6 Tips for Planning a Blended Indian and Western Wedding
I had always dreamed of traditional Indian and western wedding. I grew up in Tanzania, surrounded by an entire family of cousins and extended family, and was extremely used to celebrating Tamil festivals like Pongal, Thaipusam and Diwali on a daily basis. My upbringing was filled with visiting family members, Eating great food for everyone and being showered with love. It is probably why I enjoy travelling abroad to capture the precious memories of a married couple.
When it comes to Indian and western wedding sentiment are incredibly important. While you may want to celebrate your Indian heritage with a traditional Indian ceremony, your partner may not be Indian and have their own ideas about what they want from their wedding day. Elegantly combining and blending the two ceremonies is a beautiful way to mark the joining of your two families.
Indian and Western wedding families can cause a lot of stress for the members of those families. While it is important to be sensitive to your partner’s wishes and desires, don’t forget to include your own; each individual has their own expectations for what they want from a wedding, and we have put together some tips that will make sure you haven’t missed out on anything important.
While Indian and Western weddings are very different, there are plenty of ways to incorporate Western traditions and style into your Indian ceremony, ensuring that it represents both you and your partner.
It may seem odd to some that blending two very different western ceremonies would be acceptable in wedding culture. When you consider that most western cultures’ understanding of marriage and family comes from conflicting ideas relating to Christianity and future husbands in marriage, the idea of blending western and traditional elements in a white wedding seems acceptable. Mixing cultures, breaking from tradition, and celebrating your differences can be done in many diverse ways and contexts throughout history. It may be surprising for some to see this celebration of difference as anything other than negative or controversial. But it is nothing new! The fact is that many western weddings, including the ones celebrated by the west, incorporate elements from ethnic customs brought over by Europeans over hundreds of years.
Let’s keep in mind that Indian weddings last for several days and they usually include even more family members and friends. While there are plenty of Western-style traditions which may combine with certain aspects of Indian culture, many Western weddings are still rather small in scale even if they incorporate elements from both traditions. A blended wedding typically takes more time to plan but it can provide you with the opportunity to include many new family members. Blending two ceremonies can also take place at different times so you can incorporate time spent on each ceremony into the other one instead of just simply adding on to what’s already been planned.
Indeed weddings are an exciting day for most people, so many people tend to get a little carried away in planning their own special day. There are lots of things that you should consider, such as location, who your vendors will be (if you’re getting married outside the US you will need to discuss this with your Indian attorney), the makeup of your attendants, what time slot and color scheme will be most memorable, what time of year (for instance is this a traditional Indian wedding or an American-themed wedding?) when planning your wedding.
On another side with the ever-increasing multiculturalism in the UK on one hand, and a society that is becoming more liberal and accepting of other people’s cultures, on the other hand, there has never been a better time to have a blended wedding ceremony. Many foreign couples are now having Hindu and Christian ceremonies together, although it is quite tricky to have them both in sequence if they are completely different. Planning a wedding of two different religions can be challenging, but done carefully you should find that fusing your customs with those of your partner creates an unforgettable experience for all your guests.
Eastern Indian marriages
Eastern Indian wedding ceremonies are not as lavish and extravagant as their North Indian counterparts however are similarly fancy in their own method. There are scores of significant but easy rituals, a number of them very intriguing and really rooted in ancient logic and reasoning. Wedding events in India are likewise an event where long-lost close friends and relatives bond and share memorable moments throughout this pleased celebration.
The most striking feature of a Bengali wedding, nevertheless, is the reality that the groom’s mom does not go to the wedding event! She waits for the pleased couple at home, all set to carry out all the inviting routines.
A normal East Indian groom is generally outfitted in dhoti and kurta, and he carries a mirror all the time best till the wedding event is over. Rosewater is sprayed on him and then both, the groom and the bride get ready for the actual nuptials.
The bride is then taken around the groom 7 times in circles by her siblings, signifying their eternal union. The bride then proceeds to sit on an extremely embellished pidi (low wood stools), comparable to the one on which the groom is seated, all through the chanting of the priest.
This is followed by the exchange of flower garlands in between the couple, to the accompaniment of the shouting of frightened mantras (Sanskrit verses). The groom and bride once again take seven steps around the sacred fire. The groom then uses vermilion onto his bride’s head, the symbol of a married woman. After this, the bride is turned over to the groom by her maternal or paternal uncle.
The newlyweds reach the groom’s house where more ceremonies and rituals follow. Concealing the rings of the couple, playing with a vessel loaded with rice are some of the wedding games to make the new bride feel comfortable.
Surprisingly, the married couple has to remain independently that night and it is only the next night after all the rituals have actually finally been completed that they can take pleasure in conjugal bliss!
