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Asian Weddings or Shaadis

With the average amount of money being spent by Asian families on weddings in the UK rumoured to have increased to more than £30,000 in recent years, there now seems more pressure than ever for couples young and old alike to push the boat out for their big day celebrations!

If you are new to Asian Weddings - or Shaadis as they are better known, it’s important to note that traditionally, the ceremonies are deep-seated in rich heritage and culture. Notably, Indian and South Asian weddings are generally more structured than that of your typical Westernised ceremony and each wedding can differ slightly in accordance with local, religious and family traditions. For example, Hindu Weddings in particular tend to consider pre-wedding functions as important as the big day itself, while key elements of any South Asian or Indian wedding are sure to include the bride’s special Mendi ceremony beforehand and the eagerly anticipated Saanji (a form of dance ritual) on the Wedding Day itself.

Whether you’re planning your dream wedding or just attending one, make sure you’re prepared for every eventuality to ensure you can fully embrace the festivities of the day. If you have the honour of attending an inter-faith wedding then do your research before attending to ensure you know what to expect on the day. Immersing yourself in the vibrant festivities of different cultures can be enlightening, not to mention uplifting!
As a guest - if you are not accustomed with a particular faith’s wedding etiquette, here are some top tips to ensure you don’t get caught out on the day!

Dress accordingly. Ask yourself: is your attire modest and practical enough to be in-keeping with your event’s dress code?

Carry a scarf. Whether it’s to kneel on, cover your head or shoulders, or simply to add definition to your outfit, a statement scarf or pashmina is bound to come in handy whichever way it may feature throughout the day.

Wear a smile! Asian Weddings typically cater for a big turn out and although family-orientated, the guest list can be known to stretch beyond just close friends and extended family members. With this in mind it seems likely that there will be a few unfamiliar faces in the crowd throughout the celebrations, but armed with a smile and a willingness to participate, you can’t go wrong!


For newcomers wary or unsure of any religious practices, where possible, try and stick with someone who knows the protocol who can be on hand for helpful cues (for example, guests may be expected to dance, pray, remove footwear, throw rice etc) in respect of this, timing can be key.

As anyone who has experienced a truly authentic Asian wedding will tell you: silk saris’, lush colours and opulent jewellery are dress code staples for the female attendees – bride included! For the groom, equal emphasis is placed on his appearance, and in contrast to most Western weddings, there is much more scope on what to wear, thus planning and tailoring are essential. While considering build and personal taste as important factors in line with traditions, try not to rule out more modern trends when styling such as taupe tones and sleek fabrics. For a true hint of decadence on the groom’s part, a statement Kalgi (a turban-style headpiece traditionally symbolising royalty) can be added for that personal, finishing touch.

Bridal look-books are readily available and online style guides can be a godsend for the modern bride and her female coterie. Regardless of the style or richness of the colour scheme though, no Asian bride is fully prepared without her accessories. And notably, decorating the skin is of equal importance to decorating the body! In other words, the detailing of a woman’s decorative Mendhi henna is as essential as finding the perfect wedding outfit. This ceremonial artform is associated with the new bride’s path into womanhood and the designs are both intricate and beautiful. Traditionally, this would take place a few weeks before the wedding, the process being of similar significance to a Western bride’s hen do.

With the all-important mendhi taken care of in advance, the bride’s main concern for the Wedding day is to ensure she’s beautifully adorned in coordination with the chosen colour scheme (outfits, décor and mandap included!) In relation to bridal style, adopting key pieces such as a kundan necklace, statement earrings and more prominently, a customised matha patti (classic Indian head piece/hair ornament) are all classic ways to perfect the final look. Accessories wise, an adornment of wrist bangles and a distinctive hathpan for the hands are must-haves, adding definition and flair. Dress wise, a hand woven Kanchipuram Sari is a classic garment choice for the bride, but of course styles can vary according to preference. While quality is key in terms of the intricacies and fabrics of the bridal outfit, when it comes to jewellery, seemingly, more emphasis is placed on quantity. So ultimately when it comes to accessorising , the golden rule is go bold or go home!

Although as a rule colour is to be celebrated, make-up wise, it can often to be useful to adopt a ‘less is more’ approach in relation to brights on the day of an Asian Wedding. For example, smokey eyes and statement brows for the blushing bride are a winning combination against a backdrop of beautiful colours and fabrics. Alternatively, modest makeup with a bold lip colour for definition can work well too, for any attendee. Although Asian weddings are delightfully tinged with opulence, grandeur and elegance, the rituals and customs of the day are by far the most notable. Religious elements are prominent too and emphasis is often placed on the significance of mantras and vows as they are considered unique and poignant for the couple in line with their faith. Overall, themes of celebration and revelry are of paramount importance within South Asian Weddings for everyone involved. As underlying themes, they set the tone and capture the heart of the ceremony.

Aesthetically stunning, Asian weddings are a treat for the eyes and the ears! Be on the lookout for eye catching features on the day such as the bride’s stunning henna and churrahs, explosions of decorative colour, and personal touches such as traditional music in the form of dhol players on the happy couple’s entrance.

With the right scope, achieving a dream-worthy Shaadi is possible, but as is true for any major life event, planning and preparation are key. Visiting Wedding exhibitions and bridal shows are a great way to pick up tips and inspiration beforehand, so be on the look-out for events popping up locally throughout the year if you’re on the hunt for fresh ideas. Whatever your style, amongst the lavish and showy aspects of the ceremonials, it is important to remember not to overlook the finer points of the day. After all, a wedding should centre around creating happy memories, and it is the smaller personal touches which will stay with not only the couple, but their guests, long after the wedding itself is over!