10 things you can experience when you attend Indian wedding

Three years back, when I landed in Delhi for the first time, I had many plans during my stay. Attending Indian wedding was one of the things on my list. I didn’t know how to go further about it when I just came, but life gave me a chance to meet some good friends in India who made my dream come true. Later on I have discovered that invitation is not the criteria to join the wedding.

I was part of several weddings among which were both family/close circle marriages and those with orchestras and fireworks. On the certain point, they all look like a scene from Bollywood movies I used to watch in childhood. It’s very interesting and surprising how many things you can experience & learn if you attend Indian wedding. Here are some highlights:

Tasting anything and everything of the Great Indian cuisine

Popular Indian dishes

One of the reasons people come to the wedding is awesome food! After attending the first wedding, I totally justified this. North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Continental. If the wedding is organized by any Indian middle-class family, you will find almost everything in the menu. For a few moments, I got an impression of a qualitative food festival.

People are talking to each other about politics, clothes or food. From time to time there interfere location questions: “From where have you got this Chaat in your plate?” And everyone is happy to provide a comprehensive instruction: “Chaat stall is next to the chola Bhatura one, behind the Beverage section. Go fast or it may get over”. After a good two hours of tasting yummy dishes of different cuisines, we were about to enter into a food coma. That was the very moment when hosts invited the guests to come inside the hall for the main course. Apparentely we were hanging out around snacks stalls that occupied some 100 meters of the yard. The main course occupied somewhat similar space only in the hall.  There were many varieties of curry and breads. Did I mention there were also deserts after these? Apparently I and my friend (who was also a foreigner) were the only people who had a problem about the food quantity.

Buffet Food is the only place where everyone respects the line

All the weddings I’ve attended had dinner in a buffet style. Each buffet had around 15-20 main course items, accompanied by a variety of breads, salads and 7-8 types of sweets. This is the only place I found in India where people respect lines and follow etiquette. In any other situation, be it a bus stand, railway station or even McDonalds, the fastest and the strongest wins.

Everyone is so colorful and bright 

wedding dress anarkali with friends

Though I admire the colorful Indian clothes, wearing them on a regular basis is not my cup of tea. Wearing a saree or other traditional clothes is neither easy nor comfortable for a person who likes to move a lot. There comes an additional foreigner factor that catches more staring looks from the people around. Weddings come to the rescue. This is the time where you take out the best piece from your wardrobe and fulfill your dream of wearing traditional dress without being stared. Since all the women are wearing their best dresses on the wedding, at times it gives a feeling of a fashion competition.

Do not become favorite of a Wedding Photographer

OMG! There are so many photographers at the weddings that you feel like on a press conference. Once the photographers are done with bride and groom, they search for their favorites among guests. Though they take photographs of everyone, there are selected few people who are photographed while doing almost everything. Try not to fall into this category 🙂

Marriages don’t happen in one day

Marriages in India are generally 3-day events with different functions both day and night. If you are a girl, there is no way you can come in the same suit two days in a row. As if this is the only reason you work and earn money, so you can spend on new clothes and jewelry for each event. In my case, I was lucky to borrow dresses from my friends 😉 Cool and light for a pocket.

All Indians can Dance and you are out of place

It is amazing how everyone in India has a natural feel of rhythm in their body. Their shoulders are moving up and down fully synchronized with the beats of any song. People dance when a groom is on the horse, they dance during the wedding and they dance after it. You may have heard many times India discriminates against women, but on the dance floor, everyone is equal. Uncles, aunties, youngsters, kids – all are ready to show their killer moves. If you are a foreigner, no matter how good you dance in the West, you will not be able to compete with Indians. Nevertheless, many local people are happy to teach you some core moves. It will look embarassing in any case, though everyone will be happy that you try to learn local moves. Sometimes it also seems everyone has rehearsed the dance before the event. If you have a descent knowledge of Bollywood songs, you will recognize many moves on the dancefloor.  Though my Indian friends claim they haven’t ever attended a dance class, I’m still doubting that.

Creating traffic jam while groom is riding a horse is acceptable for everyone

queue

Baraat on my street

Traffic jams are common in India. On the wedding days, jams get worse. In baraat (groom riding a horse from his home to the wedding venue and people accompanying him) people are in the party mood. They keep dancing on the road followed by drum band music. Surprisingly all the cars stop and patiently wait. Some people even join the rhythm! It’s so amazing that people keep dancing the whole evening without getting tired. It adds a drive to the event!

