Weddings— Where East Meets West
In the last five years, every Indian wedding I’ve attended seems to have some new East-West flair. Whether the bride and groom are of the same culture or come from different backgrounds, their ceremonies tend to incorporate non-traditional elements that are becoming trendy. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated these as a wedding guest; as the mother of a bride-to-be, I now have a close-up view at some of the things that are changing.
1.Wedding Invitations: I grew up seeing invitations that reflected the bright Indian palette of reds, greens, and other “circus colours.” Today kids are leaning toward more subtle tones—neutral and pastel hues—and I find that I really like the new colour key!
Of course, invitations are only one aspect of the preparations. There’s also the need to build a website and arrange photography and videography packages that extend from pre-engagement to post-wedding events and that fuse Hollywood style with Bollywood extravagance.
2. Size: How many invitations will go out? The Indian community is huge, and weddings still tend to bring everyone together to celebrations that are loud, festive, and full of love and laughter. In our family, we have three generations of friendships and connections to draw on. Grandparents want to include their close friends, as do we, the parents, and the bride and groom have their own nearest and dearest to invite. The guest lists of Indian weddings range from 300 to 600 invitees.
It’s like having your own little village! Alas, nothing has changed here! I really do hope that the next generation is brave enough to limit weddings to the size they want—without the family “have to” invites. I often note that some couples are yearning to have smaller intimate weddings, but more often than not, they end up caving into family requirements because they feel obligated to parents who are paying for the event. As parents, we need to learn to step back and not feel entitled to have our children’s weddings “our” way, just because we are footing the bill.
3. Wedding Party Roles: What about the bridesmaids? In place of a single attendant, there may now be as many as a dozen! Being part of the wedding party undoubtedly makes close friends feel honoured, and the sight of bridesmaids walking down the aisle in matching outfits with bouquets in hand is priceless! But coordinating those outfits (including bangles, earrings, and hair ornaments) in a colour that complements (and doesn’t clash with) the outfits of bride and groom is not easy, let alone finding a style that looks good on all body shapes and is appropriate for the time of day or night. It’s a whole new challenge.
There’s nothing difficult, though, about including a flower girl or two. And they’re guaranteed to inspire a collective “awwwwwww” from the 400 guests in attendance!
Another addition to tradition is to have the father of the bride walk down the aisle with his daughter. What an elegant and moving fusion trend. And it aligns perfectly with the traditional Kanyadan ceremony, where both parents give away the bride.
4. Ring Exchange: One more thing—the traditional Indian ring exchange, which used to be done at the engagement event, before the wedding, is now extinct in the West (though it’s still followed in India). Today, the Western way prevails, in which the girl gets a ring when she is proposed to. Then there’s an exchange of bands at the wedding ceremony under the mandap, the canopy. As with all these traditions, there’s no right or wrong, it’s just different.
All these new elements do make me wonder, though. Why is the fusion of East and West leading us in a more elaborate, complicated direction, instead of a simpler or more streamlined one? And what about the future? Will the next generation continue the current trends or opt for smaller, more intimate ceremonies? I’ll have to look forward to my future grandchildren’s weddings to find out.
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