When Should We Get Married?

Many Hindu wedding dates are set not by the couple’s preferences and after consultation with their college football team’s fall schedule, but by a Hindu priest. Traditionally, wedding dates were recommended by a Hindu priest based upon the couple’s zodiac signs, specific birth dates, and potentially even their families’ respective castes.

Today, some couples still adhere to this tradition, while sticking to weekend dates for maximum guest attendance. Religious holidays are always particularly popular dates, as it seems that most couples’ stars align on those days.

Antarpat

The antarpat is an opaque cloth, usually a dupatta or shawl, used as part of a Hindu wedding ceremony. Akin to the veil worn by a bride in a Western wedding ceremony, the antarpat is held between the bride and groom as the bride walks down the aisle, so neither the bride nor the groom can see each other during the processional.

As the bride approaches the groom, the people holding the antarpat will pivot so the bride and groom don’t catch a glimpse of one another. The bride and groom then stand on opposite sides of the antarpat as the priest begins the wedding, eagerly awaiting their first glimpse of one another on their wedding day. At the designated moment, the priest will ask for the antarpat to be lowered, and the bride and groom will see each other for the first time.

Who holds the antarpat? It depends. Most of the time we see male relatives of the bride and groom playing this role, probably because (1) it’s hard to hold the antarpat for the entire processional and (2) you need tall people to hold the antarpat at a level that blocks both the bride and groom from being able to see one another. If you have a brother or cousin you’d like to include in your wedding somehow, this is a nice way to honor them.

Like most things in Hindu weddings, this is an optional addition to the ceremony. It is more common in modern weddings as a way to inject some fun and drama into the occasion, especially as brides and grooms are less frequently covering their faces during the wedding ceremony and could therefore easily see one another without this handy screen.

Creative Approaches to the Joota Chori

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:

  1. Steal the bride’s shoes, too! Barter — shoes for shoes — instead of demanding money.
  2. Give the groom Monopoly money to use as he barters.
  3. Ask the audience if they can chip in to help the cause.
  4. Donate proceeds from the ceremony to the couple’s honeymoon fund, or to their favorite charity.
  5. Groom: go barefoot! (Pay the sisters a token ransom anyway.)
  6. Offer up jewelry or thoughtful gifts to the sisters in lieu of cash.
  7. Host the negotiation as the groom enters the wedding reception . . . barefoot.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Why does the groom get to have all the fun? Steal the groomsmen’s shoes, too!
  11. 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.
  12. 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?

What Kind of Mehndi Design Should I Choose?

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.

Pantone Color of the Year: Greenery

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?

Dinner Time

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.

Hosting a candy bar as your late-night munchie? Don’t forget scoops for people to serve themselves!

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!

Indian Wedding Gift Idea: Cookbooks

Most of us first-generation Indian American children of immigrants have fond memories of waking up to the smell of paranthas or dosa cooking in the kitchen, coming home to fresh rajma or sabudana, and finishing off big Indian meals with homemade Indian sweets. We went to school with ICM (Indian Chex Mix) in our lunchboxes instead of Little Debbie cakes. We want kichadi when we’re feeling sick. We know that “salad” can mean chopped cucumbers and tomatoes sprinkled with lime juice and chaat masala.

But guess what: Many of us never learned how to cook the food that our mothers and grandmothers made for us at home. Maybe it was a lack of interest, or lack of skill, or lack of invitation. Or maybe it was all of the above. But now that we’re grown up, living away from our parents, and thinking about raising a family of our own, we want to learn how to make Indian food. And we want to be GOOD at it.

Enter the Indian cookbook. These books are a good introduction to Indian cooking for the beginner Indian chef, or a nice consolidated recipe list for someone who has a range of dishes in their head but sometimes needs a refresher. Plus, the pictures are beautiful, and the sentiment behind the gift is heartfelt. Buy one or all for your Indian bestie getting hitched, or even for someone who isn’t Indian but loves to play around with spices in the kitchen.

Perfect for someone who wants a start-to-finish Indian cookbook, with one place to find all of their favorite recipes.

Indian food is not just a bunch of curries! This is a great option for someone looking to expand their cooking horizons.

Indian food is known for its robust flavor and spices. It takes time to develop those flavors, and that’s why so many of us rely upon slow cookers to make our Indian meals. This cookbook has a slew of recipes just for your slow cooker — perfect for your friend who works 80 hours a week but still wants to channel her inner Padma Lakshmi in the kitchen.

Simple and classic, just like your sorority sister who always has a pristine kitchen despite putting turmeric into basically everything.

Vegan. Need we say more?