Occasionally we have brides ask us whether their mehendi on their hands (and feet) needs to match. Meaning, if you have a design on your left hand, does your right hand need to mirror that design?
Looking for a fun twist on the Indian shoe-stealing ceremony (joota chori or joota chupai) between the groom and his new sisters-in-law? Here are some creative approaches we’ve seen in practice:
- Steal the bride’s shoes, too! Barter — shoes for shoes — instead of demanding money.
- Give the groom Monopoly money to use as he barters.
- Ask the audience if they can chip in to help the cause.
- Donate proceeds from the ceremony to the couple’s honeymoon fund, or to their favorite charity.
- Groom: go barefoot! (Pay the sisters a token ransom anyway.)
- Offer up jewelry or thoughtful gifts to the sisters in lieu of cash.
- Host the negotiation as the groom enters the wedding reception . . . barefoot.
- Choreograph a dance for your bridal party to the classic song, Joote De De, Paise Le Lo, with the groom as part of the grand finale.
- Same-sex wedding? Everyone can get in on the shoe-stealing fun. Both brides, or both grooms, can wind up shoeless and engaged in a footwear negotiation.
- Why does the groom get to have all the fun? Steal the groomsmen’s shoes, too!
- When the groom makes his first pass at the return of his shoes, offer him child-sized shoes in exchange. As the dollar amount of his offer increases, so does the size of the shoes he can buy, until he offers a dollar amount satisfactory to the sisters, who will then give back his actual shoes.
- Like #11, but with women’s shoes instead of the groom’s shoes. Stilettos, anyone?
Have you seen other fun options for how to make the shoe stealing an event that all guests will enjoy?
Mehndi is a fun treat for special occasions, like Indian weddings and big Hindu holidays. Because we don’t get to wear it often, it can feel like a feast-or-famine situation, where you decide you want full-on henna on both hands, front and back, anytime you get the chance.
And you know what? We’re totally fine with that.
But because our opportunities to apply mehndi to our hands are limited, sometimes we want to explore our options. What, you didn’t know there were options? There are different types of mehndi patterns, sometimes called “Arabic,” “Moroccan,” or “traditional,” but the safest bet for finding inspiration for what kind of henna design you want for your hands is to hit the Google machine and find examples of cool designs you like. Most mehndi artists can work from inspiration to create something just for you, or try to copy a design exactly, if that’s what you want.
And, as we hinted to above, you can choose to get henna applied on only one hand or both, on only the front or only the back of your hand (or both), or even on another body part entirely. Usually only the bride has mehndi on her feet, so we’d suggest that you not upstage the bride on her big day by copying her. But we’ve seen people get mehendi on their bicep or their back, and that’s fine, too. Just remember to leave time for drying!
And if you get henna on both hands, front and back, remember that it’s going to be super hard to use your cell phone or eat or go to the bathroom for a few hours. Beauty is pain, y’all.
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.
A tradition unique to Hindu weddings is the stealing of the groom’s shoes. As the bride and groom ascend to the mandap, or wedding altar, they remove their shoes. This is because the wedding ceremony is religious, and Hindus do not wear shoes when conducting religious rituals.
At some point after the groom removes his shoes, the bride’s sisters (or bridesmaids, or cousins, or nieces, or friends — you get the idea) will steal the groom’s shoes and hide them away. In order to get his shoes back, the groom must pay a bounty to the bride’s sisters. The ransom may be a combination of cash, jewelry, and other gifts.
In most cases, the exchange involves negotiation, with each party holding out for the best deal they can get. This is a humorous interlude in the wedding, and a nice break from the seriousness of the ceremony itself after the couple has officially wed. We’ve seen cute adaptations where the groomsmen refuses to wear shoes to the ceremony at all, so the bride’s sisters steal a groomsman’s shoes instead; or where the groomsmen hide away the shoes before the sisters can steal them, only to be foiled in the end by a generous groom who gives the sisters a gift anyway. Approach the “joota chupai” ceremony with a light heart and be prepared to laugh. And if you can, get in on the fun!
We’ve all heard that, when attending an American wedding, you should never wear white (or anything close to white) so as to avoid distracting from the bride’s dramatic color contrast with everyone else at the wedding.
Guess what? You probably shouldn’t wear white to an Indian wedding, either. There are practical reasons for this, chief among them: henna and turmeric, which are both a huge part of Indian weddings and which stain everything in sight a deep red or vibrant yellow. There are also traditional considerations to take into account. In most parts of India, Hindus view white as a color of mourning. Widows and widowers in India often wear only white for the rest of their lives, in honor of their deceased spouse. That’s not exactly the vibe you want to bring to an Indian wedding.
What else should you steer clear of? Anything too revealing, whether that means you’re rocking a miniskirt or a super low-cut top. The wedding ceremony occurs in the presence of the Almighty, and we’re guessing you wouldn’t usually show off your decolletage at church. Also, there are always modest, elderly Indian people there, most of whom seem to have traveled impossible distances just to be present for this wedding. Let’s try not to shock them by displaying your impressive thigh gap. Consider a pashmina if your dress is very low cut.
Lastly, remember that the bride will probably wear red to the wedding ceremony. If you have a choice between red and navy cocktail dresses for the weekend, reserve the red dress for the reception, and opt for navy for the ceremony. Just like in an American wedding, you should try not to detract from the bride on her big day by wearing red (or bright pink) during the ceremony. Brides will usually change for the reception, so you’re clear to wear red for that event.
