Congratulations on your engagement! Now it’s time to plan your Anand Karaj – Sikh wedding ceremony.
The focus of the Sikh wedding ceremony is on the religious and spiritual connection between two people. Typically, the Anand Karaj will take place at a gurdwara, unless you are planning to host an outdoor ceremony or destination wedding (check out our blog on Outdoor Wedding Venues for Indian Wedding in Toronto Area).
Booking a gurdwara will be your first step in planning for your Sikh wedding. If you are based in Brampton, Mississauga, Toronto or Oakville, you may have a preference to book your nearest Gurdwara. Wedding dates at these Gurdwaras tend to book far in advance so be sure to check your dates early!
Gurdwaras are a peaceful and welcoming place of worship. As with any other building, there are differences in photographing the various gurdwaras. This article highlights the photographer point of view and talks about photography challenges faced during a Sikh ceremony.
Our motive is to help you understand how different gurdwaras can affect your wedding day images and not to disrespect any gurdwara management. To further assist your search for a gurdwara, we have also included the average cost to book based on the 2018 wedding season.
For sake of this guide, we will only be comparing the main hall at each of these Gurdwaras.
The Popular Gurdwara – Dashmesh Darbar
Address: 555 Ebenezer Rd., Brampton ON L6P 2K8
Phone: (905) 794-4664
Dashmesh Darbar, or Ebenezer Gurdwara, is one of the most popular Gurdwaras in which to get married. Contract them as early as possible to secure a wedding date as this gurdwara will be amongst the first to be fully booked in a wedding season.
This gurdwara is located right near Grand Empire Banquet Hall and Embassy Grand so it is very well-suited for couples who are planning their anand karaj and reception on the same day. That said, it is situated within a plaza with which is shares a parking lot. Also if you are planning a Sikh and Hindu Ceremony in the same day, there is a mandir right next to Gurdwara as well.
As with many of the gurdwaras we will discuss below, Dashmesh Darbar does allow certain practices such as having a dhol for you baraat on the gurdwara premises or having decorations in the main hall.
Photography Pros and Cons
Dashmesh Darbar is one of the most picturesque gurdwaras in the GTA. The gurdwara has a bright and airy look due to all the natural light entering the gurdwara, even on a cloudy day.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib palki is contained in a grand gold structure that looks great in photographs.
The gurdwara gives photographers access to the upper level of the hall allowing multiple points of view for capturing your ceremony, including a beautiful wide-angle shot as shown below.
There are some challenges with uneven lighting, such as this ray of light which illuminates the bride but leaves the groom in darkness around 11:30 am in summer time although this can be some extent corrected with the use of flash by a skilled a photographer.
Finally, due to the shared parking lot with a large plaza, first parking is difficult and there are many cars around the gurdwara. If the milni is held outdoors, it is photographed by us from a low angle to avoid showing the many cars and plaza in the background of the images.
All-in-all, this is a beautiful gurdwara that is one of our favorite places to shoot as a photographer.
Average Cost of booking is about $4000-$5000 for Sikh Wedding, a flat fee which does not change much with a number of your guests.
Bright and Airy Gurdwara – Nanaksar Thath Isher Darbar (Nanaksar Gurdwara)
Address: 9954 The Gore Rd., Brampton, ON L6P 0A7
Phone: (905) 915-2597
Nanaksar Gurdwara is a beautiful new gurdwara located not too far from Dashmesh Darbar. The Gurdwara is newly constructed and it is a beautiful building. The parking lot is located behind the building so the view upon entering the gurdwara is clean and magnificent. Some part of the outer structure is still under construction.
The gurdwara is very accommodating of allowing decorations so you can decorate the hall and the aisle to add some personalization to your ceremony. A floral palla is also allowed by the gurdwara.
Nanaksar gurdwara will allow you to have a dhol in your baraat so long as it is only played in the back parking lot and not in front of the gurdwara building.
Nanaksar Gurdwara will give a wonderfully bright and airy feel for pictures of your Anand Karaj.
There is a lot of open light sources like windows and the high ceiling of the hall makes the images very vibrant and crisp.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib palki is placed under a glass covering; while this looks very nice, it is tricky to photography due to reflections coming off the glass. This can limit the number of pictures which can be taken of you with the palki.
