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Wedding

Behind the Ceremony

Sheena Virmani

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I recently watched a documentary on CBC entitled Little India Big Business which talks about the booming Indian wedding industry in Canada. Just having planned an Indian wedding myself I wasn’t shocked to hear that the average cost of an Indian wedding is $100 000 (jaw drops). Indian weddings can be extravagant, lavish week-long events, and the costs can add up quick. As a bride today, it’s so easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of it, get lost in little details, and lose sight about what the wedding day is actually about. 

From the perspective of someone who just got married, and fell victim to the glitz and glam aspect of weddings (it's me after all, it was expected) I realized when reflecting back on our wedding day that it was the ceremony that was the most beautiful part of the whole wedding week. It was that moment for me when the whole thing felt magical. Our ceremony was light-hearted and full of laughter, it matched us as a couple perfectly, and I think making sure that happens is really important. Couples focus a lot on things like decor, outfits, and food to ensure it fits them as a couple and place their personal touches on these items to make them special. I don't see many Indian couples who try and put personal touches on their ceremony.

Here are some ways we made sure that the ceremony fit our style and we could ensure we got the most out of it:

Venue of the Ceremony

From the very beginning it was important for both Kunal and I to get married outside in a place that really connects us and makes us feel grounded.  Neither of us grew up in very religious households and after thinking about it we realized Banff was that place for us. The mountains give us a sense of peace and gratitude so we knew that there was no better place for us to feel connected to each other than here.

I know if you are Indian this can be a bit tricky because in some cultures the marriage ceremony must be performed in a temple, but I challenge you to think deeper than this. For example, if you feel connected to a certain temple, don't just go off of availability, ensure that you get the ceremony venue that will do the most for your spirituality and make you feel the most connected to your partner. 

Wedding Officiant

We had a Hindu wedding ceremony, and because of that a pundit (Hindu priest) performed our ceremony. Pundits usually perform a traditionally Hindu ceremony in Sanskrit (a sacred language of Hinduism), the challenge here was that Kunal and I don't understand Sanskrit and it was important to us to understand the meaning behind the ceremony. We found a pundit that could perform the Hindu ceremony for us in English. A Hindu ceremony can be up to three hours long (ours was condensed to an hour) but there are many steps, rituals, and prayers performed during this time. I can't tell you how amazing it was to understand what every step meant and it truly helped us feel more connected to the ceremony. 

It was also important that whoever was performing the ceremony had a great sense of humor and brought a sense of light-heartedness to the ceremony. Our pundit definitely did this, and we really liked this because we felt that the ceremony was really light and enjoyable for both of us (we laughed a lot!).  

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Our Guests 

At our ceremony, Kunal and I only wanted people in attendance who we knew personally and who we felt connected to. When planning an Indian wedding you can get a lot of pressure from your parents to have an extensive guest list attending every event. The ceremony is something so personal and sacred, we didn't feel right sharing it with people who didn't mean something to us. We tried our hardest to keep our ceremony number low and think about each and every person in attendance and what type of energy they would bring to the ceremony. On this day the bride and groom should feel loved and supported and shouldn't have to feel obligated to invite anyone for any reason. If you don't think someone will bring good energy to this occasion for you, it is okay to leave them out (hashtag good vibes only, it's a real thing). 

To wrap this up, my best advice would be to be selective when planning your wedding ceremony. It is the most spiritual part of the whole wedding week and it is a time you should truly feel connected to your partner and your loved ones in attendance. Ensure that you don't overlook the ceremony because it is what the whole wedding week is truly about and in my opinion it should be one of the most enjoyable parts of the week, and it can be if you put in the effort to make it right.