It is not easy when you are arranging a wedding. No mean feast for anyone. A Sikh wedding, in my opinion, definitely needs a checklist to ensure you have covered absolutely everything and nothing is left to chance.
A Sikh wedding has several ceremonies and traditions which need to be followed. It is highly recommended for any Sikh bride to make a checklist and start working through the checklist at least a year or sooner prior to the date of their wedding.
Sikh weddings can be fairly large events with many different ceremonies and these all require careful planning. There are parts to the Sikh wedding that are religious and therefore require appropriate planning to ensure the Sikh wedding will be legal under the Sikh religious guidelines.
Then there are localized requirements, like civil wedding ceremonies also required to ensure the wedding is legal under the jurisdiction
What do you need for a Sikh wedding?
Sikh weddings need to have a Sikh Priest (Granthi) to officiate the Sikh weddings religious practices. Sikh weddings also require venues for the different ceremonies, food ideally from caterers to feed the guests, along with entertainment for the main wedding function.
Sikh Priest (Granthi)
Sikh Weddings are religious events and require all weddings to conform to the Sikh religions rules on marriage. An officiant, the Sikh Priest, known as a Granthi, conducts the Sikh wedding ceremony.
If the religious part of the wedding is going to be done at the Sikh temple, known as the Gurdwara, then the Gurdwara will need to be booked. If the religious wedding ceremony is going be done at a different non-religious venue, then preparations to set up the wedding as per Sikh rules needs to be done. Including, getting the Sikh Granthi arranged, including transporting them to the venue.
Wedding venues could be limited to a single venue, like using a wedding hall for all the functions, or could be spread across multiple venues. Where for example, the religious elements of the Sikh wedding take place at the Sikh temple and all the functions take place at different venues like a marquee at home for pre-wedding events, a hotel for the post wedding entertainment and festivities.
Food is an important part of Sikh weddings and ensuring the right food is available for the right event is important. From the Indian sweets and samosas of the Milni to the three course post wedding meal at the main wedding venue.
Sikh weddings are lavish grand affairs and having entertainment to celebrate is a must. Planning the entertainment, requires ensuring the key parts like singers, groups to instrument players are available and appropriate for the festivities.
Ultimate Sikh Wedding Checklist
The absolutely first thing to do is set a date of your wedding!!!
After this, the rest can be sorted, and you will have plenty of time to complete all your tasks without feeling under pressure or feeling stressed. I have listed below a comprehensive list with guidelines. Most of the steps have been taken by myself when I got married and found this list very helpful.
By following the steps below, it ensured that nothing was left out and methodically I had included all the ceremonies and all the basis were covered. Nothing was left to chance and together with my family, we collectively made the best choices for us. We chose the best venue that suited our needs, and which was able to cater for the number of our guests.
I did not take anyone’s word on anything. I always made sure that I visited all the venues myself initially and when I had a short list, then my parents would visit the venues with me. Ensure you have a point of contact at each venue.
Always visit all caterers, including the person/company making your wedding cake. Above all, ensure that you taste the food that your proposed caterers may be providing. Check the hygiene rating of all venues and of your caterers.
Food plays just an important part of a wedding as the venue. Remember people will be talking about the food and venue long after you have been married. Good venue and good food will make your wedding complete and ensure your big day is a huge success.
It is imperative, every time you confirm a booking that you always get something in writing. Always read and make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions of every contract/agreement.
Make sure you have something in writing from each one of your suppliers which confirms their services, the date and time you require them etc. From venues, caterers to your makeup artists.
At Least a Year prior to your wedding
A year before the wedding, working out the finances is important as well as thinking about the venues for the wedding and any functions.
Work out an approximate budget for your wedding. Remember to allocate approximately half of your budgets for the deposits. Almost everyone will require a deposit to secure your date.
The amount of deposit can vary from company to company, person to person so I cannot advise you as to exact amount you should put aside for deposits but, half of your budget is plenty.
If you need a loan to cover any of the wedding costs, then start looking at various Banks and Building Societies and research and apply for your loan. Make sure you read and fully understand your contractual agreement for any loan you may apply for.
