Multicultural Wedding Spotlight: India Meets Canada – The Sikh Union


This edition of multicultural wedding spotlight highlights a wedding of fairytale proportions.  It’s the love story of fresh and inspiring photography by Dave & Charlotte Lifetstyle Photographers, paired with two…correction, three love able characters in a traditional Sikh union that leaves me breathless every time I look at the album.

“It’s the story of boy meets girl meets little girl”

Situated in Ontario Canada, it’s the love story of Rachel, Sonny and Rachel’s daughter Rylee….

“I often focus on the design style and challenges faced by each couple in planning their weddings. However, Rachel and Sonny’s story has to include the tale of how he popped the big question…” – Dave & Charlotte Photography

Indian Wedding Tradition

A typical  Indian Hindu wedding is strictly observed according to the ancient cultural norms laid down in the Vedas. In the Indian society a wedding is not just the coming together of two people rather it’s the joining of two souls into one.

In fact, a wedding also brings two families closer, which thereafter share a bond of respect and affection. As a result, there are a number of traditions and customs associated with the Indian Hindu wedding ceremony. These traditions are the essence of the marital institution, thereby strengthening the significance, chastity and faith in the same.

The complexity of an Indian Hindu marriage is due to the fact that there are many rituals performed according to Vedic practices and hymns. Kanyadaan is also such a ritual, which apart from being vital to the ceremony, tugs at the emotional cord of the bride’s parents.

In Hindu weddings, one of the most sacred customs is of tying mangalsutra. It is basically a black and gold beaded necklace with a gold or diamond pendant. Mangalsutra carries immense importance in Hindu weddings as well as in the lives of Hindu married women.

Seven Vows
An Indian marriage is one of the most serious and scared affair in the society. This is visible from the austerity with which it is performed. A Hindu marriage in particular is all about rituals and customs. There are a number of them which are followed before and after wedding, making it an elaborate ceremony.

The bride and groom walk seven steps together to signify the beginning of their journey through life together. Each step represents a marital vow.

Solah Shringar
Solah shringar are the sixteen adornments of an Indian Hindu bride, which contribute to her complete beautification.

Menhdi (Henna Ceremony)
The traditional art of adorning the hands and feet with a paste made from the finely ground leaves of the Henna plant. The term refers to the material, the design, and the ceremony.

It is tradition for the names of the bride and groom to be hidden in the design, and the wedding night is not to commence until the groom has found both names. After the wedding, the bride is not expected to perform any housework until her Menhdi has faded away.

The Proposal

As a single mother of a lovely girl named Rylee, Rachel met her future husband on her shift as a nurse. Sonny, a young physician not only exercised wisdom by going with his gut and asking her out, he also showed that he knew how to really listen.

At their second date, Rachel shared a photograph of a tree that offered comfort and solace for her. She expressed her strong desire to go to wherever that tree was one day. Well, he listened.

Fast forward two years…Sonny not only tracked down the photographer, and located the tree, he planned a surprise trip to the spot in New York’s Central Park. Under those symbolic branches….Sonny dropped down on one knee, Rachel screamed “yes!” And the rest is history.

Wedding Day:  The groom prepares…

The groom’s family performed several preparatory customs including saying prayers (“Ardas”) and helping the groom get dressed.

The groom is typically expected to wear a Dhoti, which is an unstitched garment, and a shirt. On arrival at the brides house he will change into another similar outfit. He will cover himself with a sheet and wear the topor (paper mache headdress).

The groom may wear a white silk brocade suit, sword and turban as his wedding outfit. He may also wear a safa with its flowing tail-end. Some grooms have been know to wear a nattily wound pagdi, or a topi. White flowers can be tied in suspended strings over the forehead, called sehra.

In northern, central and western India, a golden kalgi studded with precious stones is tied over the right side of the groom’s safa. In the center of the forehead sandalwood is applied and further decorated with gold, red and white dots. This decoration may also be done over the eyebrows.

Wedding Barat

The Baraat is the arrival of the groom on the day of the wedding at the wedding venue. Traditionally in north India, the groom, dressed in his wedding attire, is seated on a white decorated mare, when he heads towards the wedding venue along with the baraati.

