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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.