Travel has been part of my life since birth. (Literally!) Most of you know that I’m always down for another adventure— especially a cross-cultural one. One the last Saturday in March, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Nepal… but not really. :) Although India & Nepal have long been on my bucket list to visit, this wedding was a blend of Nepali and American culture just up the road in Madrid & Johnston, Iowa!

Elizabeth & Paras met in college, on their first day of classes, I believe! It’s always fascinating to meet others around my age who were in school at UNI. Although I was never technically a UNI student, I was on campus enough my first three years of college to confuse a lot of my friends there. Ha! It’s a wonder I never met these two back then. Regardless, we’ve got mutual friends and that’s how I ended up connecting with the couple & photographing this cross-cultural wedding day. (Thanks Loren!)

Since college, Paras & Elizabeth have moved to California, where Paras works and Elizabeth in a graduate student in anthropology. They originally planned for the wedding to take place in Paras’ home country of Nepal, but due to some changes in circumstances, moved the wedding ceremony and reception to Des Moines, where Elizabeth grew up. I arrived just as Elizabeth was putting on her finishing touches with help from friends & family… take a look!

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hindu temple wedding madrid iowa des moines
what a hindu wedding looks like madrid des moines Iowa
Hindu wedding decorations elephants and bells with bright colored sashes yellow and red

The ceremony kicked off with the groom’s family dancing in to the room. Paras’ dad was absolutely the most precious thing— his smile was so huge! This moment brought me so much joy to watch.

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Iowa wedding photography temple ceremony Madrid Hindu temple center
milni hindu wedding ceremony at temple with both families

Elizabeth’s father and Paras walked down to the canopy (called a Mandap) together, and then her mother & step-father followed. The first half of the ceremony primarily took place between the four of them & the priest, exchanging items and following protocol before Elizabeth even entered the room!

Hindu wedding ceremony rituals bride’s parents
Mandap ceremony Hindu wedding des moines iowa
Hindu wedding ceremony between Nepal Groom and American Bride // Des Moines wedding photographers
Nepali mother of groom watches Hindu wedding ceremony in temple Madrid Iowa photographers
groom eating honey and yogurt mixture during hindu wedding ceremony

Finally, it was time for Elizabeth’s entrance! All the ladies went to accompany her into the ceremony & it was such a festive thing! She looked incredible in her red Sari and veil.

bride entering ceremony hindu temple
Hindu wedding
bride in saree walking down the aisle to her wedding ceremony des moines iowa wedding photographers
Hindu priest directing the bride and groom during wedding ceremony madrid iowa temple
brides brother walks her in to wedding ceremony
Father of the groom gives traditional Nepali cap to son during wedding ceremony des moines photographers
bride and groom exchange flower garlands during wedding ceremony
Jai Mala exchange of flower garlands during wedding ceremony

The saptapadi is an important ritual in Hindu weddings. During the saptapadi, the bride and groom have their garments tied together. The couple took seven steps together, and the seven circles around the ceremonial fire.

Hindi wedding bride and groom

The families of the bride and groom sprinkled flower petals over the heads of the couple. I’m not sure of the cultural significance, but it was gorgeous and a sweet way to celebrate their new union!


After all the group/family photos, Elizabeth & Paras headed outside the temple to take some post-ceremony photos! It was so sweet— the first photo below was literally right as I was getting my camera settings right. They were SO thrilled to be married! (And to finally be able to touch after the ceremony!!) I love how Elizabeth’s red saree popped against the white stone of the temple.

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Cross Cultural   Indian Wedding in Madrid Iowa near Des Moines
Des Moines Iowa Cross Cultural   Indian Wedding
Des Moines Iowa photographers Cross Cultural   Indian Wedding
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CAN YOU HANDLE THAT VEIL!? I’m considering only taking Asian culture weddings from now on!!!

Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa City weddings photographers bride in red sari saree
Madrid Hindu Temple wedding ceremony paras and elizabeth // des moines Iowa wedding photographers
Hindu wedding photos Iowa Des Moines photographers
bride with henna on hands hindu nepali wedding
Des Moines Johnston Lions Club wedding reception
Lions Club Johnston wedding reception decorations

I just had to include this photo—aren’t all these outfits incredible!? I now have a huge desire to own my own lehenga!!! Maybe I need to move to Asia. ;) (Who knows!?) Or maybe we can just start a new trend in western fashion.

Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa
Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa
Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa
Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa
Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa
Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa
Indian dancing at wedding reception photos in Des Moines Iowa

Ooookay. On to my favorite part of the wedding day… the golden hour portraits! The wind had died down, thankfully, and Elizabeth’s lehenga was a bit warmer than her saree… so that also helped with photos. We snuck out to the space around the Lion’s Club for some sweet photos of the bride and groom.

Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa
Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa
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Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa
Nepali-American wedding photos of bride and groom in Des Moines Iowa
Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa Amelia Renee Photography
Des Moines Iowa wedding photos of Indian wedding couple
Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa Amelia Renee Photography
Hindu wedding photos Des Moines Iowa Amelia Renee Indian reception

Thank you so much to Elizabeth & Paras, and their families for having me to capture this gorgeous wedding day. It was such a wonderful blending of Nepali and American cultures & traditions, and truly an honor to photograph this wedding. I wish you both the very best, and many wonderful years ahead!

Des Moines Wedding Vendors

Ceremony Venue: Hindu Temple
Reception Venue: Johnston Lion’s Club
Catering: Everest Nepali Restaurant
First Dance song: