If you're from a Desi family, you know the struggles of planning a wedding! You're probably wondering how to make a seating chart for 600 guests attending your reception or how to make sure your sister-in-law is included in all the wedding traditions. All your family members want to have their vision incorporated into your big day, it's not just your big day, it's a HUGEEEE day for all your family members!
Including parents and other close family members in all the wedding planning process is extremely important in South Asian cultures. Desi weddings have traditionally been considered a marriage of two families, rather than just a marriage of the bride and groom. It starts from the moment your partner wants to propose! Often times, the groom with his parents and elders arrive to the bride's house to ask the father's permission for his daughter's hand in marriage. Once, the father agrees to the proposal an engagement/Roka date is finalized. Family and friends join the two families in blessing the couple along with various gifts for the family like fruits, sweets, dresses , money (shagun). Rings are exchanges between the couple and this marks the official engagement of the couple.
When it comes to setting dates for the wedding event(s), the elders discuss the possible wedding dates and finalized the auspicious day! On of the first steps to wedding planning is setting a budget. This grand amount should be discussed with any individuals that will be contributing and hosting your big day! Often times along with the couple, parents and grandparents pay for the many wedding expenses. So it makes sense to run you ideas and visions by them.
The next step is to create a draft guest list (you'll probably run through the guest a dozen times before it is finalized!) Desi parents want to invite everyone they know, like the butcher, carpenter and even their barber to the wedding (true story, these were confirmed guests at my wedding!) Guest list often include far distant relations for instance your uncle's wife's sister and her entire in laws or simply someone your parents said "Hi" to once at the grocery store. Including parents in putting together a wedding guest list often yields an average of 500-600 guests. If it was upto you and your partner you would have a intimate 50-persons event, but we all know that idea is laughed off in the Desi community.
When it comes to choosing vendors such as the wedding planner, venue, florist and decor, etc, parents like to attend initial consultations so they know where their money is being invested. Parents are often more prepared for consultations with all their questions noted down on the back of a Hydro One envelope. It is a good idea to ask your parents if they have any vendor friends they can refer you to. One of our couples from August 2019, was referred to their decor vendor through the groom's mom, Sonica from Starzz Design and Decor is a good friend of the mom so it was obvious that the beautiful masterpiece for the reception be created by her team. Another couple was referred to their reception caterer, Shaheen Foods by their parents. The parents had recently dined in at Shaheen Foods, and were in awe with the quality and flavour of their food, so when it was time to source vendors for their daughter's big day, they knew exactly who would provide the food items.
Ask your siblings and cousins to make a short speech at your wedding, this gives them the spotlight and they can even make a joke or two about the amount of running around and errands you made them run for your wedding! Trust me, that's not your sister complaining, she loved being involved in your wedding and helping you dress up for your big day! I still look back to my wedding day and realized that my sister stood by me the entire time, from helping me go to the washroom in my 20 pound wedding outfit to checking if my lipstick needed a touch-up, and you bet she let all 700 guests know how vital she was to the entire wedding planning process!
Often times aunts and uncles are involved in wedding traditions which gives them their moment to shine. For Sikh weddings, the maternal uncle and his wife adorn the bride-to-be with red and ivory bangles as a gift of good wishes and happiness. During the Maiyan/Haldi Ceremony Married ladies of the both families apply haldi to the bride and the groom in order to bless them with a long and strong relationship. In Muslim weddings, the brides’ sisters and cousins try to steal the grooms’ shoes and are stopped at every turn by brothers and friends of the groom. This friendly banter ends in a hilarious outcome since the groom has to pay money to get his shoes back. At the end of the wedding event, the bride is accompanied by her brothers and family members as she departs. The Holy Quran is held above her head by one of her brothers to show that she is covered with countless blessings.
South Asian weddings are a fun-filled joyous family occasion. It is a union of two families coming together, rather than two individuals marrying one another. Friends and family members come together from all over to create a seamless wedding celebration for the couple. Everyone plays a part in contributing towards all the magical events.