{destination wedding} Elora & Rajiv ~ Bali

I tell stories.

I’ve resisted the label storyteller for the longest time, but the truth is that is what I am. What I’ve always been. People invite me into their stories, be it for a moment, and I try and re-tell them my way. Often the stories tell themselves, they lead me by the hand and all I do is listen to what I’m given.

But this time.


I really don’t even know where to begin. The story I’m about to tell is more complex than any other, yet it’s as simple as breathing. A couple of years ago, Jacqui and I went to Ubud in Bali for the first time. Serendipity lead us on winding roads to the small village of Sayan. We rented a beautiful house for a week, overlooking the Sayan Gorge and as soon as we arrived there, my whole body reacted in a way it never had before. I have never felt more in tune with a place, it felt like the world and I were finally breathing in sync. When we had to leave Sayan, I knew I had to come back one day.

When Elora and Rajiv contacted me about their Bali wedding, they never mentioned where in Bali they were getting married, but from their first contact, I knew I had to shoot it. I was meant to shoot it. It took me months to understand why. As it turns out, Elora grew up in the house next to where we had been staying that time in Sayan. As a girl she had been playing in the rice paddies of the Sayan Gorge dreaming that she’d one day would marry her prince charming there.

Elora’s father, John Hardy, raised his family in the heart of Bali, and once you visit Sayan, you will understand why.

Elora met Rajiv in NYC. There he was, the prince of her dreams. Because that he is, a very, very charming prince. I ramble now, and I realise I will never to explain everything about this wedding to you, all the ins and outs, so I’m just going to present it to you. I need to explain a few things though. The wedding took place over three days. The first day John took the guests of a wondrous hike, explaining how the Balinese irrigation system works, showing us all how the farmers grow and harvest rice. It was hot, wet and extremely humid, but i still felt a strange connection with everything I saw, my senses turned on the max, the hairs on my arms tingling. After the hike we finished up with lunch down by the river before people took a soothing dip in the spring pouring over the cliff from the Hardy residence.

Later that night, all the guests met up at Bambu Indah for the first celebration, an Indian ceremony and the craziest dance party I’ve ever seen.

Day two started early. Elora’s dress was made from fresh Jasmine flowers and she was later sewn into it. A bridge had been made from bambu and on that Elora and her father walked across the river to the ceremony. Later we shot the portraits in the rice paddies where Elora had played as a little girl before me met up with the guests in a village close by for the reception. And here I know my images can’t show you the glory of what I saw. The reception that night took place under a large Banyan tree, I have never seen anything like it before. As you’ll notice, there aren’t too many traditional wedding details in this post and that’s because Bali itself is the detail, the fabric of these days, and that’s why the images can’t show you what it was like.

Day three. Elora and Rajiv were blessed in a local ceremony before they invited the locals to a feast under the stars. About 500 people were fed and several times I had to remind myself to shoot the magic in front of me. It was just so much to take in.

I know these images can’t tell you the whole story, there’s no way they can explain it to you, but hopefully they will give you an idea.

All I can give you is a glimpse, show you a fraction of what I saw, a taste of what we all felt.

The week before the wedding Elora sent me an email with a  photo of herself.

It simply said,

It will be just like this.


Today’s wedding is today featured on Oncewed here and here and was also published in American Vogue last month.

music credit: Balmorhea – We Will Rebuild With Smooth Stones (iTunes)


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  1. Amaia says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation. This is a preview; your comment will be visible after it has been approved.
    Gracias por hacer mi día más bonito de lo que ya era, he llorado y reído, tu arte me sobrecoge y llena, una preciosidad
  2. beautiful place. send me email if you have anotehr like this.

  3. What a wonderful story and a lovely couple. I have heard a lot of wedding destinations in Bali. Bali is indeed a wonderful place, a perfect place to have such a magical moment at. Thank you for sharing this fascinating and magical moment with us. Please do visit us at http://www.jellekuiper.nl/, he is a very artistic man. Thank you.

  4. Your photography makes me feel like I was there—sights, sounds, smells, everything. Artistic, heartfelt photography at its best! Thank you for your dedication to your work.

