Traditional Hindu-Sikh Punjabi Wedding

Sarbjeet & Raj

Snapshot

Sarbjeet and Raj tied the knot in early 2014 with a beautiful Sikh and Hindu Punjabi wedding celebration. It can be easy to lose your individuality in a big family cultural wedding but we love how this couple were able to maintain a sense of intimacy throughout their celebrations by adding their own personal touches.

We can’t help but be charmed by the Sangeet inspired by the ‘British Raj’ era, the intimate Mehendi evening and the quaint little civil ceremony among the lush gardens of Oatlands House. Even the traditional wedding ceremonies seemed to have an aura of that close-knit community spirit that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

Gorgeous bride, Sarbjeet planned her wedding over just ten months and shares with us the details of her lovely celebrations plus some fantastic wedding planning and shopping tips for brides-to-be. Highlights included cute DIY details for her vintage themed Sangeet and some memorable unique touches to her Reception including a charming video that is a must-see.

About The Couple

How we are as a couple

Our families and culture are so very important to us. It was for this reason we wanted to marry in the way always imagined by us and by our families: Sikh and Hindu religious weddings, and a civil ceremony.

The Details

Planning & Theme

I spent hours and hours on the internet. Pinterest is a bride’s dream. I had Pinterest boards for hair, makeup, Sangeet lehenga, trousseau sarees, reception gown, Sangeet theming. I had to delete my Pinterest account immediately after the wedding.

I enjoyed planning the fashion and the music aspect of the wedding the most. I was also surprised over and over again by the kindness and support of our family and friends.

My overall vision was individuality. I realized the best way to keep the occasion unique was to make Raj and myself the focal point – in a big Punjabi wedding it is easy to become lost in all the pomp and ceremony. We kept to a strict schedule complemented by music, theming and styling that resonated with us.

TIPS FOR PLANNING:

  1. Start planning early. Make lists, and delegate tasks to competent family and friends – there is so much to do. Raj and I were lucky to have the help and support we had.
  2. Remain calm. Easier said than done admittedly, but stress resulting from managing competing interests from each family is entirely normal. The parents will be so very excited and may get carried away, but remain firm about what you and your partner want. Listen to your groom too – Raj had fantastic style and chose well.
  3. Be prepared for last-minute dramas. The local council almost didn’t let our Hindu wedding go ahead because of some new fire regulations (long story, make sure you have everything in writing). My interstate reception DJ had some terrible news just days before the wedding. Since he was a friend, I told him to remain with his family and asked my Sangeet DJs to step in last minute.
  4. Know your style. There is a neverending choice in venues, lehengas, hairstyles, etc. Research, brainstorm and use Pinterest to organize your ideas and preferences.

Wedding Shopping

I did my shopping primarily in Delhi (Karol Bagh and Rajouri Gardens), and the rest in Ludhiana, Punjab (Chaura Bazaar).

I sought suggestions from former brides and family on where to shop in Delhi and to obtain ideas on price. I found my Sangeet and Sikh wedding lehengas on the first day of shopping at Frontier Raas, a large upmarket Delhi bridal store recommended by numerous brides. Their service was great, and I found two quite original pieces there in styles I already liked. India is ridiculously expensive now – I find prices have skyrocketed in the last 5 years (I can say this as a regular NRI shopper), so budget accordingly. I think I did well price-wise: none of my outfits were over INR60,000, including fittings.

Here are my tips for shopping in India:

  1. Take an iPad with saved pictures. of what you are looking for. When I went into a store, I would describe my style and allow them to bring out some pieces before I pulled out my iPad.
  2. Know your wedding day color. even though many people would disagree. Mine was red.
  3. Your outfit should complement your surroundings. Remain mindful of whether you will be indoor/outdoor, time of year and existing décor colors/lighting of your venue.
  4. Remain conscious of your body shape. Indian vendors have a habit of thrusting whatever is in fashion upon you, but it’s important, to be honest with yourself about what will suit your body shape. Although I wanted a gown for my reception, as I’m not tall I knew it couldn’t be cut with heavy flare/gher, as was the fashion.
  5. Research and narrow down two or three styles/colors for your outfits. for your other events (Eg. Sangeet, Mehendi, etc)
  6. Do not feel pressured time-wise to buy all your jewellery in India. there is plenty of quality bridal jewellery available online (Eg. Craftsvilla.com)
  7. Use the locals. Research bridal blogs as they mention stores only the locals know. Similarly, chat with your cousins/friends and pick their brains. My reception gown was purchased from my cousin’s schoolmate, an up-and-coming designer. You should have lots of conversations like, ”if I wanted to buy X at a reasonable price, wherein Delhi should I go?”
  8. For wedding invitations, go prepared. If you are getting your invitations done in India, write your wording in advance and take it with you in Word format. As a general rule, Indian stationers’ spelling is atrocious. I dumped the first stationers I engaged mid-way as they couldn’t spell!
  9. Check your goods BEFORE you leave the store with them. Indian vendors can be rude, lazy, and downright cheats. They will woo you to buy, but the finished product may not be of the same quality or even color you first fell for, or it could be stained (yes, even if it is brand new and custom-made). Take their business card and call ahead before any so-called ready/pick-up time – the items are often not ready and you waste a trip. If you need to, have a tantrum to get what you paid for – now is the time to embrace your inner bridezilla.

