I don't know how it keeps happening, but I swear to God, I admire every couple whose wedding we photograph. But of all the admirable, awesome folks we've had the pleasure of working with over the years, I'm hard pressed to name one that is as flat out cool as Roxy and Niraj.
Maybe I'm swayed by the cool factor of a couple who are chill enough to decide to get married, then look out the window of their Lake Merritt apartment at an old building a few blocks away, shrug, and go "let's just get married there." But here's the thing, the venue they chose with this natural nonchalance is The Bellevue Club, a historical landmark on the shores of Lake Merritt that has a history as a society social club and all the aging grandeur of a Jazz Age hot spot to prove it. Stepping through the doors of the club is like traveling back to a different era. An era where epic ballrooms were de rigueur and drivers waited downstairs for the members to finish their luncheon. This is about five orders of magnitude cooler than you expect from a local neighborhood wedding venue.
But the venue was in no way going to outshine this couple. This duo packed more quirky details into the Club than we have time or space to show here. From essential details like Niraj's ring (a badass golden skull with jewel-inset eye sockets) to hand-designed-by-Niraj paper doll representations of the bride and groom used to adorn the cake, or goody bag favors that paired sweets from India (the groom's nation of origin) and Australia (the bride's), or a reception playlist that included some serious heavy metal headbanging or a badass officiant who baby-wore her sleeping one-year-old while busting some serious moves on the dance floor. For a photographer, this party was a wonderland with something new to see around every corner. For the globe trotting guests, it was just a wonderful night to celebrate the love that bonded two epically cool folks and the incredible hidden gem of a place they decided to celebrate it in.
But here's what I'm left thinking about as I reminisce about this freaking cool night and the people who made it possible: early in the day, when the groom, his groomsmen (and groomswoman) and I were hanging out in the hotel room while they knocked back beers and bagels, Niraj busted out this incredible bespoke wedding day suit that he brought back from a tailor in India. But as soon as he donned it, one of his groomsmen decided that a sewing error in the jacket was causing one of the tails to hang strangely. So Armed with nothing more than a roll of scotch tape, a bag full of plastic utensils leftover from the bagel place and the MacGyver-like ingenuity of engineers already half lit before 11 a.m., everyone decided to fix it. Half an hour later, they had devised a makeshift splint for the seam that ended up equal parts engineering marvel and fiasco-in-waiting. I can't help but chuckle even now, months later, when I think back to Niraj catching sight of the result in the mirror for the first time. He shook his head, said "You idiots..." then laughed and laughed. But here's the thing: for as much as his jacket was always threatening to drop a steady rain of plastic knives and wadded up tape, it really, honestly freaking worked. It fixed the problem and to my knowledge it never left a trail of kitchen utensils behind him during the night. I honestly do not recall ever laughing as hard on a wedding day as I did in that hotel room that morning. And I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you, Niraj and Roxy, for including us in your wicked cool, hilarious, and freaking beautiful Oakland wedding day. We're not worthy, but you and your fantastic friends, family and loved ones actually made us feel that we were for a night.