An Epic Indian Wedding in Delhi

If somebody proposed flying 4000 miles to a different continent for only 5 days with the primary purpose of attending a party, would you do it? Assuming you weren’t being hand-delivered a diamond-encrusted invitation to sit next to George Clooney at the Oscars, I think it’s fair to say that most of us would at least need to give some consideration to the decision. There are annual leave days to count, flight prices to check, jet lag to contend and work commitments to adhere to.

Best Delhi Weddings
A Truly Epic Delhi Wedding

Add to this the fact that I have never been much of a champagne-sipping, stiletto-wearing socialite, wherever the party happens to be at – but when it comes to weddings, I AM SOLD. Whether I’m roofed under a rustic barn with a raucous Scottish ceilidh or mucking into a plate-smashing Greek shin-dig, I LOVE a good wedding and if I am ever out of a day job, you’ll find me studiously inspecting the fine print of the wedding crashers’ manual, front to back 😀

Delhi Ladies Sangeet Party
Party Number 1 & Her Last Few Days of Freedom 😀

There is something about the fairytale flutter of newlywed butterflies whirring round the stomach of a beaming bride, something about the sense of adventure and hope and the promise of partnership that gets me every time and with two weddings already under our belt by the end of January this year, we stepped on board our first international flight of 2017 to watch one of our nearest and dearest take her vows at a Delhi wedding of epic proportions.

The Beaming Bride & Groom
The Radiant Bride & Groom

First though, a little introduction for those of you who have never been to a Big Fat Indian Wedding; it is never one day, one party or one outfit.

The wedding itself is the plump and robust cherry on top of a whole week of events in the run up to the big day. There are pre-wedding parties, formal engagement ceremonies, ladies-only parties (call it traditional India’s answer to a hen do) and even a turmeric ceremony (yes, that’s a real thing and long before turmeric became trendy with the hippie health-foodsters, it was a staple ingredient in Indian Wedding methodology).

Indian wedding bangles

Even in my own, more abridged, fusion Eastern/Western wedding, we still had three events squeezed into one week prior to the wedding itself not to mention two different ceremonies on the day. But I digress.

Indian Wedding Favours
Wedding Favours Indian Style

Everyone has their own views on what comprises an enviable wedding but If you graduated from the less is more school of thought, take my advice and don’t go to an Indian wedding. At a classic Indian wedding, more is always more and big is beautiful, bling, even more so.

Purple theme Indian Wedding Inspiration

Dress to Impress

Dressing for the occasion was a two-hour long effort with hair stylists and beauticians at our disposal. Whilst veils, hats and fascinators haven’t yet advanced to the forefront of Indian wedding traditions, what we can offer you in place is an explosion of colour, beads, sequins and jewels, the weight of which can tone even the most flaccid biceps.  My outfit occupied half of a large-sized suitcase and weighed well in excess of an average newborn, coming in at a humble 6kg!

P1100506 (2)

 

There are very few scenarios in the world where a woman can wear an outfit she wore on her own wedding day at someone else’s wedding but this year, I managed and without looking out of place at that, such was the magnificence of the glitzy, opulent outfits boasted by fellow guests. (Disclaimer: I would not recommend extrapolating this by rocking up to someone else’s church wedding wearing your own white wedding gown….”

Indian wedding venue

The ”I wish I got married here” moment

Less anticipated was the way my outfit would pale into insignificance when I clambered clumsily into the majestic wedding venue, The Nikunj Hotel by GNH in New Delhi, sporting a pair of 4 inch matte gold sandals that exposed my awkward inexperience with Hollywood heels. In fact, the space was so jaw-droppingly enchanting that it verges on offensive to pay homage to it with such clinical, un-inspired linguistics.

The Nikunj Hotel Delhi Wedding

This was no ordinary “function room” that comes equipped with off-white luminescent glare, a mic system and a team of sharply-dressed but predictable waiters, lined up synchronously with their crease-free, magpie-like uniformity.

magical wedding venue inspiration

Instead, this was an infinite wonderland, suffused with amethyst hues, where Alice was about to waltz in with her Prince Charming, where one fairy tale blended boundlessly with another and where us mere mortals were made to feel like celebrities for the night.