Wedding Events

Our wedding celebrations were held over a week in early Autumn in March 2014:

  1. Sangeet – Saturday PM, West Pennant Hills Valley Community Centre. Raj had a separate Sangeet was in Melbourne.
  2. Maiyan – Wednesday & Thursday AM, Family Homes.
  3. Mehendi – Thursday PM, Family Home.
  4. Sikh Ceremony – Saturday AM, Gurdwara Sahib Glenwood.
  5. Hindu Ceremony – Saturday PM, Beaumont Hills Community Centre.
  6. Civil Ceremony & Reception – Sunday PM, Oatlands House (Gardens & Grand Ballroom).

Sangeet

The Sangeet was a small affair held at a local community centre, West Pennant Hills Valley Community Centre. Our family and friends helped decorate the venue with lots of cute DIY props.

THEME: I have always been fascinated with the British Raj era, Maharajas and 19th century India so I ran with a ‘Vintage India’ theme. The music, my styling and my family’s outfits all matched the green and gold vintage theme, as did many of our guests.

DECOR: All decorations at my Sangeet were DIY. The project was my baby! We used paintings, candles and other pieces from home for the decorations. Some DIY highlights include:

  1. Draping / Backdrops: Organza fabric from Cabramatta was used to create wall backdrops. My mother was fantastic and helped with all the sewing, it was hard work but it paid off! The fabric was fed onto photographic stands bought off Ebay.
  2. Floor Seating & Dholki Area: I bought new foam mattresses on Ebay for the ‘dholki’ floor seating and covered these with fabric purchased in Cabramatta (cheap Sydney fabric Mecca), which Mum and I cut and stitched to size. The mattresses were also used at home to provide bedding for the family who was staying with us. I added an Indian parasol purchased on Ebay and our old harmonium instrument to complete the look.
  3. Lounge Settings: As well as long tables, we had a separate ‘lounge’ area with a cane settee, cane props, ferns and a jute rug for my friends to congregate in. We used our own house plants, and the other items I found on Ebay or Gumtree.
  4. Photobooth: To create a “British Raj” photobooth I purchased some props online and picked out those that worked with the theme (mustaches, monocles, pipes, bowler hats, etc). I then added a lace parasol, old hunting helmet, old trunks borrowed from a bridesmaid, and a giant Vintage map of the world found on Ebay. I left my own SLR camera there for guests to use, and the whole thing cost about $100 in total, much cheaper than a hired photo booth. I created the photo booth sign with black and gold cardboard.

SARBJEET’S OUTFIT: I wore a vibrant yellow and apple green lehenga from Frontier Bazar.

JEWELLERY: Gold jewelry from Le Khanna Jewellers and a jhumar I purchased on Ebay, which added to the vintage vibe.

HAIR & MAKEUP: I had all of my hair and makeup done by Hair & Makeup by Ranimk, a very talented artist. My main concern was being limited by my short hair but Rani created a beautiful look with hair extensions.

Mehendi

The Mehendi was a casual intimate outdoor event held at my home. I wanted my Mehendi night to be relaxed, and fuss-free. Only family and closest friends were invited. My mother hired some help in the kitchen so the ladies felt free to relax and enjoy the evening. There was lots of singing and dancing, well into the night. It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had!

THEME: Maroon and gold.

DECOR: We draped our pergola at home with gold and maroon organza material.

SARBJEET’S OUTFIT: I had no plan of what to wear, and ended up throwing on a t-shirt and a boho skirt, as I wanted to wear something I could sleep in.

