How to prepare for an Indian Wedding
In case you ever get invited to an Indian wedding, and you’re not entirely sure what to expect, here are a couple of starters.
1) Don’t expect explanations
You’ll certainly get introductions accompanied with explanations of how each person is related… but if you’re hoping to understand all the rituals you’re out of luck. Asking about why things are done in such a way, you will likely be told ‘because it’s tradition’. You may get lucky and find one or two people at the wedding that can explain the significance behind a certain tradition, but you’ll be hard-pressed to do so. If you find these people, hang on to them!
2) Practice your smile
Oh, you’re about to be involved in a few hundred pictures, so you better have your best fake smile ready to go. However, it’s not the photos that make the wedding outstanding in this manner, after all, there’re many places in Asia where white skin will give you an automatic ‘star’ quality. What makes the wedding special are the videos… Don’t like it when people watch you eat? Well guess what, you’re about to be filmed doing so… time and time again. Nod your head, smile and practice those yummy noises.
3) Learn how to say no
It seems to be part of the culture to never allow a guest to have an empty plate or glass. Saying ‘no’ directly even runs the risk of offending someone, somehow. Therefore, a great strategy is to leave a tiny bit on your plate or in your glass. This is certainly not the eco-sensitive option, but trust me, stop eating before you’re full and leave a little scrap around that makes it seem that you are still eating.
4) Learn how to dance… again
The best way to ease the tension at any wedding is to hit that ol’ dance floor and this is no exception. The difference on this one will be the music and the dancing style. The DJ might be told to change the music to English for you, and the whole wedding will suffer, so bravely tell him (or a translator) to change it back and learn all the moves you can. Span your arms as wide as possible, pointing your fingers in the air and shrugging your shoulders to the beat and you’ll be just fine. Think of it kind of as a gangster eagle. Oh, and heads up to the guys out there, you will likely have guys holding your hands and/or staring deep into your eyes as they dance with/beside you… embrace the awkward, there’s nothing meant by this.
5) Dress for the occasion
Apparently this just means dress as if you are going to a western wedding. A suit will work just fine. Of course, you can go that extra mile and buy some good traditional clothing and/or shoes on the street that people promise you is meant for weddings… but when you get there, you’ll likely find out that you’re the only one wearing the ‘traditional wedding clothing’. But hey, if nothing else, at least it’s a great ice-breaker.
6) Leave your assumptions at home
Many Punjabi weddings are still arranged. Get used to this idea, it’s a part of the culture. Tobacco products are not permitted, so forget about the cigars, and drinking seems to be a bit taboo, but then really gets going. Your best bet is to find someone who can speak a little English, and ask what is acceptable. You will be an ambassador for your country for sure, so do your best to honour and respect their traditions. Don’t be that jackass that showed up and ruined all the photos!
If you have an opportunity to attend a wedding in India I highly recommend it. Indian weddings are an extravagant affair anywhere in the world, and even that much more so in their homeland.