Pantone’s color of the year for 2017 is “Greenery,” a shade of green so divine that we feel like becoming gardeners just to experience more of it. But the sad reality is that we don’t have green thumbs, and that means we need to turn to retail therapy to get our Greenery fix. Here are our favorite finds that will make your wedding a Greenery-inspired wonderland:
Green earrings are so sweet for your flower girl’s gift, or as a special treat for your bridesmaids.
This glamorous gold and green cuff would be a perfect accessory for your sangeet lehenga.
Do the men in your wedding party feel adventurous? Could you convince them to wear bow ties? Because This. Is. The. Best.
Who says your wedding shoes have to be gold or silver? We like the idea of mixing it up with some studded green sandals.
Scarves are always in style, and infinity scarves are particularly hot right now. These make a lovely gift for the women who attend your mehndi, and bonus: they’re totally affordable!
Bindis are always fun, whether for yourself or as gifts for the women in your life. These sweet green sparkles would liven up anyone’s look!
What’s your favorite way to inject Greenery into your wedding, readers?
“The wedding day is about enjoying yourself and celebrating your love. Don’t stress out and worry over the planning–just enjoy it!”
-K of Confused Desi Bride
Your wedding involves more than just the ceremony where you stand in front of family, friends, and wedding crashers to assert your love for your life partner. It also includes a fair amount of dancing, drinking, and eating — before and after the ceremony, of course. Unless you’re planning a small courthouse affair, you’re probably planning a dinner to follow your Indian wedding.
Overwhelmed at the thought? No need to be! We’re here to help you weigh your options:
(1) Seated dinner or cocktail hour.
Most Indian weddings involve a seated dinner a few hours after the ceremony. That doesn’t mean you have to do it! Are you short on budget, or do you dread the idea of sitting on a stage for 2 hours while your guests watch you eat? Then you might consider hosting a less-formal “cocktail hour” with heavy snacks, drinks, and only a few tables scattered about your venue in lieu of the usual seated dinner.
With a cocktail hour, you also have some freedom to offer food options that wouldn’t usually be available at a traditional Indian meal — do you and your fiancee love shrimp and grits, or wachos (waffle-nachos)? Create a snack bar in the corner with fun toppings and let your guests go to town. We love the idea of using your meal time to inject some whimsy and personality into a very traditional event.
(2) Buffet or served meal.
Most Indian weddings involve buffet-style service, where guests are released table-by-table to fill their plates with delicious delicacies. If you’d like a more formal approach, opt for a served meal instead. You could take this to the nines by hiring white-gloved waiters for a formal dinner service, or just choose a few standard plated Indian meals to provide to your guests. Just remember to accommodate the vegetarians! Remember, if you go for a buffet, you should have signs at each chafing dish that note what is inside.
(3) Wet or dry.
Indian weddings are big, fun affairs, but they don’t always involve alcohol. We know how to party without the aid of liquid courage, after all. When planning your wedding, consider whether you’ll offer alcohol at each event. For example, you might have a dry sangeet but alcohol at your reception. Or you might offer beer and wine at the sangeet, but a full bar at the reception. Choose whatever is right for you and your budget.
(4) Sangeet dinner or cocktail hour.
Same as #1, but for your sangeet. Also consider your guest list: Do you treat this as a rehearsal dinner and invite only your closest friends, family, and members of the wedding party? Do you invite anyone who came from out of town?
This event could be smaller than your wedding reception or the same size — if you go smaller, it’s a good opportunity to cut costs and spend some more one-on-one time with your guests. But inviting the same guest list as your reception doesn’t mean that you have to spend an arm and a leg — you could treat this as a cocktail hour with heavy snacks and save some dough. Whatever you do, just be clear about what will be available food-wise for your guests — you want people to be able to grab a quick bite to eat beforehand if there isn’t going to be a true dinner available at your sangeet.
(5) Post-wedding lunch or snacks.
There’s nothing like an hour-long Hindu wedding ceremony to make your stomach start growling. Some ceremonies will have snacks and chai in the back of the room, with the understanding that guests can leave their seats mid-ceremony to nosh on some goodies. Other weddings won’t have any snacks at all, even pre- and post-ceremony. We’d recommend offering at least some snacks for your guests, especially if you’re hosting an event near lunchtime — steady blood sugar levels make for happy guests!
(6) Special menu for the kids.
Most venues won’t charge you for food for anyone under the age of 12, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for food for those munchkins. Consider whether you want these kids to eat the daal and roti that you’re serving to everyone else, or if you’d like to order a few pizzas just for the little ones.
(7) Late night munchies.
After a full day (or multiple days) of an Indian wedding, and a ton of drinking and dancing, people appreciate the opportunity to nosh on something salty or sweet before they head home. Late night munchies are a relatively recent wedding trend that we totally embrace. Not only do they help ease day-after hangovers, they can also extend a party that might otherwise have died without the aid of carbohydrates and cheese.
You could go simple with some late night pizza, embrace the Indian theme and offer Haldiram’s, or offer up oodles of noodles if that your munchie of choice. If you’re planning your wedding in a town that has a legendary food truck or two, consider arranging for a late-night visit from your favorite food-on-wheels for your guests. Ask your wedding planner to help ensure that only wedding guests are partaking — a ticketing system works well, in our experience.
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!