By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
A Mother, A Daughter and the Blog They Created Together
She accompanied you on vendor visits, ploughed through magazines from cover to cover, sat with you at night when you cried because of the stress of your crazy aunt or uncle was causing because he or she wasn’t cooperating in the planning of events. For most of us, remembering that time of collaborating together on a large life-changing event brings a rush of emotions.
So when I got wind through twitter that a mother-daughter team was in the midst of launching a culturally-inspired wedding blog, I was immediately intrigued.
Now that the Rupa and Shivani have launched their creation, New Generation Bride, I’m blown away at the innovative way this mother-daughter duo has created a voice for themselves around culture and one of the most memorable moments in a woman’s life: her wedding. What is truly amazing is that the blog captures both a young woman’s voice onnuptuals as well as an older perspective.
New Generation Bride is a a mother-daughter inspired Wedding Blog that provides inspiration, ideas & a twist on tradition. On it Rupa and her daughter Shivani share the diversity & culture of the new generation couple. celebrating love & family. From inspiring wedding stories, to out of the box ideas, to a mother-daughter section highlighting Rupa and Shivani’s ideas, a bride’s journal, the blog is a great place not only start the dialogue on weddings but above all it’s a space to see the perspectives of today’s couple through the lenses of two different
I had the chance to speak to the dynamic duo recently about the inspiration around New Generation Bride and working together as mother and daughter.
What inspired you to start a blog together?
My mom had been a part of the wedding industry for a while as a photographer, and I had been an avid enthusiast/follower/observer/absorber of the industry. Earlier in 2012, my mom helped put together and shot an amazing mixed culture inspirational wedding shoot – the model couple being a Bengali-American girl, and a White-American guy. After many attempts of submitting the shoot to various wedding blogs in the Southeast, it became frustrating when the main response back was that the shoot was not “Southern enough” — despite both people being born and raised in Georgia.
My mom and I were having the conversation about this one night, and began to think that due to the limited outlets who would feature a shoot like this, we would create it. Multi-racial, multi-cultural relationships are only growing, and currently there is not enough media outlets to represent this proportion.
Tell us a bit about each of you, and your mother-daughter roles.
Shivani: I recently graduated from college and live with my wonderful boyfriend of 6 years and our 3 amazing rescue pups. My background is in the art and graphic design field. I work full-time as lead designer for a marketing studio in Atlanta, and do freelance on the side. I have always had a love for aesthetics – pretty things – good design. I love following and observing trends in fashion, design, music… and culture. I love the idea of traditions, but also moving forward with the world and seeing new things happening.
I am currently a wedding and pet photographer based in Atlanta, and have had a camera in hand since I was 15 years old! I started a full-time business several years ago, and as soon as I started shooting weddings, many of my couples that hired me were of different ethnicities/cultures. Being married to a Scotsman myself, there was this natural affinity we seemed to have and I totally “got it” when I worked with them and I loved that!
I grew up in a traditional Indian family, but with an amazingly independent mother who pushed us to be our “own woman” because she was the same of her own generation! I didn’t always follow the status quo and in fact, decided many times to just follow my heart, so my experiences have been quite different and diverse and I feel very fortunate for that! I raised two children on my own for many years and then married a Scotsman who taught me to not take myself too seriously and that life was also about having fun – so I did and never looked back! Now, at the age of 46, with two amazing kids, a great husband, many dogs, a wonderful life that allows me to be and do what I want – I am ready for the next chapter and yes, this is it!
I realized that through all of these experiences in my life, that one of my strengths was that I do “get” my couples who are marrying someone of a different faith, culture or color. These couples want their family’s support, they are close to their parents, respect them and want to honor traditions and culture. I’ve “been there, done that” and have had hills and valleys along the way and because of this, can support them in their journey towards marriage with the one they truly love and want to be with – and I must admit, that is the best feeling!
So about a year ago, after photographing several beautiful multicultural weddings, I found myself struggling to find more than one or two blogs for these weddings to get featured – ones that would be a fit for my kind of couple anyway. After much research, I mentioned to Shivani that I would love to start a niche Wedding Blog where our readers would “get” us as well! I wanted brides who are totally planning their weddings, but know that the marriage is the true celebration. Grooms who are a part of the process and enjoy it!
Moms of the brides who also want inspiration and ideas so they can share it with their daughters over coffee and phone calls. And most importantly, those that want to laugh a little (or a lot!), don’t take themselves too terribly seriously (I promise that is a good thing!) and are about family, love and the moments in between (because sometimes those are the most important). So, a few months later, after much dreaming, I said to Shivani, “We should just DO THIS, you want to?” Of course, she said, “Well, why don’t we just go for it!?”
And so here we are!
The Blog has been purely a ‘passion project’ by the two of us and in less than three weeks of being live, we are seeing the evidence of this passion alive in the feedback we are receiving as well as through our analytics — the reach we have had in such a short time has been amazing and we are so grateful for the support!
What topics will you tackle on the blog?
