Our Big Indian Wedding

Our wedding day was not how I expected or imagined it to be. I really wish I had attended several Indian weddings before I plunged into my own. In hindsight, I thought it would be the same as a Western wedding in many ways, but with more rituals and more colours (naïve). I didn’t understand Indian bridal etiquette. Despite my husband’s best efforts, I felt insignificant and uncomfortable on the ‘happiest day of my life’. I just wish I knew what to expect, then I think I would not have found it so hard. I was not prepared.

I am so happy and grateful my family came all the way to India to be at my wedding. They really helped make it special for me! Laughing can always make you feel better, and my sister Kirsty, she really made me laugh. She made me laugh when I was crying and made me laugh when I wanted to cry. She did my hair and make up but most importantly, she made me laugh.

saree sisters white gori foreigners firangi mango red roses

The first part of our marriage ceremony involved everyone throwing rice at us as the priests chanted mantras. My suggestions for the decorations and garlands had been ignored, among other things, and I was feeling as if I was attending someone else’s wedding. I was upset. Kirsty stood right behind me and threw her rice right down my saree blouse, I could feel her doing it and I could hear her laughing about it. I couldn’t stop laughing, After each mantra, more rice was thrown, so after each mantra, I cracked up. You cannot imagine how much rice I had collected in my blouse.

Putting a garland on my husband

We had to sit on the stage for a while after this ritual. I could see the guests talking to each other, they were gesturing to each other as they spoke, with looks of confusion. I could see many people touching their arms, commenting about my lack of bangles. I really wish I knew how much people would judge my lack of bridal adornments. In the West, less is considered more. In India, more is more. Whilst watching the guests critique my appearance, I felt uncomfortable. I looked uncomfortable, my anxiety ran wild.

marathi wedding, cheek pinching from my blonde sister

So many people were taking photographs of us and I was lost in my own thoughts. My sisters noticed and so started making funny faces at me, standing behind the photographer, trying to make me smile. It worked. I smiled and I laughed, they would pop up out of nowhere with a huge smiles, hovering behind anyone taking a photograph.

My sisters at my wedding taking photos indian clothes

My sisters!

After our heads were knocked together about one-hundred times (a Marathi marriage tradition, knocking the heads of the bride and groom together), I had to change into my bridal saree for the wedding ceremony.  I was assured that I would have at least an hour to get ready for the wedding ceremony but in reality, the time had changed again and we only had ten minutes. Kirsty grabbed the bouquet of roses I had been given and stuck them into my hair, the result was amazing! She then gave me her diamond earrings to wear for the ceremony. She took them out of her own ears and gave them to me. 

Paithani saree, rose, Marathi wedding ceremony

The day of the reception, my husband and I had to be involved in another pooja. I cried throughout the entire thing. The end of the wedding meant my family were going to soon leave India. I was anxious and scared of all the guests coming to the reception, 700 people were expected to attend. Indian weddings are so different from Western weddings in so many ways. Usually only family and close friends attend a wedding in England. My husband did not know 75% of the guests. I was tired and frustrated.

garlands | marathi marriage | brahmin marathi |intercultural marriage |white indian wife | love

We arrived to the hotel to see my family and get ready for the reception pretty late. When got there and Kirsty announced that she had taken my younger sister, Sophie, to the mall! I couldn’t believe they just got a taxi and went shopping, it took me weeks to go out in India on my own. The really sweet thing was, they went out and bought me a jewelry set for the reception, Kirsty even let me wear her diamond bracelet. She styled my hair and put on my make up and, as always, continued to make me laugh.

The reception was beautiful. It was a surreal and exhausting experience though. Our faces hurt from smiling after meeting so many people and posing for so many photographs. I felt really beautiful, thanks to the look on my husband’s face and my gorgeous sister and all her sweet and generous efforts. 

lehenga | white wedding | british indian wedding |wedding reception | marathi wedding | Indian | Tuxedo | gorgeous husband

I am really surprised how much the whole “being a bride” thing meant to me, I guess all of those hours daydreaming about my wedding day as a child burst out from my subconscious. I guess we naturally want to put our wedding day on a pedestal and to claim it was ‘perfect’. Life isn’t perfect and things do go wrong, I guess our wedding showed me I need to learn how to deal with them when they do.

Some moments though, are perfect…

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53 thoughts on “Our Big Indian Wedding

  1. I have been reading your blog since a while, and I am so happy that you had a great wedding day.

    Congratulations! Best wishes to you and your lovely family for everything that you do in the future.

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  2. Hey lauren
    May i ask why you didn’t have jewelry for your wedding? Cause each indian bride i have seen wore aloooooot of jewelry…
    Waiting to hear from you
    Thx

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    • Hi Pardis,

      Events happend that left me without jewelry. I had chosen some but I didn’t get it and then I didn’t have time to buy costume jewelry. During the actual ceremony, my grandmother-in-law let me have two of her bangles, a cuff and a nose ring.

      I hope you are well.

