Finding an Indian Wedding Checklist for weddings in the US is tough, so we wanted to make planning easier by pulling together our Aunties make wedding planning easier. Obviously, planning can vary by regions in Indian, but we think this is a great base list for all Hindu weddings. There are lots of planning checklists out there, but none focused on decor and that include all of the religious items you'll need.
In an Indian Wedding, planning for decorations is critical. Everything around the wedding is based on the taste and theme of decoration. These days Indian Weddings are famous for ‘Theme Based Decorations’, for which the bride plans to design her wedding outfit as per the decoration color theme.
Let me start with a series of functions that takes place in an Indian Wedding by covering the particular event checklist. This Wedding Planning Checklist list is independent of the number of wedding guests. There's nothing to scale up here.
Planning the Haldi and Mehndi Ceremony
Most Indian Brides plan on a bridal Mehndi (aka mehendi). The Mehndi decoration is the beginning of the wedding ceremony that generally takes place 1-2 days before the wedding. The bride, all the close female relatives of the bride (both her family as well as the in-laws), bridesmaid and anyone, who is emotionally attached to the bride, decorate their hand with Mehndi. It is a tradition followed from decades in any Indian Wedding Ceremony.
The bridal Mehndi has a beautiful design pertaining to the wedding view of the couple.
Mandap for Mehndi Ceremony:
The Mehndi Ceremony of the bride is celebrated by inviting close relatives of the family, and the venue has a beautiful garland porch for the bride to sit in. Your wedding planning may not incorporate this, and that's ok.
The Mehndi Mandap is often decorated with natural flowers, artificial flowers or lighting for turning the ceremony venue beautiful. Indian brides generally prefer marigold flower decoration for designing the Mehndi Mandap. Mandap is the typical Indian word used for defining the porch, which is temporarily built and decorated for the wedding.
If you don't have a Mandap for your Mehndi Ceremony, that's fine, only 10% do here in the US
Haldi Flower Jewelry:
This generation of Indian brides prefer flower jewelry for her Haldi Ceremony. The flower jewelry is made-up of natural flowers and includes flower earrings, flower ring, flower necklace, flower bracelet, and flower hairdo.
The Haldi Mandap is generally designed using the yellow and white theme decoration followed by natural flowers. It is kept simple as the ceremony is held only between the family members. This is another one that not a lot of American weddings have, but if the Haldi ceremony is big for you, then you might consider it. If your wedding budget permits it, go for it, if not, don't think twice
Planning the Sangeet and Garba Ceremony
Sangeet is the entertaining wedding ceremony held by the bride and the groom together, which includes dancing, singing, and other musical activities. The sangeet is a great time to get fun pictures with your wedding party. We recommend planning on making this a casual event with minimal catering, especially if it's held at home. Decor wise, it can also be kept simple, With small stages and next to no decor outside of the stage. Instead, splurge on a videographer, which means more for sangeets than other parts of the wedding ceremonies
Sangeet stage is designed using a particular event theme that includes different decoration ideas such as flower decoration, Bollywood decoration (pictures of Bollywood actors and actress in the venue), drapes decoration, colorful lamp decoration, contemporary style decoration, etc. Depending upon the decoration theme, the items of decoration are ordered by the decorator.
The stage backdrop plays an important role for enhancing the entire venue décor as the performances of all the family members’ takes place on the stage and the photographer captures maximum pictures of the stage.
The bride and the groom sit together on the decorated wedding swing during the Sangeet or Garba ceremony, which is usually decorated with orchids, marigold, roses, and other colorful flowers. This is a great place and time to do a pre-wedding shoot, right on the Wedding Swing.
Wedding Ceremony Planning Checklist
If your'e not hiring a wedding planner, or if your mom is the wedding planner, here's a short indian wedding checklist for your ceremony and wedding venue
If you're planning a destination wedding, it's a lot cheaper (and stress free) to buy everything and ship them via UPS, or even a giant trunk. Do not try to hunt for all of these things at the destination. Few vendors carry everything, so you're going to have to hunt for a number of these things from different vendors
Work with your wedding venue on the layout for storing and easily accessing all of these things during the day. Many will not be familiar, especially hotels.