This is the time that you may also like to consider getting an insurance policy. This is a more recent and new cover that some couples are going towards. This is a great way to cover you financially and ensure you don’t lose out on any deposits you have made.
It can offer you wedding insurance cover for cancellations against venues, cover for failure of suppliers, or if you have to rearrange for any unforeseen reasons. All weddings are very expensive and Indian/Sikh weddings can easily run into thousands. It makes sense to financially cover yourself.
Ensure you read all the legal documents and completely understand what is covered and ensure that the insurance policy meets all your needs and requirements before signing any documentations.
4. Gurdwara Wedding
Wherever you are getting married, for the religious ceremonies, you will need to book the Gurdwara or find a suitable venue to hold your wedding that can accommodate the religious elements of the wedding.
If you decide to book a Gurdwara ensure that they have the license to officiate your wedding, if applicable. As some Gurdwaras depending on where you live, have been given legal rights allowing their ceremonies to be constituted as sufficient without needing an additional civil wedding.
5. Civil Wedding
If the Gurdwara cannot officiate your civil wedding, then decide when and where you can hold your civil wedding and book the venue or civil wedding office. You’ll end up having two weddings, the religious Sikh wedding at the Gurdwara and the civil ceremony.
Initially you need to decide what ceremonies are going to take place outside of your family home. This will give you an idea as to the size of the venues you may need. Make a list of all pre and post wedding ceremonies.
Make a list of all the venues you are interested in. This is important, as you need a plan and a list gives you an idea of the number of venues available and makes it easier to decide which ones can be visited on the same day and which ones are further away and require more time to get to.
Contact the venues and establish their number capacities of the venues to ensure they fit your purpose and requirements. Make a list of the venues and arrange for viewing appointments. It is extremely important that all parties concerned should visit the venues personally and talk to the people of the venue.
Do not just take someone else’s opinion that the venue will work for you. Find out what their cancellation policies are too.
Remember venues will require a deposit to secure your bookings. Ensure you sign and fully understand any contract you sign.
If your venue does not have in-house caterers, then use this time to meet and taste foods from various caterers. Caterers should be able to devise a menu closely with you.
You should always ask to taste the items to ensure that they are not only able to provide you with your dishes but, also that they are wedding worthy and more importantly the dishes are of the highest standard and quality.
Always ensure you have received some form of a formal agreement and that you completely understand what you are signing for and what the terms and conditions are.
Eight Months till your big day
With eight months to the wedding, getting to grips with who will be coming and what ceremonies they will be invited to, is important.
1. Guest List
Start to make a list of your guests for each of your ceremonies.
2. Wedding Planner
If you decide upon a wedding planner then now’s the time to start looking and interviewing them.
Do not just book the first one you come upon or choose one that’s been recommended to you. All personalities are different, so make sure that you get on well with your wedding planner and be confident that they understand your needs and requirements.
Wedding planners may request a deposit for holding your booking or require full payment to reserve their services.
3. Photographer & Videographers
Start looking at Photographers and Videographers. Make sure you personally meet them and look at their previous work they have done. You have to make sure that their personalities match yours.
You need to feel comfortable with the team who are going to be taking your pictures throughout your functions and videoing you throughout the day. You can either book someone to do both photo’s and video’s for you or maybe you would prefer to have two separate companies/people offering the two services separately.
Both a photographer and videographer will probably require a deposit to reserve the date for you.
Seven Months to your big day
With seven months to the wedding, planning on where the functions are taking place and what you need in place to do this, needs to happen.
Have a separate list of the functions that are taking place in your family home. Do you require a marquee?
Do you need a marquee in the garden to provide you additional room/space for your any functions? Some of the smaller functions could be held at home, for example, the Mehndi, Sangeet and so.
Arrange appointments for several companies to visit you at your home. This will save time in future as they can measure the space you require for a marquee and give you a more accurate quote.
They can show you pictures of the possibilities of the various styles of marquees available. Don’t just go with the first company as the rates can vary quite considerably and you could always get a more competitive rate from looking at several companies. Again, a deposit will be required to secure your booking.
Do you need any additional decorations for the marquee or other venues?
The company of the marquee could offer you some suggestions and probably provide you with decorations for the marquee, at an additional cost.
