The moments we lived at the Taj Mahal made us relive our wedding day jitters, not just because of the joy and of how special the day was, but also because all the nerves and anxiety that preceded the day felt ever so similar to the ones we had felt together in anticipation of our wedding day.
A western couple doing a photo shoot like this at the Taj Mahal was something that had just never been done before. And, after all, this felt very far from our “normal” too. We couldn’t anticipate how things would go and so the whole experience ended up being a completely new adventure to us.
And if doing a trash the dress shoot in a different country was already a huge challenge, doing it in such a different country as India was the biggest challenge of them all. We had no idea what to expect from the culture, the people, our photographer, nothing – everything for us was a big unknown.
It was an absolutely unforgettable day, different from anything else we’ve done to date. So of course we couldn’t help but share all of the special moments of that day with you. Keep reading to find out everything that happened behind the scenes to make this dream a reality!
WHY DO A TRASH THE DRESS SHOOT?
It was because of our wedding day that we got the idea to do a trash the dress photo shoot. Our special day ended up going by so quickly that we both felt we hadn’t fully enjoyed it together. We know this is normal – our day was full of special moments with our guests, with so many surprises, so much partying. But, in the midst of all that, we knew also that we had barely been able to enjoy the day’s little details with each other. Things that today are so familiar to me, like the way the veil falls on Joana and how she puts on her wedding dress, went completely over my head on our day.
Then, add to that the good/back luck on our wedding day. In Portugal, we say “A wet wedding is a blessed wedding” and, if that’s true, our wedding is the most blessed of them all! After a week with wonderful weather, our day came with torrential rains and an orange alert. And as grateful as we are for this blessing, the truth is that the weather ended up restraining the types of photos we could take. Everything was done in a bit of a rush, trying to escape the rain, and we weren’t able to relax with each other as we ended up doing at the Taj Mahal.
And so, the idea was born: how could we stretch out the best day of our lives and make it last even longer? How could we record it in a totally unforgettable way?
FROM DREAM TO REALITY
As soon as we went on our honeymoon, we started thinking about how to make our idea a reality. We already knew we wanted to create a blog to share all of our adventures – and this trash the dress shoot would be one of them.
In the meantime, we also already had this trip booked for India and Turkey. We quickly realized this was the ideal opportunity to create something truly special. Right away, we started looking for the best spots to do this photo shoot in India and we couldn’t get the Taj Mahal out of our heads. We had already visited such inspiring monuments like the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum, the Empire State Building, Chichén Itzá… The Taj Mahal is India’s most iconic landmark, one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and, to us, the most beautiful monument in the world.
We really wanted to take our photos here, but figuring out the logistics wasn’t always easy. First, we had to decide on whether we would bring a photographer with us from Portugal or hire someone local. Joana and I love traveling together and we didn’t want to “ruin” our trip by having to be with someone else the entire time. So we decided to hire local – as local as possible. We looked everywhere in Agra but couldn’t find a photographer that lived up to the level of quality that was needed to honor this special moment at the Taj Mahal.
And that’s how, after many hours searching, we found Radhika, one of the best photographers in India right now. Coming from Ahmedabad, Radhika had to travel more than 1,000km, taking a flight to Delhi and a taxi to Agra, to reach us.
With our photographer chosen, we could finally enjoy our trip. Or so we thought. On this trip, every day was a new adventure. Right up to the day of the shoot, we caught 7 flights and, on each one, we were so nervous just thinking about what would happen if we lost our bags where our wedding dress and suit were. We always checked the bag as “fragile”, spoke to all the check-in teams and told them how important the bag was, it had to make it to its destination. Of course, in the end, the bag was full of stickers and warnings so that it was never left behind. And we never lost it!
Once in Varanasi, it was the eve of the big day. After a few days of exploring India, we knew the next day would be important for everyone who would live it with us and we were focused on that. Since we really like to experience the places we visit, we decided to take a train from Varanasi to Agra. But, as soon as we got to the station, we saw our train was running on an 8-hour delay.