The blog will be a great representation of the two of us and what we believe in, love and are passionate about. We want our personalities and relationship to shine through in our content and of course, we want to show the various sides of a wedding — from the personalities of the couples, families and relationships during the planning as well as on the wedding day. And we also want to show the beauty of the day and the fun moments so will showcase a mix of real wedding features, engagements, DIYs, inspiration shoots, as well as our Friday favorites, our top cocktail recipes, in-depth looks and fun interviews with our favorite hand-picked vendors and artists.
We also want to tackle topics that tend to be a bit more reserved and not talked about as readily in this industry. Topics like budgeting and how to spend based on the type of wedding it is, who is paying for it and what your priorities are (i.e. is photography the most important thing, the venue, the food?, etc.) We are also asking some of our couples who have been recently married to join us and be guest bloggers and talk about their experience and offer advice. A great piece of advice we received for our readers recently, for example, was that the couple purposely took out one night a week to do a “No Wedding Discussed Date Night”. They said it helped them tremendously to stay focused on each other and enjoy the process! We loved that!
We have also had great support from talented vendors in the area and so we will have several editorial contributors (guest bloggers) who will be writing about everything from pairing wines with food, how to work with your florist, interfaith wedding planning, and so much more! The first week we went live, we started a weekly post called ‘A Bride’s Journal’! Lisa is an American bride planning a Japanese-American wedding and is going to share with our readers everything from being engaged to trying on dresses, and planning a multicultural event from start to the day of the wedding!
And of course, we will be using the mother-daughter “voice” throughout the blog, especially in posts where we can give our opinions and thoughts on topics from both generation’s angles. Ultimately, we want to have fun with it, encourage readers that they can be ‘themselves’ and that it is not just about the flowers and decor pretties that make up a wedding but so much more!
What do you think has changed since our mothers’ wedding days? Has the role of the mother changed?
Rupa: From my perspective, I think what has changed is the expectation of the wedding itself – size, how much is spent, how beautiful it is, etc. I think in my mother’s days, the wedding was important and significant definitely, but it concentrated more on the family bonds, the relationships and ultimately the marriage itself. I think times are changing back to that as this new generation of brides embrace who they are and what roles they play as women as well and I see grooms being a big aspect of planning, moms being part of the process and not just running the process and as a whole, a more enjoyable effort towards the big day with many couples now saying that it is about the marriage ultimately and the wedding is the gateway to the married life!
In my opinion, the mom’s role has changed significantly. I think we are more ‘in tune’ with our daughters and what they want and the communication is more open and honest. After a certain age (probably when Shivani turned around 20), I felt like we were friends and that we could talk about so much more than I ever would have with my own mom back in the day. As open as she was, there were some topics that were not open for chat and I know for us that is not the case and I see similar for many of my brides who have grown up here as well.
What keeps a mother daughter relationship likes yours strong?
Constant communication! You should see our FB message history, haha! We are constantly communicating and checking in, and this allows us to not only have our mother-daughter relationship remain strong, but also build a strong friendship and working relationship that is very necessary for this to be successful. We have learned to be open with each other, and to be honest and accept/give criticism in the most productive ways we can. For instance, even while working on the design for our blog we were constantly throwing ideas back and forth until we came into agreements on things or met each other halfway.
Not to say that everything is always rosy… we definitely can bicker to the extent of any other mother/daughter, but we also know that at the end of the day, that we want the best for one another, and that we love each other and those two things allow us to just move on and get things done in a very powerful way!
What is the most memorable wedding you’ve worked on?
Shivani: One of my most memorable experiences was working on the stationery, menus and table cards for the Bengali/American inspiration shoot. It was so cool to me how so many talented vendors could come together and fulfill one vision so well, and how everything fit together seamlessly! It was also great to work on a team along with my mom!
I have photographed many weddings and all have been beautiful and clients have been amazing! The most memorable, however, was the first Indian wedding I photographed. I was flown to India, all expenses paid to shoot this couple’s wedding! It was a trip of a lifetime and the couple was thrilled that they would have a photographer who would capture all of the traditions but in a modern and non-traditional style.
The wedding evening itself ended up being the most memorable than any of my other weddings I have ever shot. Almost 2 hours before the ceremony was about to start, I was lucky enough to the get the Indian Stomach Bug in a big, bad way! Our driver had to drive me back home, where along the way we made a few not-so-fun stops, my mom held my hand the entire time I wasn’t being sick and I was told to stay in bed.
Of course, there was no way that was happening! I changed into jeans and a top (not really a professional look but it was all I had at that point), I had some Indian buttermilk which was supposed to soothe my stomach (didn’t really happen), and I asked to be driven back to the venue. My dad’s friends had gone to the pharmacy and bought an Indian version of Gatorade and I sipped on it for the next hour.
When the music and festivities started, I took a deep breath, said a small prayer and walked out with my camera. I photographed every minute and details of their beautiful two-hour wedding, followed them out during the family procession and then went to the lounge and pretty much collapsed of exhaustion. Although it is (now) a funny story of what happened that night — getting sick (uh, really sick) — what I can tell you is the best memory is what I was able to do for my couple — the moments I was able to capture of them, their family, friends and the love and laughter. That is always the best part of it all.
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