Respect The Party

Ok, brides and grooms, here’s the deal: yes, it’s an honor to be asked to be part of your wedding party; no, actually being in the wedding party isn’t necessarily all that fun. In the best case, you get to spend a weekend with your best friends, drinking, dancing, and laughing your asses off. In the worst case…you spend a weekend with some people of you kinda know, being told what to wear, where to be, how to stand, with barely any time to catch up with the people you want to catch up with, let alone have a little fun.

Our advice: don’t overburden your wedding party with requirements and obligations. Schedule one or two brief, organized photo shoots, a quick rehearsal, and keep the dress requirements simple. Also, try to schedule some down time with your wedding party to just hang out and catch up. If you can’t do that, at least find a few moments prior to the ceremony to personally thank them for being with you on your special weekend (and maybe even present them with a gift!).

Remember, your wedding party is there to help you celebrate and witness your special day. They are not your concierge service, and not props for your glamour shots. Respect the party!

Wedding Vows and the Indian Wedding

Indian wedding ceremonies are incredible. At their core, they are a collection of beautiful, long-held traditions and religious rituals intended to both sanctify the joining of two people in matrimony and to prepare and bless the couple for their future together. However, most modern Indian wedding ceremonies also find ways to showcase unique aspects of a couple’s tastes or relationship. With the right officiant, they can also combine and include elements of almost every faith tradition.

One part of Western/Christian weddings which have always intrigued us are the vows, particularly vows written by the couple. Now, Indian wedding ceremonies do have vows, in a way, but they are typically a standard set of Sanskrit chants that the couple is prompted by the officiant to say. Usually, the couples and their guests have little sense of what these “vows” actually mean. In most cases, the couple isn’t even sure if they are saying the right words!

We think it’s high time that Indian couples start including their own written vows, spoken in English (or any other language of choice), in their wedding ceremonies. After all the rituals and events and dancing, the whole point of a wedding is to commit two people to each other for life. Wouldn’t it be great if couples could make that commitment in their own words, and in a way that their family and friends and understand?

So we say, go for it! Work with your officiant to find an appropriate time and manner for exchanging your own vows. We think you and your guest will find it meaningful and memorable.

Now comes the hard part: writing the vows! Good luck!

Looking Back: Advice from Sudhir

Especially with big Indian weddings, it’s hard to spend time with, let alone greet, all of your guests. On top of that, many of the guests you may not know or recognize because the relationship is more with your parents than you. Looking back, I wish I had done a better job of going through our guest list and at least trying to make sure I knew something about everyone who was at our wedding. I also wish I had made the effort to spend a little more “quality time” with our close friends. — Sudhir

The Ten Ways People React To Save The Date Cards

1. Single 20-something guys

Game on, broseph. Game on.

giphy

2. Single 20-something gals

Oh god I’m going to die alone.

giphy (1)

3. Guys with a new S.O.

Babe, I’m gonna be on a “work trip” in May. Yes, it’s over Memorial Day weekend. No, I’m serious.

giphy (2)

4. Gals with a new S.O.

Babe, I’d love for you to come with me. No pressure. No pressure.

giphy (3)

5. Guys with a long-term S.O.

Oh god I thought I had a few more years.

giphy (4)

6. Gals with a long-term S.O.

*Starts leaving her ring size on notes all over the apartment*

giphy (5)

7. Engaged couples

THOSE BASTARDS TOOK OUR IDEA

giphy (6)

8. Recently married couples

Whatever, we did it first.

giphy (7)

9. New parents

NOOOOOOOOO

giphy (8)

10. Empty nesters

Game on, broseph. Game on.

giphy (9)

Special Punjabi Wedding Traditions

Roka – traditionally, this ceremony was a meeting of the two families, who exchanged cash and gifts, and then formally gave permission for the couple to meet and discuss marriage. Contemporary couples treat the roka as their engagement ceremony.

Chura – This bridal ceremony is usually held on the morning of the wedding day. The bride’s maternal aunt and uncle present her with a set of bangles to wear during the wedding ceremony.

Haldi – This is a purification ritual performed separately for the bride and groom by their families. Typically, the haldi ceremony occurs a day or two before the wedding.

Jago – This is a fun and festive event that can be seen as the less formal Punjabi version of a more formal sangeet. The word “jago” means “jug,” and during this event friends and family of the couple take turns holding the jago while singing, dancing, and telling jokes.