  5. Hi,

    That’s such a lovely work! My name is Terence, we have a travel blog that tells interesting Bali travel stories and your awesome photography gave me an inspiration for a story idea.

    I was wondering if I could feature 1 or 2 pictures on your site? We will be giving full credit to you and a link back. We also have loyal readers that could be your potential clients!

    Let us know, thanks!


  6. Hi!

    We will have our wedding 21st june 2015 in Gothenburg. What price can you offer for a whole day?

    Where are you from?

    best regards

  7. Bellaz, Hermosa.. I dont know what is the best words to describe these photos and the wedding

  8. This is really something! Very inspirational people.. Thank you, Jonas, for this beautiful story! :)

  9. Spine tinglingly stunning and beautiful. I could smell the jasmine and hear all the sounds. So beautifully captured. An epic story.

  10. Wooow!! hermoso reportaje, linda manera de ver el mundo a través de una cámara.
    Beautiful story, beautiful way to see the world through a camera.

  11. I’ve always wanted to go to Bali, but after reading this post last year, i was so moved, I wanted to see Sayan and the place where they got married.

    And I saw it today. :) Lovely place, and you capture them SO BEAUTIFULLY! You’re AMAZING! i’m starting to save up so you can capture my wedding someday ;p

  12. I’m speechless. Those pictures blew me away. You are amazingly talented!!! I’d love marry my husband again just so you can capture our wedding day.

  13. wow,so amazing and beautiful view and shoots. Love the story. Its like Cinderella dreams come true. Like it so much! I like the themes and idea behind it. Well done!

  14. Jag halkade in här av en händelse. Vilka fantastiska bilder du tar! Och vilket fantastiskt bröllop. Är helt hänförd. Vad duktig du är på att fånga bilden och känslan. Jättefina bilder!

  15. Bali seems the same with our lush green places in the Philippines, but you seem to make it look like heaven :) super amazing job! You make me want to marry in Bali!

  16. You know… this is so amazing… i love all the photos.

    I love all the feel that you capture in this story…
    I can’t stop to amazed.. Great Job..

  17. Your work is so stunning, and you are able to capture the mood of each individual wedding.
    This is my absolute favourite, the bride’s dress is incredible!
    I look forward to discovering more of your work!

  18. The tik-tak-toe with the animals is my favorite. It will just never exist again. It’s what I love about photography…..this will never happen again, and you’ve been the one to capture that moment. I like to go to your site for inspiration. Thank you.

  19. Amazing selection of photo’s capturing the stunning backdrops, the preparations and small details and the beautiful couple. Your style definitely “tells a story”. Lucky couple to have such wonderful images to enjoy.

  20. I’ve long admired your work Jonas and this is so breathtaking! keep writing. love your stories through words and images.

  21. That looks like one of the most amazing experiences and weddings ever how lucky are you getting to be a part of that! Amazing shots to well done.

  22. I shook my head in amazement after every single image and the sheer beauty captured in every picture. The details alone made me tear up a little. Absolutely beautiful.

  23. Wow…outstanding :) Och God Jul på dig, här i Sverige så här dagen innan Julafton så är det snöstorm så det var väldigt värmande att titta på dina underbara bilder.

  24. I don’t look at wedding blogs much anymore for the most part. Not yours, not anyone’s. For many reasons. But I wanted to check out your recent work and I started scrolling through this wedding and I cried. and I scrolled again and again. It has touched me like nothing I’ve seen before. Not only is the location heart stopping gorgeous (I have a crush on Bali and long to visit so badly…) but the people involved and the celebrations are just so, seriously I can’t find the right adjective… some words that come to mind, boil these in a soup and add honey and the correct adjective may exist: spiritual, deep, loving, authentic, joyous, connected, virtuous, graceful, natural radiance. What an incredibly unique and precious experience for all involved.

  25. So proud to have been some small part of this amazing event. Thank you for this amazing story that I will share with family and friends.it was a pleasure to spen time with you and your beautiful family

  26. I know you’ve heard it before and most likely a few times by me but you are undoubtedly on of the best story tellers in this industry.

