When a couple decides to get married, the first and most difficult question that pops up is whether to have a big or a small wedding. Some of the common factors that influence every couple’s decision are — budget, number of guests, venue and available dates to plan a wedding. But when you belong to the Indo-Canadian community another factor is added to the list — the extraordinary big circle of friends and relatives.
But when Manjot Singh Hallen and his wife Careena Sharma decided to get married, none of those things mattered. Their decision to have a big fat Indian wedding was based on just one factor — the love and gratitude they had for their family and friends.
Manjot is a lawyer by profession and a partner with Warnett Hallen law firm. He is no less than a celebrity in British Columbia. He is also the president of the Liberal Party of Canada (BC). Coming from a well-respected Punjabi Sikh family that has been settled in the Lower Mainland since the early 70s, Manjot did not rush to get married at an early age. He took his time, found a girl he loved and decided to marry in his 30s. Although his wife belongs to the Hindu faith, it wasn’t difficult for them to get the consent of their families – “they were just happy that we were getting married and wanted to celebrate this joyous occasion,” he says.
Their wedding was a grand affair with celebrations that continued for a week and a budget that ended up exceeding one hundred thousand dollars. Manjot notes, “Big weddings are a part of the fabric of our Indian culture. My family has been settled here for a very long time and given the number of contacts they have made, it would have been impossible to have a small wedding.” Although he says “we looked at multiple options for the kind of wedding we wanted, including one much smaller than what we ended up with. We even considered having a destination wedding, but given the sheer number of people in our guest list, it would have been impossible.”
He says for him and his family, his wedding was a day his parents had been thinking of and planning for a long time. Saying “we wanted to include our entire family and circle of friends in our celebrations, so we ended up having a wedding with more than 600 guests.”
The couple did not hire a wedding planner for their big day, “my wife took the lead and I am surprised and amazed how she pulled everything off in such a short amount of time.” The most fascinating part of their wedding was the ceremony. Manjot recalls there being 300 guests in attendance at the time of ceremony. He notes that, “a lot of our guests did not belong to either the Hindu or Sikh religion, so we decided to prepare a wedding pamphlet for our guests which explained the rituals.”
The reception took place at Aria Banquet hall in Surrey. Manjot says there was so much love and warmth in the room that every penny was worth spending. He says, “We had a great turnout and since we loved our guests, nothing held us back — we had a robot for entertainment, served great wine and good food. At the end we were happy with the way everything went and are glad that we did not limit the number of guests that came to celebrate our special day with us.”