What to Expect: Mehndi

If you are anything like most Indian brides, dear bride-to-be, you are currently engaged, knee-deep in wedding planning, and ready to start planning your mehndi party, but you have no idea where to begin. Unique to Indian weddings, mehndi parties are one of the hardest parts to plan. What do you need? How much will it cost? How do you find someone who can actually do your mehndi well enough for the big day?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

(1) Decide on a guest list. Ladies only? All of the guests who are invited to the wedding, or just close friends and family?
(2) Set a date. Do you want to host a separate event before your sangeet/wedding, or do you want it to coincide with the sangeet? Remember that your bridal henna will take a long time — probably around 5-6 hours at a minimum. You could plan to have your mehndi done separately before the henna party, so you can mix and mingle with your guests, or you could just start earlier than everyone else on the same day so you’re not stuck performing the statue challenge while your friends and family have all the fun.
(3) Pick a venue. You can choose your home, a neighborhood clubhouse or similar rental space, a restaurant or brewery, or something fancier.
(4) Find your artist. Try the Google machine, of course, but also consider asking around at your local Indian store, or at the local Hindu temple. Using a wedding planner or hair and makeup artist? They might know someone who does mehndi! If you’re not familiar with their work, ask them for some examples of mehndi they’ve done in the past — most henna artists take pictures of their handiwork for this exact reason. You will want more than one artist if you’re hosting the henna at the same time you’re having your own bridal henna done. We would suggest at least 1 artist per 20 guests, in addition to your dedicated artist.
(5) Try it out. We also suggest a trial run in advance, just like your hair and makeup trial or your cake tasting — the henna artist you choose should not be offended at the suggestion. Make sure your trial is far enough in advance of your wedding for the henna to clear from your hands before you start with a clean slate for the big day.
(6) Know what you need. Ask your artist a few questions about their method and what they expect you to provide. Do you have to provide your own mehndi cones, or does the artist have their own? Do you need to have scissors, Vicks VapoRub, lemon juice, sugar, cotton balls, and paper towels on hand? What about folding tables and chairs to accommodate the artist (or artists) and your guests? Do you need pillows to prop up hands and feet being decorated? Remember that doing mehndi for several hours can be a physically difficult task so you want to accommodate your artist! What about sheets or scarves to protect your guests’ clothing and the furniture from stains?
(7) Figure out payment and terms. Most mehndi artists charge per hand (or other body part – arm, foot, back, etc.) they decorate. However, some may have an hourly rate or a flat fee, so ask about how your artist handles pricing. Are there extras you can have included in the cost, like glitter for guests who desire it? Do they have a maximum number of hours they’ll work, or will they stay until every guest has their fill of mehndi time? Do they need you to set aside some time for them to take a meal break? Most brides cover the cost of any mehndi the guests would like to have done, but you can also consider asking your guests to pay for their own mehndi or to pay for special situations, like having mehndi done on both hands (instead of just one) or on both the front and back of their hands. Can you reduce the cost by providing the henna cones or fun extras?
(8) Feed them! You’re probably going to want to plan for food and drink for the mehndi party, especially because your own mehndi will likely take a very long time! Most mehndi events include a meal. (You will also want to plan to have a henna-free friend help you eat!) Do you want this meal to be Indian fare, or do you think that three full days of Indian food will turn you off of cumin and turmeric forever? Will you be serving alcohol? Dessert?
(9) The fun stuff. Do you want to provide gifts for your guests who attend the mehndi? It is traditional to provide small gifts, like bangles or bindis, to your female guests. You can prepare individual treat bags or leave the gifts in a basket by the door for people to take on their way out. Also plan for music, decor, and a photographer. Keep in mind that some families have a tradition of playing a dhol and singing bawdy women’s songs at the mehndi, so you might not need a formal DJ — a Spotify account and some good speakers can fill the gaps if necessary.
Now you are officially armed with the knowledge you need to begin planning your mehndi. Good luck, and have fun!
Do you have other questions we didn’t answer? Contact Us and we’ll answer as soon as we can!
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