Indian Wedding vs. American Wedding – What’s The Difference?

Tying a knot in any culture has its own significance, traditions and rituals. Be it Mehndi ceremony of an Indian bride, the bouquet tossing by an American bride, every culture has its own customs and traditions when it comes to the wedding.

 

Differences Between Indian Weddings and American Weddings

Indian and American weddings can sometimes appear as polar opposites. From traditions to customs and rituals, everything is different. From the ceremony length, wedding rituals to number of guests, all are different between the weddings of these two cultures. However, they both unite two families and offer well wishes for a happy life for the newlywed couple.

 

Guest List

Indian weddings are grand receptions. They follow the rule ‘the more, the merrier.’ The guest list involves all relatives, friends and acquaintances. The gathering ranges from 200 to 1,000 guests.

On the other hand, American weddings typically reserve invitations to close family and friends. Although it really depends upon the family. Some families choose to include coworkers and acquaintances, if the budget allows. American weddings can be as small as a 25 person gathering and as large as 500 guests. According to The Knot, the average American wedding guest was 136 in 2018.

 

Duration

A typical Hindu wedding lasts about a week as there are so many different traditions to be done. From pre-wedding dinners, Sangeet, Mehndi to reception, the whole week is filled with fun, music, dance and emotions. Destination Indian weddings are at least 3 days long.

But the typical American wedding lasts only one day. Elopements can be as short as 30 minutes, but most traditional American weddings are an all-day affair with morning getting-ready rituals through to the reception and even an after-party. Most Americans will also host a Rehearsal Dinner a few days or a week before the formal wedding and others will also include a Farewell Brunch the day after the wedding.

Rituals

Hindu marriages have so many rituals that it can leave anyone flabbergasted. Starting from praying to Lord Ganesha, Mehndi, seven sacred steps around the holy fire while saying a vow to tying a black beaded necklace around the bride’s neck and put red sindoor on her forehead to symbolize their wedding. Each ritual has its own significance.

American weddings have numerous rituals as well, based most often on Christian traditions and modern secular traditions, such as walking down the aisle, lifting of the veil, ring exchange, broom jumping, blended wine pouring, sand ceremony, rice tossing or bubbles, tossing of the bouquet and garter, the money dance, the first dance, the father-bride dance and the mother-son dance, among others. The wedding is officiated by either a government official, priest, pastor or secular officiant who leads the couple through their ceremonial vows. During these vows, the couple promise to support and love each other.

 

Clothing

In India, the wedding is a multi-day occasion and, for each day, everyone wishes to wear heavy and bright colored attire. From Indian ethnic sarees to lehenga choli for women and kurta pyjama, blazer pants and sherwani for men, everyone is dressed up elegantly and beautifully. On the wedding day, the bride usually wears Red. As in Hindu tradition, this color stands for fertility and prosperity.

In America, brides frequently wear a white or ivorybridal gown and the groom wears a suit or tuxedo in black, navy, ivory, white or another neutral color. These aren’t hard and fast rules. Some couples choose to wear more colorful and bold attire, others opt for a more conservative look. Either way, most couples will include at least one upscale accessory into their outfit, such as special cufflinks, luxury brand name shoes or high end jewelry.

 

Decorations

The main focus of Indian weddings is to decorate their indoors and outdoors. A special canopy erected and decorated for the ceremonies. As lighting also plays a vital role, so the venue where ceremonies will be accomplished are decorated with flowers, lights, and other decor items. Colors are usually bold and bright.

American weddings can be held anywhere from a banquet hall to an outdoor garde and décor is a big part of the planning. American couples care a lot about the styling of their event space and want it to reflect their personal taste and aesthetic.

Undoubtedly, American and Indian weddings are different from each other, but they each have their own unique elements that make them both enjoyable.

South Asian vs. Indian Wedding – What’s The Difference?

Many people often get confused between South Asian and Indian wedding. Although, India is a part of Asia yet South Asian weddings are different from Indian weddings. Let’s have a look at the distinctions between these two.

 

South Asian Weddings

South Asian countries like India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, etc. have different cultures, religions and traditions. South Asian weddings are full of colors and festivities. Be it an Indian wedding or a Pakistani wedding, both are considered as South Asian wedding. The only difference between these are religious guidelines and teachings. Whether you belong to a South Asian Muslim, Ismaili, Sikh, Hindu or Interfaith community, all Asian weddings are filled with tradition, religion, ritual and love.

Indian Weddings

India is a land of different cultures and religions. From Hindu, Muslim to Sikh and Interfaith, every religion makes India a secular country. The wedding traditions of each religion are different. They differ in terms of faith and religious ideologies. Every wedding ceremony in India involves ceremonies like engagement, sangeet, mehndi, baraat, vidaai, and reception. Interfaith weddings are also on the rise in India, breaking the barriers of religion. It is not wrong to say that Indian weddings are a vibrant blend of religion, cultural norms, glitz, emotions and celebrations.

South Asian and Indian weddings, both have their own similarities and distinctions. No matter from which faith or religion you belong to, a wedding is an unstolen & treasured moment of life where the smiles turn inevitable.

What Is Sangeet?

A traditional Indian wedding involves several pre-wedding events and ‘Sangeet’ Ceremony is one of them. In Indian weddings, Sangeet means music night or dance party. This is the most awaited, vibrant, fun, and frolic function of big fat Indian weddings. Like other cultures, music is considered as the soul of a wedding ceremony in Indian custom. From stylish and colorful outfits to peppy dance performances, a sangeet ceremony is full of laughter, cheer, and excitement.

