Gujarati Wedding Guide | USA Indian Weddings (2020)
Updated: May 28, 2020
To Garba or Not to Garba?
In this article I'm going to explain to the American born Patel/Shah/Mehta how to have an awesome Gujarati wedding, whether in the Bay area, New Jersey, Michigan, London, Hong Kong, Surat , Bangkok or wherever you find Gujarati's.
I've planned over 300 Gujarati weddings in America/Hawaii/Mexico/Thailand and I'm also married to a Gujarati bride myself :) You can take this as an informal Gujarati wedding checklist on top of the most things you need to do for a typical Indian wedding.
I'll also explain some Gujarati customs we see which are still done in weddings in the USA or UK or Canada.
We'll discuss how to deal with your Gujarati family (or your soon to be Gujarati groom's family) and have a stress free weekend, as often times the only people who don't enjoy themselves at a desi wedding are the couple!
If you're a first time guest of a Gujarati wedding, this article will also help.
Majority of Indian Weddings in America are Gujarati
Gujarati's are all over the place, and so are their weddings! Of all the Indian weddings we do in America or Canada, at least 60% of the Indian ones have a Patel or a Shah in the mix.
That being said, with regards to South Asian functions here are tips you need to know when planning a Gujarati wedding.
How is a Gujarati Wedding Different than a normal Indian Wedding?
It's not that they're different, it's just that Gujarati weddings are a TYPE of Indian wedding in which the community has its roots in the state of Gujarat, which is in the North west part of India.
When the average American or European thinks of Indian weddings, many of them will think of Chicken Tikka Masala, garlic naan, mehndi (henna hand paint), colorful fashion and free-flowing alcohol. Well...
If you're attending a wedding in India, in Gujarat itself, you can probably nix the alcohol and meat.
If in America, there is a 40% chance you can nix the meat and a 30% chance you can nix the alcohol.
Many Guju (short form for Gujarati) weddings in either country will likely have a Garba, which I'll explain below.
Guju's are very big on fashion, fabrics and jewelry so expect a bit more colorful affair than just shirt and ties!
On the whole, they'll likely be a bit more conservative than a Punjabi wedding but probably a bigger party than a South Indian wedding.
What are the Priorities in a Gujarati Wedding?
Tradition and Customs (e.g. having a small ceremony to purify the bride and groom, aka the haldi, pithi or Vidhi)
Alcohol (many major US weddings now have but not a massive priority)
Sangeet (many will opt instead for Garba)
Ways to Make Your Gujarati Wedding Memorable
We DJ Gujarati weddings pretty much weekly, and below is the best of the best advice on how to make sure that you're stands out. If you're completely clueless about what to do, read the whole thing. If you're on the fence about how to make your wedding hip but also keep the Guju aunties and uncles content, I suggest you skim and read closely!
As always we have a huge Gujarati team on staff so feel free to comment your specific questions!
1. When in Doubt...Garba.
For the Newbies, Wait...What is a Garba?
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance form coordinated by people clapping generally in a circle.
It is also used interchangeably with dandia (the drum sticks used to dance with your partner) or raas to describe the event. Regardless, don't you stress about the semantics.
In a nutshell it's a coordinated dance like the YMCA or the electric slide, except you have to do it in a circle, sometimes with sticks, and join in pairs (e.g. if you leave, someone is left out).
A garba can be a small portion of the night, for 30 minutes, or the entire theme of a night, sort of like a rodeo or breaking into a salsa portion.
Don't worry about it too much, you can basically join in and learn as you go. 5 Year old kids do it, you can do it too.
Ok, now back to why you should probably do it.
While weddings continue to turn into crazy sound and visual spectacles, most couples end up realizing tradition is important for a reason.
You don't need to have a Garba, but if you're on the fence about it or having pressure from family to do it...then please do it!
In fact for most of our clients in America and New York we've noticed that the younger people who are shy about doing it end up having a ball when their friends get so excited to participate.
Just Do It!
PRO TIP: You don't even need a formal Garba. At my brother's mehendi, after the drinks were flowing people started doing Garba on the informal dance floor and it rocked the party!
NRI PRO TIP: There is a common theme amongst younger people (I was guilty too) to shy away from Indian music. Why are you having an Indian wedding? Don't try to be "Cool." Your friends want to experience Bollywood music, so give them that experience too!
Make sure your Indian DJ in America knows Gujarati songs and customs!
Ideally they will know the latest Drake but also dandia jams!
Why Music is Important for Gujaratis
The Gujarati is one of the largest immigrant populations in the world. Millions of them have settled in Africa, the UK, the US, Canada and South East Asia. As a result, they take their culture very seriously and like to see it in doses at almost every function.
These days Gujarati folks may drink, may be non vegeterian, and many have probably never been to Ahmedabad or Baroda, but you step into house and Gujarati vibes are all over the place. I know many families in New Jersey who don't speak Hindi but are fluent in Gujarati.
Long story short, most weddings are 90% Bollywood and Hip-hop but throw in even 5% of Gujarati or Garba music and watch the elder folks go nuts!
2. Chicken Versus Vegetarian
PRO TIP: Have separate tables and counters. And give the veggies some justice.
