Our Indian wedding is just over a month away, it is getting scarily close now. Last weekend it was time for us to go to Pune to do our wedding shopping!! We traveled for 14 hours, overnight by sleeper coach (I will have to talk about that experience another time) and arrived on Friday morning to start what was supposed to be fun but I predicted would be stressful.
Pune is much busier than Nagpur, the traffic is thicker and there is not a cow to be seen (it took me about 30 minutes to really start missing seeing cows wandering around).
We are having a Marathi wedding, and a Marathi bride usually wears a green, pink or mango saree during the wedding ceremony. Sarees are so elegant and feminine but I have always admired North Indian brides who normally wear lehengas (heavily embroidered skirt with a blouse) on their big day. I really wanted to wear one so decided to have a lehenga for the reception and stick to the Marathi style and wear a saree our wedding ceremony. Thankfully, with so many outfit changes during an Indian wedding, I can wear both!
My gosh, the lehengas we saw were beautiful. I loved them so much but they didn’t love me. I had a slight problem, I am 5ft 8 and those skirts were unfortunately not made with my height in mind. The sales woman assured me that they can be altered, I was suspicious to whether that was actually true. How could they make it longer?
Shopping for clothes in India is a very different experience compared to shopping in England. You sit or stand there whilst the salesperson shows you what they think you may like, I find this really frustration, I just want to look through the piles myself. I sat there shaking my head for a long time whilst the saleswoman went around the shop finding different designs. The pile of rejects grew and grew. After seeing around forty lehengas and being able to pick out tiny details I didn’t like, the saleswoman brought out ‘the one’. The exact colour, shape and design I had been holding in my mind (I had even made drawings of what I wanted, months ago).
Just like the other ones I had put against me, it was too short. The saleswoman assured me for a second time that they could make it longer. This is one great thing about shopping in India, you can get everything made to measure, I was still curious to see how they would make the skirt longer though! So, we left the lehenga at the store to be altered and continued with our wedding shopping.
Next stop, sarees. Saree shops are very comfortable, you sit down and relax on a cushioned floor as someone shows you yards of beautifully made fabric. The walls of the stores are stacked high with thousands of sarees (again felt a little frustrated I couldn’t go and rummage around myself but I guess it keeps the sarees from being damaged or even stolen!).
The first shop we went to had some beautiful sarees but the salesmen were very pushy and rude. I really liked one of the sarees from that shop but there was a design on the boarder I didn’t like so much, I mentioned it to my husband and one of the salesmen quickly snapped across ‘you will find that on all sarees‘. I frowned at him and said ‘no, not all sarees have the same boarders, I do know that much’. I simply refuse to buy anything from a shop that will hire salespeople who are rude or pushy, so we left.
We sat in several saree shops after that but I got all three of my bridal sarees in a single shop (after visiting it twice). I highly recommend this shop (Peshwai Creations) to any brides-to-be. This is where I fell in love with Paithani sarees.
Paithani sarees are hand woven silk sarees characterised by beautiful peacock designs on the pallu (loose end of the saree), using very fine silk they are considered to be one of the richest sarees in Maharashtra. The variety and mixture of colours were mind-blowing, I had never thought a piece of fabric could be so beautiful. The salesman opened up those sarees by throwing them in front of him, as if he was putting a sheet on a bed, it was actually spectacular to see.
The craftsmanship gone into these sarees is exquisite. I chose a pink, purple and mango coloured Paithani for the wedding ceremony and I am completely in love with it, I cannot stop looking at it.The silk is so shining and the colours are so unusual. I have even had several dreams about it, one where I had to save it from a shipwreck and another where part of my soul was impregnated into it (is that healthy?).
A couple hours later I chose a yellow and green silk saree for the pooja (prayer) before the wedding ceremony, it is said to be auspicious to wear a yellow saree during your wedding, usually I would run a mile from yellow clothing but this saree was beautiful and it is a tradition… so I was convinced. The next day, on returning to the shop, I chose a pink and orange silk saree for my mehendi celebration (a woman only event where we get painted with henna).
When we returned to the shop to pick up my lehenga they had indeed lengthened it, they had done it by added a red band around the top which looked out of place as it was a slightly different shade of red than the skirt itself, I was assured it would be covered by the odhni (material that is tucked into the skirt and put over the right shoulder). Also, it still didn’t feel long enough to me and I am ashamed to say I had a little bit of a bridezilla moment in the dressing room when the saleswoman manhandled me, furiously pulling the skirt downwards so it looked longer. I guess I am not used to people being so overly helpful or people pulling me around. I decided I will just have to wear flat shoes and it will look fine. I was quite stressed and tired at this point because of all the saree shops we had been sitting in.
When we got back to my husband’s aunts house in Pune, I cried. Although I had managed to find a lehenga and sarees more beautiful than I even could imagine, I felt sad. I had always imagined I would have been picking out my wedding dress with my mum. It’s just one of those once in a lifetime mother-daughter occasions. I really wish my mum could have been there, I am so glad I will be seeing her soon.
Two shops I recommend for wedding shopping in Pune:
Silk Sarees, Embroidered Sarees, Costume Jewelry and Ghagra Cholis.
Hotel Sarja Lane, Near Croma, Aundh, Aundh, Laxmi Rd, Sanewadi, Aundh, Pune, Maharashtra 411007
- Peshwai Creations
Banarasi Sarees, Paithani Sarees, Designer Sarees, Bandhani Sarees
717, Laxmi Chandra Complex, Ground Floor, Sadashiv Peth, Kumthekar Road, Pune 411030