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  • Writer's pictureAjay Manaktala

South Asian Wedding Day Surprises Nobody Warns You About

Indian and South Asian weddings are quite the events.

Imagine a wedding reception:

  • spanning 2 or 3 days,

  • with 300 people,

  • food past the horizon and years of planning and travel all leading up to this special day.

Most desi weddings have guests that travel the world to attend and also have budgets of a small business.

As a result, it’s important to understand not only the things everybody tells you but also stuff less common that many don’t.

We asked over 2,000 Indian and Pakistani brides what is something they didn’t realize would happen during the wedding, and they did not disappoint.

Ten Indian Wedding Shaadi Surprises on the Big Day

1. You Will Get Tired of Smiling

If you’re a bride or groom to be, nobody explains that the actual wedding day is like being Oprah or Beyonce for a day.  Those celebrities get used to ignoring crowds and cameras, but for most of us it’s a new feeling.

As a result your body will go into “Just smile and don’t act weird” mode.

Eventually however, the hyper awareness you’re so not used to having will catch up with your face muscles, and you will actually start clenching your jaw, rubbing your eyes, and just a be a little uncomfortable.

Indian wedding face hurts from smiling
Left or Right?

It’s nothing major, but take sips of water, close your eyes for 5-10 seconds at a time and just recognize it happens to everybody.

While you might think all eyes are on you, they are also on their cell phones, wrapped up in catch up conversations and sometimes (yes it’s normal), guests do fall asleep.  Don’t stress, everybody knows you’re overwhelmed with attention and just settle into the poise that works for you.

2. The Lehenga is 50 pounds and Heavy.

I did not realize how heavy a lehenga is.  Wow.

The extra weight means:

  • you will have a hard time moving,

  • you will sweat a bunch,

  • you might want to change after your ceremony and you will burn a lot of energy.

indian wedding stress heavy lehenga
The stress is real!

If you think you’re gonna jump right onto the dance floor or bar with that extra 60 pounds of garments, jewelry, hair extension and whatever else...ummm, think again.

Of the 100 responses we got for this article, the weight of the lehenga was one of the most popular “Nobody warned me about that” moments.

3. Your Makeup Will Take Too Long

I have a personal gripe with Make Up Artists.  They are AMAZING at making South Asian wedding brides look GORGEOUS.  But once that’s done, can you not waste her time with 15 minutes of photos for your Instagram reel?

indian wedding makeup takes too long
Don't say we didn't warn you.

The ballroom and food and bar is costing her family possibly $100 a minute (or usually more), so maybe be as quick as efficient as the quality allows?  Or have your assistant snap those photos while you work so it’s all done when you’re done?

Brides - makeup takes HOURS, you should be eating your lunch or breakfast while getting it done, so plan ahead. 

Makeup then impacts your photos, your friends selfies and most importantly that “here comes the bride moment.”

Prioritize your makeup but also tell your MUA you don’t want a wasted minute. Make sure they eat/plan/prepare during all your time doing other stuff, so the session is locked down as quickly as possible.

4. Photography Shouldn’t Keep You Away from the Action

On a similar note, it’s a shame that when your entire friends/family are from around the world in one ballroom for 2 have to vanish for 30 minutes.

This is prime time!  25% of your entire event for fancy photos?

Spend 10 minutes or so doing portraits (or plan 30 minutes, to the minute, before your reception) and then let your photo teams focus on candids and you laughing and enjoying the evening with your friends and family.

indian wedding photography takes too long
Taking portraits outside your ballroom at your Sangeet? Keep it to 15 minutes tops! Then get back to the action!

Or plan the next day with your photographer teams and hey, you can wear those outfits one more time at least!

I rarely see portraits beyond the first week after a wedding, as most excitement comes from pictures of all of you together.

Don’t vanish from a $100,000 reception.

25% of that time (for example, 45 minutes of a 3 hour reception) taking pictures you may not appreciate as much as the memories!

5. That First Night

Ok I found this hilarious, so I’ll just leave this image here.  It speaks for itself but I mean, I can’t really argue with it.

Suhagraat in Indian culture means your first night as man and wife so you get the idea ;)

6. You Will Forget to Eat

Nobody told me about this one, although my brother’s wedding planner (KS Creations in Bangkok) made sure him and his wife did.

Imagine all the food tastings, all the diet consideration for different type of Indians, all the impressing the family friends...and then you don’t even get one bite of that lobster, dhokla or biryani.

Ask your wedding planner or family to whisk you away from the crowd so you get at least 15-20 minutes uninterrupted to eat during your events.  You don’t want to get too drunk from an empty stomach, or tired from exhaustion.

Ask any wedding planner, especially an Indian wedding planner and they’ll 100% agree...the bride and groom forgetting to eat happens all the time and it should be addressed!

7. Try to Be Present as Much As Possible, It will Go In a Flash

The second most popular feedback we got was that we get so caught up in the material aspects of the wedding, we often forget to simply enjoy the moment.  Don’t worry all the time about where your parents or siblings are, or if the vendors are doing their job.

Either your wedding planner will or delegate it to your close ones. (What are friends and family for?)

Most modern Desi wedding ceremonies are now limited to about 75-90 minutes, so trust will be over before you know it.

Practice meditating, doing yoga, or just breathing...but make sure you are FULLY present both during the religious ceremony/vows/pheras and also humble/poised during your events like the sangeet and reception.

8. Appetizers Galore, but Biryani And Curry Please

I don’t have a solution for this, because nobody wants to look super cheap on their food variety.  But trust us...all those options you ordered...Indian guests (especially in India) like the staple dishes.

But if you avoid the fancy appetizers...the aunties will gossip you skimped out.

If you’re deciding between 5 and 10 appetizers, you can safely go with 5...but if you’re deciding between 0 and 5 because you know people will get main courses….well just go with five.