Decide whether you need separate decorators for decorating any of your other venues/functions. Look at a number of companies and discuss you decorating needs for each of your venue/function.
Decide upon your items and chose your colors for each venue/function.
Confirm your booking with your chosen company and ensure everything you discussed with regards to colors, decorating items are listed clearly under each venue/function.
Make your list of all your wedding guests. List them under each function you are having. Example of your categories may be, Registry Wedding, Sangeet, Mehndi (henna party) etc.
This will make it easier for you to see how many people you are catering for at each of your function and who to invite at what function.
4. Choose your wedding cards/invitations.
Look at a variety of designs and styles and choose your favorite and order your quantities. Ensure and double check all the wording and ensure that the correct time, date and venue details are correct.
To cut costs, you could always design and print out some invitations for functions that you are holding at home.
Make your decision as to where you both want to have your honeymoon. Book your flights and hotels. Depending on the timescale, be aware that you may be required to either only pay a deposit or pay this in full.
Make sure you have a written confirmation of your complete booking including hotel transfers.
Check and make sure your passports are valid. Some countries will require your passport to be valid for at least a year or sometimes six months at a minimum. Now is the time to make sure you have a valid passport.
Take this time and opportunity to check into visa requirements for all your destinations too and apply for any visa’s you may need.
Five Months to go
With five months to go, the focus will be on catering, entertainment to finalizing menus.
1. Wedding Invitation confirmation
Confirm your weddinging invitations. Confirm your chosen design and any/all wordings.
Confirm your booking with your chosen Caterers and ensure you have a written agreement with them.
3. Finalize menu
Finalize your menu for any/all occasions the caterers will be catering for.
4. Wedding Attire
Decide what style of outfit you want to wear at what function.
Start visiting bridal shops to give you inspiration and ideas as to the styles and design of various outfits. Look at wedding magazine to get ideas too.
Start purchasing your outfits. This will allow you plenty of time to then coordinate your accessories to your outfits.
Remember if you can’t buy ready-made outfits from shops then you can always get your outfit tailored made. If you do opt for tailor made outfits, then you now need to source a good tailor and start to get your outfits being made now. Remember if you are having an outfit being made then allow time for visits to the tailor for fittings.
Look into what entertainment you will need for each of your occasions. For example, DJ’s, Dhol Player, Dancers etc.
Decide what entertainment is required at each venue.
For example, you may like to book a dhol player for your entrance to the wedding reception.
You may like to book Bhangra dancers at your Ladies Sangeet or at your wedding reception.
Book all your entertainment requirements and confirm your date/booking.
Four months to go
With four months left to the wedding, ceremony planning, invitations to deciding on the jewelry to be worn become important.
1. Ceremony List
Make sure you have a detailed updated list of each of your ceremonies/occasions. This should show the date, the time and list the venue for each of your functions.
Post out all your invitations.
To save cost of postage, you can always include other function invites with your wedding card. For e.g. you could include your invite for Mehndi, Sangeet, Henna. (This is why it is imperative that you have a list of your guests attending each function).
Start to look at the type and style of jewelry you want to wear on all your various functions.
Start to look at sets and bangles for all your occasions.
This is the time to decide when you are wearing real gold jewelry and when/if you wish to wear any costume jewelry. Visit a variety of shops and thoroughly compare costs.
The best advise I can give you is when you are looking, if you find something that you really like and feel it is best suited to your outfit and the occasion then buy it then and there.
There is nothing more annoying in trying to find that particular shop again and then only to find that, that particular item has been sold.
Use this opportunity to purchase your wedding rings as well.
4. Videographer and Photographer
Confirm your chosen videographer and photographer. Ensure you have a written confirmation from them with regards to your date and time you require their services.
5. Makeup and Hair
Start to look into makeup artists and hair dressers.
You might be able to find a makeup artist who is also able to do your hair as well. This will save you time rather then to find two different people. My personal choice was to opt for one person who could do the complete job as they were able to coordinate both my makeup and hair style to my outfit. Bear in mind sometimes, this can be more cost effective too.
Prior to making your final decision, it is imperative that you have at least three or four shortlist of your stylist and ask each one to do a trial run of both hair and makeup.