Eating meat is a very sensitive issue amongst the Gujarati crowd, and simply having a few veggie items at the buffet or vice-versa wont cut it.
You need to keep the food at a separate counter, because there will be some 7 year old kid who mixes the spoons between the Chicken Tikka Masala and the rice.
In fact for Jain people (those who don't eat root veggies like potato or carrots) you might even need three counters.
The last thing you want is Praful bai accidentally chomping on a juicy piece of shrimp.
We've seen it ruin the mood of entire weddings.
Make sure you have separate buffet counters if you are mixing the food.
AND MAKE SURE YOUR VEG SPREAD IS AS VARIED AS YOUR NON VEG SPREAD! Get middle eastern, mexican, whatever and let it shine!
3. Make sure your aunties/uncles/grandparents communicate traditions before hand.
Do you know about the
At my own wedding, my mom asked the hotel at 2AM for a coconut to do some ritual.
Where the heck will we find a coconut at 2AM, let alone candles/wax/lights and turmeric powder?
Whatever traditions are important to your family and relatives (and Gujarati's have a lot!), make sure it's all listed out properly.
Sit with your mom and dad, her mom and dad, and make sure all the relatives know so you can plan ahead.
You won't regret it! It takes 2 minutes!
4. Speak some Gujarati!
Gujarati's have pride, and rightfully so. So acknowledge the international travelers!
They also love to know you thought about them.
If you have a 300 person wedding in Los Angeles and you have 30 people from Gujarat, it will make their trip if you speak to them in Gujarati and say something like "You came and I'm so happy!" while giving your speeches:
Tame aaviya, hamne bahu aanand thayo!
They will all know English but make sure you add that little touch and it will go a long way. This is often the hidden X factor in an otherwise cold crowd. If you're halfway through some speeches from your colleagues and college friends, and the crowd feels cold.....REP some Gujarati on the microphone and WATCH the room come alive!
5. Food Again (not just General Indian)
Of all the Indian communities, I would say at an Indian wedding you would probably need Indian food the most at a Gujarati wedding.
Does that make sense?
Punjabis can handle their chicken-steak-pasta or roti/daal/chicken curry, but Gujurati's prefer their home tastes specific to their region, not just country.
How to Please most people at a Gujarati Wedding?
You don't need to get an entire Gujarati menu, you should get stuff like Kachori, Dhokla, Chats. (Your Indian food catering team should know this and have a Gujarati menu).
You should specify if you're the types of Gujarati's who want sugar in their main course food or not.
In order to have a great Gujarati function always try to balance both, your trends and tradition.
If you want to dance to hip-hop only with your college friends, try to do that later in the night when most uncles/aunties will be tired.
Plan a slot at dinner for people to chat. Gujarati's love to chat/gossip!
Another subset of Gujarati folks are Jain, and they don't eat root veggies like onions, garlic, etc...
Your mom or dad (or your whole family) might be Jain, or you'll have a sense on your Jain headcount if you planned your guestlist properly as your VERY FIRST WEDDING STEP like we recommend, so based on that you can allocate your buffet menu accordingly. We usually see a separate buffet of 3-4 trays OR items marked on their menu card as *Jain friendly*.
6. FAMILY FAMILY FAMILY (BONUS TIP)
Gujarati's have BIG families (I know from experience) and if you're not a Gujarati and marring one, make sure you set aside another 10 minutes with your partner to remember names and relationships.
The last thing you want to say is "I'm sorry what was your name again?" to the bride's father's brother.
Can you guess how you say cha cha in Gujarati?
Sit your husband or wife down and explain who your mom's 5 sisters are, or your dad's 9 cousins are, etc... PLEASE!
7. Gujarati Wedding Guest Attire
Gujaratis have some swag man.
There is normal Indian fashion and then there is flashy Gujarati fashion.
If you want to buy a discount $500 sherwani (Indian groom outfit) and your wife is pushing you to get a $900 one made out of silk and fine garments...we get it...but trust us, do it.
The last thing you want is the guests to look better than you. Most Gujarati functions are super bright, colorful affairs where people are excited to bring their A game in terms of threads so be ready!
What to Wear to a Gujarati Wedding as a Male Guest?
As a guest, you're off the hook. Standard Indian men's wedding wear is fine, just avoid any dark blacks. Kurt's are probably your safest bet and for the reception/Sangeet (if they have a Sangeet) you can go semi formal.
What to Wear to a Gujarati Wedding as a Female Guest?
For the bride and her super close family, you will get special instructions. For the rest, these are great options.
Western semi formal dresses (ladies try to avoid super short skirts if you can as oldies will give you looks).
Gujarati weddings need not be stressful, as long as you can balance the old with the new, be trendy yet traditional. Follow the tips above and you should be good to go.
remember some names,
drop some Kem Cho's and you're good to go!
As always do comment any questions below!
Looking for a DJ or entertainment for your Gujarati wedding in California or elsewhere in America?
We do it all and also have exclusive referrals planning/catering/photography to save you money. Ping us now.
We can also get you better deals on Gujarati catering in your city.
Ajay Manaktala is one of the best Indian Wedding DJs in America who has personally DJ'd and produced over 1000 Indian weddings in his 20+ years of being in the sound and lighting business. Him and his company blog extensively on South Asian events on this blog as well as on Quora.