HENNA ARTIST: I picked the henna design myself by scoping on Pinterest, I wanted something simple that wasn’t too busy. I had shown my design ideas to my mehndi artist, Zenat Henna Art, in advance so she was ready to go on the night. She and her mother were very professional and everyone’s mehendi came out beautifully.

Sikh Ceremony

We had two traditional wedding ceremonies celebrating our Sikh and Hindu Punjabi cultures. The Sikh ceremony was held at Gurdwara Sahib in Glenwood – the family Gurdwara since 1989.

SARBJEET’S OUTFIT: I wore a bright red lehenga with a royal blue touch from Frontier Bazar.

JEWELLERY: Jewellery set for the Sikh Ceremony was from Soni Sapphire. Hand jewellery from Ebay and small store in Chaura Bazaar, Ludhiana.

SHOES: Red sandals from Alexander McQueen – a splurge, and they fell apart!

HAIR & MAKEUP: I had ideas in mind from my research on Pinterest, which my stylist Hair & Makeup by Ranimk was happy with when I bounced them off her at my trial. We went for an understated glamorous look with red lips.

RAJ’S OUTFIT: Sherwani from Shehnai Shopping Mall in Karol Bagh.

BRIDESMAIDS LOOK: Bridesmaids’ sarees, blouse material, gotta patti red borders, and yellow georgette sarees were purchased from separate stores in Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Tip – go to Kinari Bazaar in Chandni Chowk for beautiful saree borders. They had their hair done by Indy M Beauty and makeup by Black Diamond Studio.

Hindu Ceremony

The Hindu Ceremony was held afterwards at a local Hills Shire Council venues, as we needed them close by. Beaumont Hills is alcohol-free at all times, and we booked the entire complex for the Hindu wedding. However, finding a cost-effective location for a traditional fire wedding was very difficult, most places did not allow it (even many outdoor venues) and we were not after a full-service function venue on this day.

DECOR: VIP Decorating provided organized the mandap for all the decor for the event.

SARBJEET’S OUTFIT: I wore a maroon velvet lehenga for the Hindu ceremony which added a regal touch. I designed the lehenga based on a Shyamal & Bhumika design and found someone online to create the replica. The result was an ill-fitted disaster which wasn’t even the color I was after. However, Kusum, a local Indian bridal tailor in Sydney re-cut the lehenga so expertly that I was able to wear it to the Hindu wedding. Do not have a replica made for you unless the tailor comes highly recommended!

JEWELLERY: I wore costume jewellery purchased online from Indian Jewellery Store.

SHOES: Same red heels by Alexander McQueen I wore at the Sikh Ceremony.

HAIR & MAKEUP: I had touchups done by Myura of Black Diamond Studio.

RAJ’S OUTFIT: Sherwani from an online store, Bharat Plaza.

Civil Ceremony & Reception

We had a small Civil Ceremony an hour before the Reception at the charming Oatlands House. I walked down the aisle to Big Jet Plane by Angus and Julia Stone. It was the song I emailed him to cheer him up about flying (he isn’t a fan of flying) to Sydney when we first met in 2012. It popped into my head later as the perfect song to walk down the aisle to, and Raj wholeheartedly agreed.

The ceremony was officiated by Danielle Blow of Timeless Moments who was wonderful and highly recommended. We exchanged our wedding rings. Mine was picked out by Raj at CharlesRose and I picked his in Sydney from Robert Cliff Master Jewellers.

The evening continued with pre-drinks in the Gardens and then the formal reception followed at the Grand Ballroom. We cut our wedding cake to my Mum’s favorite song, Challo Dildar Challo from the Hindi film Pakeezah. When she recognized the opening bars I heard her exclaim, and then she looked at me in a way I will never forget.

DECOR: We kept the decor minimal as the venue itself was beautiful. We added some flowers by Petals and Leaves and for stationery, we purchased name cards from Ebay and wrote them by hand.

SARBJEET’S OUTFIT: Gown from Sawan Gandhi in Rajouri Gardens, Delhi.

JEWELLERY: Purchased from a small store in Chaura Bazaar, Ludhiana. I also wore my mother’s old pearl earrings to the civil ceremony.

SHOES: My shoes were a pair of hot pink pumps I picked up for less than $30 from a local store in Sydney (originally purchased for my pre-wedding shoot).

HAIR & MAKEUP: Hair & Makeup by Ranimk.

RAJ’S OUTFIT: Three-piece suit by The Black Label in Paddington.

Featured Pros