Indian wedding decor

Fragrant notes of spring wafted between rooms, transported by silky rose garlands that were emblematic of the signature flower displays splashed across the venue. From the swan structure doused in delicate petals, floral chandeliers dripping from the ceiling and entire walls draped in botanical designs, we had to actively peel ourselves from the interiors to remind ourselves of the special reason we were there.

swan sculpture decoration

Decadent Delhi Dining

In keeping with Indian cultural norms, food is a medium through which locals show love and the twenty plus canapes on offer made us feel very loved indeed! Ever been offered a napkin on a bicycle? Neither had I until this event but there was no limit to the surprise delights lurking in every corner.

catering serving dishes

I am not vegetarian myself but for anyone who has ever questioned how diverse vegetarian cuisine can be, the selection of dishes on offer at this wedding would silence even the harshest cynics. widely exceeding the range of options I have seen available at entire food festivals in London town and certainly more than any hotel I have visited.

weddings Nikunj by GNH Hotel Delhi

Three out of four walls of the largest banqueting room at the venue were lined with trays of temptation, which included a whole bespoke pizza and pasta station, a Teppanyaki stall, sushi spots, an Indo-Chinese selection of dishes, South Indian food, North Indian food – I simply don’t have the word count to list more but no hotel buffet will ever feel the same again and the lychee dish stole the show for one of the most innovative fusion savoury/sweet bites I have ever sampled.

Indian wedding catering Delhi

Conquering such a feast would require some strategic planning so we decided that with so many renowned international dining options in London and during our travels, it seemed most logical to fill our appetites in India with the food of our Motherland.

Teppanyaki station Delhi Wedding

I took the tiniest portions manageable with the serving spoon, which I tend to do at buffets to allow me to try a wider array of flavours but even with this approach, one plate was all I could manage, especially if I was going to reserve a little pouch of space in my belly for dessert. Anyone for a Kulfi stick (or four) from the dedicated Kulfi trolley that was merely the start of the dessert row?!

Beautiful Indian Wedding

Cuppa Chai?

Calorific offerings aside, is there anything more quintessentially Indian than an aromatic, exotic cup of Masala chai served in a terracotta, handle-free cup? Given my fascination with tea, you would never predict that it was only around 6 years ago that I actually started drinking this staple and I owe it to the concoction prepared fresh on the pan of my grandparental home that I finally converted.

Indian copper teapot

It was for this reason that one of my fondest catering highlights from the wedding was the emergence of the tea-man (Chai-wala), who I am sure must have become rather sick of the sight of me by the end of the night. Let’s not tot up my caffeine intake that evening…

Indian tea man chaiwala

The Epic Indian Wedding

Now, if you’re wondering about a little thing called the actual nuptials, fear not, I haven’t forgotten. Any proper wedding needs a minimum of two key players though and so far, we were missing a groom. A mighty and hypnotic drum roll soon answered that, however, with the arrival of the man of the match and his entire entourage, known as the Bharaat.

Punjabi Wedding Bharaat Delhi

Arriving with the groom’s party is a thrilling and exhilarating way to waltz into any Indian wedding with a passport, no – mandate, to sing, clap, party and shake your backside. If you are in the bridal party, like we were, you can stand on the receiving side of the line and have a little jig too (though perhaps in a more under-stated fashion so as not to scare the groom’s party back in the wrong direction!) With a groom in the house and a bride in the capable hands of the make-up artists, the vital ingredients were in place.

wedding inspiration India

Having woken up from my canape coma, word spread that the ceremony was about to start. Indian wedding ceremonies are a little different to typical weddings here in the UK. For one, you will never find the whole audience sitting in courteous silence. The vows are rooted in deep cultural and religious beliefs and traditions but it is not at all uncommon to find guests strolling in and out of the room, answering calls and having their own micro-conversations.

Nikunj Hotel Delhi wedding bar

Pumpkin and I still laugh about a photograph we have from our own wedding where, at one point, the only people in the front row looking forward at us were a set of twin babies! You might think it rude (I know I do) if you are more accustomed to weddings in Western Europe but it really isn’t quite the social taboo it would be in England and even family members in the audience were ducking in and out of the room – the extensive catering choices were hardly a good way of keeping people within the ceremony room!

Indian Wedding Blog Post
The Fairytale Location for the Wedding Ceremony

 

Not wanting to miss out on the action, however, we entered the most romantic of all alcoves as the official wedding commenced. Facing us was a simply unsurpassable location for marrying the one you love, a cocoon of regal cushions and glowing lights. Pumpkin’s cousin, the star of the show (of the week in fact) shone radiantly in her crimson bridal sari, gushing with the kind of 60 mile smile that only a bride can maintain for so long without fatigue, her arms drenched in the intricate calligraphy of the henna leaf.