Make sure their style of make-up is best suited for you. They should listen to your concerns and look at your outfit for each occasion and chose the best colors for makeup and apply different hairstyles for each occasion.
Confirm and book your chosen artist. They may require a deposit to secure your booking.
6. Mehndi/Henna Artist
Start researching into mehndi artists.
Normally the bride would have one designated artist who would only do the brides mehndi. The bridal mehndi can be quite intricate and can be quite time consuming.
Decide how much mehndi you want, for e.g., do you want your mehndi to start from your hands to your wrists or up to your elbows? Do you want your mehndi on your feet to end at your ankles or your calves?
Look at the various designs and patterns and decide which one you want on your hands and feet. Get an idea of timing to complete you designs.
Decide whether you want another mehndi artists for your guests and if so, how many additional artists you require.
Again, to secure your booking, a deposit may be required to hold your date and time.
Three months to go
With three months to do, confirming bookings is an important step for the different functions and ceremonies you have planned.
1. Booking confirmation
Ensure you have confirmed all your bookings, (apart from your venue’s which should already have been confirmed) and have everything in writing.
Do a checklist and ensue you have covered everything, following are few examples;
- Wedding Planner
- Mehndi Artists
- Wedding Attire
- Hair and Makeup Artists etc.
Make sure each of the above have been confirmed in writing. You have complete contact details of each of your venues, the times you require their services and your requirements.
If you decide you want to lose a little weight or increase your fitness regime then now is the time to see a personal trainer.
Discuss with them the results you want to achieve, your ideal weight goal and stick to their regime and advise to get the best results possible for your big day.
3. Facial Treatment
Visit a qualified beautician and see if you need any special facials to ensure you look your very best on your big day.
4. Wedding Favors
Decide if you want to give any wedding favors? Wedding favors are little gifts, like Indian sweets, sugared almonds, which are placed on each of the wedding guests tables.
Start to research and purchase your wedding favors.
Two months to go
Two months to go and it’s important to think about planning things like the priest, transport, any accommodation and so on.
1. First Dance
It is quite common for the bride and groom to perform a dance routine – something different then the normal slow dancing to your ‘special’ song. If you do decide to do something out of the ordinary then, this is the time to start rehearsing your routine or hire a choreographer and start having lessons.
Do you need to book hotel rooms for your guests? If you do, then do this now, so you have plenty of time to accommodate everyone.
You may need to book transport for you and your guests to take you to and from your wedding venues.
Depending on the number of people you need to provide transport for, you could look at hiring a mini bus or hire a coach but, always with a driver.
Do you need to book a Sikh Priest (Granthi) or are they provided by the Gurdwara (Sikh Temple)? Book one, if you need to.
Ensure you have all your honeymoon documentations in hand.
Check and ensure you have any visa’s if required, your flight and accommodation details and any internal flight details and details of your transfers to and from the airport etc.
Shop and decide upon what, if any, return gifts you are going to give to your guests on their departure from each wedding function.
One month to go
With a month to go, there’s plenty to do, with the wedding planning.
Ensure that you have finalized the menu for all and each of your wedding functions. Make sure that you have completed all your food tasting as well.
Compile a list of the items you need for all the religious ceremonies and then distribute the list with your very close and dependable family members.
Look through magazines/internet and decide upon a style and design of your wedding cake.
Visit various bakers and decide upon the flavors and fillings of your cake. You should be able to taste a selection of different flavors and fillings to give you a better idea and help you to make your final decision.
Once you have booked and chosen your baker, make sure you confirm if they are to drop off your cake to your wedding venue or whether someone will be collecting the cake on your behalf.
Check with your wedding venue if they can provide you with a cake stand and a cake knife. If they can’t then you might have to hire these two items from your baker. They may be a refundable deposit required if you wish to borrow these items, so ensure you check and confirm every detail in writing.
4. Wedding Outfits
Make sure you have all your wedding trousseau packed.
Make sure you get a final haircut and color done to ensure your hair will be neat, glossy and at your best for your big day.
Make sure any gift favors are all packed and wrapped to hand out.
Make sure that your DJ/musicians/band is aware of the song to be played upon the entry of the bride and groom. Also ensure that you have compiled a list of any special songs that you may like played at each of your various functions and discuss the style of the music you want to be played. This will ensure that all your events have the atmosphere and feel you are aiming for.