The Statue of the Lord:
Indian Weddings are always incomplete without the statue of Lord Ganesha. The statue is beautifully decorated with natural flowers and lighted lamps around it.
Wedding Mandap / Arch (wedding chori):
This is the most important part of the wedding décor. The Wedding Mandap is exactly the place where the bride and groom exchange the wedding vows and wedding rings. This Arch is decorated using natural flowers such as orchid, rose, tulip, marigold, etc. Depending upon the taste of the bride and groom’s selection, the wedding arch is designed.
Planning for this large piece of decor can be simple: just drape an area in white and place flowers on each side. Or it can be complicated. It's up to you.
One tip for DIYers - Get your Wedding Party involved in the Wedding Mandap. It's a large task, and getting input is a great way for them to get involved
Pots for Wedding Arch
The Wedding Arch is surrounded with pots (Indian style gada) from all the four sides. The reason for its decoration is unknown, but it has been a tradition from years for decorating a Wedding Arch with the Indian style pots.
The bride and the groom have their decorated wedding chairs in the Wedding Arch, which is generally made-up of the ‘Sankheda Wood’. The chair is decorated with natural flowers to make it look beautiful and appealing.
The wedding garlands are exchanged to each other during the marriage ceremony by the bride and the groom. These garlands are mostly made up of natural roses.
This tradition is still followed by quite a few Indian weddings in the US (we estimate about 1/2) where the bride enters the Wedding Arch inside a Doli, which is beautifully decorated with natural flowers and colorful palanquin lines.
Wedding Puja Tray:
The wedding ceremony has a lot of Puja items that has to be decorated in a big tray filled with flowers and Kumkum powder. Kumkum Powder is considered the holiest item for the wedding puja.
Head table for the bride and groom:
The head table is decorated with candles and flowers for the bride and the groom. It is a special table for the newly wedded couple to head for their lunch or dinner. You already probably have this for your wedding, but since Indian weddings tend to have lots of speeches, we call it out specifically. Plan for where you will sit to hear the speeches.
Planning the Wedding Day Ceremony
(Indian Wedding Checklist for items needed for performing an Indian Hindu Style Marriage). There is no by-the-book solution. You'll have to consult with your pandit for the final list and coordinate with what he will bring vs what you will bring. If you're lucky enough to have a wedding planner, make sure she has this Indian Wedding Checklist!
Turmeric and Kumkum Powder:
These are the basic two elements that are must to start with the marriage ceremony. The parents of the bride and groom exchanges wish by applying Kumkum on each other’s forehead. Also, these ingredients are must for the Puja Tray for performing the marriage chants and vows. They are kept in precious boxes.
Beetle Nut and Beetle Leaves:
Beetle Nut is considered very pious items during the Puja. The beetle nut is kept on the beetle leaf during the marriage chants along with Lord Ganesh. The beetle nut is considered a type of God during the Puja.
Incense sticks and camphor:
It is said that God pleases with good aroma. In an Indian style Hindu wedding, the Pandit (the one who performs the Puja) ignites the incense sticks and camphor for spreading good aroma and positivity in the environment.
Often referred to as ‘Shrifal’ as the holy name during the Puja and other holistic ceremonies; coconut is a symbol of good luck and peace. The marriage coconut is a decorated one and the bride carries along with her to her groom’s home.
Indians especially Hindus are very spiritual by nature. On auspicious occasions like marriage, baby shower and other special occasions the Pandit asks for dry fruits as the purest offering to the Lord as it is cooked by anyone with dirty hands nor does it contain any impure water.
Kasar is the sweet dish made by the bride’s side which is asked to be swollen during the Puja ceremony by both the bride and the groom for four times. Each time the swollen Kansar helps them to know that they are going to share the living hood together for a lifetime.
