Asian, African and Caribbean Weddings Toastmaster
I am experienced in and enjoy looking after all types of Asian weddings whether Sikh, Hindu Punjabi, Hindu Gujarati...as well as Chinese, Malaysian, African & Caribbean. Unfortunately I do not know enough about the procedures of Muslim Weddings, so at this stage I can't offer my services at weddings from this religion.
I understand that no two Asian weddings are ever the same so it is therefore vital that a meeting is arranged with the side of the family that is engaging me; to discuss all the details.
Below are the traditional procedures for each type of wedding. However....I never judge people or try and fit them into pre-determined categories. Just because you follow a certain religion, it doesn't mean you will want the same as everybody else; so I will respect your individuality and help you to tailor a day that meets your wishes.
Thanks for reading,
Procedures for a Sikh wedding:
Usually they start in the morning with the Milni (the ‘welcome’). This normally starts between 9am & 10am (but as you know they are not always punctual). The bride’s family receives the bridegroom and his family - the Baraat. The priest will offer blessings (Ardas) and after the blessings, the Milni names are called. The bride’s family will then offer gifts to the bridegroom’s family. This is followed by morning tea/samosas/pakoras and Indian sweets. The Milni may take place at the Gurdwara (temple) or at the same venue as the reception.
The reception (which can take up to 3 hours):
After the ceremony the guests make their way to the reception. At this time the bridegroom goes for a shower and shave and to change into a normal suit. When he and his bride arrive at the reception I will announce them into the Banqueting Suite. Sometimes they wish to come in alone, or they may ask for their parents and other close family members to form a procession and enter the room with Indian (dohl) drummers ahead of them all.
Indian functions can be very vibrant and some Brides can find a little intense; but in a good way! As Toastmaster I will always speak with the DJ beforehand and let him know what I am going to do, because I will need his help and his microphone. It is very possible that quite a few of the older Indian guests will not speak English and the DJ can help me by repeating what I say in Hindi or Punjabi.
On entering the Banqueting Suite, the sequence will usually be as follows:
1 Cutting of the cake; with photos & Speeches and Toasts.
2 First dance.
3 Sagan (blessings) on the dance floor.
4 DJ starts the dancing.
5 Roty (the fathers’ meal).
6 Main course and dessert.
7 Guests begin to depart (doli)
In most cases, the starters will have been served before the arrival of the bride and bridegroom.
I find speeches are rare, but they do occasionally take place and are of course most welcome. Families often ask me to say a few words of welcome and propose one to three toasts to the bride and bridegroom, their parents and absent friends & families; which I normally do straight after the cutting of the cake.
The Hindu Punjabi wedding:
These sometimes start in the morning and are similar to the start of a Sikh wedding in that there is a Milni; which either I can perform or help Pundit Ji with this task. After the Milni I will direct your guests for morning tea.
When Pundit Ji is ready I will ask everybody to take their seats for the ceremony itself.
The Hindu ceremony is performed in a Mandap and consists of 17 stages. A fire is made, which is the focal point of the ceremony...shoes are not permitted in the Mandap.
As the Toastmaster, I take no part in the ceremony itself but at the end, I may have to announce to the guests what is happening next and invite people up to offer their blessings. This is where some people will come forward and passes money around the heads of the bride and bridegroom before placing it into a bowl or on the laps of the Bride or Bridegroom; a photo is normally taken by the photographer from the boys and girls side.
This is normally followed by a drinks reception, which is also the time when the remainder of the guests who weren’t invited to the ceremony begin to arrive. At this time the catering staff are usually finishing off the banqueting suite and the DJ is setting up. I always make sure I speak to the DJ as they are not always briefed and they can sometimes just do their own thing. It is usually the boys side that organize the DJ.
When the caterers are ready; the following usually takes place:
I can announce the parents into the room (or arrange for them to be waiting at the top table).
I will then announce the bride and bridegroom and more often than not accompanied by the dohl drummers.
We can then cut the cake and perform the cake feeding ceremony...I would recommend just close family members or it could take a long time.
Starters are then served followed immediately by the speeches (or Toasts by me if you prefer) and then the first dance. These types of details can be discussed and arranged when we meet before the day itself; as your Toastmaster, my job is normally over after the first dance.
The Hindu Gujerati wedding
Gujerati weddings are very similar to Hindu Punjabi, but one of the differences is that they do not usually have a Milni – they usually have a reception line. Again the bride’s family are the hosts and are always there first. As the bridegroom and his family (the Baraat) arrive they are introduced and then have refreshments. Sometimes when the Baraat arrives, the Pundit performs a simple ceremony called the Puja, which is a form of blessing for the bridegroom. Refreshments are followed by the Jaimala (garland between bride and groom) and then the ceremony in the mandap. After the ceremony I may have to announce the drinks reception, and call the families for photographs.
Sometimes it is just the bride and bridegroom that are announced into the banqueting suite or sometimes the family are to be announced, or enter as a family procession (with drummers) following by the the cutting of the cake & speeches etc.
Hindu Gujerati weddings can be more religious than the Hindu Punjabi. Traditionally they are usually less exuberant; and most guests might be vegetarians and drink very little alcohol...but times are changing so I will alter my services accordingly.
Here are just two short references from Hindu Punjabi weddings:
Colin was excellent from start to finish a true professional. He provided toastmaster services for my sisters wedding on Sunday 8th March 2015 at Epsom Downs Racecourse. He managed to control a raucous crowd of around 500 people throughout the whole day. Whilst it was challenging at times he communicated very well and kept in touch with me throughout the event from morning to evening. If you have a Asian wedding and need a true professional this is the man to hire. A 5* service throughout, well executed and very reasonably priced as well. All the people who attended the wedding spoke very highly of him and appreciated his attendance.
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your support on our wedding day, (Hindu Punjabi for 350 guests). You made our day run so smoothly and we had so many comments from guests on how great and professional you were.
Thank you so much, I hope we meet again at a future wedding, I will definitely be recommending you to others :)