An Indian wedding is not done by halves, they’re incredible multi-day celebrations full of love. Indian culture sees marriage as very sacred and believes that marriages are made in heaven and once wed your bond is to last several lifetimes. It’s not only hugely important to the couple involved but to the whole family of each individual.
Marriage is a significant turning point in one’s life. Each practice in an Indian wedding is based on a set of rituals that have a big spiritual significance. A lot of planning and preparation goes into these weddings so it’s important to plan ahead to get it right and know exactly what you want.
So whether you’re looking to throw your own Indian wedding ceremony or you’re a guest attending a wedding ceremony, then we’re here to take you through all the traditions and what you can expect from the celebrations!
If the planning seems overwhelming, you want all the stress taken out of the planning process or you simply want the best suppliers and to be in the know of who to contact – we have worked with couples, including Bollywood couples, to help them plan their dream Indian wedding. We’ll work together to create your dream day based on all your wants and needs and your specific culture and traditions.
Like we said previously, Indian weddings are not done by halves and that is reflected in the guest list. As the event is a big affair, it’s rare for a guest list to be small – so expect a big celebration with family, extended relatives, members of the community and lots of close friends.
It’s very rare for couples to pick their own wedding date. Auspicious dates are chosen for couples based on their birthday, astrological signs and the alignments of the planets and stars. This is so the couple can experience ultimate prosperity and happiness in their marriage.
Picking your wedding location can often feel very stressful. Have a good think about what priorities you need to consider for yourselves and your family. Do you want a five star venue in the heart of London that screams opulence and glamour or do you want somewhere romantic, luxurious and rural – away from the bustle of the city so your wedding is kept private for family, friends and people close to you.
Picking your venue and location is incredibly important and needs to tick all the right boxes and our wedding planners are on hand to help you find the dream venue, help you decorate it exactly how you want it to be and ensure your guests get there safe and everyone has the most memorable day.
We have worked with many couples, including Bollywood stars, to help them plan and experience their dream Indian wedding celebration. Take a look on our instagram.
Indian wedding ceremonies are a real party and can last up to five days but mainly last for around three days. This is the typical schedule for an Indian wedding:
Day One: Ganesh Puja is performed by a priest before the wedding ceremony and the bride’s parents will offer prayer to Lord Ganesh and ask him for blessings before the ceremony so the couple have a happy marriage, this is usually followed by Mehndi/ Sangeet.
Day Two (Wedding Eve): Grah (meaning house) Shanti (meaning peace) is conducted on the evening before the wedding and focuses on bringing happiness and prosperity to the couple. This ritual is performed to ensure that the nine planets are aligned for the bride and the groom to live a happy and prosperous life together. It’s the final step before entering married life.
Day Three: Wedding celebrations, traditions and evening wedding reception
In the UK you will need to marry in a civil register office before an Indian wedding ceremony as they are not recognised by British law, so make sure this is organised beforehand so your celebrations run smoothly.
Mehndi is a wonderful Indian tradition where henna paste is applied on the hands and is said to bring positive spirits and happiness to the couple. Did you know? The darker the mehndi the more in love the couple will be?! This happens the day before the wedding and is organised and held by the bride’s family. Female members from both families will come together to have their hands and feet painted in celebration of the couple.
Sangeet is all about singing and dancing. Both families unite to perform traditional song-dance routines and mingle with one another and the bride’s family will sing folk songs to welcome the groom’s family.
Haldi is another tradition where turmeric is ground to paste and applied to the hands by elderly female members of the family before being washed with sacred water. This is either done the day before the wedding after mehndi, or the morning of the wedding. This ritual wards off any evil spirits and is said to bring couples prosperity for their new life together.
The varying regions will have their own variations on the traditional Indian wedding ceremony but these rituals are the most common that appear at a traditional Indian wedding.
Vara Yatra / Baaraat: This is the arrival of the groom and is a big moment in the wedding ceremony. Guests are divided by relation to the bride and groom. The groom’s side of the family will join the mini parade of live music and dancing. The party is welcomed with akshat (a special rice toss) and the groom is given a plate carrying arati (a lit lamp) and a garland. What makes this tradition so special is the groom may be entering on a white horse or in some weddings, even an elephant.
Varmala: This is the exchange of a flower garland made of gorgeous roses, carnations, marigolds and orchids or other ceremonial items. They represent excitement, happiness and beauty
Mandap: The mandap is a key part of the wedding proceedings and is considered the sanctum sanctorum of wedding rituals, housing the bride, groom and their families for the wedding ceremony. This four poster structure with a canopy symbolises the Hindu belief of the four stages of life, balancing the mind, body and soul and beginning a new life of abundance.
Gau Daan: Gau Daan is a tradition in which gifts are exchanged between the bride and the groom’s families.
