As a Canadian Ethiopian Wedding Planner, I have always had a strong desire to showcase to the world the beauty of East African wedding traditions through a contemporary lens. The goal of this styled shoot was to inspire Canadian African brides to look beyond the traditional Eurocentric wedding.
I envisioned the styled shoot to be very bright and colourful, on a white, minimalist backdrop, hence an industrial space was used. LOVT Studio had the perfect mix of natural light, factory windows and high end contemporary classic vintage pieces. These all ensured the bright colours were the focal point in all the photos.
From the amazing hues of the floral arrangements created by Zuhoor Designs, to the gold charger plates (provided by Roselle & Co), and the bright cultural outfits and jewelry worn by the models, all the elements were thoughtfully implemented in order to reinforce and complete the vision of the shoot.
The stationery created by The Creative Souk (menu cards, invitation cards and name cards) was also designed specifically with East African print and patterns in mind. The colourful Ethiopian/Eritrean Basket called “Mesob” and the black “Jebena” coffee pot also created a nostalgic “home-away-from-home” ambiance to the shoot. The addition of the greenery on the wedding cake designed by Cakes by Mavis is very symbolic of the region’s lush, tropical vibe.
Music is also a very important element of a wedding in East African cultures. There is specifically a huge jazz influence in the region and what better way to pay homage to the famous songs other than having a saxophone player (Jamal) serenade the brides to the tunes and melodies of the Horn.
One important goal for the styled shoot was to also support and promote black wedding vendors in the Greater Toronto Area. They were all instrumental in creating the vision and making it come to life! It was also equally important for the styled shoot to select models that have Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali roots.
Hala represented the Harari tribe from Ethiopia where she wore gold fitted pants called “Gey Ganafi” with a gold “Siyasa” headpiece, traditionally worn by a bride. You can also see her holding a vintage Coke Bottle in the photos, which brought to life the most famous soda of the region.
Lammi represented the Oromo tribe from Ethiopia where she wore a beautiful white Arsi Oromo outfit with a beaded green jewelry set. Not only did the outfit bring out her smile but also the diversity of the Oromo people.
Feven represented the beauty of Eritrea by wearing an orange red “Zuria” Eritrean cultural dress. The brightness of the dress and the embedded “Meskel” (the cross) brought out elements of her Christian faith to the shoot.
Amina also represented Eritrea by wearing a traditional Ethiopian/Eritrean “Kaba” cape that was embellished with gold trimmings coupled with a customized veil created by designer Piaeva design.
Hali represented the Somali bride where she wore a white customized Somali Diraac created by Ejabo Boutique that had a wedding dress look.
Amal also represented the Somali bride where she wore a bright red “Guntino” (off the shoulder) styled diraac that brought out Amal’s colourful personality. All five models have made this styled shoot one to remember.
Overall, the entire vendor team was very proud to accomplish and curate a unique styled shoot. We hope the bright colours, outfits and symbols of the Horn inspire a new generation of brides to never forget their roots!
–Weddings with Nia, Nia Khalil
Planner: Weddings with Nia
Photography and Video: Karimah Gheddai Photography
Tablescape and florals: Zuhoor Designs
Makeup: Neo’s Beauty,BBM Beauty
Hair: Hair by Hanani
Somali outfit (Diraac): Ejaabo Boutique
Veil: Piaeva Design
Cookies: Zulis Cookies
Cake: Cakes by Mavis
Stationery: The Creative Souk
Tablescape rentals: Roselle and Co.
Saxophonist: Jays 2 Smooth
Models: Feven Tecleab, Hali Farrah, Hala Ali, Lamme Yousouf, Amina Mohamed, Amal Abdi
Shoot Assistant: Metti Maru
Check out this beautiful real wedding in Maui!