African Wedding Inspiration from Zoom Photography + Mary Kinney
June 10, 2011
United States

Romeo and Juliette, Pocahontas and John Smith, this amazing, stunning, GORGEOUS California Wedding Inspiration Shoot. A couple destined to be enemies, miraculously fall in love. This is the story Lauri of Zoom Photography and Mary of Sister | Brother Style used as motivation for the shoot. It's beyond outrageous. A Brit marrying a Zulu, and the fashion of the two cultures combined. To. Die. For. While you're drooling all over your keyboard this morning, think about this - we have a buying guide coming your way this afternoon. Yep. And it's FAB. So enjoy this awesome shoot, and don't forget about the gallery for so much more.

Zoom Photography

Zoom Photography 2

Zoom Photography 3

Zoom Photography 4

Zoom Photography 5

Zoom Photography 6

Zoom Photography 7

Zoom Photography 8

Zoom Photography 9

Zoom Photography 10

I know you're itching for more - so check out the film Damon Chamberlain sent our way!

Casper and Themba SMP shoot. from Damon Chamberlain on Vimeo.

When Mary Gonsalves Kinney, Stylist/Editor of Sister|Brother Style and Lauri Levenfeld, Owner/Photographer of Zoom Photography got together they were certain about one thing - bringing together two worlds on opposite sides of the cultural and political spectrum. Mary and Lauri wanted this shoot to be as culturally authentic as possible with high-fashion style and an edge that would inspire people to step outside of their box.

Mary and Lauri had discussed many possibilities, but none seemed more inspiring than the potential love story between an African woman born and raised by the Zulu tribe in the Province of Natal in South Africa and her British fiancée born in Cape town, South Africa. The story is rather contentious as there is a long and torrid history between the Zulu tribe and the British.

This incredibly controversial political relationship framed our Inspiration To Reality story. It is a story about a bride and a groom who work together to overcome the long history of political betrayal and bring two families and cultures together at their wedding. Born in the same country, the bride and groom grew up with totally different cultural traditions and expectations. Even so, they find love and break down those racial barriers that still consume so many South African people. Their story is one of fortitude, passion and color. Fortitude because they remain strong and together through their many trials as a multiracial couple. Passion because it is their love for one another that is so vibrant and so real that nothing can tear them apart. Color because though their own skin color is different and may pose problems between their two families, it only brings them closer together. They learn to appreciate all that defines them and make it imperative that each cultural piece of them properly represented in their wedding.

Authentic pieces were provided during the photo shoot by Sacramento’s Zanzibar Tribal Art store and the Big Bang Events. The set included everything from hand-woven baskets that take years to make and represent each bride's worth to their tribe, to clay pots used traditionally for drinking beer at Zulu wedding celebrations. Pincushion protea, leucadendron, croton leaves, phalaenopsis orchids and red and orange roses were all exported from South Africa just for this shoot and made into lovely arrangements.

Wooden screens were leaned against barbed wire fences with acres of farmland set behind each vignette so as to show the beauty of the untouched land of Natal. Hanging above, traditional Western elements were displayed through crystal chandeliers and the British-inspired china and silver were carefully selected to coordinate with the colorful African flowers.

The styling wardrobe for this shoot was strongly based on Zulu tradition. The Zulu women of South Africa wear many colors, which are proudly represented in their multicolored beaded necklaces and bracelets. Headscarves, mud cloths and traditional wedding hats are also essential pieces to a Zulu wedding. Because the bride and groom come from different worlds, it was important to blend both African and Western colors and traditions through the custom made gowns, the suiting and the jewelry and accessories. Our bride's African and Western dresses were custom made for this shoot by the talented, Caren Templet and all shoes and costume jewelry were borrowed from retailers in Northern California. Zulu wedding hats made of real human hair and dignitary straw hats lined with chicken feathers dyed a deep red were used in various shots where the bride was wearing a Western gown so as to show a cultural balance.

The bride's jewelry was rich in texture and included fine jewelry pieces with diamonds and other gems to add a certain depth along side the beadwork and the copper and silver metals. Jewelry designers made original pieces that represented more traditional looking beaded jewelry just for this shoot. The bride wore a beautiful blue topaz ring as her wedding ring in lieu of a traditional diamond, as a Zulu woman would usually not wear a ring and would never choose to wear a diamond. Her headpieces were created using Zulu scarves and wedding hats and braiding was crucial in providing a more authentic look. The bride's makeup was also an important piece and transitioned from subtle, Western colors to vibrant Zulu tribal paint.

The groom had traditional suiting for many shots with bow ties, which are British-influenced, but his bowties, pocket squares, shoes (and shoestrings) were bold in color to represent his fiancée’s culture in a subtle way.

Styling & Production: Mary Kinney, Co-Owner, Head Stylist of Sister | Brother Style & Kristi Braflaadt, Assistant / Photography: Lauri Levenfeld of Zoom Photography, second shooter Jessica Epstein / Makeup: Liz BagatelosLea Buehler / Hair: Marci Landgraf of Muse Hair Boutique / Floral & Set Design: Chris Merrick of The Big Bang Event Design & Zanzibar Tribal Art / Stationery: Jen Saltzman of Press Engaged & Marisa Guiterrez of Arte y Mas / Videographer: Damon Chamberlain / Retail Vendors & Designers: Caren Templet,  Julius ClothingGracie Mae KidsShaw ShoesHamilton JewelersKKPW Designs2ETNSteve Benson, Koukla Kids, Madam Butterfly / Models: Jadin, JE Model Management & Star Model Management / Calligrapher: Robyn Wylde Calligraphy