We felt a mix of despair, stress and fear of not being able to make our dream come true. We were so close and so excited that we had to find a way to make it. After hours of looking for a solution, we were able to get a flight out to the next morning landing in a military base in Agra. And that’s how we were able to get to Agra by noon.
OUR FIRST DAY AT THE TAJ MAHAL
As soon as we arrived, we got in our wedding dress and suit, headed to the Taj Mahal and, from that point on, everything was a surprise. Radhika wanted to take some photos at sunset and gauge the people’s reactions. From the beginning, she had told us it would be really difficult to do a photo shoot at the Taj Mahal because of the crowds. She wanted to go to Jaipur, or anywhere else in India, but we insisted that our shoot had to be done there. And thankfully, that was the right decision: people went crazy over us, supported us a lot and showed us so much love.
When we got to the Taj Mahal, it was already so close to closing time and as our taxi left us at one of the back doors, we realized it would be impossible to go unnoticed. The crowds that gathered, some already on their way out, now turned towards us. Focused on asking us questions, congratulating us, taking photos with us.
We were a bit tired and just wanted to take some good photos after the adventure that was just getting there. But people couldn’t contain themselves and approached us constantly with friendly words of advice and a lot of curiosity. Radhika couldn’t help but laugh and we ended up feeling every loved and blessed by everyone who came up to us that evening.
It was a rushed moment, but we were able to take some good photos. The Taj Mahal closed but it peaked out of its veil for the next day.
THE TAJ MAHAL: A WHOLE NEW WORLD TOGETHER
Just as on the eve of our wedding day, on the eve of 13/10/2016 we slept very little and very anxiously. That night, lying next to each other, we shared the same anticipation and we talked about our fears and expectations for the following day. The monument was so beautiful and the people seemed so great: It will certainly be a unique moment, we thought.
And so, the big day came. We woke up early, at around 4am to get to the Taj Mahal at 5:30am. When we arrived, the line to get in was already long, but as we approached it, people let us go to the front of the line. They were just as excited as us! Our photographer, in the meantime, had to leave behind much of her equipment. Professional photos aren’t allowed at the Taj Mahal so Radhika was only able to go in with two cameras and two lenses, leaving behind most of her equipment. No tripods or anything else that could have helped her. Her talent would have to truly shine through that day.
Joana and I were super excited and just wanted to be able to get it. We had the absolute privilege, that day, to be the first to see the Taj Mahal illuminated by the gold hues of the sunrise.
We quickly got to work and soon realized that the idea of hiring a local photographer had been our best one yet. So many times, Radhika was a translator for the congratulations we received and she had no problem asking the curious tourists who followed us to help out once in a while.
Just as on our wedding day, on that day, it was never just 3 of us taking photos. It was dozens of people who followed us around. And, just like the day before, the same love, admiration and friendliness followed us closely.
While the Western tourists asked us where we were from and congratulated our original photo shoot idea, it was the Indian tourists that most opened up their hearts to us. We especially remember the advice that an Indian man gave us that day. We were walking around quickly when that man, who was there with his family, approached us with the utmost respect and asked us to listen to him. We stopped to hear what he said and he asked me if I wanted to feel like a prince. I immediately responded with a yes, of course! The Indian man told us the formula was simple: if I wanted to feel like a prince, all I had to do was to treat Joana like a princess. Every human being gets what he gives; if I treated her badly, I wouldn’t get anything from her in return. Only by treating her like the princess that she is, would I be able to feel her love, becoming myself a prince.
From the happy children fascinated with Joana’s shoes to the various families that congratulated us endlessly, our amazing day at the Taj Mahal was made even more special by these people. It was all of them that turned our day so unique and special – it wasn’t just three people photographing a couple but dozens of people celebrating the most beautiful thing in the world: love.
Of course, we decided to follow the advice of that Indian man and it’s something we’ll never forget for the rest of our lives.