In addition, the palki is elevated on a platform and couples are asked to sit on this platform as well; so be careful when you step on the platform and step down.
There are few top viewpoints for your pictures from the upper level at this Gurdwara however not much to get a good photography angle.
Overall, Nanaksar Gurdwara is another great location for a Sikh wedding and we’re proud to share our images from this gurdwara.
Average Cost of booking, in 2020, was around $3000-$5000 for roughly around 300 guests.
The Spacious Gurdwara – Ontario Khalsa Darbar (Dixie Gurdwara)
Address: 7080 Dixie Rd., Mississauga, ON L5S 1R1
Phone: (905) 670-3311
Dixie Gurdwara is one of the oldest, most-established Gurdwaras in the GTA.
With six (6) halls available for wedding, there are very good chances that you will find a hall for your wedding date; however, other weddings may be taking place at the same time. The langar hall and other areas would be shared amongst the many guests. Which can be difficult at times especially on long weekends when there are so many weddings at the same time.
Typically, weddings will be booked in Hall 2 or Hall 3 and the main hall will be reserved for the general public and daily prayer; this is a great way to keep your ceremony separate from other guests and devotees visiting the gurdwara. That said, the main hall can definitely be requested and booked, if available, if that is your preference.
The gurdwara will provide upon request an English translator who can explain your ceremony for your guests.
Dhol and horse are not permitted on premises for your baraat; but you can work around this by hosting your baraat in the street leading to the gurdwara’s outer gate such as this groom we photographed alongside Amar Dholi doing boliyan.
- Halls number 2 and 3 are most used for weddings and Both halls can accommodate up to 500 people and have good natural light
- Halls has separate entrance from the main hall and bigger langar hall is reserved for weddings during the weekdays.
All of the halls at Dixie gurdwara are bright and spacious with some of natural light coming in. The main hall has a beautiful entrance from which your wedding party can enter.
The many halls in Dixie gurdwara are separated with partition walls which serve as the backdrop for your pictures. Be sure to speak with the gurdwara about bringing in drapery to make these walls more visually appealing if possible. Most of you wont notice this but this partition wall do not look most flattering in the images
The set up in some of the halls results in an L-shaped aisle. This leaves the back hall open for guests to sit against. With the help of your wedding party or your wedding coordinator, you can request that the guests move from this spot lest they appear in the background of your ceremony pictures during palla photos or entrance of the bride and groom images.
Dixie Gurdwara from a Photography standpoint might be the most idea but it’s due to natural ceiling light this Gurdwara is great to work in most other cases.
The average Cost of booking is about $3500 ($6.25-8.25 per person) for about 450 people on a typical summer weekend as of 2021 wedding season.
The Well-Established Gurdwara – Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Malton Gurdwara)
Address: 7280 Airport Rd., Mississauga, ON L4T 2H3
Phone: (905) 671-1662
Malton Gurdwara is an iconic location in Mississauga as of the oldest gurdwaras in the GTA.
The main hall is a newly renovated, beautiful space that is large enough to accommodate over 100 guests! While the main hall is renovated, it is important to note that the rest of the gurdwara is quite dated including the langar hall and parking lots.
In addition, this gurdwara is expensive to book: for a guest list of 450 people, you are looking to spend about $5000.
This gurdwara also allows neither dhol nor horse for your baraat, and there is no alternative location available.
This gurdwara is quite popular for daily devotees who begin their day by paying respects. It can be a challenge to conduct and photograph the ceremony when the Sangat is entering the hall to pay their respect. A wedding coordinator or family can be helpful to request these visitors (Sangat) wait for the ceremony to be complete or wait to pay their respect after the anand karaj; be sure to check with the gurdwara management first.
The main hall is very spacious and very well lit; there is no risk of looking dark and crowded.
The entrance into the hall includes a long aisle which gives the photographer ample time to photograph you and your family walking down.
To our knowledge, the gurdwara is very accommodating of allowing drapery against the back wall of the hall to provide a backdrop for your pictures. This looks especially good behind the Sri Guru Granth Sahib palki which is in a rustic, wooden structure.