      Take care

      Lauren xxx

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  3. Ah sorry… Smthing else… As far as i know indians hire make up artists to take care of brides hair and make up… Why you didn’t do that?
    Im not indian but im gonna marry an indian… Thats why im asking 🙂
    With best wishes for you and your husband 🙂

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    • She dodged a bullet, I think, by not hiring a makeup artist… I have never known a single foreign girl who got her makeup done professionally for their wedding or reception in India to be happy with the end result – the colors are usually too bright for our skin tones, particularly among the most fair of us. It’s very difficult to get the mix right between colors that look good on us vs. colors that look good with our bright dresses. And I like the makeup in her photos – Kirsty did a fantastic job!

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      • Preach. I had an Indian makeup artist for my wedding and could not stop laughing when I saw my family and friends’ shocked faces! There aren’t many Goris who can pull off that much dark makeup, and I definitely am not one of them. Even my MIL thought HER makeup was too much lol.

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    • I had a “professional makeup/hairstylist” for mine and it was all bad. Thankfully we did a trial run and I learned how incompetent she was at applying makeup on me (especially eyeliner – there was a huge gap of between my lash line and the liner). I ended up doing my own makeup which looks fine. For my hair, she suggested putting flowers in it and I loved the idea. The day of, she arrives with orchids painted fuchsia/green and daisies painted red/orange. They looked awful but I felt bad about telling her I did not like them. Thankfully they were in the back, so they are in less than 1% of the photos. For the reception I held fast and wore my hair down without any painted flowers. Looking back there is so much I would do differently. But in the end these experiences teach us valuable things and help us grow and become more assertive.
      Also Lauren, you’re sarees, hair/makeup look gorgeous and timeless.

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  4. I’m so glad you had your sisters and parents there for support, these situations are so overwhelming. I am pretty sure I wore the cheapest bridal jewelery in Indian wedding history – 800 rupees. You should have seen the look on the female relative’s faces when I brought it home. And don’t worry, we also had a 700 person reception and knew as many people as you did at our wedding. We have so many photographs with unknown people!! It’s something we laugh about now. The photo of you and your sisters is lovely – frame that one! xxx

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    • Your cheap jewelery history made me laugh so much haha It reminded me of my own experience. There is so much of choice with fake jewelery and it’s so beautiful and shiny also I definitely could not afford to buy gold (we only got golden wedding rings-european style). South Indian brides here wear lots of real gold during the wedding but I was satisfied with the fake gold I bought in the mall and on the road side 😀 Actually having lots of guests is a very good thing in India. It is common that bride and groom don’t know most of them as they are invited by their parents. I had to smile too much while posing my jaw and lips hurt even 2 days later lol

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  5. That is so sweet of your sister! I love her name by the way. She’s one of the few who spells it with a K like I do. 😛 I’m glad she was able to be there for you when you needed her.

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  6. It’s funny how we do so much waiting for this one special moment, and then when things happen, it all happens fast — TOO fast — and then all of a sudden it’s “where are the flowers” or “oops I don’t have jewelry” or “i have such a gorgeous turquoise reception saree but no time to change into it” and the plan gets kicked off the platform. And it’s always those family, those friends, who come to our aid just when we need it! This is a hidden, beautiful thing about weddings, is that when things go wrong (and it’s a question of when not if), there are always those loved ones who step in, who stand by you, to ensure that the show must go on. And this is what you remember. Not the endless rituals, not the quality of the food, not the accomplishments and illustriousness of the guests, but the sister who put flowers in your hair, or my engineer friend who fixed the problem with the garland I wasn’t supposed to remove without actually having to remove it 🙂 The beauty isn’t in a ceremony that looks like a Bollywood set, but instead in those little moments of panic 😀

    And you know that a ‘good Indian bride’ cries at the end of her reception for exactly the reasons you did, missing family, right? So don’t feel bad, everyone was expecting it, ha ha 😀

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    • I love this comment!

      I did the major crying thing spectacularly when my family left India. People just assume I cry 24/7 now… they are definitely not shocked haha.

      I also missed out on wearing outfits, most people had more outfit changes than me in the end.
      I hope you are well. Lots of love

      Lauren xxx

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  7. Hi Lauren!
    I have two sisters and consider myself supremely lucky – four must be just wonderful! Obviously I don’t have experience of brothers, but I feel with sisters, you’re never short of laughter, sympathy, help, true companionship, great love and understanding 🙂
    I can only feel sorry for people who can’t understand that!
    Congratulations on your marriage. Your love and happiness with your husband shines through in the photos and I hope in time the situation with your in-laws will ease up. Most importantly, you have each other and your strong partnership will see you through everything! ❤

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  8. Great news, so happy your sister was there on your special day. Your little sister looks so cute too!
    I don’t have any siblings but I wish I had sisters….having 4 daughters is my dream!!! 🙂

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  9. You have a wonderful sister, who truly understands your feelings, and most importantly, goes above and beyond to make you happy. You are blessed to have such a sister. I enjoyed reading this post, telling us about the sweet moments that you enjoyed.

