The beautiful bride looking like the day could not get any more perfect, the dashing groom looking all spic and span. They perform the necessary rituals needed to officially seal their vows, as they begin their lives together.
In every photo taken on that day, I see everyone’s faces sharing the bliss of sealing two people’s lifetime commitments. It is no wonder then that weddings are one of the most favorite subjects of photographers.
Although the details and rituals may vary depending on their culture, it is still a wonderful experience to capture the joy of the event and immortalize these sweet and joyful memories in frames and shots.
Hindu Wedding Ceremonies
Every culture performs its own marriage ceremonies. The Hindus believe that a wedding should be conducted between two people deemed compatible for each other. Unlike in most Western ceremonies, Hindu weddings last for several days.
Whether in India (where most Hindus live) or in other parts of the world, Hindu weddings have largely changed compared to the traditional ceremonies. As time progresses, the culture eventually allowed intercultural and mixed Hindu/non-Hindu marriages. As such, the language used in conducting these ceremonies is not entirely Sanskrit, so as to cater to the non-Indian visitors and/or family members.
No matter how varying the details are, the basic tenets remain: the Vedic ceremony teaches that marriage should be about love and unity between husband and wife. It is not for self-indulgence. The couple should be committed to each other, both in their married life and in their spirituality. I believe that is a wonderful thing to capture in film.
If you are going to be the official photographer of a Hindu wedding, here is a basic rundown of their ceremony:
1. The people involved
This includes all the people you should take note of, so you will not miss anyone important.
Aside from the bride, the groom, and the priest, a Hindu wedding also requires the participation of the couples’ families.
- On the side of the bride, the ceremony needs her parents, her maternal uncle, and her brother.
- On the side of the groom, he needs his parents and his best man.
- The additional people needed are a group of women who can sing traditional Indian slokas, as well as the flower girls.
2. The set
Traditional Hindu ceremonies are performed outdoors. They use a “mandap,” which is a canopy-like structure. If the ceremony is done indoors, you will still most likely see an imitation of a mandap inside. Regardless of where the ceremony is held, every Hindu marriage needs the presence of the Sacred Fire. It is placed at the center of the mandap.
3. The ceremony
Unlike in Christian traditions where the groom waits for the bride at the altar, Hindu ceremonies require the groom’s party to arrive in a procession. The groom then walks up to the bride’s mother and performs the necessary rituals. Afterwards, the bride walks in, escorted by her maternal uncle. A flower girl may also precede the bride. After all the opening rituals, everybody sits under the mandap as the priest leads the ceremony proper. If you wish to learn the terms used in Hindu weddings, you can refer to this article.
Tips on How to Photograph a Hindu Wedding
For those who are into wedding photography, I believe this is one event you can use to further hone your skills. Since this is a very important day for everyone involved, you have to be prepared in taking the best shots. Here are a few tips:
1. Schedule a meeting with the couple.
Unless you are also working on the pre-nuptial photos, schedule a meeting with the couple before the ceremony itself (e.g. a day before). An hour of their time would be fine. The idea is for the couple to simply get to know you, so they will not feel uncomfortable when you take their photos during their big day.
2. Know the wedding process.
If a photographer does not know what he got himself into, there is a high chance that he will miss the most intimate and the most important moments. The ceremony may vary from what you initially thought it was, as the couple and their families may add a few things here and there.
Do your research about Hindu weddings, and then talk to the family before the ceremony. Take note of key events to be able to capture important moments, and know where you can take photos of either the couple or the couple with their respective families.
3. Bring in more people to help you.
Whether it is a small or a big wedding, you might need an extra hand to help. No one can expect a photographer to be in two places at the same time. Some enlist the help of photo coordinators and/or a second photographer.
4. Check the venue beforehand.
You also need to check the venue, so you can take note of a few things:
- Lighting. Hindu weddings usually make use of warm incandescent lights. You need to consider this, as it could affect the overall look of your shots.
- Equipment. Bring additional equipment, if necessary (e.g. additional studio lights).
- Photo-perfect spots. Plan the perfect place for solo photos, couple photos and family photos.
Make sure to keep these tips in mind, so you can perfectly capture this unforgettable event.
Written by Rod Tolentino: Rod Tolentino is a writer and a Marketing Consultant for UPrinting, a leading socially responsible online printing, marketing and technology firm that offers poster printing services and various printed marketing media.