Overall, the gurdwara is great for pictures and offers wonderful space and lighting.
Average Cost of booking is about $4500-5500 for about 450 Guests at Malton Gurdwara
A Dramatic Setting – Shiromani Sikh Sangat (Dunwin Gurdwara)
Address: 2377 Dunwin Dr., Mississauga, ON L5L 1T1
Phone: (905) 828-2710
Shiromani Sikh Sangat is one of the oldest establishments in the heart of Mississauga. Due to its convenient location, it’s a popular destination for daily devotees and for couples who want to stay local for their anand karaj.
The langar hall is newly renovated and a great space with lots of light coming in from floor-to-ceiling windows. This is a great spot for taking pictures before or after your ceremony.
The gurdwara is very well managed and well kept. For first-time visitors, there is clear signage for finding your way around the building.
There are multiple halls available for your ceremony; the largest of which is the main hall which can hold over 1000 guests.
Photography Pros and Cons
Both the main hall and the second hall have very low ceilings and which do not bring in a lot of natural light. The lack of natural light does create interesting challenges and opportunities for us as a photographer. While we do prefer to have a lighting assistant on-site for your ceremony, the challenge is to create bright and airy images at this venue and a more dramatic look is to the images is a lot easier to create.
Gurdwara has yellow pot lights which can leave harsh shadows on the face sometimes and leave a yellow tone on the face. Images do have warm tonality in images.
Hall number two will have sharp rays of shadows right behind the palki so when a couple is going around the guru Granth sahib there can be a big change in light exposure which can be difficult for beginners photographers
This gurdwara brings a lot of challenges for the photographers for sure from a light standpoint. If you are planning a bright and airy ceremony, this may not be the best setting.
Average Cost of booking is about $3500-$5000 ($6.25-8.25 per person approx) for about 450 people on a typical summer weekend as of 2021 wedding season.
A Picturesque Setting – Gursikh Sabha Canada (Scarborough Gurdwara)
Address: 905 Middlefield Rd., Scarborough, ON M1V 4X1
Phone: (416) 299-4800
Gursikh Sabha Canada is one of the most well-maintained gurdwaras we have photographed, from the langar hall to the parking lot. There is even a little garden in front of the building where you can host your milni ceremony.
The gurdwara is very organized and easy to work with; they provide written instructions for your ceremony and proactively follow up with you one week before your event. In addition, a member of the gurdwara committee is available to provide English explanation for your anand karaj if needed.
Neither dhol nor horse is allowed on the gurdwara premises for baraat; however, there is a convenient path around the perimeter of the gurdwara on which your baraat can dance with dhol and boliyaan.
The gurdwara provides beautiful natural lighting for bright wedding pictures to be taken.
The Sri Guru Granth Sahib palki is placed on a gold palki which glows in the light and looks very elegant in photographs.
What doesn’t look as nice in the photographs is the partition wall used to separate the various halls. The gurdwara does not allow draping in the hall so this wall, which looks a bit off centre, provides the backdrop for your pictures.
Finally, the hall has a rather short aisle which limits the time during which your photographer can capture your entrance.
Hall number 1 is a great option to get married. Very good natural light, great aesthetics, and pictures usually come very good here.
Average Cost of booking is about $3200-$4500 for about 450 people on a typical summer weekend as of 2021 wedding season.
A Grand Entrance – Halton Gurdwara Sahib (Oakville)
Address: 2403 Khalsa Gate, Oakville, ON L6M 4J2
Phone: (905) 469-1313
Halton Gurdwara Sahib is one of the most preferred venues for an anand karaj. It is a very well-managed gurdwara and very well kept.
In the past, it has not been very popular to the general public so you will have a private space for your wedding and your guests.
There is only one main hall which can easily host 500-600 guests.
Photography Pros and Cons
Starting outdoors, the gurdwara’s outer facade provides a grand backdrop for pictures, especially during your milni ceremony.
Halton Gurdwara is a beautiful location to photograph. There is a grand door that enters the main hall should you prefer to use this for your entrance to incorporate an outdoor feel.