West Indian marital relationships – (Indian And Western Wedding)
Western Indian weddings, especially Maharashtrian weddings, typically take place in the early morning. Prior to this, the engagement ceremony, referred to as Sakhar Puda (exchanging of a sugar package) occurs to officially state the betrothal.
In the morning, a puja is performed to praise Lord Ganesh (the elephant-headed God of prosperity). The groom’s family arrives in the early morning at either the bride’s home or the mandap and is dealt with to a luxurious breakfast.
After this, according to the advantageous time already set in assessment with numerous astrological almanacks, the lady’s maternal uncle escorts her to the Mandap (marriage hall). Custom dictates that the woman and young boy do not see each other while the Antarpaat event happens. In this a silk partition (Antarpaat) is placed between them. Then the shlokas are shouted by the priest after which Antarpaat is removed. The loved ones and pals gathered shower unbroken rice on the couple as an advantageous indication. The groom and the bride then exchange flower garlands and take the 7 Actions (Saat Pheras) around the ceremonial holy fire.
After the marriage ceremony, another puja, called Laxmi Narayan puja, is held, in which the groom and bride are symbolically worshipped as Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddess of Wealth) and Lord Narayan, respectively. Like in all Indian wedding events, the lady is then officially ‘handed over to the groom by her father or maternal uncle. This ceremony is called Kanya Daan all throughout India.
Traditionally, the groom and the bride exchange Jaimala or flower garlands two times. The first time around, the groom is made to sit on a greater platform than the bride, signifying that the bride has not broken his ties with his friends and family. Even as this ceremony is in progress, the bride’s sisters and cousins attempt to steal the groom’s shoes, a tradition that is followed in almost all Indian marriages.
Comes the connecting of the groom’s shawl to the bride’s sari, preparing them to take the popular Seven Actions around the sacred fire – the main part of all Indian wedding events. This concludes the wedding which is followed by an extravagant and grand reception party.
Traditions and custom-made from the foundation of an Indian wedding. It is rich, vibrant and lively, concealing a wealth of significance in lots of fascinating, and in some cases difficult customs that have their roots in its ancient heritage.
Now let me share with you some tips on how to plan Indian and western wedding. I am a ‘cultural outsider’ and I have been asked this question many times. To be honest, I had never planned a blended wedding before and knew absolutely nothing about it. But with all the preparation and research that has gone into this journey, I believe that this is one that will be remembered…and shared for years to come.
Determine what rituals matter most
Talk to your partner about what parts of the wedding ceremony are most important to them. You may find that there are just a few things that really matter to both of you about your respective traditional ceremonies, making it much easier to combine the two. It may also help to talk to both sets of parents about what aspects of the wedding are most important to them, but don’t give outside opinions more weight than those of you and your partner.
Remind family and friends that this is your day
It’s perfectly understandable to ask for your parents’ opinions on what traditions you should and should not include in your wedding, but be sure to remind them that this is your wedding, not theirs, and you’re designing it to reflect your relationship with your partner. Make choices that are right for you, not for anyone else, and don’t worry if your parents aren’t thrilled with your decisions. They’ll come around on the day itself.
Pick the right venue
If you want to get married in a house of worship, but you’re having a blended ceremony, that may not work for the venue. Consider choosing a ceremony site without religious associations or, if you do choose a house of worship, talk to them well ahead of time about what they do and don’t allow and any requirements they have for couples who marry there.
Consider splitting the ceremony into two
If your traditions feel too far apart to elegantly combine, take a cue from Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra, who held both a traditional Indian ceremony and a Western ceremony for their nuptials. While you may not have a budget for two lavish weddings, an Indian ceremony followed by a simple Western vow exchange can be a great way to satisfy both families and represent both you and your partner fully.
Talk to family members about what to expect
The last thing you want is your grandfather making things awkward during your wedding ceremony. Let both of your families know what to expect from the wedding: what the different traditions represent, how they will work, and what it’s appropriate—and not appropriate—to do, say, and wear. The more you tell family upfront, the less likely anyone is to feel uncomfortable or caught off-guard during the wedding.
Personalize your ceremony
Many officiants from different religions are open to conducting the wedding ceremony jointly, so don’t be afraid to ask two officiants to help you say “I do.” Whether you have one or two officiants, they can be a big help when it comes to blending the traditions of you and your partner. Just keep the length of the ceremony in mind and make sure it doesn’t run too long.
No matter how you want your wedding day to look and feel, it’s important to work with your partner to make both your visions a reality. With open discussion and understanding, you can design and plan a wedding that incorporates both your beliefs and traditions and, most importantly, celebrates the love you share!
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