On the countdown to your Sikh wedding? That’s awesome! Sikh weddings are often large, lavish with lots going on!
As an award-winning Asian wedding photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to capture some amazing Sikh weddings. They’re amazing! Here are some tips on what to expect and how to prepare for an awesome Sikh wedding.
Sikh Wedding Traditions and Customs – Sikh weddings are rich with traditional customs and ceremonies.
One Week Before – The ‘Sagai’ or engagement ceremony typically takes place a week before the wedding. The traditional tikka mark is applied to the groom’s forehead by the bride’s father and the bride is presented with an ornate stole known as a chunni, as well as jewellery and other gifts. The party usually marks the occasion when the bride and groom exchange engagement rings. The other chief event that takes place before the wedding ceremony is the Mehndi party, where professional henna artists decorate the palms and feet of the bride. You can make the party even more memorable by having traditional food, decorations and music. Also, don’t forget to take a group photo of everyone to mark the event.
The Wedding Day – On the wedding day several religious rituals are performed at the bride and groom’s houses. At the bride’s home the day usually begins with the ‘Chura’ ritual, where the bride’s maternal uncle presents her with set of red and cream ivory bangles. At the groom’s residence, the ‘Sehra Bandi’ ritual is performed which involves tying a traditional embroidered veil to the groom’s turban.
On arriving at the wedding venue – usually a Sikh temple, such as Gurudwara – ‘Milni’ takes place, where the families are formally introduced to each other and tokens of luck are exchanged. A significant part of the ceremony is the Lavaan (‘four prayers’) ritual, where the bride and groom circle the Sikh scripture (Guru Granth Sahib) four times. Once complete, the couple are officially man and wife.
As parts of the wedding preparations take place at different locations, ensure your principle photographer has an equally capable second photographer so they can split up and capture events separately. Having a second photographer also means they can take shots from different angles and photograph your family and friends mingling while you step out for your wedding portraits, so you don’t miss a thing!
The Reception – The ceremony is usually followed by a big reception featuring freshly made food, singing, bhangra and modern dancing. You’ll usually find alcohol is served (and often flows!) at modern Sikh weddings. Lots of photographers stay until the first dance – if you want them to capture the party too, check that they offer extended coverage. In which case, you will probably need to arrange overnight accommodation.
Post-Wedding – Besides the wedding ceremony one of the biggest tear-jerking moments is ‘Doli’ which marks the bride’s official departure from her family home. The bride says farewell to her family and is led to her husband to start her new married life. As well as having your photographer there to shoot this beautifully bitter-sweet moment, all I can say is remember to keep your tissues handy!
Handling a Big Guest List – Asian weddings are well known for their extensive guest lists as it’s customary to invite not only family members and friends but acquaintances too. Handling a guest list of 300+ people is no mean feat. It’s a good idea to establish the number of people coming as early as possible as this will have a big impact on the size of venue you choose, catering and overall budget. If in doubt, hire the skills of a seasoned wedding planner to help you!
Choosing a Photographer for a Sikh Wedding – Start looking for a wedding photographer as early as possible as the best photographers get booked months, sometimes years in advance.
Points to consider before booking your wedding photographer:
- What style of wedding photography do you want? Photojournalistic (un-posed, documentary style photographs of your day), wedding portraits (today’s portraits are a million miles away from the stiff, formal portraits of yesteryear but aim to capture you together in a beautiful, natural way – the results are stunning.
- Do your research – Spend time reviewing the photographer’s work and where possible arrange to view a whole gallery to see how they approach an entire wedding.
- How many photographers? With so much going on at a Sikh wedding check that your lead photographer has a second or even third photographer so you get complete coverage.
Does your photographer offer an engagement shoot? An engagement shoot is a great way to get to know your photographer and ‘warm up’ to being photographed by them. Plus, you get extra mementos to share with family and friends.
If you’d like to know more about my professional Asian wedding photography, please do get in touch. I photograph Sikh, Muslim and Hindu weddings throughout London, Surrey and as a professional overseas wedding photographer, often travel to wedding destinations world-wide.