Planning a wedding takes imagination, time and patience to make the big day as special as the couple exchanging their vows. When it comes to planning a multi-day Hindu wedding celebration—traditional Hindu wedding festivities are held over three days—keen attention to detail is an absolute must. As far as how much time it takes to plan a Hindu wedding, the average South Asian wedding takes 10 to 12 months to plan, according to The Desi Bride.
For tips to help wedding planners navigate a Hindu wedding celebration, Destination Weddings by ALHI checked in with Sonal J. Shah, Founder of Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants, an expert on South Asian and cross-cultural weddings, and author of The Complete Guide to Planning the Perfect South Asian Wedding. Based in New York City, Sonal and her team plan weddings all around the world.
Attention to Detail
First and foremost, when planning a Hindu wedding it is important to keep a keen eye on the details from the very start. The same rings true, of course, for any wedding planning.
“Hindu weddings can be grand affairs, so choosing a suitable venue and date that accommodates all the ceremonies is important,” said Sonal. “Also, Hindu weddings typically have large guest lists, so planning accommodations and catering accordingly are essential.
“We also base all wedding dates around auspicious dates in the Hindu calendar,” she added.
Hindu weddings feature traditions and events that are part of the festivities. In fact, according to the Hindu American Foundation, many elements of Hindu wedding ceremonies have remained unchanged for thousands of years. Let’s first look at pre-wedding traditions, starting with the Mehendi ceremony.
“Prior to the wedding day, the bride and other women partake in the Mehendi ceremony,” Sonal said. During the Mehendi ceremony, intricate henna designs are meticulously applied to the bride's hands and feet, with the groom's name often hidden within the patterns.
“This beautiful art symbolizes love and good fortune,” Sonal added.
Sangeet, Baraat, Jai Mala
Another pre-Hindu wedding tradition is the Sangeet, what Sonal calls a lively celebration that unites the two families through music and dance.
“It’s a joyous occasion filled with performances and festivities, setting the stage for the upcoming wedding,” she explained.
When it comes to the wedding day, there are traditions that are upheld on the big day, too.
Sonal said that the Baraat is when the groom, accompanied by his friends and family, arrives at the wedding venue in a grand procession. His entrance is often made on a decorated horse, or in a luxury car.
Another Hindu wedding day tradition is Jai Mala: during the ceremony, the bride and groom exchange garlands, “signifying their acceptance of each other and the union of their hearts,” said Sonal.
Destination Weddings on the Rise
Though Hindu weddings have a lot of traditions incorporated into their festivities, couples may still be inclined to incorporate trends, Sonal explained.
“Modern Hindu weddings are witnessing trends that reflect couples' desires for personalization and uniqueness,” she said. “Themes and creative elements are being incorporated to make each wedding distinctive. Additionally, Indian destination weddings, especially in Europe, are on the rise, allowing couples to infuse tradition with exotic locations.”
Asked for her one piece of advice she would give to anyone planning a Hindu wedding, Sonal replied, “To ensure a smooth and memorable Hindu wedding, it’s essential to plan ahead and maintain open communication with your family and your partner. This collaborative approach will ensure that everyone's expectations and desires are considered.
“Establishing a well-organized plan, including a budget, will enable you to fully embrace and enjoy the beauty and significance of this special occasion,” she continued. “Enlisting the services of an experienced wedding planner is essential in ensuring a seamlessly executed wedding. With a dedicated planner by your side, you can entrust them with the intricacies, allowing you to truly savor every moment of your special day.”