When I was assigned this wedding, I jumped at the chance! I have always wanted to do an Indian wedding! In my previous experience, I have only done an Indian wedding reception on the last day of the festivities.
When I was told it was in a Sikh temple, I did not know what to expect. Because I respect all cultures and traditions and didn’t want to be a nuisance, I was mostly concerned about where to stand and if I can use flash. I tried to do some research about it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t very helpful. With my limited knowledge on Sikh weddings, I was expecting it would be the same way as Catholics weddings – using no flash in low light and shooting from a distance because of restrictive areas.
When I arrived and mentioned to the groom that I have no experience with Sikh weddings, he asked me to talk to his uncle, who was very helpful. He was also photographing the wedding as well, so I just followed his lead. The most relieving part was that I was allowed to shoot anywhere (especially behind the officiant) and use flash. However, since there was plenty of natural light, I opted not to use a flash.
It is required to take off your shoes and have your head covered to enter the temple. Since I didn’t have anything to cover my head, the temple provided something to put on my head.
The room was divided by men and women and everyone had to sit down with their legs crossed during the 45-minute ceremony. It was obviously not in English, so I couldn’t follow what was going on. Luckily, I was told that the bride and groom was going to circle the “altar” 4 times.
Other traditions included the exchanging of the rings, a simple food offering to the bride and groom, and guests greeting and taking pictures with the bride and groom towards the end. However, before taking pictures, each guest would throw money into the bride and groom’s laps.
The reception was the next night, and it followed the same traditions as any other wedding. The bride and groom opted to wear more contemporary clothes, like a suit and tie for the groom and a white dress for the bride. What I loved the most was that the bride still had her gorgeous henna tattoo on her hands.