Attending an Indian wedding can be a genuinely beautiful experience because they are typically vivid, colorful, and elaborate occasions. If you’ve never attended an Indian wedding before and are lucky enough to get an invite to one, you are in for a LOT of fun.
However, like two sides of the same coin, attending a wedding also entails doing some homework—what gifts to buy; what clothes to wear; when to reach; being familiar with their culture and traditions. We need to be mindful of the time and effort that the couple and their families put into organizing the wedding and ensure that we don't cause any kind of uneasiness to them.
Indian Wedding Etiquette for Guests
India is a vast amalgamation of different cultures co-existing with each other in harmony. And different cultures mean different wedding traditions. While keeping track of or remembering all the different traditions can sometimes be a big task (a fun one, nonetheless), there are some common do’s and don’ts that you can keep in mind as a guest.
Indian Wedding Do’s
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It's crucial to dress appropriately because Indian weddings are frequently formal events. Typically, the conventional attire at an Indian wedding is traditional wear. Women can wear a suit, saree, or lehenga, while men can either wear a kurta or a formal suit. Unless the dress code theme is specified, you can wear any of these traditional outfits. While it is advisable to wear bright colors, avoid wearing a bright red or a similar color because it is traditionally reserved for the bride.
Be on Time.
Be sure to arrive on time, especially if you’re attending an Indian wedding for the first time. We don’t want to miss any rituals or rites now, do we? If you’re a close friend or family member, you may want to arrive early to spend some quality time with the bride/groom before they get busy with rituals and the rest of the functions of the day. If you’re an acquaintance, try not to come and leave the event like flash!
Bring an Appropriate Gift.
A present for the couple is anticipated, as it is at all Indian weddings. Make sure you take a neatly wrapped gift. If you're having trouble thinking of a gift for them, refer to their gift registry, if they have one, or to play safe, gift them a cash envelope—it is considered to be a traditional gift as well. Giving money in odd numbers, such as Rs. 501 or Rs. 1101, is regarded as auspicious in many Indian traditions.
Learn About and Respect Traditions.
Since India is a diverse nation, every type of Indian wedding has its own customs and rituals. You can fully enjoy the wedding if you are aware of them. For example, most Indian weddings have a ceremony in which the bride and her female relatives and friends have mehndi applied to their hands a day or two before her wedding.
It is also crucial to adhere to the customs. Some ceremonies can begin at three in the morning while some might start late in the evening. Then, it is customary to take your footwear off during certain ceremonies, while some require you to cover your head. It is important to be respectful of these customs and patient enough to participate in them peacefully.
Indian Wedding Don’ts
Tarjani Mudra: a gesture of warning
Image courtesy: True Relaxations
Don’t Bring Unanticipated Guests.
Make sure to not bring any announced +1s if the invitation lists only your name unless it explicitly states that you can take other guests with you. Bringing unexpected guests can put the hosts in a challenging spot from a planning perspective, and being a responsible guest, you'd want to avoid that.
Don’t Criticize the Food.
One of the main aspects to look forward to in Indian weddings is the incredibly diverse, mouth-watering cuisines. However, many a time, despite the efforts put in, the hosts frequently hear complaints from visitors regarding the food's flavor and quality. You may want to keep in mind that they are hosting the wedding despite several challenges. As a responsible guest, it is advisable to enjoy the cuisine and not complain, because minor errors can occur despite the most careful planning owing to the sheer scale of the wedding.
Don’t Wear Black or White.
Indian cultures associate different meanings with colors. Some have positive connotations while some have negative associations. Therefore, you should be mindful of the colors when selecting your wedding outfit. In most Indian weddings, any color is acceptable, but black and white are usually inappropriate because they are frequently used at funerals or other times of sadness. When it comes to white, it is also the traditional color for the bridal dress of a Christian bride. So, just as you shouldn't wear bright red to a Hindu Indian wedding, you shouldn't wear white to a Christian wedding.
Don’t Overdo Photos.
Ever since the advent of camera phones, everybody wants to take as many photos and videos as possible to capture and save as many moments as possible. While the intention comes from a good heart, make sure to not overdo it when you're attending an Indian wedding. It can be quite upsetting, particularly during the more solemn religious rites. The camera's clicking and flashing can take away from the ceremonies' sanctity and can therefore be quite disrespectful.
Being part of an Indian wedding can be a beautiful experience, but it's crucial to be mindful of the traditions and customs of the community. Attend it with an open mind and desire to participate in all aspects of the ceremony, and you're bound to have a wonderful time and bring back some vivid and lovely memories!