This session was the first time that I have ever been exposed to Indian wedding traditions and boy was I overwhelmed. An American Indian wedding is steeped in culture, is a bit complicated, but nevertheless beautiful. Therese Cole-Hubbs of Electric Karma and Darryl Murchison of Darryl & Co did an amazing job walking us through the very basics in a very short amount of time. Darryl is a leading decorator and event planner in Houston, while Therese is a expert in Indian weddings (she has designed hundreds and hundred). If you find yourself with your first Indian wedding, have prepared but still feel like you need some guidance, Theresa offers a consulting service to ensure your event is produced without a hitch.
Did you know that the majority of the brides are born in the U.S.? And that the groom is just as important as the bride. For example, for Pooja’s (Puja), both the bride’s and groom’s houses are decorated. Expect to be planning an event for 500 to 1000 guests. Although, as visas are harder to obtain, the guest lists have been trending towards the “smaller” side. Today’s couples now want a more modern feel to their event, but still need to mix traditional into the mix to please the parents. One great example of new American Indian weddings, is that the bride has bridesmaids, which is an American tradition.
The Indian culture is known to be extremely hospital and this will shine throughout the event. Therese even stays at her clients’ homes the week of the wedding to pull it all together seamlessly. Darryl also adds that it is important to have a coordinator involved because there is so much detail, and family members want to have input – it makes the event much easier to manage.
Here are the bare bone basic information that I’m sure is not complete, plus I will have a list of additional resources at the end of the article. Also, please note that I attended another Indian American wedding session at the Event Solutions Idea Factory and will some more great information and insight to share.
- You need to get direction as to whether the couple is Muslim or Christian. If they are Muslim then there is more separation.
- Indians like to eat. Weddings often involve breakfast, lunch, dinner and food gifts. If you are having a morning ceremony that you need to serve lunch and most likely will provide snack bags on the chairs for the ceremony (e.g. peanuts and bottle water). Most dinners are served buffet style and there is a 20-30 minute program (entertainment) during the reception.
- Mehendi party (henna on the hands) – The bride’s is done separate from her party’s since it stays wet for an hour.
- Sangeet night – at the brides house the women play instruments and sing songs and the same happens at the grooms house.
- The Baraat is the important ceremony of the groom to the wedding venue. Many times that groom comes in horse or elephant, but the main thing is that his feet do not touch the ground. The event planner/designer needs to make sure the Bharat route is conducive for loud music and dancing.
- Typically the ceremony takes place on a 12×12 stage.
- Usually you have to have a Ganesh god outside. You will need to ask which one and can rent the one you need from a rental company.
Therese recommends to always be present throughout the wedding. She helps the tables to the buffet , she hands out the favors, and often times right after dinner, people ask for her business cards. Being present and involved with the wedding is a wonderful way to build up your referral business. When marketing your Indian weddings, you want to show value and crescendo with emotion. Don’t forget that you can market your Indian weddings to your American clients.
On a total side note that pertains to any event that you are doing that includes a dance floor – Therese recommends using masonite on the hotel dance floors taped with white vinyl tape. It’s an inexpensive way to create a custom dance floor that can be used 2-3 times before throwing it out or you can put a custom applici on it. The material can be bought at a DIY store like Home Depot or Lowes. Here’s an example of a finished dance floor:
Want to learn more? Here are some additional resources to get started:
Therese and Darryl did a super job talking through the foundations of what it takes to design an Indian wedding. And while I realize that my one small blog article will not get you through everything you need to know, I hope you feel it is a good start. Good luck to you whether you have decided to tackle your first or have planned many Indian weddings!