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Indian Wedding Photography – A Guide

If you’ve ever taken a look at generic wedding photography packages, they often have low hours of coverage and are restricted to a single day. For Indian wedding photography, generic packages typically do not cut it, as far more hours and days are needed. This is a key difference that separates photographers who have experience with South Asian culture, and those who do not. The easy answer is to go for an Indian wedding photographer. That comes with tradeoffs, as there aren’t always many of them, and they may cost significantly more photographers who aren’t as experienced with South Asian weddings.

So if you’re considering a photographer who has less experience with South Asian weddings, here are some things to really consider when evaluating them.

How familiar are they with key events, such as the ones listed below? 

    • Mehndi
    • Maiyaan
    • Baraat
    • Jaimala
    • Milni
    • Jago
    • Choora Ceremony
    • NIkah
    • Anand Karaj
    • Hindu Wedding Ceremony
    • Walima
    • Doli/Rukhsati

There may be small details and nuances that you want captured, for any of the events listed above. So it is key to make sure the photographer is or becomes knowledgeable about whichever events are relevant to you. Additionally, if there are specific moments you want captured (e.g. your uncle/mama putting on your choora at the choora ceremony), let the photographer know ahead of time.

Raya & Yana
Raya & Yana Photography - Photoshoot

Here is a list of specific moments we recommend you make sure your photographer captures:

Pre-wedding Events

Jago

The Jago is a Punjabi pre-wedding event, which typically the bride and groom celebrate separately (e.g. Groom will have a Jago with his family & friends, and the bride will have a Jago with her family & friends). In contemporary times, it isn’t uncommon for the bride and groom to combine their celebrations. Below are some key moments to capture:

    • The bride/groom entering the Jago with their respective family and friends. 
    • The bride’s mama (maternal uncle) breaking the chaj. 
    • Close family members (e.g. the bride’s maternal uncles, brothers, etc,) dancing in the center of the dance floor, with Jago props. 
    • Ladies singing 
    • Any performances that take place
    • If the chunni ceremony happen prior to the Jago, some families end up doing the chunni ceremony at the beginning of the Jago night, but after the grand entrance. In such a scenario, the chunni ceremony consists of the future mother-in-law of the bride, placing a red chunni over the bride’s head. This is an important scene that should be captured.  
      • If this already happened before the Jago, then there is nothing to worry about. In this case, the groom and his family will likely not be at the bride’s Jago event.
Jago Props
Jago Props - Photo Credit: Heer Wedding Store
Jago Celebration
Jago Celebration - Photo Credit to Ananabanana

Choora Ceremony

The Choora ceremony is a Punjabi pre-wedding event that takes place only on the bride’s side. At a high-level, the ceremony revolves around the bride’s maternal uncles going through a ritual, where they place individual bangles on her arm.

The video on the right demonstrates what the Choora ceremony looks like.

 

Below are some key moments to capture:

  • Each maternal uncle dipping a bangle in milk, and then placing it on the bride. 
    • After the maternal uncle places the bangle, the bride’s mother gives them a glass of milk to drink. 
  • At some point, there is a custom where the bride’s mother feeds the maternal uncles and their wives, Indian sweets. Typically they are fed laddoos. 

Mehndi Event

The mehndi event is generally found across all major South Asian cultures. Usually there is music, food, and the application of mehndi (a.k.a. Henna), applied to the bride and bridal party.  Below are the types of pictures that should be captured, at a minimum:

  • The bride’s mehndi application process. 
  • After the application of the mehndi, pictures of the bride and her dried mehndi. 
    • This is a great opportunity to capture the bride posing for the camera, along with close-ups of the mehndi designs. 
  • Action shots of other guests getting their mehndi done, is also appreciated.
An Example of Mehndi Design. Done by Mehndi by Shinaaz in British Columbia.

Maiyan/Haldi/Gaye Holud

At a high-level, the Maiyan event generally consists of a ceremony where friends/family rub a turmeric paste on the body of the bride and groom. Once again, the bridal and groom parties typically celebrate the event separately.  Additionally, there are regional variations to the event, so we will call those variations out below. Below are key moments to capture:

For all Maiyan/Haldi events, regardless of culture, capture:

  • Mother and father rubbing the haldi (turmeric paste) on their child (the bride or groom). 
  • Siblings, cousins, and close friends rubbing on the bride or groom.  

For Punjabi maiyan events, also capture:

  • The bride’s mother will carry out a ritual where she takes her stained hands, and places them on the home. The end result is the mother’s handprint is left on their home. The entire process should be captured. 
  • The bride’s mother will carry out a ritual that involves her stepping over a prop called a fatta. The entire process should be documented. 
  • Typically there is a colorful maiyan board that is put together for the event. Sometimes the bride’s close relatives and friends will color the boards at the event, or re-enact coloring the board. The process should be captured

The video to the right , captured by Gian Verma Photography, demonstrates the Punjabi variety of the Maiyan ceremony.

Wedding Day

  • Bride and groom getting ready for their ceremony, at their respective homes. Here are the types of moments to capture:
    • Family members or friends dressing the bride or groom with any clothing, jewelry, props, etc. (tying of the groom’s turban, pinning of the bride’s headcover, etc.). 

Wedding Day - Sikh Weddings

For Sikh weddings, the following moments are key to capture:

  • Milni – The meeting and greeting of bridal and groom families. The ritual is referred to as a Milni, and it is also accompanied by prayer, before entering the Gurdwara. 
    • Typically, family members will be called out one-by-one, and asked to hug and greet each other (e.g. fathers from each side). So make sure to capture key family members during this procession. 
  • Entry into Gurdwara:
    • Groom entry and seating 
    • Bride entry, and seating next to groom
    • Father of bride tying the palla (shawl/scarf) , connecting the bride and groom together. 
  • The wedding ceremony:
    • The bride and groom will encircle the Guru Granth Sahib 4 times (also known as the laava), while the priest recites Sikh scripture. 
      • During each laav (round around the Guru Granth Sahib), it is recommended that photos are captured from various angles. 
  • After the wedding ceremony:
    • Typically, guests will come to give shagun and take pictures of the couple. 
  • At the end of the wedding day is the Doli, which is where the bride leaves her family home and goes off into the sunset with her new husband. :
    • The groom will go to the bride’s family home, where he will:
      • Negotiate a price to take the bride home. Typically, he negotiates with the bride’s female friends and family.
        • Once negotiation is complete, the groom will
        • Cut a ribbon to enter and get his wire. 
      • As the bride leaves the home with her husband, she will throw rice behind her. This is typically a very emotional moment. 

Pricing & Tradeoffs

Generally speaking, there are trade-offs to consider when debating between going with a wedding photographer who has extensive experience with Indian weddings versus not.

With an Indian wedding photographer, you probably won’t have to spend as much time and effort providing guidance on what to take pictures of, if at all. However, there is likely to be a pricing premium. According to our price list for British Columbia, experienced Indian wedding photographers typically start at least $10,000 for a photo package.

On the flip side, a photographer with limited experience with India wedding and culture, is likely to start as low as $3,000, for a similar package. However, you’re likely to have to spend quite a bit of effort in providing the photographer with guidance for all events. If you end up going with a photographer with less experience with Indian weddings, hopefully this guide provides you and your photographer with what they need to be prepared for all major wedding events.

Alright! We know we didn’t cover EVERY moment that should be captured by your photographer during an Indian wedding week, but this list should be good enough to get started!

If you’d like to add more moments to any of the lists above, let us know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this blog post!

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