Sehra bandi – This ritual is performed on the morning of the wedding day at the groom’s family home or accommodation. The groom’s family help his dress in his wedding outfit, particularly the final step of attaching the “sehra” headdress to the groom’s head.

Ghodi Chadna – To ensure the groom’s safe passage to the bride’s town, the groom’s family feeds and adorns his horse (or other transportation), and blesses his travel.

Milni –  The ceremonial meeting of all the men from each of the soon-to-be-wedded couple’s family

Joota chupai – This is a very popular tradition that has been widely adopted across many Indian cultures. Near the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, the bride’s female family members try to steal the groom’s shoes (which he has taken off during the wedding ceremony as required by tradition). Throughout the remainder of the evening, the groom’s family attempts to steal back the shoes. If they are unsuccessful, the groom pays a “ransom” for the shoes at the end of the night.

Ideas for the Baraat (Arrival of the Groom)

The baraat is the symbolic arrival of the groom from his hometown to the site of the wedding. It occurs on wedding day just prior to the wedding ceremony itself. The groom traditionally arrives on horseback, but grooms today are choosing different modes of transportation more in line with their personal style. Consider some of these ideas for your grand entrance:

  1. Go big! Arriving on a elephant will be a moment to remember
  2. Rent an exotic or antique car
  3. Hire a professional dance group to accompany you (even better if you can join them for a routine!)
  4. Go green: environmentally conscious grooms can still arrive in style on a blinged-out cruiser bike
  5. Surprise everyone with a flash mob!
  6. Get loud! Hire a local motorcycle club to escort you to the venue

The Main Elements of an Indian Wedding Celebration

The Mehndi

The bride’s family and friends gather to kick-off the wedding celebrations and bless the bride. The bride and guests have henna designs applied to their arms and hands.

The Sangeet

Typically hosted by the bride’s family and attended by a smaller group of guests, this festive celebration includes musical and dance performances, along with a hearty dinner, to get everyone into the celebratory mood! Couples today are adding unique elements to the sangeet night including a “milni battle,” flash mobs, photo booths, professional mixologists, and more!

The Baraat

The baraat is the symbolic arrival of the groom from his hometown to the site of the wedding. It occurs on wedding day just prior to the wedding ceremony itself. The groom traditionally arrives on horseback, but grooms today are choosing different modes of transportation more in line with their personal style. We’ve seen grooms arrive on elephants, bicycles, by helicopter, by pedicab, and even by boat!

The Ceremony

The wedding ceremony is presided over by an officiant or officiants of the couple’s choosing based on their faith(s) and their preferences. Traditionally, Indian wedding ceremonies could last from a few hours to a few days–not counting the pre- and post-wedding events! These days, however, many couples want to keep the ceremony shorter to keep their guests happy and maintain their own sanity during the hectic weekend.

The Reception

This is the big party! The reception is the second most important event of the weekend (behind the ceremony). Typically, guests are treated to an entertainment program, speeches, dinner, and lots of drinks and dancing. The reception also affords the couple the biggest opportunity to show off their personal style and creativity.

Other Events

More and more, couples are adding unique events to their wedding celebrations to highlight personal interests or to make sure out-of-town guests have a great time. Examples of unique events include visits to local breweries, meals prepared by celebrity chefs, private musical performances, and more!

Pro-tip: Plan Ahead to Avoid Agni Agony

Most Hindu wedding ceremonies require an open flame in an earthenware pot as an integral part of the ritual. This fire, or agni, is a symbol of the Hindu fire god and is a critical element of a Hindu wedding. The saptapadi, or the ritual of the seven steps, is performed by the couple circling the agni seven times in order to consecrate their vows to each other. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is possibly the most important (and well-known) part of the wedding ceremony!

So here’s the pro-tip: Not all wedding venues allow the burning of an open flame. Whether due to venue policy or legal requirement, many venues prohibit the burning of an open flame (larger than a simple wax candle) within their facility. A traditional agni would, in these cases, be a pretty clear violation of such a policy or law. One of the first questions you should ask when shopping for venues is whether or not an agni will be allowed and, if so, whether there are any special rules you’ll have to follow, e.g., keeping a fire extinguisher nearby; notifying the fire department, etc.

Corollary pro-tip: Get explicit permission in your venue contract regarding your ability to have an agni at your ceremony! We have heard of too many last-minute disasters because of this issue.