Vivaha – homa: This is a sacred fire that is lit in the centre of the mandap and invites the god Agni to be a divine witness of the marriage. Priests will offer sandalwood, ghee, herbs and rice to fire whilst reciting prayers regarding faith to god and staying humble. The bride and groom will repeat any prayers spoken by the priest.
Paanigrahan: This is the ceremony of vows in which the husband holds his wife’s hand and says “I hold your hand in the spirit of Dharma, we are both husband and wife”.
Hasta Milap: Hasta Milap involves tying the groom’s scarf or shawl to the bride’s sari and symbolises the meeting of the two hearts and souls.
Shilarohan: This involves the bride climbing over a stone or rock which symbolises the strength to overcome any difficulties. The bride and groom then slowly walk around the sacred fire four teams, each leading. The husband marks his wife’s hair with Sindoor that shows she is now married!
Sapta-padi: The couple walk and recite vows for food, strength, prosperity, wisdom, progeny, health and friendship. A matrimonial knot is then tied after this ritual.
Surya Darshan & Dhruva Darshan: The couple will look at the sun to be blessed with life and look in the direction of Dhruva (Polar star) for stability.
Ashirvada: Couples are blessed by elder family members and the priest to live a long and prosperous life.
The Bride: It’s all about colour colour colour. At an Indian wedding the bride traditionally might wear a red sari or a modern lengha on her wedding day but many brides now choose from a palette of rich and saturated hues from pastel florals to bright yellow or bold blue all covered in embroidery.
The Groom: Sherwanis are a long sleeved, dress-like top that reaches the knees and is the traditional outfit for the groom. The sherwani is worn over a pair of skinny churidar pants. They normally come in pale gold, maroon or brown and are embellished with embroidery.
The Guests: It’s normally encouraged that most guests will wear traditional Indian dress but make sure you notify guests whether they can either wear Indian dress or western dress.
Like we said before, it’s all about colour. Follow this rule when picking your outfit. Colour adds to the spirit and vibrancy of the celebration so make sure you go bright or go home.
Note: It is advised that you steer clear of red as this is usually the colour that brides wear and also check with the family to see what colours they are wearing to avoid any clashes. Experiment with jewellery and embellishment – bangles, jhumkas, chaand balis and necklaces will really complete any outfit.
Men can opt for kurtas with jackets and churidar pyjamas and matching dupattas if you’re going down the more traditional route or go for sherwanis or jodhpuri jackets with slim fit trousers.
Your food should be a reflection of the rest of the wedding celebrations – rich and lavish. In the UK food choices are North and West Indian dishes.
If the ceremony is religious there will be no meat during the day and will be saved for the evening reception. Food during the day might consist of vegetarian curries, dahl, rice and puris or bathuras, And let’s not forget the samosas and poppadoms with chutney, pickles and Shirkhand Gulba Jamun.
At the wedding reception you can expect canapes and starters as well as a huge sit down meal with dishes of paneer, creamy curries, tandoori meats and deliciously buttery naans. Dessert is also on the cards with cake, kulfi and sweet treats.
Did someone say party time? After the wedding ceremony comes the reception. Expect Bhangra, Bollywood with lots of fun and dancing.
Celebrations also involve speeches from loved ones as well as singing and dancing for the happy couple. A large sit down dinner will take place in the evening with a lot of delicious food and after that, it’s dancing til dawn!
Planning an Indian wedding is a full scale affair and it can seem really overwhelming and at times daunting. Weddings will need to be planned at least a year in advance. If you need help planning an Indian wedding or just have any questions then we are here to answer anything you might want to know!
We’re passionate about creating the best and most beautiful weddings and have great relationships with the best wedding suppliers to make your wedding the one of your dreams – from photography to decoration, supplier management, venue sourcing, transport, guest experience and more, we’ll make sure every aspect of your wedding is planned to perfection.
We want you to enjoy the planning process with us and make it everything you want it to be. Wedding planning should be fun, and you should feel comfortable that you and your guests are all going to have an amazing time. Want to talk about weddings? Message us today.
Planner | Conifer Events
Bride | Anuja Joshi
Groom | Ankur Rathee
Catering | Payal Events
Photographer & Videographer | Ad Media
Flowers | Springbank
Drinks & Bar | Brijwasi
Welcome Drinks | Fabulous Fizz Bar
Violinist | Pete Hartley
Master of Ceremonies | Rik Holmes
Music | Kudos Music
DJ | DJ Amxn
Stationery | Dimitria Jordan
Venue | Hawkstone Hall & Gardens
Staging & Lighting | Stage & Studios
Flooring | Freestretch
Baaraat Horse & Carriage |
Transport | Minsterley Motors
Welcome Evening Catering | Teds Tacos, Cheshire Vintage Fair, Wild Oven, Pietanic
Mehendi | Mani Bassran
Wedding Cake | Sugar Cart Cakes
Dhol Drummers | Baja Beats UK
Falconry | Shropshire Falconry
Pundit | Ram Damle