Two weeks to go
With two weeks to go, it’s all about ensuring everything wedding related is in place including your honeymoon.
It is always a good idea to talk or meet with all your vendors to reconfirm the time you require them to each of your event.
Discuss with your close family members all the timelines for the ceremonies.
Wear each and everyone of your wedding outfits to make sure that they still fit you properly. This can be a very stressful time for brides so you can find your weight may fluctuate so this will ensure that there is no change to the size of your outfits on your actual date. It will also give you time, should you need to make any minor alternations.
Get all your outfits ready by ironing them and hanging all your outfits to ensure they stay crease free and are ready to wear.
Compile a list of any special moments that you wish your photographer to capture.
Ensure all decorations and seating arrangements are finalized.
Depending on the destination of your honeymoon ensure you pack the correct clothes according to the weather of your destination.
Don’t forget to pack sun cream and hat if you are visiting a hot country. Ensure you pack lightweight and cotton clothes to keep you cool.
6. First Dance
Do a final rehearsal of your first dance and ensure you are completely happy and confident with your routine.
One week to go
With a week to go, there’s still a few things to be sorted out and a few things that can be done to reduce the stress of it all.
1. Rental Clothes
If you are renting any clothes or equipment, collect them now.
Pack a small bag consisting of any allergy medications you take or any other medications that you are currently taking. Also pack a small pack of travel tissues, wet wipes, blotting paper, perfume etc.
To help you relax and de-stress, try and enjoy a massage and book a day at a spa.
The wedding day will be an extremely busy day, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for it.
1. Good nights sleep
Make sure you get plenty of sleep the night before, at least 9 hours. You will probably be very excited, so try to focus on something other than your wedding, to make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
2. Time to get ready
Allow yourself plenty of time to get ready, the last thing you want to do on your special day is to rush around and get stressed about timing issues.
3. Eat a good breakfast
Enjoy a nice and relaxing breakfast before starting anything.
4. Stay Calm
Enjoy the day and stay calm and happy throughout the day with a smile on your face.
5. Get Married
Finally get married!!!!
After your Wedding
After the wedding is complete, there’s still a few things that need to be done.
1. Say thank you
It’s a nice touch to send a thank you note to your vendors. Make sure you include your hair and make-up stylists in this list too.
Ask your close family members and friends to send you any pictures they have taken throughout your wedding ceremonies. This will ensure you have photographs for all your occasions when the photographer wasn’t there or maybe they missed some moments.
3. Clean your outfits
Dry clean or wash all your outfits and then pack them and store them safely.
4. Leave for honeymoon
Lastly enjoy and leave for your honeymoon!!
My best advise is to try and stick to your budget.
Make your decisions with only your very close family members and ensure that you are happy with all the various functions planned. Fewer functions will definitely be lighter on your pocket and you can still have a great wedding experience.
Cut down on additional or extra costs whenever you can without affecting your end results.
When I got married, I found having a spreadsheet was extremely helpful and kept me not only organized but, helped me to stick to my budget more affectively.
List all your venues with full postal address and telephone/mobile numbers. Ensure you have a point of contact at each location.
Have a column that shows the cost of each venue. A column showing the amount of deposit you have made and a column to show you the date and the amount when the remainder payment is due.
At a glance you will clearly see what deposits already made, the date of the remainder payments and the final amount due.
Use these columns to show a complete list of all your costs. For example, caterers, photographers, videographers, entertainment, hair and beauty artists etc.
This should aid in helping you work towards to your budget.
To save on some costs, is to see how you could decorate the marquee or smaller venues yourself. e.g. maybe you could add some fairy lights, hang some colorful chunni’s/sari’s and hang them from the ceiling, add some fresh flowers and garlands, balloons etc.
You could even have a close family member or friend who could take photographs and video of your more intimate and smaller functions.
Do you need to wear genuine 24ct gold jewelry to all your functions? This is a great cost saving tip, costume jewelry these days looks so expensive and is fraction of the cost. Save the genuine gold items for your wedding day, this will make your day extra special and wear costume jewelry to all of your other functions.