With the experience of photographing over 150 weddings in around 11 countries, we have seen some things which can be easily avoided. Although since most brides and grooms do not know what to expect we always share our experiences.
1. Ceremony Interrupters
This actually happens a lot in Sikh weddings; it isn’t uncommon for local gurdwara worshippers to come and pay their respects while the ceremony is ongoing. Especially in moments like the lawna or father giving the palla to the bride, it would be unfortunate to miss these special moments due to someone walking in or bowing down during the ceremony.
We usually ask couples to assign two family members or friends who can sit near the gurdwara hall entrance and request local worshippers to wait a little bit to pay their respects and avoid going with the ceremony still ongoing. Here is an example to images first one shows you so many people in the background and second images shows you couple only.
2. You Don’t Need Backup
There will be times when family members of the bride and groom sit right behind them at the Sikh ceremony. The idea is that the bride needs support getting up and family members wants to make sure that when the couple comes back after the lawan, they are not sitting over their clothes.
We agree that the bride might need some assistance to get up or sit back down; however from a photography standpoint if there are people sitting right behind the couple, every time we take a photo we won’t be able to highlight the couple as much since there are multiple faces in the background.
We want the couple to stand out during the ceremony and if we have the bhabhi or sisters sitting right behind them in every picture, the images wouldn’t focus on the couple as much it would have done if no one was sitting behind them.
We understand that the bride and groom might want the help; so, to avoid the distractions we suggest that family members sit on the right or left side of the couple. This way they can help the bride or groom if required and not take away from the couple’s pictures. Also, there will be enough time to capture family pictures.
Another suggestions, when the bride comes back after the lawan the individual who will be helping her can remain on their knees instead of standing up. This will also help in having cleaner shots of the couple.
Here are some images from Toronto gurdwaras showing the difference it makes in the final images.
3. Brothers Not Allowed
One of the rituals which was practiced before was brothers to stand up around the palki during the lawan ceremony to help the bride walk around the Sikh holy book. The reasoning behind this ceremony was that in olden times, brides would have their faces covered with their dupattas during the ceremony and would require assistance to avoid tripping during the lawan.
These days the dupatta does not cover brides’ eyes although brides still like to practice as it shows their connection between sisters and brothers.
As photographers, we recommend that you have that communication with the gurdwara management team while planning your Sikh wedding ceremony.
We have had so many cases where the priest or granthi ji openly announced that brothers are not allowed and it gets really awkward during the ceremony. Ideally, while booking the gurdwara have these conversations with the management team which every Sikh temple has in the GTA.
Having these conversations before the wedding day definitely can help avoid any last minute confusions and this also applies for floral pallas. Every gurdwara management has different set of rules for when it comes to these things, so please confirm when you book your gurdwara.
4. Confirm Post-Wedding Ceremony Speeches
Scheduling and allocating time to events accurately is very important especially when you are having a one-day wedding. Usually already working with a tight schedule, allocating maximum speech times can help avoid long gurdwara speeches which could easily delay the rest of your day’s schedule. It is always a good idea to talk to the gurdwara management and ask them how much time they will need to perform the ceremony and if they will be doing some katha or speeches after the wedding ceremony, so you can plan accordingly.
5. At Least One Family Picture
Right after the Sikh ceremony, usually there is a long shagun line and we do take photos of each guest in the line. Keep in mind during this time we are not allowed to photograph from the front of the couple as it is considered disrespectful to turn your back to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh holy book. Therefore, we will photograph from either the left or right side of the couple.
During this time, there is a long line of people on the back, some people prefer to stand others sit and regardless there will be a lot of noise in these pictures. Due to the given constraints, we would agree that these images are not the most flattering. We highly recommend when the shagun ceremony is over to take at least one picture with first families of the bride and groom and with grandparents or important members of your family outside of the main hall or any location recommended by the photographer.
We want to create a cohesive clean look for your wedding album. We, at Alfaaz Photography, don’t leave the wedding without one good family image from both the wedding and reception. Keeping in mind that for parents, these are the most important images, so we make sure to not skip these at any wedding.