Copper is one of the metals that helps in purification of the Puja. It is usually asked by the Pandit during the ceremony.
Mindhal (the religious thread):
Mindhal is one of the most important things used in the wedding puja. Without it, the ceremony remains incomplete. Tying of Mindhal on the couple’s wrist helps them to get natural waves to their body (as mindhal is a holy fruit), which scientifically increases the estrogen level in the body. This further helps the bride and the groom to successfully and easily conceive a baby soon after marriage.
Note: Very few people know the importance of tying Mindhal in Indian wedding ceremony.
Blouse (linen or silk):
Depending upon the worship of the Lord, the blouse linen or silk color is chosen for performing Puja. Red symbolizes for Lord Ganesh. This also tends to be something used to tie yourselves together
When the bride leaves her house soon after the wedding ceremony, she is asked to throw back the ounces of rice (she holds in her fist) while walking forward towards her husband. This is the opposite of having guests throw rice.
The bride and groom sit on the Bajot before exchanging vows of marriage. It is made up of wood and is decorative. It is often gifted to the bride after the marriage.
Oil and Ghee:
For lighting lamps and for keeping the Hawan Kund fire burning till the Puja ceremony, the Pandit uses both oil and ghee to pour it. Also, ghee is used for lighting the lamp to God.
Bunches of flowers:
For pleasing God and for the formality of the Puja, the Pandit asks the bride’s family to get some fresh bunch of flowers preferably marigold, rose and orchids. Also, the same flowers are used to sprinkle on the wedding couple while they are taking seven vows around the fire.
The most important part of any Puja in the Hindu ceremony is the Hawan Kund. Planning where this will go is important. It is the square container that has woods inside it for giving fire until the ceremony is performed. You can usually rent these along with chairs. Do not use a bbq pit unless you have to. The other alternative is to get a metal box and line it with foil to make it look good.
When the marriage vows are to be exchanged, the Pandit asks the groom to tie the wedding necklace (mangal sutra) around the bride’s neck. It is the most pious bridal necklace for any woman to have. It adds pride to her self-respect, in many women. It is made up of Gold and black beads.
Sindoor is the holy name of KumKum powder that is used during the marriage ceremony. The groom fills the Sindoor in the bride’s upper forehead as the sign of his good health and life.
Silver coin and rupee coin:
The silver coin and rupee coin are used in the Puja as the purest metals for bringing in more luck and charm to the couple’s future.
Planning The Reception
We don't go into a lot of detail on this post for planning a reception, see our other posts on our site, but one planning idea we love is the photo-booth.
The Photo-booth concept is getting popular these days in the Indian Wedding for guests, where the relatives of the bride and groom can capture Selfie and candid pictures using the wedding props. The wedding photo booth is decorated with flowers and wedding props; it has an interesting backdrop to give pictures a beautiful background. When considering the count on your guest list, a few weddings have opted to have two photo booths...with two themes. Your guests will have twice as much fun, and avoid a long-line. We recommend one photo booth per 300 guests. Make one Indian and one Western.
Still looking for more specific items for your Indian Wedding Checklist? Take a look at this site which will ship to anywhere in the world. You can probably find most of what you need here in the US, but that site will have more specific religious items.
Bottom line is, focus on keeping things simple. There's a lot to an Indian Weddings, from gigantic guest lists, to crazy buffets. There is no perfect wedding planning checklist. You probably have 10-30 vendors, and a honeymoon to plan for too! Stick to what's important. Your friends and family are joining you for an incredibly special day. Make one thing extremely special for your dream wedding, don't try to plan a perfect dream wedding.
Did we miss any other critical ideas for your wedding planning? Write it in the comments below! We will include it in our list!
What's on This Page
- Planning the Haldi and Mehndi Ceremony
- Planning the Sangeet and Garba Ceremony
- Wedding Ceremony Planning Checklist
- Planning the Wedding Day Ceremony
- Planning The Reception