  27. I have been feeling SO homesick for Indonesia yesterday and today and then I saw this and the feeling is so much stronger now. The photo with the people holding leaves as umbrellas hit me the hardest. Your photos are INCREDIBLE. (Also, that person complaining about the heavier bridesmaid is really silly.)

  28. I don’t comment here much anymore because everything just pretty much leaves me speechless. this time I had to at least say it. bonkers, dude – you, and the wedding. it’s perfect in so many ways; no one better than you for this. drawn in completely.

  29. Gorgeous. Looking at the brides face in these images you can see the high level of emotion and joy that would have been felt on these three days.

  30. whaooo most beutifull wedding I,ve ever seen. Just simply beautifull .
    Johas you are an amazing photographer for capturing this true love and wonderfull story.

  31. Wow Jonas, this is so amazing, I love the way you have captured this brides journey, makes me want to go to Ubud in an instance. You truly are a storyteller and you get to share the stories of so many, to others that would never even realise these stories existed if it wasn’t for your beautiful images. Love the pics of the boys too, the way you captured J was just so exact, love that little smile of his.

  32. Stunning. These pictures brought tears to my eyes. Don´t worry, they tell a lot more of the story than you think.

  33. There are no words that can describe the overwhelming spiritual experience I felt while going through these images. In a just a few minutes something inside me has changed & for that I’m incredibly thankful. You’re one hell of a storyteller my friend, embrace it :)

  34. Seriously. There are no words. You worked some serious magic on top of a magical couple, magical family and magical place. This one will stay with me for a long time.

  35. Most beautiful and unique wedding I’ve ever seen captured on camera. Wow. Breathtaking. Amazing !!

  36. @C – I’m not telling the whole story, but I most certainly haven’t left anyone out because they’re heavier. The accusation is ludicrous to me. There were six bridesmaids, I just picked three images to show off their different dresses. I could have showed that girl too, they were all equally beautiful. This is still one of the longest blog posts I’ve ever done, I just can’t show everything.

  37. Fantastiska bilder som vanligt :) Men jag satt hela bildserien igenom med ett öga stängt, det andra halvöppet, och tänkte…nu slaktar de snart grisarna…yyyll..men de kanske var vegitarinaner…

  38. Just a question/observation:

    At what point do you decide what photo’s to Blog? What is Beautiful enough to make the cut?
    I noticed that there are several Bridesmaids, yet only three or four reoccur in the photo’s that are posted. Looking at the photo of the Bridesmaids walking along the bridge to the creek ceremony – the left out Bridesmaid is in the very back, this Bridesmaid is not as Thin as the other Bridesmaids that recoccur in many photo’s and even feature in their own shot. In my opinion she is just as important and lovely as the other Bridesmaids. This Bride chose her to stand next to her and be her Bridesmaid, this lets you assume that she is infact of significance in the Wedding – and yet. She can’t really be seen in any other photo’s. If your telling a Story, would you not tell the whole story? If you have the chance to tell the story of a few chosen Bridesmaids, why did that one Bridesmaid get overlooked from the Blog?

  39. That has brought tears to my eyes and helped me to believe in my dreams. Never in a million years could I have thought of a celebration created such as this one… it has filled me with visions I didn’t know existed.
    Your photography captures more than just the picture…you can feel it.
    Thank you for sharing x

  40. I know I just join the ranks of all the others who don’t even know where to begin, but seeing these images just makes me feel more alive. Like I’ve witnessed something that is truly once in a lifetime. What a magical way for Elora & Rajiv to start their married lives together.

  41. How funny, as I was looking through the photos I was thinking hmm I know I’ve seen these photos before.. And then as I got to the bottom I remembered, oh yeah they were in Vouge :) AMAZING!

  42. Jonas

    This wedding, and these images, gave my chest a tight lump. I have no words for this. wow. Thank you as always for being such an inspiring photographer, and shooting way, way outside of the box.