Extended Families of India extend very far

In Europe, weddings are mostly a personal affair with few friends and family members. In India also… with the only difference that friends, acquaintances, relatives fall into family category and come to 100 people from paternal and maternal side. This results in 6-700 people in a wedding. My friend shared an interesting information, that they invite around 2000 guests, as only 25% of them will make it to the wedding.

Stealing shoes of a groom is a tradition

I was always from the groom’s side, so I was not on the mission to steal grooms shoes. I don’t know the logic behind this tradition, but it is something funny and adds flavor to the proceedings. If the groom wants to get his shoes back he needs to buy them out from the bride’s friends.

Dearth of money in India is a myth

The amount of money spent by people on weddings in India has changed my perception of Indian wealth. If you ever hear someone from a middle class Indian family saying they don’t have money, it means they don’t have money other than $50-60,000 saved for the wedding. It’s true that people in India spend a lot on education and marriages, but when they organize ceremonies, they look like a movie scene!

What about you? What is your experience on Indian weddings? Share your view 🙂

  • When we were in Agra, it was “wedding season” and it was fascinating just watching the processions! I can only imagine how amazing it would have been to actually attend one, this sounds like such an amazing cultural experience!

    • Thank you for sharing! Indian weddings do look like a Bollywood movie on one point or another. If you visit again, try to join a wedding) There will be many local people happy to welcome you)

  • Christina Pfeiffer

    When I was last in Rajasthan, it was wedding season and couples dressed up in beautiful clothes were everywhere. It was almost like being in a Bollywood movie. Did you know that in India, they always consult an astrologer before getting married?

    • Thank you for sharing, Christina. Astrology was one of my biggest cultural shocks in India. It is popular for almost every core area of life whether it’s education, love, career or family. I met a couples who split because their horoscopes didn’t match, though in bigger cities there are more liberal views on this topic)

  • I haven’t had that much experience with Indian weddings other than one I attended in London a number of years ago. It was an epic event with plenty of food and dancing and traditions that made me feel very out of place. I love learning how other cultures do things, and certainly a wedding should be a cause for amazing celebrations!

    • Thank you, Ali for sharing! I agree that local wedding is one of the experiences to get a better feel of a local culture)

  • I never been to an Indian wedding, they sound like an exciting event. Colorfu clothing and the great selection of food sound amazing. The stealing of the grooms shoes is a little strange but all in good fun. 2-3 days I cannot imagine I find an all day event long enough.

    • Indian weddings are quite hectic in terms of a program because it is stuffed with different “mini” events in which people have to take part)) I recommend this experience to get a different feel of a local culture)

  • Megan Claire

    Being invited to an Indian wedding is my dream! Is there a tradition of the wedding crasher there too? 😀

    • Haha. Not sure how Indian weddings work abroad, but if you visit India, there will be local people happy to take you with them on the wedding and explain you about different rituals)

  • gosh how lucky are you! It all looks quite wonderful

    • Thank you. Indian weddings are truly spectacular)

  • I’ve never been to an Indian wedding. The closest I’ve come was watching the move”Bend It Like Beckham”. An Indian wedding sounds like a seriously good party and spectacle.

    • I haven’t seen this movie, though I agree with you) Indian weddings are a great and lavish experience!

  • Girl Unspotted

    It’s such a dream of mine to attend an Indian wedding! I love this little glimpse of what to expect!

    • This dream is so real if you visit India. Indians are very kind and welcoming people who are ready to explain in detail traditions and rituals)

  • GeekGirlGoes

    I’ve only ever seen Indian weddings in movies, but they always looked so spectacular! Seems like the movies might have been right about something – for once!

    • That’s true. All Indian weddings look at the certain point like a colorful movie (at least for us foreigners).

  • I must admit i’m not a huge fan of weddings but i’ve always wanted to go to an Indian wedding. They’re so colourful and look like so much fun

    • They are) If you visit India during winter season there will be a high chance to join one of the weddings (or more)

  • Fascinating! I haven’t been to India and I know the country from the stories, but this is how I would imagine an Indian wedding – very colourful 🙂

    • It truly is) I recommend this experience)

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