Your First Indian Wedding: How Long Are These Things, Anyway?

Q: I’ve heard that Indian weddings are really long. How long are we talking?

A: Indian weddings usually involve three days of festivities. Just like with most weddings, you may be invited to all events, or just one or two. If you are invited to all events, prepare to be amazed! Three days is a fun marathon of celebration.

Day one usually involves small celebrations by the groom’s family and the bride’s family, separately. The bride’s family will probably host a henna or mehndi party, which may be ladies-only.

Day two will include a wedding rehearsal and probably some sort of cocktail party or rehearsal dinner, which is usually referred to as a sangeet.

Day three is the wedding ceremony and reception. The wedding ceremony can be long — we’ve seen ceremonies as long as three hours before — but most modern ceremonies are much shorter. Expect to be there for 30 minutes to an hour. There are usually refreshments before, after, or even during the ceremony. Because of the length of the ceremony, people might get up and walk around, or even chat with one another during the ceremony. This is considered poor manners, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. We once saw someone answer their cell phone during a wedding ceremony — don’t be that person.

Days one and two are usually weekdays, so request your vacation time now! Because of their length, many Indian couples prefer to schedule their wedding ceremonies for long weekends, so Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, and Thanksgiving Weekend are the most popular times for a wedding.