Harnaam Kaur has polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which meant she started growing a beard from aged 11. Battling to remove her hair every day, and bullied at school, she started to self harm and considered suicide. Harnaam is now a body-confidence and anti-bullying activist and she fully embraces her unique look and hopes to encourage others to do the same. So when this bridal shoot using Harnaam as the model was submitted to me I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!
“I am a British born female living in Slough”, Harnaam told me. “I am a little different from other women. “I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries from a really young age, around the time I hit puberty. PCOS is a condition in which there is an imbalance in hormones within the female body, this has led me to have more male hormones then female ones, and it is also the reason to why I have a beard. I used to have my face waxed 2 to 3 times a week, and on the days I couldn’t bare the pain I would simply shave.”
“I had a great upbringing and a really happy family life but I was severely bullied all the way through school, starting from nursery right through to my late secondary school days. I even got beaten up a few times. I became very aggressively suicidal and I even resorted to self harm.”
“At the age of 16 I hit my biggest low. I had been suicidal all year due to immense bullying from school and people in society. I hid away and did not want to venture out into the public. My bedroom was my only safe haven. I was hugely depressed. I remember sitting on my bed and thinking about taking my own life. But instead, as I sat there, I started to counsel myself. I told myself ‘The energy you are putting into ending your life, put all that energy into turning your life around and doing something better’.”
“At that point I decided I wanted to be me. I decided to keep my beard and step forward against society’s expectations of what a woman should look like. Today I am not suicidal and I do not self harm. Today I am happy living as a young beautiful bearded woman. I have realised that this body is mine, I own it, I do not have any other body to live in so I may as well love it unconditionally.”
The wedding of Chris and Brielle was held at The Icehouse in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Their goal was to save as much money as possible, but still have a beautiful wedding.
“I wanted everyone to remember the wedding as beautiful and a reflection of the love that we share”, said Brielle. “Who says you can’t have a gorgeous wedding on a budget!? It was exactly what I had imagined and more. The space already had so much character; it didn’t need an overload of décor. I searched every bargain shop for the decorations. Nothing about my style usually matches so my wedding decorations didn’t need to match either.”
“The signs were either paintings or photo frames that I bought from Goodwill and turned into chalkboards, the cocktail room had photo holders made from candlesticks and wine corks (yes, wine was consumed to retrieve those), my flower crown, bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquets were all made by my friend, Meredith. Also the wands for the getaway were made out of strips of cloth and wooden sticks, sparklers take too long to light!”
Amy and James’ aim was to spend as little as possible on getting married. They had a small ceremony at Boho Cornwall, a venue specifically designed for elopements, on May 13th.
“The inspiration for our wedding was just to be an intimate, family occasion, just us and our baby girl”, explained Amy. “We had no guests, no speeches, no cake, seating plans or first dances. We wanted it to be as environmentally friendly as possible too so my bouquet was from locally grown flowers, my dress was homemade and our rings were recycled. Plus, rather than asking friends and family for gifts or money, we set up a JustGiving page to help our local animal sanctuary.”
The bride’s gorgeous green dress was made by the groom’s mother. “I was adamant from day one that I wanted an emerald green dress”, she explained. “People tried to talk me out of it but I know my own mind and I stuck with it – and it was splendiferous.”
“We had both been to weddings before where all the ‘extras’ seemed, in our opinion, to detract from the core meaning of the wedding”, said James. “The union of two people was the most important thing to us. It all too often got lost after the ceremony in the endless photo line ups, welcomes, dances… not to mention it being a massive expense and headache to plan. We wanted it to also be nice and relaxed, intimate and simple.”
Lauren and Cory’s whimsical French circus wedding theme came from the bride’s imagination. She wanted their wedding to be quirky and fun, yet timeless and elegant. “I wanted to keep everything as organic and simple as possible but with a slight nod to the oh-so-quirky”, Lauren explained. “I used gold animals that I DIY’d for the escort cards and table number holders which added a bit of whimsy and playfulness to the whole aesthetic. Our theme was Whimsical French Safari!”
“It was a pretty perfect and wonderful day but we had a few little hiccups right before the ceremony”, she continued. “It turns out that there was a wildfire along the freeway and the traffic was pretty bad. In the end, everyone arrived safely and we only started a tad bit late. It was just so bazaar to hear all the whispers but no one wanted to let me in on what was happening!”
Hayley and Hoots were married in Auckland, New Zealand. After a church ceremony their had their quirky and fun reception at The Sapphire Room in Ponsonby.
“I was totally inspired by anything vintage”, wrote Hayley, “which started when Hoots proposed to me with his gran’s engagement ring. I loved looking at family photos of their weddings and I loved the idea of a mismatched wedding with not one particular style, colour or theme.”
Bronwyn-Sara and Jesse were married at Red River Valley in Tennessee. “Tradition is the last thing that describes what Jesse and I wanted”, the bride began. “We drove my mother-in law-crazy with our ideas. We threw tradition to the side and did our own thing with our thrift store purchases and last minute planning!”
The bride bought her dress on Craigslist, wore no shoes (just like most of the wedding party) and did her own make up. Her bridesmaids were in various vintage style dresses bought from places like David’s Bridal, Etsy and thrift stores!