Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Indian Wedding Rituals and Customs

India is a vast country with people from different religions, many regions and many different rituals & customs. Hindu weddings are very different from other weddings. Celebrations begin and rituals begin many months ahead of the actual wedding day and which transpire over the months leading to the wedding day. 

From the Ladies Sangeet, where traditionally just women get together to sing & dance, to the Haldi ceremony where the bride & groom each are covered with a turmeric and oil mixture (said to be good for the complexion), to the Mehndi (Henna) to the wedding day & beyond.

According to Hindu Sastra there are four stages of life, of which Grahastha Ashram or married life signifies the second stage. It begins, when a man and a woman come together and marry. In India, marriage is treated as an institution, which teaches the actual values of life. Every stage in life has its own charm and a married life is no exception. In India, a marriage is usually arranged by the respective parents of the bride and the groom and follows various steps. Marriage among Hindus is not only considered a union of two souls, but of two families.

Hindu Marriage Rituals & Customs

A Hindu wedding not only involves the bride and groom but the entire community, friends, family and relatives as everybody participates in their coming together of the to-be couple. The first and the foremost step is the selection of the bride and the bridegroom. While in love marriages, a boy and a girl themselves select their life partner, it is crucial when it comes to arranged marriages. Talking about arranged marriages in the Hindu custom, the parents select the prospective bride/groom for their son/daughter.

After the selection procedure is over, the family members of both the girl and boy ask the priest to suggest an auspicious date for the engagement of the two also known as misri or ring ceremony. Since India boasts of diverse cultures and traditions, the engagement ceremony rituals differ from region to region and community to community. However, the basic of all the rituals, mentioned here, form an indispensable part of Hindu wedding. In the betrothal ceremony, the to-be bride and the groom exchange wedding rings among each other. Sweets and garlands are also exchanged among the couple.

After the festive spirit of engagement, the next important ritual is the mehndi party. It is believed that the color of mehndi signifies the essence of love in a marriage, so it is put on bride's hand to strengthen that bond of love. The bride's family and friends mainly celebrate this ceremony. The female friends and family members of the bride rejoice and celebrate this occasion, as henna gets painted on her handwww.seizethedayeventplanners.coms and feet. Apart from the bride, the family members also get their hands painted with henna. Singing traditional songs and dancing to the beat of music forms a major part of this ritual.

Among the other important rituals is the Sangeet party, wherein all the family members and friends of the bride and groom celebrate, by singing and dancing the night away. Along with song and dance there are arrangements for food and drink. A large affair, Sangeet party is most popular among Punjabis, Marwaris and Gujaratis, although most of the regions today also practice this ritual. Ghari puja is also another important religious ceremony, which is performed on the eve of the wedding day at the groom and bride's place separately.

On the morning of the wedding day, Pithi or Haldi, the cleansing ceremony is practiced during which the bride and bridegroom are pasted with turmeric powder in their respective homes, as a part of their beautification process. Talking about the actual marriage ceremonies, the Hindu wedding mostly takes place in a mandap or a tent, which is beautifully decorated with flowers. The main Hindu wedding ceremony is a long and elaborate affair, which lasts for several hours and is attended by a large number of relatives, friends, acquaintances and so on.

One of the most significant rituals the bride and the groom perform is the Saptapadi or saat phere around a scared fire and light, which is symbolic to God. While the bride and the groom take the seven circles, the priest or purohit recites the mantras and speak of the real essence and significance of marriage. It is also during this time that the groom fills vermillion or sindoor in the center parting of the bride and puts mangalsutra around her neck. Both sindoor and mangalsutra have strong religious implications and are sacred symbols of a married woman. These were some of the rituals and customs, which were generally followed in all the Hindu marriages.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tips for Sending Invitations

If you did not send out Save the date announcements, your wedding invitation is the first item your guests will see about your wedding. It gives your guests an idea as to the type and formality of your wedding.

Invitations may be printed or engraved. Formal invitations should be mailed 4-6 weeks before your wedding date. Informal weddings, invitations ten days prior.

When ordering invitations, order 25 more than you think you will need. It's cheaper to order more in advance than ordering a small quantity at a later date. Also, order extra envelopes to allow for mistakes.

Invitation and announcements should be handwritten in black or blue ink or in dark ink matching your wedding colors such as Burgundy, purple, brown, and green. Red is inappropriate. Gold and silver may be used but they are difficult to read. Both envelopes should be in the same handwriting. You may want to consider calligraphy. It creates a very elegant look for your invitations.

Children's names should be listed on the inside envelope on the second line. Never use "and Family" on the envelope. The rule is, if children are not listed on the envelope, they are not invited. However, in order not to create confusion, you may wish to indicate so within your communications. Any invited children over the age of 18 should receive their own invitation.

Describe Your Wedding Photography for Your Photographer

Describe Your Wedding Photography for Your Photographer
When you meet with your wedding photographer, you will have a lot to talk about. There will be many different moments happening before, during and after the wedding. Wedding photography is part photojournalism and part portraiture. You want your wedding photographer to be prepared for the unexpected. During your interview with them, you want to ask them about their style; their background and their experience.

You want a wedding photographer who watches the people around them. You want wedding photography that comes from being unobtrusive where they catch not only the key wedding moments, but also the moments of deep connection between the bride, the groom, the family members and other guests.

Imagine, standing in the vestibule of the Church while the Bride is waiting with her father for their cue. They aren’t saying anything with words, but Dad brushes her cheek with his knuckles, ever so lightly and her eyes shimmer with tears. The corners of her mouth turn up just ever so slightly and her father’s face softens as well. That is the shot you want in your wedding photography. Be sure to give your wedding photographer clear details of the wedding location, venue, theme and most of all – what you want to see.

Take the time to talk to your wedding photographer during the interview and during the wedding planning. If it helps, write down what you want your wedding album to look like before you meet with the photographer in order to give them clear directions. Remember, however, that while the wedding photographer is a professional, it’s still your wedding.

Otto Schulze Photography