Planning an Indian Wedding: Shopping for Sarees

Darla, Ben, our bride, Heena, and “the mommas” (Heena + Ronak’s mothers) spent the first 3 days of their adventure in India shopping for Heena’s wedding sarees and jewelry for the big day! Despite being on a tight schedule, the crew helped Heena find all seven of her outfits (no, that’s not a typo – she needs seven outfits for her wedding!). Before moving on to the next city, Heena wrote us about her shopping experience in Mumbai:Shopping for Indian wedding sarees

“My dress buying process has not been the typical dress buying process. Most brides will come to India to shop at least six months before the wedding for about a month. I, however, am shopping for my outfit 3 months before my wedding for less than two weeks. It was really difficult for me to find time to shop for the wedding with my school schedule. I didn’t want to miss out on this experience, even if it meant I had to be a little stressed and rushed. The actual shopping process has been pretty flawless overall. At times it can get overwhelming being in one store for hours, however overall it has been really exciting! I definitely had an idea of what I wanted to wear. I was really nervous that what I was envisioning would be difficult to find though because it was unlikely that there would be time have a dress custom made, with coming to India so close to the wedding. I knew I wanted my wedding dress to have floral print or embroidery on it. This isn’t something you typically find on Indian outfits, but luckily that is what ended up being in season!! It’s really starting to set in that Ronak and I are getting married! It’s been so much fun sharing this experience with Ben and Darla so far…I can’t wait to see what the coming week has in store for us!”

Indian wedding sarees

Indian wedding sarees design process

Heena has chosen a beautiful peach-colored dress along with SIX other outfits! The traditional Indian wedding saree is made from red, silk fabric. However, our bride has chosen to go a little more neutral with her color selection. In India, the color white represents mourning, so obviously white is not the color of choice for a wedding! Typically, Indian wedding sarees will be embellished with crystals and real 24-karat gold thread and combined with lavish gold jewelry, including necklaces, bangles, rings, and hairpieces! Wedding sarees can also be complimented with a mix of pink or gold, and the bride will change into a different colored dress for the reception! These gowns can cost just as much as a wedding dress in America, if not more, because of the intricacy and details involved in the handmade design process. Wishing for more shopping luck for Heena, Darla, Ben, and the entire family!

Indian wedding sarees

A sneak peek of Heena’s main wedding saree

Indian shopping experience

The best shopping buddy – doesn’t say much though! #PappusPassage #WhereInTheWorldIsPappu

A special thanks to Sammohi Design Studio for hosting us and letting us film the design and production process. They also helped Heena find her dream wedding dress!

Catch up on our Indian adventure through our Facebook vlogs and photos. As the culture shock wears off, the videos keep getting better and better! Darla even finds a McDonald’s on Day 4!

8 Differences Between Indian and American Weddings

Do Indians really throw a better party than Americans? The ceremony length, the number of guests, and even the rituals–all of these aspects of a wedding in Indian cultures are completely different from that of American weddings! Here at Castleton Farms, as we prepare for yet another Indian wedding, we have done some research to provide you with a breakdown of just how different these two cultures really are in terms of weddings.

Differences between Indian and American weddings

The More, The Merrier.
The guest count is the most noticeable difference between the two culture’s wedding days. This is where the bride’s family likes to show off their money and hospitality–not to mention, Indian families tend to consider everyone they meet family–so they will typically invite as many people as he can afford! The guest count for an Indian wedding can range anywhere from 200 to 1,000 guests! In America, however, weddings remain a bit more intimate. Depending on the budget, the bride will send invitations only to close family and friends, bringing the average guest count in America to 130 or less.

Differences between Indian and American weddings

But What Will I Wear?!
In the United States, it’s typical for a bride to wear a white dress, though it’s becoming more common to see ivory, champagne, and even blush wedding gowns. The groom either sports a tuxedo or a suit, usually with a white shirt underneath and a splash of color in his tie. It is traditional, however, for Indian brides to model extravagant red, silk sarees on their wedding day. These beautiful and intricate pieces of handiwork can cost just as much as a wedding gown, if not more! Indian grooms wear embroidered sherwanis.

Differences between Indian and American weddings

A Girl’s Best Friend.
While American brides tend to choose simple diamonds, pearls or color coordinated pieces that fit their wedding day theme, Indian brides can vary greatly on what jewelry pieces they choose to wear on their big day. Some will wear an abundance of gold pieces and others may choose the royal rani look that features large polki diamonds. Either way they go, their lavish jewelry pieces will always be a matching set that compliments their wedding attire!

Differences between Indian and American wedding rituals

Differences between Indian and American weddings

More Than Just ‘I Do.”
We could write an entire book on the differences between Indian and American wedding rituals, but we’ll try to keep it short and simple! We’re all familiar with the American wedding processional order–begins with a traditional leading in of the groom and groomsmen, then follows the mothers and grandmothers. Next up: groomsmen, bridesmaids, and finally, the bride makes her big entrance, walking down the aisle, teary-eyed, with her father to meet her groom at the altar. The bride and groom then stand to exchange their vows and seal it with a kiss. However, Indian ceremony traditions are completely different than anything we’re used to. Their ceremony includes the barat, where the groom arrives at the venue on an elephant or horse, surrounded by his family who dance to music the entire way, and is welcomed by the bride’s family. Also, the Saptapadi is said to be an important ritual where the bride and groom will walk around the Holy Fire while saying a vow each time around. Whereas American ceremonies take as long as one hour at the very most, the main Indian wedding ceremony can last up to 3 hours.