  43. this story has completely redefined the word “wedding” for me. i have never seen something so beautiful. and i feel privileged to have seen it. thank you.

  44. amazing ‘storytelling’ Jonas, made me (and 1000s of others no doubt) want to go there. I could smell the smells and almost feel the place – let alone the love x

  45. Thanks for sharing :)
    A M A Z I N G
    I `ve just been to Bali and stayed at Bambu Indah for 3 weeks in Kuning House for three delicious weeks of Yoga.
    I love the “ship” we did our yogapractice there.
    John are truly a faboulus person inside out. His burning soul penetrates the hole place.

    Sayan is breathtaking. And ypu captured everything so well.

    Thanks again.

  46. This IS the most beautiful wedding you have ever shot. And I really really feel like you have not been able to caputre it in all its glory. But your photos are wonderful, and I love the scenery around this wedding. It is absolutely gorgous. I am very jealous, I would love to attend an amazing wedding like this! You are very lucky!

  47. Stunning! I can feel this wedding. Sometimes you look at photos and it just shows you what happened. Maybe because you were so emotionally seduced by the location and people that it actually came through in the photos.

    Amazing work and what a blessing to have experienced such a beautiful union.

  48. Theses are so beautiful, and what a fabulous setting for a wedding. The whole thing actually looks like a dream.

    Well done JP.

  49. that is the most kick-ass wedding I’ve ever seen! I stayed at Bambuh INdah last year, and it brought back so many great memories for me. Its a special place. So how on earth do you top this?

  50. Simply beautiful. I can’t imagine how many photographs you would have taken in those 3-4 days. Truly beautiful. What a place to get married :D. Those 2 vertical shots are my favorites one where she is getting ready and the other is where both of them are standing at the edge above the pool. Too good.

    I have been following your work for a few months now and I am completely bowled over by your style. Very inspiring as always. How you “I try and re-tell them my way. Often the stories tell themselves, they lead me by the hand and all I do is listen to what I’m given.” is what amazed me completely. Very very inspiring work. I am learning to Adapt to your style with my ideas. I don’t know how you do it, but the film-like and feel that you get works so perfectly.

  51. Everyone of these photos could stand on their own. These are simply fantastic congrats on the publication Jonas you are amazing!

  52. Jonas! This is amazing and gives me new inspiration for the ways to reflect the feeling and atmosphere of the wedding event. The image of the wedding ceremony by the river is the most beautiful ceremony image I have seen. Gorgeous. Thank you:)

  53. these images are like stills from a hollywood film – correction – not even hollywood could imagine or create something this breathtaking………..

  54. 3 days of awesomeness !!! great beautiful works jonas… :) if you are on my budget, i’d hired you to re-tell my wedding stories for sure….

  55. I am sat here listening to that beautiful guitar playing and looking through what can only be described as such a stunning set of photos. Incredible. Incredible. Incredible.

  56. this is AMAZING! you captured the essence of Ubud very well, definitely a magical place to be, it looks spiritual and I love that it was held outdoor everyone blended with nature. They look very happy, looks like a very well planned wedding.

  57. Wow, the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen – captured beautifully.
    No wonder you fell in love with Bali, what a way to experience it.

  58. Stunning work as usual Jonas … I can totally understand why Bali makes you feel that way. To shoot a wedding there must have been amazing!

  59. If I could, I would choose you as my wedding photographer. You’ve come to Brazil?
    Your work is very very very beautiful!!

  60. Gasp!!!!! this is amazingly beautiful Bali Bali Bali in love with everthing there. You have captured this stunning wedding with so much love through your lense. I am of course in awe of the incrediable flower dress they really know how to construct and weave flowers over there. You are a true story teller <3

  61. Absolute life changing work…May God bless you to continue on this journey..we will follow you through it. thank-you so much for sharing. Story-teller you are :)

  62. This. is. Unreal. Embrace the term “storyteller,” because you truly are one. The emotion really comes through.

  63. The way you described how in tune you feel with Bali is precisely how I feel about Iceland. But more to the point of the matter, this is a masterpiece. Sheesh….


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