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  10. First of all congratulations sweetie! Your family seem amazing, and your sister, haha she’s so cute! You must’ve felt so happy having her there when things didn’t go as expected. You look amazing in the photos, bride of the year ? 😉 I think soooo 😀 xx

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  11. Wish you, your husband and both the families all the best! As for your sister Kristy, she really is beautiful. I don’t know much about women’s clothing but that red color is really matching her blonde hair!! So far didn’t know that you have a very young sister too! A lovely one! Lots of love and best wishes!

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  12. Hahhaha, If I had a dollar for the number of Indian guys who ask Stacy if she has a sister or friend they can date or marry, I could buy a very nice gift for my darling wife!!! Strangely, they never ask me if I have a sister or friend they can date or marry.
    Stacy hates saying no though, so she usually tells them, she will watch out for a friend who wants to date an Indian and let them know. She has setup an email specially for this that she gives out when guys want to leave their email and contact address with her 🙂 Some guys have even mailed her their horoscope for a marriage alliance!! For the first couple of times, it was surreal, but now I just shrug it off.

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  13. I stood in as “Mom-of-the-bride” at a friend’s Hindi wedding. It took place in the USA, both she and hubby are from India. It was low-key by traditional standards, but what an experience! I cannot imagine having to be the bride at such an event. I’m glad you had some family for support. (and so sorry you have no brother 😉

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  14. Lovely story. Feeling good, just becz you follow indian rituals. Jewellery are tradition in India, therefore many was confused during your wedding.

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  15. Dear Lauren
    I’ve been following your blog for a while and honestly i think its perfect as is gives other people hope b’cause you let us relate,understand and laugh along your twists and adventures.
    This article about how your sis made you laugh on your big day felt close home to me b’cause it reminded me of my sis wedding .Unfortunately my sis was given one week off for her marriage so all the responsibility was on me. I remember it was so hectic n chaotic arranging for mehindi to getting blouses stitched, matching the jewellery, the flowers, make up etc…ufff…
    After months of being in so much stress the night before the big day I literally cried so badly as my blouse was ruined and I remember it was my sis who was consoling me (even though it was her marriage;-p) . It was she who cooled me off , made me laugh n told everything ll b fine and it went to be…;-)
    Now when I look back all I remember are those funny moments n smiling faces n people who made those… just like you did…;-)
    Indian marriages are chaotic … don’t worry if things didn’t go as you liked… it happens most of d time…
    P.S your ending made my day… haha ( its annoying;-p)
    sorry for long reply… my best wishes…;-)

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  16. Pingback: Why I Cried During Our Wedding - English Wife, Indian Life

  17. Reading posts about other western ladies’ Indian marriage, I alway felt a little sorry we only had a French registrar wedding. So in a way it makes me feel better to read about your experience, because I’m sure I would have been miserable and overwhelmed. So I’ll share the disastrous details about my own wedding to make you feel better 😉

    As it happens, we paid for the simple ceremony, and my family stayed only for a drink and left. They had eaten before and had not thought of eating with us. Hubby’s family couldn’t be there for visa issues. Meanwhile my 16 years old daughter (from a previous relationship) refused to wear the dress she had chosen and came in shorts with safety pins. My ex was awful as usual. I cried too on that day as everybody was selfish and unpleasant. In addition it was on a Friday, so hubby was vegetarian and he told me afterwards he was unhappy because in Tamil superstition everything you start on a Friday, you will have to do again ! lol Fortunately my friends and colleagues were really sweet.

    Take care 🙂

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    • Awww, I’m sorry :(.

      I will tell you that most women who have had Indian ceremonies have told me that they too were completely overwhelmed and distressed by the whole thing.

      I’m really sorry that had to happen :(. The marriage is important though, not the wedding. Maybe you could have a simple and no fuss, only sentimental ceremony in India one day. That would be beautiful. Only takes a priest, a fire and some flowers at the end of the day.

      Sending you lots and lots of love

      xx

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  18. Hi Lauren, your blog has been a godsend for me as I have also just moved to India for the love of my life. We met while studying our Masters in the States and I followed him back to his hometown of Chennai after graduation. I have spent hours reading your blog, drawing strength and inspiration from someone who seems to have gone through a very similar experience. My in-laws haven’t been very supportive of our marriage and it has been difficult at times, to say the least. I was hoping that reading about your experience would help me find the strength to keep fighting for our love and develop the kind of relationship with my MiL that you seem to have today.

    Much love and thanks!! You truly are an inspiration.

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    • Hi Natalie,
      Thank you so much for reading!!! I’m so glad it helped!
      I can tell you that it did take a while for my mother-in-law and I to see eye to eye. It took a lot of communication and determination but now we have a very good relationship. From speaking to others, I think that it’s similar for most… these things take time!
      I hope this helps.
      Lots of love x

      Like

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