By Preeti Moberg, The Big Fat Indian Wedding
If you are a planning your first Indian wedding, there are probably a myriad of questions flying through your head. And you are probably also feeling a little overwhelmed by the complexity, length, and sheer size of the wedding.
That is okay. Indian weddings, and any South Asian wedding, are overwhelming. There is a joke that if you haven’t done an Indian wedding, you haven’t won the Hunger Games. Indian weddings are overwhelming for anyone involved in it, the bride, the groom, the families, the vendors, even the first-time Indian wedding guests. There is so much color, so many details, rich cultural history, long poojas (prayers), and lots of food.
So first, breathe. Take a deep breath and know that it will all be okay. Now, it’s time to begin educating yourself on some of the Indian wedding “must-knows:”
The Religion & Culture
First thing first. To throw an “Indian” wedding is to really throw a wedding that is specific to a religion, a region, a group, and a tribe of Indians. Know where your clients hail from and take notes on what kind of wedding traditions are particularly important to them.
Families are everything in Indian weddings as a wedding is NOT between two people, but instead, between two families. When it comes to financing the Big Day, different family members typically pay for different components of the wedding. If the couple wants to exert more decision-making in the planning process, then they will pay for most of the events. With Indian weddings, the family will want to be involved throughout the process, and clashes may pop up so it’s imperative that you put on your peacemaking cap to navigate everyone to amicable solutions.
An Indian wedding will most likely be one of the largest events you will plan. An average reception is 400-800 people, and an average wedding ceremony is 150-400 people. It is vital you work with vendors that understand these large sizes and have had experience working with them. You will also need to think about more room reservations, lots more food and drinks, more children guests, more favors, more photographers. More, more, more.
You can drop the American wedding palettes of “blush and bashful.” While there will be some brides who want a modern, western look, you will mostly encounter brides and families who want color, and lots of it. You’ll find that some brides already have a color theme in mind but for those who don’t, consider steering them towards a bright color palette.
There are many more events than just the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, and the reception, and with that comes additional considerations. The baraat, for example, is the groom’s entrance for the wedding ceremony. Families love to get a horse, elephant, or a fancy car for the event and some even want city blocks closed down. Get all the permits and approval in order well in advance.
Additionally, there is also the real issue of Indian Standard Time, in which events start 1-2 hours later than the posted time. With this, you will need to buffer time into events, while also working with the families to ensure they get their guests there on time.
As with any ethnic groups, Indians have a variety of dietary restrictions. You need to discuss what restrictions there are for *each* event and ensure that the off-limit items are nowhere to be found. Many hotels are caterers today under the food restrictions of Indians, but check twice.
Some events may also be alcohol free. This is your time to come up with tasty, refreshing mocktails to serve.
These are just a few things for you to remember when planning your first Indian wedding. Do your due diligence by going online and asking veteran wedding planners for their advice, and don’t be afraid to ask the couple questions as well. The more confident you are about the event, the better it will run.
And remember, take a deep breath and have fun!
Preeti Moberg is the founder of The Big Fat Indian Wedding, an online bridal resource that inspires with South Asian Wedding traditions, trends, fashion and real weddings.