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Everything you need to know about Indian Weddings

So you’ve been lucky enough to get invited to an Indian wedding. It can’t be all that different from any other type of wedding, right? Well, buckle up, because you’re in for a party unlike any other wedding you’ve ever attended. How’s your stamina? Is it good? It better be, because Indian weddings can usually last for up to three days.

It might sound like a lot of pressure, but don’t worry, it’s mostly just a lot of fun, and we can help you with some tips on what to expect.

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Dress Code

First off, what to wear: don’t worry about sticking to more muted tones; Indian weddings are a celebration of bright, vibrant colors. If you don’t have time to find the perfect sari or lengha, you can also get away with a jewel-tone dress. You can add to your festive look by throwing in a colorful shawl and some of your flashier jewelry.

Day One

Everyone Indian wedding is unique in its own way, but we’ll be focusing on the more common three-day event. The first evening, is usually reserved for the couple, close family and the bridal party. It takes place at home, and a priest usually performs a ceremony called the ganesh pooja.

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Day Two

The second day kicks off early with a mehndi ceremony, where the bride and her female friends and family have exquisite henna patterns painted onto their feet and hands. The sangeet occurs later in the evening, and everyone is usually invited (don’t sweat it if you’re not though—every family is different). This is the formal introduction of the couple’s families, followed by cocktails, dancing and possibly a few adult beverages.

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Day Three

This is the day of the main ceremony, followed by cocktail hour and the reception. You will definitely be expected to attend this day’s festivities. Have you ever seen a horse in a wedding, because you might see a groom arrive on a white horse during his baraat, or groom’s procession? Guests will dance around him as he rides in, when he’ll be greeted by the bride and her family.

The couple will then give each other floral garlands to symbolize their approval of each other. The bride’s parents give her away in a ceremony called the kanya daan, and then the couple joins hands and circles a small fire in a custom called the mangal phera. Next comes the saptapadi, which means the couple will take seven symbolic steps as the pledge to care for each other and live a life of happiness. Next, the groom will dot his brides forehead with a circle of red powder before finally tying a black beaded necklace around her neck to show that she’s now married. And then the real party starts.

The Food

Indian cuisine is as diverse and exotic as its people. While northern Indian cuisine is typical, it’s also not uncommon to find western dishes. Just keep an open mind and mouth—we promise that you won’t be disappointed.

The Dancing

If you want to get ahead of the curve, you might check YouTube for helpful “how to bhangra” videos like this.

But if you want to go in blind, part of the fun can be learning on the go. Who knows, maybe an attractive wedding guest will notice your flailing and show you the steps.