The entrance leads into a long aisle to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib giving many photo opportunities of you walking down the aisle.
While there is natural light in the hall, it is limited. Additional lighting is recommended to any photographer who is working in this space to balance the light on the couple.
There is only one floor for the hall so there are limited angles from which to capture the ceremony.
Average Cost of booking is about $3500 for a guest list of 450 ($6.25 per person) on a typical summer weekend.
The Luminous Gurdwara – Gurdwara Shaheedgarh Sahib (Hamilton Gurdwara)
Address: 200 Old Guelph Rd., Dundas, ON L9H 5X6
Phone: (905) 525-5725
Gurdwara Shaheedgarh Sahib in Hamilton is a wonderful location for couples in the southwest of the province.
The gurdwara is a brand new construct and very well-built. There are two beautiful staircases leading guests into the main hall upstairs, and the hall has made accessibility a priority by including an elevator for any guests requiring assistance.
The parking lot is now fully ready and the area out the building is where most of the families can do milni.
Photography Pros and Cons
There is a magnificent dome over the main hall which illuminates the entire hall. An inexperienced photographer may experience some challenge in being able to balance the light in the hall as the couple may look washed out against the background of the image. Additional flashes are recommended to help create the necessary lighting.
Cost of Booking: Booking Hamilton gurdwara will cost you around $1200-2000; however, food is entirely your responsibility and can be done with outside catering.
A Versatile Location – Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Brampton (Rexdale Gurdwara)
Address: 32 Regan Rd., Brampton, ON L7A 1A7
Phone: (905) 495-1200
Rexdale Gurdwara is another very popular gurdwara if you are getting married in Brampton or Malton. They have recently updated their main hall and you can personalize your experience by adding decorations at the entrance to the hall and along the aisle.
This gurdwara do not permit a dhol and horse on-site for baraat.
Rexdale gurdwara is quite versatile for getting both bright and airy images, and more dramatic shots; it’s a playground of opportunity for your photographer.
There are great viewpoints available for your photographer between the long aisle entering the hall as well as an upper level from which pictures can be taken.
The main lobby of the gurdwara is also a beautiful space with floor-to-ceiling windows which is a great spot for taking pictures before or after your ceremony.
This gurdwara gives great images for your wedding and provides a great backdrop for your wedding with it’s newly renovated space.
Average Cost of booking is about $3500-4500 for 500 guests; this includes a flat fee of $500 for booking and a per-person cost of $6-8.
A Brand New Option – Siri Guru Singh Sabha Cambridge
Address: 1070 Townline Rd., Puslinch, ON N0B 2J0
Phone: (519) 658-1070
Sri Guru Singh Sabha Cambridge is a brand new gurdwara in Cambridge accessible right off the 401 highway for the growing Sikh population in the area.
The building has been designed with an impressive entrance with steps leading to the door, and the door opening in front of the main hall. Many considerations were made during construction to make the building accessible (such as adding an elevator) and eco-friendly (with the use of motion-activated lighting systems). The parking lot has yet to be paved.
Inside, the main hall is topped with a dome and natural light fills the space. The gurdwara has a very light and peaceful feel to it.
We have photographed two weddings so far and we love everything about this gurdwara as a photographer. The building and the committee members are great to work with. Lighting inside the gurdwara is whiter if that is something you like. There is lot of natural light coming from the side and back windows which give a very fresh feel to the images. Gurudwra does allow catering from outside.
Cons – This gurdwara might be a bit far for couples if you are on the East side of Toronto. Roughly budget 45 mins from Square One Mississauga to get there on a Saturday.
Average Cost of booking is about $1200-1500; this does not include langar. Outside catering is permitted to serve langar requirements.
We’d like to take an opportunity to apologize in advance if the content shared within has given offense. We have the utmost respect for all gurdwaras as a place of worship. Our primary goal in writing this piece is to educate brides and grooms of the various options available to them and the pros and cons strictly from a photography perspective.
As a photographer, our favorite picks have been Ebenezer, Nanaksar, Scarborough and Malton Gurdwaras.
Also, check out blog on the 5 Things to Improve your Sikh Wedding Photography at the Gurdwara.