Rituals

 Usually, the sangeet ceremony takes place after the Mehendi ceremony, just one day before the actual wedding day. Depending on the budget and mood, it can be held either at the bride’s home as a small affair or in a lavish hotel as a big fat celebration. During this ceremony, all women from the bride’s side sing melodious songs on the beat of ‘Dholak’ to bless both the bride and groom. These songs describe the value of marriage in life.

A Celebration of Unity

Not only the couple’s union, but the sangeet is also a big celebration of the bonding of both families. During this event, the family members of both bride and groom come together to create a fun environment by singing and dancing. The sangeet night is full of enthusiasm and happiness. Also, it makes families and other relatives comfortable with each other.

Special Features

Singing traditional songs have been a major part of the Sangeet ceremony for years. In modern times, the sangeet celebrations include themes, stylish outfits, dance performances, skits, booze, food, and more.

The sangeet night is the best night throughout all the ceremonies of Indian wedding. It can be held combined or separately with the Mehndi ceremony. This gala event consists of bride and groom’s families getting together for song and dance.

Indian Wedding Traditions & Rituals, A to Z

A wedding ceremony is not only a celebration of love and commitment but also a reflection of the couple’s culture and religion. Grandeur, style, magnificence, and tradition, define an Indian wedding very well. India, being a home of diverse religions and cultures has its own set of traditions and rituals when it comes to the wedding. An Indian wedding traditionally lasts for at least 3-4 days and during these days several ceremonies are performed.

If you’re going to be a part of an Indian wedding, here is a list of wedding rituals and customs you should expect to see.

The Baarat

Also known as Groom’s Procession, on this occasion, the groom arrives at the wedding venue along with his family and friends. Surrounded by close people singing and dancing in a circle, the groom meets the bride’s parents at the venue entrance. The parents of the bride and other relatives greet the Baarat with a tilak (a red color dot on forehead), akshat (rice), aarti (a plate decorated with lighted lamp), and a garland.

 

The Ganesh Pooja

In Hindu religion, all auspicious ceremonies start with a prayer to Lord Ganesha, the Hindu’s God. It is believed that God Ganesha removes all hurdles as a precursor to nuptials. The Ganesh Pooja involves family and close relatives of the bride and groom. It is performed to be bestowed on to the bride/groom and their families.

The Haldi Ceremony

The Haldi ceremony, also known as Pithi (a mixture of water, oil, and turmeric) is a custom in Indian weddings known to bring good charm. During this ceremony, the Haldi paste is applied on the skin of both bride and groom. It is believed that by applying this paste, bless the couple with positivity and brighten their skin before the wedding.

Kanyadaan

The moment when the bride’s parents handed her to the groom is called “Kanyadaan.” In this ceremony, the parents of the bride put her hands into the hands of the groom as a gesture of giving her away. The parents then pour water through their daughter’s hands which subsequently falls on the groom’s hands.

 

The Lighting of the Agni

After the couple exchanged their garlands under the canopy, the priest (Pandit Ji) lights the Agni or sacred fire. The fire in the center of the Mandap (Agni) symbolizes the witness of viability and divine. Thus, the commitments made in front of this Agni are considered to be made in the presence of God.

The Mandap

The traditional Indian weddings take place under a Mandap (a four-pillared canopy). A mandap is a temporarily constructed structure; decorated with colorful flowers, greenery, crystals, and fabric just for the purpose of marriage. This is the place where the groom waits for his bride.

 

The Mangal Pheras

The Kanyadaan ceremony is followed by ‘The Mangal Phera.’ This is where the bride and groom circle around the Agni seven times by holding each other’s hand. These circles are known as ‘The Mangal Pheras’ or ‘The Seven Sacred Steps.’ Each circle depicts a sacred vow that the couple makes together to spend a joyful, prosperous, and faithful life together.

 

The Mehndi, or Mehendi, Ceremony

Also known as Henna ceremony, this event takes place before the actual wedding day. Basically, this is an occasion for females, where the bride and other ladies gather to apply Mehendi on their hands and feet. The intricate designs of henna symbolize beauty, pleasure, offering, and spiritual awakening. It is also believed that the deeper the color of the Mehendi, the stronger the relationship between the groom and bride.

The brides let their Mehendi dry for at least seven hours to ensure dark and rich color. The henna artist also hides the name of the groom in the bride’s Mehendi for the groom to find later.

Sangeet Ceremony

This is a pre-wedding event which is organized an evening before the wedding day. This is an informal celebration where members of both families come together and dance, sing, and revel in the happiness of the upcoming union.

Sindoor and Mangalsutra Ceremony

After the seven sacred steps, the groom put a red color powder (Sindoor) to the parting-line of a Bride’s hair. Then, he ties a black and diamond (or gold) beaded necklace around the bride’s neck known as Mangalsutra. Both Sindoor and Mangalsutra symbolize the bride’s new status as a married woman. Eventually, the priest offers his blessings to the newly married couple.

Vadhu Pravesh

Whereas, the Vadhu Pravesh occurs at the groom’s house where the groom’s mother welcomes the newlyweds with a traditional aarti. The bride enters the house after displacing a rice container which signifies that she brings a positive spirit to her new family. After this, a lot of games are played between the groom and bride to make the bride comfortable in her new house.

This is how weddings happen in India. All the rituals and customs mentioned in this post specify that Indian weddings are really fun that involves a lot of happiness, togetherness and emotional roller coaster from starting to end.

Vidaai

This is the most emotional phase of the wedding, especially for the bride and her parents. The Vidaai ceremony represents the time when the bride’s family gives her an emotional send-off.