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.

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