Before sitting on the horse, the groom is adorned with a saafa (turban, preferably pink or saffron colored) along with a sehara (floral veil), which is tied around his forehead, by his mother. Saafa is mandatory, but tying sehara is not a compulsion. In some regions of north India, a sword is also provided to the groom.

On the horse, the groom is typically accompanied by his younger brother, cousin or nephew who acts as his caregiver, who is called ‘sarbaala’. The baraatis are often accompanied by music band, which provides them with entertainment, while on their way to the venue. The baraatis dance to the tune played by the band.

A vivid display of fireworks contributes to the festive spirit of the marriage procession. A contemporary approach to the ritual is to make use of a car, instead of mare.

For the purpose, people rent a car, in which the groom is seated. However, to maintain the tradition, the groom travels a certain distance via car and then switches to a horse when he’s closer to the wedding venue.

After reaching the wedding venue, the groom and the marriage procession are welcomed by the bride’s parents and the elder members of her family.The bride’s mother performs the aarti, when the groom enters the venue. 

Anand Karaj

Anand Karaj is the prescribed form of Sikh marriage, the words literally translate as ‘Blissful Union”. The Sikh marriage is a very special ceremony in which two individuals are joined in a equal partnership. It is joyous and festive event which is very family orientated and informal in it’s atmosphere.

The Rehat Maryada which is The Official Sikh Code of Conduct specifies that no thought should be given to the perspective spouses caste, race or lineage. As long as both the man and woman profess the Sikh faith and no other faith they may be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.

The Rehat Maryada strictly forbids any sort of dowry arrangement as marriage is not to be viewed as a business transaction. Sikhs are also discouraged from consulting horoscopes or following any other superstitions pertaining to determining a wedding date or time.

The Anand Karaj ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara or home where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been respectfully installed. The religious ceremony cannot be performed in a hotel or banquet hall. There are no restrictions as to what time the ceremony should start or what time it should end although they are usually performed in the morning with the religious ceremony taking no more than a few hours.

Rachel and Sonny’s ceremony adopted a traditional format, including removal of shoes, covering of hair and separation of seating for men and women, out of respect for the house of worship.From sultry red to a luscious glow of pink and purple, all 250 guests were invited into a magical world of color and style.

Without the aid of a wedding coordinator, Rachel was still able to envision her dream wedding design filled with robust summer colors with the support of family, friends and the team at Wedding Decor to pull it all off.In addition to letting Rylee ride on the horse, Rachel and Sonny included her in their first dance to “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks.  In the spirit of one of the lyrics “Is forever enough? Cuz I’m never giving you up”

“Rylee’s fully my daughter.  I can’t fathom her not being in my life.” Sonny said.  “Is Forever enough?  I’m dying with Rachel and that’s it.  It may not always be pretty but we’re going to make it work.” Sonny the groom

The wedding cake was designed by the bride’s mother but the cake topper was order from Lily Tsai of Lily’s Design. Lily’s personalized toppers gave the mass produced figurines a unique twist.It’s important to maintain tradition and culture in any special function especially for one such as a lifetime wedding. For instance, tn the east marriages are typically a three day affair which begins with the Braat (grooms family and friends) setting off for the girls house in the evening.

They are received, entertained and hosted by the girls family and spend the night at her house. The following day the ceremony takes place at the local Gurdwara or at the girls home.

Following the religious ceremony festivities, song and dance continue the remainder of the day with the groom and his family departing with the bride the following day.

“Keep an open mind.  Love can happen anywhere, no matter what culture or religion you are…..”-Rachel, the Bride. –

Originally featured in Wedding Nouveau. Visit this website for more information on Sikh wedding customs.


  • Red Bridal Gown from Bombay Trendz
  • Bride’s make up by Rajvir Samra
  • Groom’s Salwar Kameez Suit by Fine Fabrics in Mississauga, Canada
  • Limousine by Mermaid Limo Service
  • Flower girl’s dress via Fine Fabrics in Mississauga, Canada

10 thoughts on “Multicultural Wedding Spotlight: India Meets Canada – The Sikh Union

  1. This is a beautiful wedding. Just look at all the vibrant colors. I love fusion weddings, it’s always the best of both worlds.

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