• Ajay Manaktala

How Long is a Hindu Wedding in America?

I was at my 50th Indian wedding for the year, and about 20 Irish dudes kept asking me how long the entire ceremony last. So I thought I would list it out for the American or UK Indian wedding guest who might be wondering the same.


So how long is the Hindu wedding ceremony? The average Hindu wedding length in the USA lasts about two hours in total. This is the timeline at which the couple is AT THE ALTAR reciting their traditions, called the pheras. Entrances for the bride and groom will also take 45 minutes each.




Timings of the Hindu Wedding Ceremony


In Indian culture, generally the baraat happens which is when the groom and his side dance their way into the altar. In villages and towns in India this can go on for like 5 hours, but in today's modern world it's about an hour tops. Keeping that in mind, the usual wedding itinerary and schedule of events would look like:


4PM: Groom's side meet him in the hotel or wedding hall parking lot (or other area)


4PM to 5PM: Everybody dances and has a mini parade towards the altar, complete with water bottles, ready mixes *cough*, music, live drummers and more. This is the baraat.


5PM: Groom meets the mother-in-law to welcome him into the altar. It's called the milni which literally means "meeting."



My brother left getting greeted when his baraat, which officially makes it over. Groom side behind him, bride side behind mother-in-law (pink).

5:00-5:15PM: Guests seated

5:15PM: Bride's entrance

5:30-7:30PM: Actual wedding ceremony


As you can see, from the time you arrive until the time it's over, the whole process is actually closer to 5 or six hours.


Factors that Affect How Long the Ceremony Is


Indian weddings come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the middle-class Indian weddings we see, where bride or groom work at a big corporation or grew up in the US won't last more than 90 minutes. But they're other factors that could be closer to the 1-2-3 day stuff you see online:


  • Usually there is a dinner or downtime or a reception on the same day after the wedding.

  • South Indian wedding ceremonies (folks from Bangalore, Chennai, Keralae, etc..) may just be 30 minutes or less.

  • Super traditional families may decide it should be 3-4 hours.

  • In the villages of India the baraat can go up to 12 hours itself, as random business deals and yes, even dowry demands still can exist.



Most weddings will give you something like this to ELI5 you through it. (explain like I'm 5).


Related Questions:


1. What to wear to an Indian wedding as a guest? First time wedding guests should wear a kurta or sherwani, but in 90% of cases a kurta is fine. See our full guide on Indian fashion for guests along with American prices.


2. Do I need to attend the wedding, mendhi, sangeet or reception? You should 100% attend the wedding, that's the main reason. The reception and sangeet are probably tied for second, mainly due to the fact that the Sangeet is a HUGE party you don't want to miss, and if you're asked to dance your presence is needed. The mendhi is probably the one event you can skip, unless, again, your BFF with the bride.


3. Why are Indian weddings so long? They're actually not that long, if we're talking about just the ACTUAL wedding itself.


But we have a few more celebrations.



Even at 75 minutes, a few of your friends will go out the sides to have a smoke, chat, catch up, or simply chill.


Just like Indians don't celebrate a sweet 16 bash, or we don't do a big engagement party, or bother as much with honeymoons these days, we simply go all out for the acutal wedding.


If you think about it, if you're going to get all your friends and family in one place, it makes sense to have it be for 2-3 days rather than one, since the extra time is marginal.


4. Why are Indian Wedding so Expensive? Again, another myth. Do they cost more in total? Yes. Are they cheaper per guest, you bet! (e.g. A biltmore or Plaza hotel wedding will cost you about $350 per guest, where as an Indian wedding will have an average cost of $150 per guest, etc..)




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