During all our wedding planning Dan’s Tilak was the only part I couldn’t imagine. I’d never been to or seen one, but really I think it was because I wouldn’t be apart of it. The Tilak was the third wedding ceremony. First was a family prayer and the second was my Mehndi party and while the Mehndi was my thing, the Tilak was for Dan – I wasn’t even allowed to attend! I think lots of us would agree that weddings are very bride-centric but with his very own ceremony my groom certainly got his moment.
Traditionally the Tilak would happen at the boy’s parents home, but given that was 200 miles away from my very dolled up back garden, and because my in-law’s aren’t Hindu so had no idea it wasn’t really an option! The Tilak is just for the groom and it’s a ceremony where the bride’s family give him gifts before the wedding to welcome him to the family.
Dan was staying with all his family at a hotel nearby and I was at home. Sunday morning was a ‘quiet one’ – which in reality meant my 17 immediate family members came over for a meal and got everything together for the long evening full of ceremonies. I was banished upstairs to my mum’s room in the attic (yes exactly like a Disney princess!) to get ready for my Haldi which would happen after Dan’s ceremonies. All I could do was listen to the noise coming from the marquee and until I saw these photos I had no idea what had gone on during the Tilak at all. To get all the details I did a bit of an interview (we were sat on the sofa with lots of treats!) with my hubby to get his experience of it all… Enjoy!
Photography by Alexandra Sara Photography
Were you nervous?
Daniel, the Groom: I wasn’t nervous at all, more excited. I was honoured that I was being asked to do all the ceremonies and proud that we were having a proper Hindu Wedding the traditional way. Even though I’m not religious I knew it was important to Sarah and her family.
I think my family were a little nervous but relaxed quickly. They were just intrigued because it’s so different to weddings they’ve been to before that happen in a church or registry office.
When did it start to feel ‘real’?
It had already started to feel ‘real’ from the first prayer on the Saturday morning for me. Even though I hadn’t been away that long it was nice coming home on the Sunday. I felt comfortable, more than I would have been if it had happened venue we’d hired. It was a bit weird being in the house and not having Sarah there. I imagined that she’d be upstairs shitting herself if I’m honest, she gets more nervous about stuff like this than I do. The Tilak only lasted about an hour and pretty much as soon as I arrived I went to sit in the mandap so didn’t have a chance to say hello to anyone. It was exciting seeing my ushers and family arriving.
Did you like the traditional clothes?
I loved my Kurta for the ceremony. They are super comfortable and the trousers are the best thing ever… I wanted to take them on honeymoon but Sarah told me I’d look ridiculous! Wearing a Kurta isn’t any different to wearing a shirt, it’s just a bit longer so everyone looks good in them. When I saw all the Kurta’s Sarah had brought back from India for me I knew I’d wear the dark navy one for the Tilak.
Was the Tilak what you expected?
I knew there would be lots of blessing involved. I guess I didn’t know exactly what would happen and being sat opposite Paul (Sarah’s brother) for the whole time was a little odd. It was explained that a bond was being forged between the two families, so an agreement was made between us I suppose. There were lots of Sankirt words to recite which was a bit of a challenge. I was worried about pronunciation but think I did ok?! The priest that married us is amazing, he was complimenting me the whole time and made it all light-hearted so I was at ease straight away. Because no one really understood what as being said, even Sarah’s family, it was all translated into English so he had everyone’s attention.
I was a bit of a puppet and just did everything I was asked to. I just hoped that I didn’t have to sing! And as long as that didn’t happen I was happy to go along with it. I watch a lot of (rubbish) Indian TV serials with Sarah’s mum so knew it would be colourful and complicated. Seeing it in real life and being the person involved and performing the rituals is really different obviously, but at least I was prepared. I suppose watching TV helped me in some way!
What was your favourite bit of the whole ceremony?
I was looking forward to the gifts! The girls on Sarah’s side lined up and handed me gifts and they were all blessed. When I had a chance to look at them later that evening I was a little confused because one of the bags that supposedly had a watch in it was actually just socks! I know a few of them are traditional to give, like the Indian sweets and fruits, but I didn’t really care about the fruit! Sarah’s mum bought my wedding suit for me which was probably my favourite… A close second was a basket full of chocolate! This ‘disappeared’ while we were away on honeymoon but I made sure it was replaced!
Straight after the Tilak we had our purification ceremonies, called a Haldi and I’ll be writing a post and sharing photos from that soon. If you’ve got any questions or are planning your own and need some help sourcing stuff I’d be happy to help!