Pink Gold Chandeliers

I will refrain from running through the entirety of the ceremony, since this blog post is anything but an A-Z manual of Indian weddings. Firstly, the rituals vary so much depending on region; secondly, whilst I have a bit of insider knowledge, I hardly consider myself an expert but perhaps most pertinently, we are already approaching two thousand words here – do you really want me to go there?!

glamorous Indian wedding blogs

Whilst the bride and groom were mobbed by the wedding paparazzi and a spate of well-wishers, I seized the opportunity to mingle with relatives on Pumpkin’s side of the family, many of whom I had never met before and who welcomed me with open arms, flurries of laughs and nostalgic stories of my significant other in his childhood years (supposedly, he was less grumpy back then!) The vows may have been between two individuals that night but the affection and hospitality within those walls permeated between dozens more.

unique fairytale wedding decor

People are always apprehensive about declaring a wedding to be “the best wedding ever” unless it’s their own one they’re referring to – after all, it is almost akin to choosing a favourite parent or picking a favourite baby among your friends’ children (although I do have one of those and that little baby knows exactly who he is!)

Indian Punjabi Wedding Doli
New Beginnings

Of course your own wedding day will always hold an irreplacable place in your heart. But I am not arrogant enough to assume that ours was the most spectacular wedding the world has ever seen and I had no hesitation whatsoever in shouting from the rooftops that this was easily the most grandiose, elaborate and epic wedding I have been to and well worth the 4000 miles (to be honest, I’d have happily travelled 8000 miles for this one!)

Where was the most magical wedding you have attended?

 

47 thoughts on “An Epic Indian Wedding in Delhi

  1. Stunning photos! I would love to attend an Indian wedding as it sounds like such an amazing affair! I also enjoy how you describe everything in such intricate detail, you have a great way with words 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:01 pm

      Aww thank you so much for such a lovely comment! I know my posts can be quite long so it always puts a big smile on my face when someone tells me they enjoy the words! I hope you do get the chance to attend an Indian wedding one day – they are typically loud, colourful & memorable!😊

  2. My jaws have dropped at every single pic!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:02 pm

      Isn’t it all just so photogenic & opulent Binny?!?😍😍

  3. OMG Shikha, you look STUNNING and I don’t think your sari will ever pale into insignificance, it is so exquisite! I also don’t think there is any nation in the world who can throw weddings as elaborate, sophisticated and extravagant as Indians do – multiple day-receptions, thousands of guests, top-notch decorations, food and entertainment…. I would LOVE to attend one!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:05 pm

      Thank you SO much Nano! So sweet of you, though I honestly think no one can go wrong in an Indian outfit as there’s always so much colour & glitz! I just know you would absolutely love the ambience so if an opportunity ever comes your way, definitely take it up or if I ever have a 2nd wedding 😉😉 (don’t tell Pumpkin I said that!!)

  4. I love this, and I’m the same as you would happily travel for a wedding!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:09 pm

      Thanks so much for reading Raj! Honestly, I’m quite sad that there aren’t many more weddings I can foresee imminently in my circles, as I love a good wedding, anywhere, any type!😁

  5. I absolutely adore that dress in the 7th photo – you look stunning and definitely perfect for the hotel! I’ve yet to go to a proper Indian wedding but oh my lord I would definitely love to! Although I can’t believe people can actually come in and out whilst the ‘ceremony’ is happening!

    That horse-driven carriage is EPIC!!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:12 pm

      Thank you so much Honey! Considering I’m usually pretty indecisive with shopping etc, I was amazed at how quickly I managed to choose my Indian wedding outfits! They are definitely a lot of fun as far as events and celebrations go, all the more so if you’ve never been to one before! My hubby entered our venue in the UK on a horse too…though it wasn’t quite the glamorous carriage like this one! 😁

  6. Vinay Aggarwal May 27, 2017 — 4:53 pm

    Wait for next one!! You know who have in my mind.
    However I think marriage was grand because of people who attended it; their love, affection,efforts were in the air and that’s what made it so beautiful.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:13 pm

      Aww that’s so sweet of you to say that but it was definitely such a wonderful occasion thanks to all your efforts & energy put into the celebrations – definitely a wedding I will never forget!☺

  7. Well you look just gorgeous!! I’d love to go to an Indian wedding one day.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:15 pm

      Aww thanks so much Angie! They are fabulous & exhausting all in one but definitely worth attending one for the experience if you get a chance one day!

  8. Oh wow the colours and everyone looks so beautiful – what a stunning event!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:17 pm

      It was spectacular Becky! Felt a little bit like I was in Hollywood (or Bollywood!) for the night!

  9. I’ve always wanted to attend an Indian wedding. The bride looks stunning and I’m impressed that you still fit into your own wedding dress – haven’t tried to get into mine for a while 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:19 pm

      Haha, I was very worried about the fitting in aspect of it Suze – A fair few sighs of relief when that little moment of doubt proved to be unfounded but definitely brought back lots of lovely memories being back in it! 😊

  10. Loved the dresses! You must have had a fabulous time, Shikha!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:19 pm

      It was just such a splendid evening Agness!

