OUtdoor Sikh wedding, not in the Gurdwara. THey put a sub-flooring so their guests would be comfortable.

Tips for A Non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj Sikh Wedding Ceremony

Sikh maryada, usually calls for the Anand Karaj ceremony to take place in a Gurdwara. However, some couples opt to complete the ceremony in other venues for a variety of reasons, including:

  • space capacity
  • desire to be outdoors
  • desire to have a baraat (some Gurdwaras don’t allow dancing on premises)
  • destination wedding

Non-Gurdwara Wedding Ceremony Video Examples

Videos: Robles Video Productions

Here are tips for having a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj.

  1. Find a Granthi who will perform the ceremony. Not all will.
    seating at the Anabd Karaj Sikh Indian Punjabi wedding ceremony on the beach in Phuket Thailand
    Anand Karaj on the beach in Phuket, Thailand

    2. Arrange sub-flooring for outdoor ceremonies, you’re going to need some type of sub-flooring so your guests are comfortable and not sitting directly on the grass nor the ground. Talk to your decor vendor about the best material based on your venue. At this wedding the flooring was arranged by the Pink Rock Events as well as KUMBA Entertainment, it was made of plywood and covered with carpet. Keep-in-mind that some venues may be charge extra or have time restrictions on how long the flooring can be laid down. For instance, this venue pictured here had strict time restrictions as they were worried about the flooring damaging their grass. As soon as (and I mean AS SOON AS) the ceremony finished the venue’s staff was overseeing tearing down the flooring.

    photo: Greycard Photography

    3. Might ruin the grass –The venue mentioned above stopped watering that area 24 hours prior to the wedding This was that venue’s first time doing a wedding ceremony with this kind o flooring (Yay to them for being open-minded) BUT afterwards, the venue told us they’d no longer going to offer this, as it “killed” their grass.

    OUtdoor Sikh wedding, not in the Gurdwara. THey put a sub-flooring so their guests would be comfortable.
    photo: Greycard Photography

    4. Designate a place for shoes. You don’t really want your elegant beautiful ceremony (and photos) to be ruined by shoes all over the place. Bring in some racks or shelving.

    5. Arrange rumaals and extra dupattas (handkerchiefs and scarves) to be distributed. There may be some guests who are unfamiliar with the customs or that simply forget their handkerchief or scarf that day. This is an opportunity for you to coordinate them with your decor colors. As you can see when everyone is matchy matchy the photos look great!
    Guys wearing rumaal during Sikh Punjabi, Anand Karaj, Indian wedding in Phuket, Thailand.
    6. Share customs and traditions beforehand. It’s possible that not everyone attending your wedding is Sikh, thus they may be unfamiliar with customs and traditions. Try to put yourself in their shoes and use the recommendations below. Do them and yourself a favor and send them a “Welcome to your first Sikh wedding!” email. Include the do’s and dont’s and answer questions like “what about a wedding gift”?  Some examples of what to include:

  • Don’t wear clothes where your body will be exposed – sleeveless, legs showing, strapless. More details about what to wear, what not to wear, and how many outfits they’ll need. If you really wanna make an impression, send links or info where they can buy or rent Indian clothes or if you have any friends that are willing to let your guests borrow some. Another thing you could do is have chudiyan and bindis for your guests available when they arrive for the ceremony for anyone to wear or for your friends little kids – they will love it and appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  • I observed a young girl who was embarrassed in a Gurdwara when she innocently placed a paper prayer book on the floor, vs. on top of a cloth and someone pointed it out to her in kind of a not cool way. 
  • Bring a scarf (ladies) or a handkerchief (men) to cover your head. Your head must be covered at all times inside the Gurdwara.
  • How to pronounce Gurdwara (Goor-d-waa-ra)
  • Explain what they can expect during the ceremony: what will happen before i.e. there’s a baraat (groom’s procession) where everyone will dance, so come prepared to have fun and wear comfortable shoes! , how long the ceremony will be, what will happen after the ceremony (food, games, vidai). And then explain what happens after that, for example everyone heads to the reception or everyone leaves the venues and returns in the evening for cocktail hour and the reception.
  • If you’ve made arrangements for people to have their sari’s tied or dupattas draped, include that info.
  • Tell them what to expect in terms of food and drink – what meal(s) will be served, will it be all vegetarian or vegetarian and non-vegetarian?  Also include whether the food will be spicy
  • You will be required to remove your shoes to enter the Gurdwara (No Exceptions!)
  • You’ll be sitting on the floor, without a place to rest your back.
  • Is it ok to get up and use the restroom during the ceremony?

These are all things that anyone who has never been to a Sikh wedding or to a Gurdwara will be wondering. And you will be a truly excellent host and friend for anticipating your guests’ questions and getting ahead of them.

ShaadiShop Tools And Resources That You Might Like:

  1. Our Sikh Weddings Pinterest board.
  2. ShaadiShop’s 2020, 2021 and 2022 South Asian Social Calendar
  3. ShaadiShop’s Indian Wedding Budget Infographic (downloadable)
  4. ShaadiShop’s Indian Wedding Budget Tracker (downloadable)

Cover image: Greycard Photography

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