Real Weddings

A Modern Sikh Wedding in Vancouver

Planning a week-long modern Sikh wedding celebration for nearly 900 guests is no small feat, but Christina Bains and Jesse Dhami did just that—and without a single hitch! The couple cleverly coordinated several days of events which culminated in a traditional Sikh ceremony and a modern reception, all without the help of a wedding planner. “I created a detailed itinerary for everyone,” Christina notes. “I think that really helped keep things on track.” The bride and groom also relied on designated “timekeepers” from both sides of the family to wrangle guests. And, when in doubt, Christina just led by example. “I quickly realized everyone will follow the bride,” she jokes.

To kick off the week’s modern Sikh wedding festivities Christina and her best girlfriends gathered together for a mehndi party. All the girls had mehndi applied to their hands and feet, but Christina’s was the most elaborate by far. It took nearly four hours to complete, but “It was worth every minute,” Christina avows. “And my friends brought me drinks and snacks!”

The following day Christina participated in a Maiyan ceremony. During this traditional rite of passage, Christina’s family members cleansed her face and hands (Jesse completed the same ritual with his family). Then Christina and more than 200 of her loved ones headed out into the neighbourhood to announce her upcoming wedding. The jubilant procession—complete with singing and drumming—made its way slowly around the block with the beaming bride at the helm.

After a whirlwind of pre-wedding engagements, Christina decided to start her modern Sikh wedding wedding day in peace and quiet. “I chose to get ready at my apartment downtown with two of my girlfriends,” she shares. “I love flowers and sweets, so I filled my place with bouquets of lilies and gerbera daisies, and we nibbled on French pastries as we were getting ready.” Christina dressed for the ceremony in a traditional two-piece lengha and net dupputa adorned with exquisite embroidery and beading, and headed to the temple to greet her groom.

An epic ceremony commenced with the Milni, a symbolic meeting of the men from both sides of the family. Then hundreds of guests, wearing their finest and most colourful attire, filed into the temple and took their seats to witness Christina and Jesse become husband and wife. After saying “I do,” Christina and Jesse were eager to let loose and celebrate with their nearest and dearest. “One of our best moments of the day was in the limo on the way to the reception hall. We were surrounded by eight of our closest friends. It was such a special and private time when we escaped from the crowds and truly celebrated. The entire day had gone so smoothly, and we couldn’t wait to get on the dance floor,” Christina reminisces.

“Our reception was more western,” Christina shares. “We had all the usual wedding customs: the cake cutting, the speeches and the first dance,” she explains. And she had the perfect party outfit at the ready: a custom-made creation by local fashion designer Manuel Mendoza. For the occasion, a silk sari was transformed into an elegant, luxurious evening gown. Christina completed her look with a birdcage veil and super-sexy Christian Louboutin heels.

After changing for the reception, Christina and Jesse made their grand entrance to a version of Rick Springfield’s catchy tune “Jessie’s Girl”. “This song has always been special for Jesse,” Christina admits. “His friends always phone him when they hear it.” Naturally, Christina decided the tune was ideal for getting the party started, but Jesse didn’t have a clue. “He was completely surprised when we walked in,” Christina smiles. “He couldn’t stop laughing!”

Christina Bains and Jesse Dhami, July 1, 2011, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Photography courtesy of Hong Photography (

Ceremony location: Khalsa Diwan Society
Reception location:
Fraserview Banquet Hall
Wedding lengha custom made by Sunny’s Bridal Gallery; Evening dress designed by bride and made by Manuel Mendoza
Groom’s tux: Custom made in India
Hair: Faces by Moni Uppal
Faces by Moni Uppal
Music: MIB
Cake: Kreation
Caterer: Fraserview Banquet Hall
Flowers: Flower Factory
Stationery: Deep in Design (info@deepindesign)
Videography courtesy of Love Story Media; Nails done at Bliss Salon; Mehndi done by Mehndi Designs by Iti

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