Extravagant Indian wedding reception

Party of the Year Goes To…
The traditional American wedding reception immediately follows the ceremony and includes drinks, cutting of the cake, dinner, and dancing to follow. However, Indian brides, grooms, and their guests have to freshen up in between ceremony and reception because it’s such a long day. The Indian wedding reception is the huge celebration of the bride and groom coming together. Rumor has it, you don’t want to miss out on these parties!

Differences between Indian and American weddings

Are We There Yet?
Traditional weddings in America last the entire day for the bridal party and a few hours for the guests, with a ceremony lasting about 30 minutes, followed by a cocktail hour, and a 4-5 hour reception. Get this–Indian weddings can last anywhere from 1 to 3 whole days, if not more! These days consist of amazing rituals, including henna tattooing the women’s arms, hands and feet and eating LOTS of food.

More Than Just a Piece of Paper.
American wedding invitations can really be anything that the couple enjoys, whether that includes engagement pictures, beautiful calligraphy, or eye-catching artwork. Custom monograms are quickly becoming something every couple desires because it goes further than just the piece of paper. You can include custom monograms on your chalkboard signs, menus, and even the dance floor! Along with the American trend of choosing what reflects your wedding theme, Indian wedding invitations also have some brilliant artwork on them. However, the artwork on these invitations is extremely bright in color and has a cultural significance. The envelope that contains the invitations isn’t just a piece of paper to protect the card. It’s also made of silk, natural fibers, and bright colors–how cool!

Differences between Indian and American weddings

Forget About the Price Tag.
The average wedding cost in America depends on how many guests are attending and how much the bride is willing to spend on decor, flowers, the dress, and more. Typically, American brides will spend anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. On the other hand, Indian weddings tend to be over the top! The bride’s family spends their whole lives saving their money to spend on this one occasions, and the guest count, as stated earlier, is huge! Indian brides will have a ballpark budget of $50,000 to $100,000.

Despite the many differences between Indian and American weddings, at the end of the day, both cultures place a strong importance on uniting the two families and each hopes for a long, wonderful married life together for the newlyweds.

Wedding Planning 101: Saying Yes to the Dress

Lace wedding dress

My wedding dress…ah. I was never the girl who got caught day-dreaming about what I would wear on my wedding day, and I definitely didn’t scour Pinterest throughout the wee hours of the morning (which might sound odd to all of you who know I graduated with a degree in Apparel Merchandising). I was also in an interesting situation because at the time Corey proposed, I was interning at a wedding dress boutique in Knoxville – but was still never fully into the wedding dress thing like most brides. One morning, we had some down time at the shop, so we decided to play! I tried on maybe a total of six dresses. I only felt truly comfortable in one (something you should note: I am the most indecisive person alive, so this was a miracle that I only loved one). It was whimsical, flowy, and a unique kind of vintage (not to mention, customizable – two thumbs up). Days passed, and every time I would walk by “the” dress in the shop, I would spend a few extra seconds staring at it. However, I noticed another dress in the shop that girls kept trying on and looking FAB in, so I decided I would try too. And wow, I felt like a babe in it. It sparkled and hugged my curves all the right ways. If ‘Hollywood Glam’ had a picture beside it in the dictionary, it would be of this dress.

So I was stuck. Do I choose the dress that makes me feel like a stone cold fox or do I choose the dress that makes me feel exquisite and lovely?

I always look to the opinion of others for big decisions like this, and literally everyone told me the same thing: even though I couldn’t go wrong with the Hollywood Glam dress, the first dress I loved was simply more me. It perfectly complemented my personality and resembled what I wear on a daily basis. Plus there was never a time when I tried it on and thought, “Nah, maybe not.” So that’s the one I ordered and the moment it arrived – my dress, the dress I would wear standing in front of everyone, saying ‘I do’ to my best friend – I became a girl who would daydream about what I would wear on my wedding day. I fell in love…hard. Wearing something that made me feel so beautiful and graceful was a serious dream! I wish that experience on every single one of you because it’s something no one should miss!

Bride admiring wedding dress

Ben Finch Photography


I tried to wrap that up quickly so I could share just a few things with you:

• Go for the dress that fits your personality. If you’re a simple, Plain Jane kind of girl, don’t buy the top-to-bottom beaded ballgown if you’re not completely comfortable in it. You’re going to look great in most every dress you try on because they’re designed to be flattering and attractive. It’s about how you feel in the dress, not necessarily how you look (but of course, looking great definitely helps!).

• SO IMPORTANT: It’s okay if you don’t cry when you think you’ve found “the one!!” Television has kind of set that expectation up for brides, so it’s easy to think there’s something better out there if the tears aren’t flowing – which is so not true!

• If you’re indecisive like me, don’t shop at every single wedding boutique in the Southeast. That gives you way too many options, and chances are, it will take you twice as long to make a decision.

• When you’re first shopping, try on every style, even if you think you’re going to hate ballgown. Most of the time, girls end up walking out with the dress they said they’d never try on!

• Start shopping a year in advance and be prepared to buy AT LEAST 6 months before the wedding, but preferably 8 months before to ensure time for delivery and alterations. Girls don’t realize how long the wedding dress process takes!

• Take a few friends or family members with you, but not an entire entourage. Too many opinions get thrown around, and you risk your feelings getting hurt and/or not being able to make a clear decision.

• Most of the time, the dresses you’re re-pinning cost $6,000+ and it’s unrealistic to even find some them. So if your budget is $1,500, don’t expect to get the exact dress you’re showing your bridal consultant with all the same features. Definitely keep an open mind!

Since I’ve spent so much time at the bridal boutique, I’ve learned SO much about wedding dresses and the process, so please feel free to use me as a resource for questions and concerns!

P.S. A huge thank you to Lea-Ann Belter for my PERFECT wedding gown!!