I've always found ceremonies and traditions from other cultures absolutely fascinating ~ especially when it comes to wedding celebrations! I attended an Indian {Hindu} wedding when I was about 10 years old {before I’d ever attended a Western wedding} and I thought all weddings were just as vibrant, colourful and energetic! A few years later, when I attended my cousin’s traditionally English, Christian wedding, I was shocked at how different it was but learnt to love a whole new set of traditions!

So I am delighted to have super talented {and lovely} photographer & blogger Kismet from Indian wedding blog Unreal Bride share a bit more about Indian wedding traditions and ceremonies, peppered with her stunning photography of Sam and Richie's Sikh wedding. I love the vintage feel to Kismet's photography, to me she shows Indian weddings in a whole new light.

Havan, phera, shagan, sangeet, kaleera, haldi, mehendi, chunni, om shanti om.

For all you readers, the line above could just be gibberish, a Hindu chant or a string of meaningless words at first glance but they are all related to weddings in one way or the other except of course for Om Shanti Om (a Bollywood movie) which was an impulsive addition to the list. What Indian wedding is complete without some blaringly loud Bollywood tunes?!

I thank Elizabeth for inviting me over to her blog and also for forcing me to do some research on the various ceremonies and rituals that make up an Indian wedding! I am far away from being an expert when it comes to weddings. In fact, before I started photographing weddings, I only knew about two kinds of Indian weddings:

~ The Hindu wedding that happens in the middle of night (like 4 am) and goes on for hours and hours while most of the guests fall asleep during the ceremony (can you blame them?)

~ The Sikh wedding which happens in the morning before 12 noon  ~ it must happen before noon! and to me is shorter and nicer.

I could be possibly biased since out of all the weddings I have attended in this lifetime, 90% have been Sikh weddings. Not to mention, I have hardly attended weddings in south, east or central India. I am sure we have as many kinds of wedding types as we do languages (200+!).

Though the ceremonies and rituals vary, I think we all follow a very similar schedule of events throughout the country. Like I said, I am NOT an expert so if you disagree or have something to add – please do! I am always happy to learn – I am just sharing with you the little experience I have.

First of all, there are endless amounts of pre-parties before the official wedding ceremonies and events!

Here is a photo from the fabulous photobooth that Kismet and stylist April created for Sam & Ritchie's pre-wedding party:

{Please note: not all Indian pre parties have be-ribboned, sparkly ‘LOVE' photobooths ~ just the coolest!}

From a wide perspective…

The festivities last for about three days:

Day 1 there would be the Mehendi ceremony in the day ~ when henna is applied to the bride (and guests) in intricate designs and the Sangeet (basically the night when there is music and dancing and copious amounts of alcohol) in the evening.

Day 2 is the wedding day when the actual ceremony takes place (read hangover from the dancing and drinking from the night before) but that day is broken into various little ceremonies as well where your aunts and uncles come and put on your wedding bangles. Ever seen lots of bright red bangles on the arms of Indian girls? Those are the ones I am talking about and means they are newly married. Then the actual wedding ceremony happens…

After the ceremony, there is another mini ceremony when the bride officially leaves her home for the grooms. That whole ritual of leaving has a lot of mini rituals around it as well, which if I told you briefly includes throwing rice, tears, and brothers pushing the car out of the gate.

Day 3 is the FINAL day of the wedding which is the reception day where everyone and anyone the two families know come to congratulate the newly weds.

I seriously would have to write a thesis if I went into all the details so I am going to leave it at that for now! The combinations and permutations are endless where more rituals are added or subtracted or the same ritual is done in different ways in different homes. It is very subjective and that adds the personal touch to our weddings.

The photographs featured in this super long post are from a typical Sikh wedding – my favourite part being that the ceremony took place at home in the garden and how absolutely chilled out Sam, the bride, was. As I try and end this post, the more I want to write about all the itty bitty details but I will have to refrain and hope that Elizabeth will invite me over again! So, hopefully this is only goodbye for now.

Thank you so much to Kismet for her fantastic overview of Indian weddings ~ she really did her homework! {A *} And her superb photography. Didn't Sam make a beautiful bride?! Please, do come back and share more about all the details!

Hop on over to Unreal Bride for all sorts of fabulous wedding inspiration from Indian to Western, bags to shoes and a generous helping of Kismet's gorgeous photography.