Indian Wedding Etiquette

by Charlotte Kirkwood

Indian weddings offer guests a riot of color and celebration, packed with people, food and a wealth of traditions. Steeped in cultural and religious importance, Indian weddings contain much symbolic meaning. Though some of the ceremony may seem more like silliness than seriousness, having the proper etiquette matters.

Dress

Traditional dress for women means a sari--a six-foot-long cloth, worn draped over a floor length skirt, or petticoat, and a midriff-baring top. Indiamarks.com suggests choosing a colorful sari, but not white and black, as they indicate mourning, or red, the traditional color for the bride. Accessorize with plenty of bangles for a festive look. Men can wear anything from an achkan, a long coat which hangs to the knees, worn with pants, to a standard black suit.

Even if the wedding doesn't require traditional dress, modesty matters for the ceremony itself, as it shows respect. That means covered shoulders and no plunging necklines. Sometimes guests must sit on the floor, making short skirts a bad idea. A place of religious importance might require the removal of shoes. Sacred ceremonies sometimes require a covering the head with a scarf, shawl or wrap, reports Indiamarks.com.

Gifts

The Kwintessential website says money remains a popular gift, and amounts ending in the number one can signify luck. Indian gift shops often have envelopes for giving money, with coins as decoration. Gift giving matters, but the spirit of the gift more so than the gift itself, so no gift recycling.

The Ceremony

The main portion of the long ceremony takes place next to agni, the holy fire. The Saptapadi, explains DeshVidesh.com, formalizes the marriage as the bride and groom take seven steps around the fire and recite their vows, bringing the ceremony to an end. Because of the sanctity of the ceremony, many venues ban photography, to avoid the disruption caused by the flash.

Socializing

Indian weddings allow and even encourage guests to talk to other guests during the ceremony, an important venue for socializing. Indians usually view guests enjoying themselves as blessing the union. Indian weddings, often quite large in size, can make it difficult for the couple to find everyone, so guests should present themselves briefly to the bride and groom. Men shouldn’t expect to kiss or dance with the bride--she will act demure in honor of her new husband.

Food

Food plays a vital role in Indian weddings, where you'll find Indian cuisine at its best. As some Indian families practice vegetarianism, the wedding fare might not contain meat. Depending on the family’s religious beliefs, they might not serve alcohol. Indiamarks.com reports that some weddings serve food on banana leaves, for guests to eat it with their hands. As with most aspects of the wedding, eating the food shows guests' approval of the wedding and their best wishes for the bride and groom.

Photo Credits

  • pink fabric image by Melissa Schalke from Fotolia.com

About the Author

A professional writer since 2008, Charlotte Kirkwood’s articles have appeared on Pop Syndicate, Ani.me, CollectionDX and other websites. She enjoys writing about travel, films, literature, beauty, homemaking, pop culture and anime. Kirkwood's previous jobs include makeup artist and book seller. She studied English and art history at Southwest State University.