Our all time favorite Sikh temple to photograph weddings is at the San Jose Gurdwara. It is by far the most beautiful Gurdwara in the state and perhaps in the country! It is large, has beautiful pillars and arches, and tons of space for photo ops.
We were excited when we first heard from Pradeep. She had been following our work extensively and was planning to marry her fiancé, who is not only another doctor like her, but is also a pilot! They planned a multi day event with the wedding taking place at the temple and the reception being held the following day at City View at the Metreon in San Francisco the next day.
As all Sikh weddings, the bride and groom must get ready very early in the morning because the ceremony usually takes place sometime between 10am-12pm. In this case we even had to start a little earlier as both the bride and groom got ready quite far away from the temple so we had about an hour drive once they were ready to make it to the temple.
The wedding ceremony does not just automatically start. Once the bride and groom arrive we usually take the bride around for portraits at the temple because not too many people are there yet and her makeup is still flawless and fresh. Once the groom arrive he and his procession of family and friends, known as the Baraat gathers and they make their way to the front of the temple where the bride’s family is awaiting their arrival.
In an exchange of garlands, known as the Milni, the main family members hug and exchange gifts marking the coming together of the two families. The bride’s family feeds sweets to the groom and they lead him into the temple. Prior to the ceremony starting both families enjoy breakfast in the hall of the temple. Once everyone has eaten, the groom’s side enters the hall first, with all the women sitting on one side and men on the other. After the groom is positioned front and center directly facing the Holy book, the bride’s family, followed by the bride and her parents, walks down the aisle and the ceremony begins.
The elaborate rituals are important traditionally and are so much fun to photograph. We love capturing candid moments during all these times as don’t pose anything throughout the ceremony until it is portrait time again. We love the colors, expressions, and touching moments that we witness during the “doli”, which is when the bride says goodbye to her family and leaves with her new husband.
In our next post we will show their fabulous reception at City View at the Metreon so stay tuned!