Growing up as most of us did on a steady diet of mushy Hollywood rom-coms, magical Disney movies and somewhat scandalous romance fiction, every girl imagined walking down the aisle in a pristine white gown, reciting vows and (the most exciting bit) kissing her husband after saying ‘I DO’. The western wedding exuded an aura of fairytale passions and happy endings. And so inspired by these fantasies most little girls (and some boys) began painstakingly planning their own weddings. Every so often, adding or subtracting details here and there as they continued on the journey of life.
The process of starting wedding planning at a tender age didn’t seem at all arduous to children of western families who had no need to bother their tiny-still-developing brains with concerns of race and ethnicity. However for children of Indian descent who were probably stuck channel surfing between The Father Of The Bride and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, it was far more complicated. Back then a loud, colourful, over-the-top Indian wedding and a demure, simple, chic western wedding seemed like chalk and cheese, never destined to combine. It was ridiculous to even imagine a scenario featuring your rather rotund, makhan-malai-loving relatives stuffed into tailored tuxedos and designer gowns without a seam (or 20) ripping apart at the most inopportune moment and ruining everything. Lets not even discuss the snide taunting remarks of grannies, nosy aunties, the next door neighbour’s sister’s son’s wife and your mom’s version of ‘society’, which you were convinced had mad surveillance techniques that could put the MI6, KGB and CIA to shame.
Thankfully, the dark ages of parents who grew up and left India in the 60s but didn’t quite make it into the future are over! It’s no longer considered grounds for Indian style excommunication if you don’t tread the browbeaten and extremely tired path of cookie-cutter Indian weddings that were devoid of any imagination and eventually melted into a single brightly coloured blur of your time spent at all of them. Pinterest has ushered in a new era of wedding décor and style that is all about being unique, on-trend and intimate. The idea is to imprint your wedding celebrations with your very own personalised signature and having each aspect become a reflection of yours and your partner’s personality.
As with everything else in this digitized globalised world it was only a matter of time before the typical Indian wedding was touched by western wedding influences. If you’re in need for filtered results from the 679483 hits that a Google search for ‘Unique Indian Wedding Ideas’ threw up then read on. Find out how to fuse some ideas from all those western weddings into your own Indian wedding to make it truly exceptional.
Yes! We know it’s tacky to talk about gifts even before the ceremony and blessings from gods, priests and elders but in the interest of slick and effective wedding planning we’re breaking down our suggestions by timeline. Unless you want to be stuck with re-gifted crap, 20 bowls of the same kind or horror of all horrors some kind of strange medieval Indian kitchen tools that haven’t been used since the invention of electricity then get yourself a wedding registry ASAP. You will need to take time out to select your store of choice and the items to be included in your gift registry so it’s best to get this sorted before you get into the stressful details of wedding planning. Inform your friends and family about it with the invitation card and save yourself from answering inane questions later. For the more altruistic out there who really feel gifts are unnecessary and would rather start their new life by helping those less fortunate, ask your guests to make a donation to a charity or charities of your choosing instead.
One of the most enviable parts of a western wedding has always been a bunch of bridesmaids and groomsmen who not only make for killer #squadgoal pictures but are also on hand to help you figure things out. While most Indian wedding planning is traditionally entrusted to close family members and wedding planners, it’s becoming increasingly common for couples to be living in separate cities or even countries than their families. Why not borrow this nifty western wedding idea and enlist the help of friends who are more accessible and willing to take on some of the burden? Insta-worthy posts aside it’s also an ingenious to include all your besties on your big day and make memories for life. Added bonuses include bossing them around and throwing hissy fits that they have no option but to grin and bear it! Just know there will be payback when it’s your turn to do the same for them.
Once you have your team of little helpers in place, it’s time to start brainstorming for crazy whacky Indian wedding program ideas. This more recent western wedding custom is definitely one that is immensely beneficial in the destination Indian wedding scenario. Instead of leaving simple printed cards of times, venues and ceremonies for your guests’ reference in their rooms, get creative with illustrations, stories, pictures and hashtags and get them in the mood to party right away. You will ensure that everyone actually reads and follows the wedding program that can also double up as a unique keepsake from the event.
We’ve all heard the age old western wedding tradition of ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed & Something Blue’. It’s a no brainer that you will have something new covered with all your wedding finery and something blue might be a bit of a reach to work into a traditional Indian ensemble. But consider donning a family heirloom or even a simple handkerchief from your parents or grandparents for your wedding day. It’s not uncommon for Indian brides to rework and wear their mother’s wedding lehengas or sarees but even if you don’t go that far, maybe consider wearing an old and/or borrowed piece of jewellery or accessory. Indian grooms can get in on the action too by raiding their father’s and grandfather’s closets for some vintage finds like cufflinks, pocket squares or that really expensive pair of shoes you always loved but wouldn’t dare to ask to wear. The idea being that borrowing something from a loved one will bring you both immense positivity, love and happiness for the next chapter.
No wedding is complete without some truly teary-eyed moments and you’ve probably choked back a few watching speeches at western weddings in real life or on screen. Forget about that snooze-fest of a buffet that is a norm at Indian weddings and set up a cozy sit down dinner instead. Everyone will love you for giving their feet a rest from tearing up the dance floor and the weight of luxurious yet laboursome ethnic wear. Pop some bubbly and get the emotions going by designating people in advance to make toasts. You might catch a few tipsy errant speakers along the way but they will surely make for some hilarious after wedding stories.
Some more exciting customs from western weddings that can be slightly tempered down to suit Indian sensibilities especially for the older generation. There are similar Indian wedding traditions aimed at speculating on the next girl or boy to get married while also providing ample gossiping and matchmaking fodder for the family busybodies but there is no stopping you from including these too and doubling up on the festivities. Swap the bouquet (or add one) for a garland toss by the bride and plunge the single female relatives and friends into mass hysteria to see who can catch it first. Avoid the scandalous salaciousness of a garter toss by having the groom toss his garland or shehra (Indian headgear) into a crowd of single males and watch as they run for their lives as if saving themselves from a live grenade.
Sources: Wedmegood, Coinswap, Pinterest, Exquisiteevents, Outoftheboxevents.files.wordpress, Bridebox, Instagram, Jessicaschmitt, Goodgallery, Weddbook