Sikh wedding ceremonies are not about one single day. They are about the process of two people and two families coming together, and it can certainly become more and more complicated. Of course, it will be much easier if your partner always wants a Sikh wedding. A combination of the Sikh culture and another one always produces an absolutely unique wedding experience, not only for the couple, but their families and all of their guests.
But here I am concerned with Sikh weddings in particular, and all of their rich colour and vibrancy. Many of the traditions and customs that form part of a Sikh wedding ceremony and reception are often ancient, with many layers of deep meaning. Talking to your parents and grandparents will mean that you find out what choices they made for their weddings – but do not feel tied by the options that they included. This is your day, and it should reflect that.
You will have to remember just like any other couple that you will not be able to impress everyone, or give everyone exactly what they want. But perhaps more so in Sikh weddings, the involvement of the extended family can be dramatic. Be prepared to have to stand your ground, whilst trying desperately to honour and respect their wishes.
So, you begin with the proposal. This is not necessarily the Hollywood proposal, private and between two people. It is more likely to be to be based around gifts and present sent from the father of the bride to the family of the groom. In this way, they show their ability to care for the bride, and how they have been raising her properly throughout her life. After the engagement has been made between the two families (with the consent of the couple, obviously), there will a ceremony to mark this. Called the tilak ceremony, this is taken by a priest who places a tilak (a red mark) upon the couple's forehead. This is now the time for the groom’s family to reciprocate the gift giving that has already taken place. Acceptable gifts include gold jewellery, henna, and ritual food items.
This is the point in which the extended family really starts to become important. Many people are often amazed at the extent to which people who are related to the bride or to the groom become involved! The maternal relatives of the bride place bangles around the bride’s wrists. Some families decide to follow the tradition of maiya, which means that the bride and groom do not leave their homes for the days leading up to the wedding day itself. This gives them time to prepare for the new life that they are about to embark on.
The day before the wedding ceremony takes place henna will be applied to the feet and hands of the bride and her party. There is a superstition that says that the darker the henna, and the longer it continues to stay on the bride, the more her mother-in-law will love her! If you are organising a henna party, make sure to speak to your henna artist about what dyes they use. Some of them are toxic to those with sensitive skin, and they may even be able to give you some tips about how to make it last longer!
Before the ceremony even takes place on the actual day of the wedding, there are ritual meetings of the families in both of the important houses. This will begin the joining of the two families, and help begin the wedding ceremony. During the ceremony itself, the bride and groom are connected by a red thread, which will keep them together and strong through all of life’s difficulties. After the prayers and recitations that cement the marriage itself, a banquet is consumed by everyone, and then everyone gets ready to send off the bride with her new husband.
As you can see, an enormous amount of planning has to go behind a Sikh wedding, not only for the day itself, but for potentially several weeks leading up to it. Make sure that if you want your wedding photographers to follow this amazing and personal experience, they are aware that these events will be going on over this long period of time. Sikh weddings are always a joyous occasion, during which two families can celebrate the better understanding of each other as two of them become one.
Frequently Asked Questions
We would like to get married in the morning, can any of your Sikh Wedding Venues accommodate for this?
Please call us on 020 3199 3939 to discuss your chosen wedding venue and what time you would like your Sikh Wedding to take place.
Do any of your Sikh Wedding Venues know of any companies who provide decorations?
Almost all of our wedding venues have a lengthy list of suppliers who can help with decorations for your Sikh Wedding.
Do any of your Sikh Wedding Venues have outside space for us to hold our reception in a marquee?
The majority of our venues for Sikh Weddings have land outside to hire a marquee and we also have some Sikh Wedding Venues that will already have a marquee set up.