Planning your Hindu Wedding in the PNW
10 Tips for a Successful Hindu Wedding: A Guide for Engaged Couples in Oregon and Washington.
Planning an Indian Wedding
It's no small commitment to trust someone to plan and manage your wedding, especially when it's an extravagant weekend full of cultural significance, spiritual rituals, and colorful festivities. As PNW planners, we have planned, designed and/or coordinated quite a few weekend celebrations - some with a traditional Hindu wedding timeline and some with a blend between Hindu traditions and other traditions.
For those who are interested in learning more about Hindu wedding traditions, we've outlined them below. For those who are interested in how to make their Hindu wedding a reality, we've included 10 essential tips for planning your wedding.
Common Hindu Wedding Traditions and Rituals
Traditionally Hindu weddings consist of 3 days of celebration. If you are not familiar, we recommend to take the time to understand the significance of Hindu wedding rituals. This will not only help you appreciate the ceremony, but also ensure you and your guests feel comfortable and included in the celebration.
The Haldi Ceremony is typically the first celebration, where the couple is surrounded by family and friends and covered in a turmeric paste. It’s said that this helps the skin glow and promotes good circulation.
Another celebration that’s done before the wedding ceremony is the Mehndi (henna) application to the bride and her close family and friends.
The Sangeet is typically the second day of the festivities. This is such a fun, colorful day! Sangeet means “Sung Together” and that’s literally what this celebration is all about. There are many choregraphed dances performed by family, friends and even the bride and groom will participate.
Each wedding day should be unique to each couple. Hindu wedding days traditionally start very early and begin with a puja or “prayer”. For brides, you'll then follow with hair and makeup, and for grooms, you'll begin preparing for your Baraat.
The Baraat is such an incredible event that is where the groom is welcomed into the ceremony. This usually includes the groom arriving in a fun way, such as a classic car or in India, arriving on an elephant! There is loud music and lots of dancing around the groom as he enters the ceremony location.
The Mandap is the alter for Hindu ceremonies, with four pillars that traditionally symbolize the two sets of parents that raised the bride and group. These are decorated different in each ceremony, but are commonly adorned in vibrant flowers, bells and draping.
The Wedding Ceremony
Hindu wedding ceremonies can typically last anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours. Once the groom arrives at the Mandap, he is then greeted by the brides immediate family for a blessing. When it comes to the actual wedding ceremony the bride and groom along with their parents and siblings sit on the Mandap with their Pandit (Hindu Priest) who will perform the ceremony.
10 Tips for Planning Your Unique Hindu Wedding
Every Hindu wedding ceremony is different, and we aim to help our couples find their perfect balance of traditions and new traditions. Now that you're familiar with the different elements to a Hindu wedding weekend, the next step is to plan accordingly. While we recommend having an experienced planner to help you through these decisions and customize them, here are 10 tips that are essential to planning a smooth wedding day.
1. Determine What Rituals You'd like to Incorporate
Some couples like to honor all the Hindu wedding traditions, but others like to select a few to incorporate and blend a few with other cultural traditions. Especially when it comes to the wedding ceremony, it’s important to talk with your priest on what elements of the Hindu ceremony you’d like to incorporate.
Common traditions we see in a Hindu ceremony include:
Jai Mala: The bride and groom exchange sacred floral garlands
Aachman: The Purification of the bride and groom. Water is placed in the palms of their hands by the Pandit (Hindu Priest) and they drink it.
Agni Pradipan: The sacred fire is lit. This signifies the power and purity of the ceremony.
Madhuparka: This is when the bride’s family offers yogurt and honey to the groom with a prayer.
Kanya Daan: The brides right hand is placed in the grooms hand. This signifies that the groom is now trusted with the brides heart and love.
Shila Rohan: A rock is placed on the ground and the brides steps on it to show the courage and strength and support she’ll bring into the marriage.
Mangal Fera: The couple walks around the sacred fire four times. This signifies duty, prosperity, love, and spiritual liberation.
Saptapadi: This is the 7 sacred steps the couple takes.
Mangal Sutra-Sindoor Daan: The groom places a beaded necklace around the brides neck. Sindoor (red powder) is then placed into the part of the brides hair. This symbolizes that she is now married.
Kansar: Exchanging rings.
Ashirvaad: The final prayer given by the Pandit.
For example, Will and Anu chose to do both a traditional Hindu ceremony as well as a Western ceremony with a stunning outfit change.
2. Plan Ahead
Planning is always the key to a successful wedding. Start early, create a detailed checklist, and set a realistic budget. Hindu weddings are so full of rich traditions it’s important to plan which traditional elements of the ceremony you’d like to incorporate. We always recommend a full service wedding package to help you coordinate events across the weekend, especially if you are wanting to blend two cultures together. It can be a lot of decision making, and we as planners help our couples work through those decisions.
3. Choose an Auspicious Date:
Most couples either consult with their Pandit or with an astrologer to select an auspicious date and time for your wedding. This is an important tradition in Hindu culture, and it's believed to bring good luck and harmony to the couple.
4. Select the Right Venue
Not every venue is not fit to accommodate all the traditional rituals, including the mandap (a sacred altar), the sacred fire (Agni Pradipan), or other various ceremonies. Outdoor venues with natural beauty are often preferred, but being in the PNW, you have to have a good rain plan!
For example, Tayrn and Sagar chose Skamania Lodge, which was perfect for their Indian/Western blend of a wedding weekend. They held their Sangeet inside one of the ballrooms, and their wedding ceremony and reception outside under the Pavilion.
5. Involve Your Families
Hindu weddings are a family affair. Involve both your families in the planning process and consider their input when making decisions. This will help foster a sense of togetherness and unity.
6. Plan Ahead and Have Fun With Your Wardrobe Choices
For the bride and groom, choosing the perfect wedding attire is crucial. Consider traditional outfits like a sari or lehenga for the bride and a sherwani or kurta for the groom. Don't forget the jewelry and accessories!
Take inspiration from Sonal's Indian bride outfits and Siddharth's Indian groom outfits choices - the colors and accessories were beautiful!
7. Source Your Ritual Essentials
You might get joy out of curating all the necessary items for the rituals, such as the mangalsutra (sacred necklace), sindoor (vermilion), haldi (turmeric), and more. Each item has its own significance and plays a vital role in the ceremony. If you're not sure what to get, this is a great time to involve your families! Chances are they have everything needed for these sacred rituals. If they do not, it can often be something your Pandit can provide.
8. Ensure you have photography and videography:
There is so much love, action and color throughout the wedding day that sometimes, just photos don't do it justice. Capture every moment of your special day. Hire a professional photographer and videographer who are familiar with Hindu weddings to document each event.
Video by Lovebug Pictures
9. Hire Great Entertainment and Food
Plan a diverse and delicious menu for your guests, featuring both traditional and contemporary dishes. Arrange for entertainment such as music, dance performances, or even a live band to keep the festivities lively! Be warned, finding both a great caterer and the staff to be able to serve your wedding guests can be difficult. We have vendors that we love and trust for special events like your Hindu wedding, and we always include custom vendor recommendations with each package so you have great food and great service on your wedding day.
10. Stay Calm and Enjoy:
Finally, remember that weddings can be stressful, but it's essential to stay calm and enjoy the process. This day is about celebrating your love and commitment, so cherish every moment and rely on trustable people to help you during the planning process.
If you're looking for a Day-of Coordinator or Wedding Planner to help plan your wedding with Hindu wedding traditions, reach out so we can chat more about the help you're looking for. We're happy to customize our packages to fit your needs!
Best wishes on your journey towards a blissful married life!