Almedina + Dino A Beautiful Bosnian Phoenix, AZ Wedding
Almedina always hated when people used the phrase "when you know you know." It felt cliche, it felt vague, and it definitely wasn't what she initially felt when she bumped into Dino in the parking lot of their Bosnian mosque ten years ago. Sure the psychology student was handsome, and there was an alluring quality to him that could pull her in if she wasn't careful, but Almedina kept Dino at bay placing their connection in the friend zone.
For eight years they remained just that--friends, Almedina never exploring what she felt the first time she laid eyes on him, and Dino thinking he'd never stand a chance with the dark-eyed head turner. But one day fate had other intentions when group plans with friends that bailed quickly turned into the first time Almedina and Dino would hang out together alone. And as luck would have it, Almedina and Dino enjoyed spending time with each other. They read each other's minds, they finished each other's sentences, they went on hikes, and bike rides in the desert sun, and somewhere along the way Almedina knew. That vague, cliche phrase that everyone used to tell her 'she'd know when she knew,' when she looked in Dino's eyes she finally understood what they meant by it. As it turned out, Dino knew as well. During a trip to the Desert Botanical Gardens, where the two shared their first date, nearly two years after they made their relationship official, they watched the light show tucked away from the rest of the world, and Dino gave Almedina a kiss, pulled out a ring from his pocket, and asked the Bosnian beauty, "budi moja" (be mine). On April 13th, 2019 she was.
Part of what I love about weddings is how the hours leading up to and after the vows are often just as magnificent as the ceremony itself. With so many emotions swirling throughout the entire wedding day, as a photographer you just have to lock in and capture as much as you can. I became a photographer as a way to preserve those great fleeting moments, like the ones felt on Almedina and Dino's wedding day, and I'm always aware that when it's all over, they will only have the moments that I saw. Sure, their final gallery will include hundreds of images, but they only depict a fraction of what actually took part. I say this because, with Almedina and Dino's wedding, there was SO much. An abundance of love, happiness, and laughter spilled over everywhere.
There were so many wonderful, unscripted, and genuine moments that I had the honor of witnessing and documenting for these two, here are my favorites from this an unforgettable day…
The morning started at the bride's house, where the men on both sides toasted alongside traditional homemade Bosnian dishes and rich baklava pastries filled with layers of chopped nuts and honey. Upstairs the women on Almedina's side were laughing amid hair spray and touchups. Outsides, guests arrived with fanfare to celebrate the commitment of two kind and beautiful souls.
When Almedina's mother helped her into her dress, she cried, wiping away tears as she buttoned up the back. In true Bosnian tradition, Almedina was escorted with her brother out to a sea of waiting guests where Dino waited patiently for the first glimpse of his betrothed. The energy in the room when Almedina walked down the staircase was electric, and as she left her parents house to head to the same mosque where she met Dino ten years ago, faint hymns of the "ilahija" played in the background.
As guests arrived at the Islamic Center of North Phoenix for Almedina and Dino's ceremony, in true Bosnian tradition, friends and family gave money to the happy couple in order to pass through the gatekeepers and enter the service.
In a touching ceremony that combined the contemporary with the customary, an Imam presided over their nikah reading passages from the Quran before Almedina and Dino exchanged vows, rings, and signed their marriage certificate.
As is customary in Almedina and Dino's Bosnian heritage, the happy couple headed to Dino's parent's house where they were greeted by cheers, and a kum of candies thrown in the air upon their arrival. As a sign of “togetherness,” the couple was fed honey with the same spoon, a tradition that is as old and as strong as their eastern European roots.
I loved this group of amazing women…good attracts good and Almedina proved this by surrounding herself with lovely gems…
Just after the festivities, the couple snuck away with their wedding party to North Mountain for a few photos during the golden hour…
You can feel Dino’s tenderness toward his stunning bride…
American Royal Palace was host to their beautiful reception with ornate towering candelabras filled with white roses and hydrangeas, pink chiavari chair sashes, and personalized succulents for each of their guests.
Wonderful and heartwarming speeches were made in their native Bosnian tongue…
Almedina’s younger sister serenaded the happy couple with a piano piece she had been practicing…
In typical Bosnian fashion, Almedina and Dino's wedding guests danced the Kolo, a jubilant circle dance that everyone young and old participates in and they celebrated into the wee hours of the night.
Almedina and Dino, your combination of fun, kind hearts and energy is unstoppable. You are a force to be reckoned with and I’m so thrilled I was able to document the first day of a lifetime you will share! Your friends and families made me feel lucky to get to know you on a deeper level and I was privileged to have seen you through their eyes. I wish you the best as you navigate life together!
CEREMONY VENUE: Islamic Center of North Phoenix
PHOTOGRAPHER: Rachel Smak
OFFICIANT: Dr. Sabahudin Ćeman
CAKE: American Royal Palace
FLORIST: Flowers by Renee
DRESS SHOP/DESIGNER: David’s Bridal
SHOES: David’s Bridal
BRIDESMAID DRESSES: David’s Bridal
SUITS & TUXEDOS: Brother’s Tailor
LIMO: PJ’s Limousines
DJ: Vehid-Alma Karac
RECEPTION VENUE & DECOR: American Royal Palace