Anatomy of a bridal mehndi

Sometimes people ask me if I get nervous having people watch me do henna. The truth is that I do get butterflies in my stomach before a big bridal henna. I know it's going to require me to concentrate, without stop, for 4-5 hours. I know I will probably forget to eat a snack during that time and get a bit grouchy, and I know the bride will probably start to get wiggly after about an hour or two and aunties will be checking in at the 3 hour point wondering if we're finished yet.  I know the lighting, the seating, the temperature - none of it will be perfect. Working on the patio under the Mexican sun can be delightful, but a sudden rain-shower can have me scrambling to protect the bride's henna! And last but not least, I might have to listen Om Shanti Om for the two hundredth time. 

But those butterflies are caused by none of the above. Even after 10 years of doing henna professionally, I still have a little excited anticipation before every bridal mehndi. The excitement of creating a new art piece is what does it! For me, the mehndi starts before I even enter the location of the event. I love drawing, so I may do a little warm-up at home or in my hotel room while burning some incense and listening to some good tunes. Here, I used the empty cardboard of a Ghiradelli Sea Salt and Caramel chocolate bar (good chocolate is hard to get in Mexico, so I bring my own). 

Warm up doodles.

Warm up doodles.

Brainstorming and loosening up helps ensure that when it is time to do the bride's mehndi, I am warmed up and have a concept ready to execute. The act of doing henna actually slows my heart-rate and causes a peaceful calm to wash over me.  Once I am at the location, I arrange my items so they are close at hand. All of these little rituals prepare me for a long day of work. 

Mehndi table styling.

Mehndi table styling.

Graphically bold lotuses, Krishna and Radha are just some of the features in this custom pattern.

Graphically bold lotuses, Krishna and Radha are just some of the features in this custom pattern.

Peacock feathers adorn the bride's fingertips.

Peacock feathers adorn the bride's fingertips.

Barefoot and loving it.

Barefoot and loving it.

And all that hard work pays off, the next day, the bride is free to mingle or pose for romantic pictures at her mehndi night! Here the bride and groom enjoy a picture perfect evening complete with cloudy castles in the sky. 

Picture perfect evening for a mehndi party, at Playacar Palace, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Picture perfect evening for a mehndi party, at Playacar Palace, Playa del Carmen, Mexico