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.

Planning an Indian Wedding: Castleton Goes International

You haven’t heard? Castleton Farms is headed to India! As you read this, our Executive Director, Darla Walker, is jet-setting across the world with our bride Heena and photographer Ben Finch to prep for the big day. While over there, Darla and Heena will shop for the wedding sarees, jewelry, invitations and more, and back home, we’re going to be documenting every bit of it. While they’re all en route, we wanted to introduce Heena + Ronak to you all!

International Indian wedding planning

Indian wedding photography_Bill Waldorf


their storyThe two met at a graduation party at the end of their Junior year in college, and Heena claims she knew there was something special about him when she saw him walk through the door (swoon!). Little did they know, at that moment, where life would bring them! A few days after, Heena was leaving Atlanta for the summer so Ronak asked her to grab coffee at the ever-so-eclectic Java Monkey, and the rest is history. Heena commented, “It’s a good thing that I liked him enough to go on a date with him because I’m not the biggest fan of coffee!”


Indian wedding engagement_Ben Finch Photo


how he askedOne of the couple’s favorite places is Savannah, Georgia. The fact that 3 out of 6 of their anniversaries have been spent in the charming, historic town made it the perfect proposal location. Ronak had mapped out every detail of the day, which would end with him on one knee, at their favorite place in Savannah–the fountain in the middle of Forsyth Park, asking the girl he adores to spend forever with him. But life happens, and the day didn’t go as Ronak had planned. Every time he thought about proposing throughout the day, something went wrong. The day ended back at the town home where they were staying, and Ronak decided then that the time was right. He asked. Heena was taken by surprise. She said yes, of course, and here we are today!


Indian wedding engagement_Ben Finch Photo

castleton brideHeena had previously been to an Indian wedding at Castleton and fell in love with our property. When the time rolled around for her to choose a wedding venue, she considered Castleton because of the outdoor venue options. In India, over 90% of couples get married outside. While there are endless outdoor venues to choose from in America, the couple had difficulty finding an outdoor venue that could accommodate such a large guest count. Indian families consider everyone they meet part of their family, which explains their 500+ person guest counts. Heena + Ronak also mentioned choosing Castleton because of Darla and the built-in event planning that comes with every experience. Unlike American weddings, Indian weddings consist of multiple events occurring over a 3-day time period (at least!), so having an event planner to keep track of each detail and hold people accountable was a huge deal breaker for these two.

All of that being said, we are SO excited to have the opportunity to experience India with Heena, Ronak, Ben, and the whole family. Join us on this adventure and find some entertainment in our daily Facebook vlogs, Instagram inspiration photos, blog posts describing the details and importance of planning an Indian wedding, and one of our favorite parts – Pappu’s passage! That’s right. The little friend you see below is joining our journey. We’ll be posting photos of Pappu wherever we go, and it’s up to YOU to guess where he is. Darla will be bringing back some fun souvenirs for each winner! Be sure to follow us with the hashtags #PappusPassage, #WhereInTheWorldIsPappu and #IndiaExperiencesCastleton.

authentic patchwork Indian elephant

Nikki + Justin: Not Just Any Old Farm

“I more than love you, I’m not whole without you.  You are life itself to me.  When you are gone I’m waiting for you to return so I can start living again,” an excerpt from a love letter from Ronald Reagan to his wife in 1983 for the couple’s 21st wedding anniversary that Castleton Couple Nikki + Justin decided to include as an ode to D.C. (where the couple lives) for one of their readings. This Castleton Bride had such a sweet desire to truly make her experience unique, starting with the rehearsal dinner. Nikki wore her grandmother’s wedding dress which was stunning and fit like a glove! “I’m not a DIY’er by any means,” she claims, but we were loving the small details she incorporated, not to mention the giant wooded W (for Williams) that she glued wine corks all over and posted it up at the bar. She also created created an ‘heirloom table,’ a vintage looking set up with clothes pins hanging family pictures including great grandparents’ and grandparents’ and parents’ wedding day pictures. Relatives who have passed away and even some family dogs were displayed in vintage gold frames. And as icing on the cake (literally!), they wanted to pay homage to their District roots, so they had a cake replica made of the U.S. Capitol Dome. “It was truly District to Dixie!”


Bridal portrait at sunsetSouthern bride photography

their story

Justin and I both went to the University of Tennessee together, although we didn’t really know each other. Justin and I had a lot of mutual friends. This story was told several times at the wedding and rehearsal dinner…and the way Justin’s friends tell it, is Justin was in love with me before we even met. His friends lovingly refer to him as a stalker. Since we had a lot of mutual friends, there were several would-be meetings that were set up by his fraternity brothers. One of his friends tells the story best–he said I was at the gym one day when he and Justin saw me on the treadmill. Our mutual friend was in the process of introducing us, when Justin apparently freaked out and ran away. It wasn’t until we were both living in Washington D.C. a year after college that we officially spent time together…in a non-stalker way. Our first date was at an Italian restaurant in Georgetown, and after that date, there was never really any questions. We’ve been together for just under 8 years since.

Southern wedding venue



Choosing Castleton Farms: The Tuscan-Inspired Vineyard

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Imagine having your wedding a few steps away from the set of Under the Tuscan Sun. If that thought causes you to daydream, look no longer. The Tuscan-inspired Vineyard at Castleton Farms is absolutely stunning! Rows upon rows of muscadine grape vines help make this site a magnificent location for your wedding – not to mention when the leaves turn to yellows and reds in the fall, this is the spot to be for your first look photos.

The Vineyard is for the sophisticated bride who wants a quaint and intimate ceremony. It is a combination of intimacy and elegance, surrounded by rolling, green hills. The possibilities are abundant, and our Vineyard looks beautiful decorated in any theme. It is a site that you can easily make your own. No fancy décor is needed to make this garden jaw-dropping. The Vineyard is located on one of the most beautiful areas on property, overlooking the breathtaking Smoky Mountains. The Vineyard will have your guests in awe, watching you exchange your vows with the beautiful mountains as the backdrop. Included in the garden is also a patio large enough to hold your dance floor or even an intimate reception with only your closest friends and family. What could be better?  If that is not enough, beside the Vineyard, you will see our new Laghetto. The Laghetto is our gorgeous, manicured pond that is housing the Castleton SS boat. This boat is similar to The Notebook, just waiting to take the new Mr. and Mrs. on their voyage. Well, the Mr. And Mrs. who are brave enough to risk getting wet! Surrounding the Laghetto is rich and lush landscaping with space large enough to accommodate your reception.

If you have always dreamed of a vineyard wedding, there is no need to travel thousands of miles to Europe because The Vineyard at Castleton Farms is your perfect destination!

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue

Tuscan vineyard wedding venue. Dance floor