  11. I just kept thinking “holy shit’ the whole time.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:22 pm

      Hahaha, that’s EXACTLY what we were thinking when we walked in – just couldn’t believe how glamorous & opulent every single aspect of it was Frank!

  12. Wow, this looks absolutely incredible Shikha! I’ve never been to an Indian wedding before but would love to go to one. It’s so interesting to hear about the different traditions. You look absolutely gorgeous in your dress! x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:37 pm

      Thank you Emily! Aah wish I’d known you back when I got married as would have been lovely to have you at our big day! 😊

  13. This is just out of this world Shikha, like a blockbuster film set – I’d love to go to a wedding like this (I love weddings too!). I was staying at Samode Palace Hotel in Rajasthan a few years back and there was a wedding that day. We chatted to the bride’s parents (the family had come over from London) and they generously invited us to attend. Sadly we had a flight to catch and couldn’t stay but I remember the colourful decorations and scent of the flowers that were arranged in intricate patterns along the sides of the corridors and on the floors. So beautiful.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 5:42 pm

      Oh wow, I can only imagine how magical an Indian wedding in Rajasthan must have been! Lots of our family members tried to encourage us to consider something like that for our own wedding but we knew we wanted to do something here in the UK but otherwise, it would have been wonderful! Shame you had to fly off before that wedding in Samode Palace but so sweet of them to ask you!😊

  14. Oh my goodness, Shikha – I LOVE the colors of this wedding! And your wedding outfit is just astounding and jaw-droppingly beautiful! As you know, we jumped at the opportunity to attend Udita’s cousin’s wedding in Bangalore last year and had so much fun … I love Indian weddings and all the ceremonies/the food/and the fun that goes along with them!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 6:23 pm

      Aww thank you so much Jaime! There were so many breathtaking outfits in the store when I bought mine – was tricky to choose between them! I’m so glad you loved that wedding in Bangalore! Ive been to so many that sometimes take it for granted just how vibrant they are so it’s always lovely hearing from other people how much they enjoy a Big Fat Indian wedding!

  15. Oh my lordy Shikha, this wedding looks beyond epic! I’ve never got to experience an Indian wedding but I so want to now lol! Btw, you look absolutely beautiful in your wedding dress! x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 6:25 pm

      Thank you Keri! So sweet of you to say that! Sort of wish I could rewind the clock and live the wedding day all over again but that failing, having a chance to reuse the outfit & attending such a magnificent family wedding more than makes up for that!😁

  16. WOW! Words are failing me. This is the most gorgeous over-the-top wedding I’ve ever seen! I shudder to think what this wedding cost! And yes I read every single 2000+ words. I think it’s so funny that people are just walking in and out of the ceremony. Such a difference in culture! And I lol’ed at the part about the pic where the only people watching you at your wedding were a set of twin kids. You look absolutely stunning in your wedding attire! Must be a workout to walk around all night in that outfit!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 5, 2017 — 6:29 pm

      Thank you Anna! So kind of you to say & so sweet of you to read the whole post! Honestly, that outfit is so heavy – going to the bathroom in it was no easy feat!!😁 That photo of only the babies in the front row looking at our ceremony still cracks us up, even after all these years! It was also the most gorgeous wedding we’d ever been to ourselves – our jaw dropped in every room but yeh, I would not want to be paying this bill for sure!

  17. The bride is so stunning, loved looking at all your amazing photos Shikha! Indian weddings are always such an elaborate affair but this one looks absolutely incredible!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 19, 2017 — 1:47 pm

      It really was Priti! I’ve been to so many Indian weddings that I never expected to find my jaw on the floor in amazement at any of them but it was like a fairytale!

  18. Beautifully narrated…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) June 19, 2017 — 1:48 pm

      Thank you so much! So kind of you to say that 😊

  19. Wow… Beautiful arrangements and pictures…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) August 6, 2017 — 4:23 pm

      It was a stunning wedding!

  20. Lovely photos.. also check out n follow my blog it’s all about fashion beauty n lifestyle

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 10, 2017 — 11:49 pm

      It was just gorgeous!

  21. You described it so beautifully , just loved it . I hope you had a great time

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 10, 2017 — 11:52 pm

      Oh thank you so much! I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed the write up. We absolutely loved this wedding – easily the grandest one we’d ever been to!

  22. Good post on traditional wedding ceremony. Thank You very much for writing such a good article for wedding planners and their services for new couples. People always try direct method but most of time these trick don’t works. Your tips are helpful for the person to make good course. This content is so valuable and surely unique that people are happy and really helpful for them. there is no any other ways to get customers than posting the wedding photos.
    Thanks

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 15, 2018 — 6:17 pm

      Thanks for reading. This was such a spectacular wedding.

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