It was hard to believe that what was once a vacant lot was now decorated in beautiful orange and white colors from floor to ceiling. I swear, the Indian people can make anything beautiful. They take great pride in their weddings, and this one was no exception. Arun was one of my employees at my last corporate job, and I wasn’t going to miss his wedding to his beautiful bride, Aashna, for anything. It was in Delhi, 7 hours away from Rishikesh, but I made the journey anyway so that I could show my support, and experience the tradition and grandeur of a real Indian wedding reception.
The Indian people give out a “wedding card” instead of an invitation. It looks like a fancy booklet, with details of the wedding and the reception inside. This one was written in English and even had an QR code inside. The outside was a lavish yellow satin.
The Proper Attire
I asked the female concierge at the Marriott what was appropriate to wear to the wedding reception and she suggested either a saree or a “suit”, meaning a samwar kameez. The next day I went shopping and found a beautiful blue and gold “suit”. It also included the traditional wrap they wear as an accessory. I also bought high-heeled gold shoes and had my hair done up in a “messy bun”. Lastly, I added a blingy bindi (the traditional Indian dot in the forehead), and when I was all ready to go, I looked like a proper Indian wedding guest.
It started at 7:00 and I arrived at 7:30, only to find that in typical Indian style, I was way too early. Fortunately, some of the bride’s family was sitting at a table up front and they asked me to join them as a guest of honor. I was really surprised at their genuine hospitality. Around 8:30 we heard the traditional drums playing outside, which announces the arrival of the bride and groom (married the night before). Everyone went to watch them formally enter the venue and take their seats up on stage.
There were some nice speeches, followed by a candle lighting ceremony, and then the picture-taking began. Every guest waits in line to congratulate the bride and groom and get their picture taken with them by a professional photographer. This went on for several hours, as some of these Indian weddings involve thousands of people.
Delicious Array of Food
Meanwhile, I was enjoying the incredible variety of delicious Indian food. They had both “veg” (vegetarian) and non-veg (meat) dishes, and I couldn’t decide what to eat because it all looked so good! I enjoyed a great selection of things I couldn’t pronounce, but it was all delicious. One thing that surprised me was that there was no alcohol at the reception. Apparently that is typical for Indian wedding receptions.
The dancing began around 9:00 with the littlest children. They were so cute, all dressed up in their finest clothes, and getting funky on the dance floor. Soon some teenagers jumped in and the party really got started. It was mostly Punjabi and Hindi pop music, so I didn’t recognize a bit of it, but I danced anyway. Mostly Indian dance with their arms, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out and before long I was really having a blast!
The thing that surprised me the most about the wedding was their joy at seeing me there. One of the men at my table, who was a close family member, told me that I was the only foreigner there and that it made him very happy that I attended. The bride’s sister, who looked stunning in a green and gold saree, kept coming over to check on me all night long to make sure I was comfortable. Other people asked if they could have a selfie with me. I felt extremely welcome and it was really sweet. I had a terrific time, and I wish much health and happiness to the newlyweds.