more and more brides are opting for a second dress to be able to honor their traditions and personal style during their day. But in this shoot we did not only focus on the Bride; the Groom needed to look just as stylish to rival such beautiful gowns.

Our Groom, sporting a grey velvet tie complementing a fitted blue European-style suit, is on trend with any gown a modern bride would wear. I think it’s important to think about your groom during this process in making sure he is comfortable but also looks just as good. You are the bride but this day is about two people so the groom should look and feel as great as you do. I learned a world of things this year about grooms’ style from www.mrbaldwinstyle.com, and there is more to dressing men than just a suit. The ins and outs about fit, neck size, sleeve length, inseam, lapel pins… the works, seems even more complex than what us girls have to deal with getting dressed. It’s important to make your groom a priority and learn together about what he likes and how to make him look good.

Sometimes we get very wrapped up in the details. So we wanted to simplify things a little bit for the Bride, who wants all the beauty but scaled down. Flowers are a way to make anything look more beautiful and the usage of bouquets and centerpieces were stunning arrangements that would make any small gathering look glamorous.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a honeymoon photographer (shameless plug for anyone interested haha) but I know a lot of brides have that moment after it’s all over where they feel like it went by way too fast. One way we wanted to extend your wedding bliss into your honeymoon is by implementing a gorgeous couture cape as a beachy statement piece for onlookers that says, ” Hey, we we just got married,” because who doesn’t love the added “Congratulations!” The piece was a perfect addition that gave our Bride just a little more frosting to the honeymoon cake.

Photography: Alea Lovely | Event Styling: Victorian Gardens | Floral Design: Ellermann | Wedding Dress: Vivian Luk | Invitations: Announce This! | Makeup: Gary Chung | Hair : Kelly Mak | Elopement Sign: Announce This! | Gold Hair Band: Emmy Ray | Men's Attire Stylist/Model : Johan Khalilian | Print : Lindsay Letters | Silk Ribbon: Silk And Willow | Tulle Applique Cape: Emmy Ray

Romantic Dubai Bridal Inspiration

Ethereal, elegant and filled with the most gorgeous light, this stunning shoot from Maria Sundin Photography with florals by Antheia Flower and styling by Bride Club ME is the kind of inspiration that will give you the best possible kind of chills. And that beyond dreamy gown from Saja Wedding? There are no words. It’s all just so divine. 

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From Maria Sundin PhotographyDubai based Photographer Maria Sundin teamed up with Bride Club ME, a local wedding inspiration website and directory to work on a styled shoot that would inspire brides in Dubai to tone down the bling and go back to the organic, humble and earthy roots of this place. Dubai is known for opulence and grand décor and many brides in the emirate opt for weddings with a lot of dazzle. Creating a shoot like this, had been on Maria and Rio from Bride Club ME’s minds for a while; as they wanted to execute a shoot that would inspire the brides of Arabia with something more traditionally ethereal and elegant, rather then the opulent and blingtastic weddings that the UAE are renowned for.

The inspiration for this shoot was to entice the typical Arabic bride and offer her the ethereal elegant feeling that would transport her back to the very raw and real Dubai that is often overlooked. We decided to collaborate with a more traditional Arabic venue, the Park Hyatt Dubai, located in the old parts of the city. We collaborated with like-minded vendors, and they all loved the simplicity and the elegance of this shoot’s concept. While we love wedding bands, we wanted to try something different, and while we couldn’t tattoo our bride, we could flash tattoo her! We think it’s a great idea for couples or even bridesmaids to wear something different, that’s customizable and that only wears for that one special day. The beautiful and dreamy headpieces by Anaqa added perfectly to the shoot. We also teamed up with the amazing dress brand Saja Wedding who make the most romantic and dreamy dresses, that Dubai brides can find easily accessible online despite being based out of town in N.Y. The dress was paired with some gorgeous Jimmy Choo’s. The mantilla veil that complemented this dress was from the Dubai Bridal Showroom, a local bridal boutique.

We also teamed up with stationary designer Emily at EverAfter Press, who drew inspiration from our mood board and brought to life an Arabic inspired suite of wedding stationery and calligraphy in the most simple form. It complemented our shoot perfectly. She also managed to source some gorgeous vintage stamps from a corner shop in Paris. We had a local artist, Liselotte Häster, spend hours drawing up the venue in watercolor to yet again give us some of that natural beauty we find so endearing about the Dubai and UAE. The flowers were put together by a local florist Antheia Flowers who managed to source some beautiful peonies, olive branches and silver dust. The makeup was done by Monica Make-up Dubai and the hair was done by Be Bar Blow Dry Bar in Dubai.

Pretty touches were added to the shoot throughout using products such as berries, raw silk ribbons, vintage ribbons and French nougat. The crystal glasses for the shoot were supplied by Mylist.ae, an online wedding gift registry based in the UAE. The full team involved in the shoot team were over the moon with the final images, and we are delighted to have a touch of the real Dubai showcased internationally via Style Me Pretty Weddings.

Photography: Maria Sundin Photography | Floral Design: Antheia Flowers | Wedding Dress: Saja Wedding | Stationery: EverAfter Press | Makeup: Monica Make-up Dubai | Hair: Be Bar - Blow Dry Bar | Venue: Park Hyatt Dubai | Artist / Painter: Liselotte Häster | Decór Items From Dubai Wedding Gift Registry: MyList | Event Design And Styling: Bride Club ME | Headpieces: Anaqa Headpieces | Styling Assistant: Salwa Chamsi-Pasha | Veil And Garter: Dubai Bridal Showroom

Abby Capalbo

Design, Styling, Parties