1. You’ll see more than 300 people at the wedding.
Indian weddings tend to become these large events where people that you haven’t spoken to in 5 years are still invited. Don’t neglect your loved ones from attending such a joyous event, but it is okay if you don’t invite your father’s 2nd cousin’s daughter’s son. Weddings are expensive, and you’re paying for each guest attending your wedding. Realistically, who’s there for you and who’s there for the open bar?
2. The gifts are usually extravagant.
Traditionally, the bride’s family gives multiple sets of gold jewelry. Back in the day, girls were married off young to a man that they hardly knew, in a society where women were considered powerless. The jewelry was known to be a financial source of security during hard times. However, the most essential present a parent can give in today’s society to their daughter would be the lessons of love, independence, and value of life. When you receive such a priceless gift, the amount of jewelry or that fancy car you receive on your wedding day becomes meaningless.
3. You’ll see lavish decorations
Indian weddings always have gorgeous decorations strewn everywhere. It’s basically Pinterest’s wildest dream gone rogue. At the end of the day, though, do not compare what your wedding looked like with anyone else’s. (10 years from now, no one will remember what type of centerpiece you had at each table, or how exotic your wedding cake was.)
4. Clear your schedule, it’s a 3-day celebration!
So start saving your vacation days and set your out-of-office email accordingly.
5. There will be a hand-decorating party.
One of the events hosted is a mehndi party. Mehndi is put on the bride and other females attending the wedding. In the Indian culture, it is said that the deeper the color, the stronger the love the groom has for the bride.
6. You will see people wear a new outfit for each event.
Even though you might not typically wear the same thing three days in a row, you’ll still need new clothes for each different event on each different day, and you’ll need different accessories to match every outfit for each event. By the time both of my sister’s weddings were over, either my ears were hurting from heavy earrings, there was at least one or two red scratch marks on my body from taking the outfit off, my head was hurting from the various hairstyles with hundreds of bobby pins, or my feet were hurting from the heels and/or uncomfortable champals. There is such a thing as too many outfit changes. Trust me.
7. You can’t please everyone.
At every Indian wedding, you will meet that group of complainers who were not satisfied with something. Maybe the food was awful, the DJ played terrible music, they got stuck all the way in the back of the room and couldn’t see the bride and groom, or they had to pay for their own accommodation to attend the wedding — the list can go on and on. Keep in mind planning a wedding is hard and expensive, be supportive to the couple for their special day.
8. The wedding ceremony is almost 2 hours long.
The ceremony is absolutely beautiful, but sometimes it’s painful to sit through because you might not know what the Indian priest is saying. After 30 minutes, you will see guests starting to get up and walk around. I’ve noticed this to be quite rude because no one is watching the bride and groom get married. I attended one Indian wedding where there was an announcement made for all the guests to use the restroom prior to the ceremony beginning because no one was allowed to get up to wander. This was a brilliant idea, and the ceremony was done within an hour — win-win.
9. Someone will steal the groom’s shoes.
On the day of the wedding, this gets serious. Traditionally, the groom’s family tries to protect the groom’s shoes, while the bride’s side of the family tries to steal them. In some cases, this turns into a battlefield. I’ve seen bridesmaids get their outfits torn and hair/make-up ruined in the process of stealing the shoes from the groom’s family.
10. Someone will always mention, “You’re next in line.”
This is the most annoying statement aunties and uncles can tell someone who isn’t married. When my sister got married, that’s the only thing I heard: “you are next in line”. I am not speeding up my life even if I’ve met “the one”. The best is when you are attending an Indian wedding, and an auntie comes up to you with the entire biographical history of another individual that is at the same wedding. Can you say awkward? Let the natural attraction between two people happen on its own, rather than having these older adults cornering you listing all the facts of how the other person comes from “such a great family.”
11. There are buffet style meals aplenty.
Indian weddings usually have endless amount of selections to choose from when it comes to eating. However, since there are so many people attending these weddings, the line is always long. Sometimes you feel like you’ve been waiting on the line forever, but can’t figure out why the line isn’t moving forward. Well, it’s because all these aunties and uncles are cutting the line!
12. You’re going to wind up in some unflattering photos.
Photography and videography are long lasting memories for everyone. As a guest, I’ve always had the honor of being captured in wedding videos and pictures of me inhaling food, and there have been cases where I’ve had noticeable kheer on the side of my lips or something stuck in my teeth. I understand videographers and photographers take videos and pictures of each and every moment, but the world does not need to see me stuffing my face. It sometimes defeats the purpose of enjoying good food.
13. Receptions can turn into a drag.
There is no set guideline of what should be done at a wedding reception, but more than 2 dances and/or 2 speeches turns into a nuisance. People start spacing out, become impatient, and start talking to the people at their table, which becomes impolite. When I see 5 dance performances at an Indian wedding reception, I feel like I’m watching “So You Think You Can Dance”.
14. Please control your children!
I cannot tell you how many Indian weddings I’ve been to where there’s always that one adorable toddler that starts walking around the bride and groom or showing off their cutesy dance moves while the couple is having their first dance. It’s definitely cute and all, but let the couple shine for 5 minutes and hold onto your child because at this time no one is looking at the bride and groom, they’re taking pictures of the kid.
15. Everyone can dance!
Indian weddings tend to have the best parties once the dance floor opens! A mix of old school and new Indian and American music is played. Everyone is on the dance floor breaking it down — including the uncles and aunties! Even if you can’t dance, as long as your hands are in the air, and your hips are swaying back and forth, side to side, it’ll look like you’re having the time of your life.
Growing up as an Indian-American, I’ve seen Indian weddings have a mix of American and Indian traditions combined. I love the Indian culture, and Indian weddings are known for their fun atmosphere, but I also feel like Indian weddings have turned into an event with lavish exhibitions and pretentious displays of jewelry and gifts, that the union of two human beings have turned into a minor detail. I’m not against Indian weddings, but let’s keep in mind whether you are hosting a wedding or attending as a guest, it is not a competition or opportunity to flaunt your exaggerated status. That being said, welcome to a big fat Indian wedding!