Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Mendhi, Grah Shanti, Garba, Oh My! Details for Wedding Planners.

You have a brand new client, a blissfully happy couple who wants you to plan their extravagant 5 events Indian wedding. 5 events?!?  If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of an Indian wedding, it might seem overwhelming. As a current graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC program who has planned my wedding along with helping many friends, I am here to help you navigate your way through each of the events!

Some Basic Facts:
Weddings are one of the most important days for brides and grooms. In the Indian culture, weddings are the most important day for the entire family. It’s not only the union of the bride and groom but it’s the union of both of the families. Because of that, large celebrations are held for many days, getting everyone ready and excited for the upcoming marriage.  Tradition and customs are very important, probably the most important aspects for all of the events, and it’s important to gain an understanding on what is happening and what rituals mean so you can better plan the events.  When I was planning my own wedding, I realized there was a shortage of planners who are versed in the Indian culture and aspects of the wedding, but with Indian weddings on the rise the opportunity for planners is huge.

Traditionally Indian weddings have 5 events:

  •  Event 1 Mendhi: where the bride and all of the close family and friends decorate their hands with henna.
  • Event 2 Grah Shanti: Traditional religious ceremony that prays to remove any obstacles and bring the bride and groom happiness and prosperity.
  • Event 3 Garba/Raas: A night of energetic and fun folk dancing for all of the family and friends, getting everyone excited for the wedding.
  • Event 4 Wedding: Wedding ceremony that involves many intricate details from the arrival of the groom during his bharaat to the 4 pheras (circles) around the fire.
  • Event 5 Reception: Filled with lots of food and drinks, everyone can celebrate and enjoy their time spent with the bride and groom. 

Can you find my name?
Night 1: Mendhi
At every event, there are games and rituals that the bride, groom and families participate in. As an event planner, don’t freak out if the brides’ side is trying to steal the groom’s shoes or if the bride’s mother is trying to grab the groom’s nose. These are all fun and important aspects to an Indian wedding that make it even more interesting!

The ritual of putting henna on a bride was originally started as a way to help cool the bride down before her wedding (especially against hot India sun!).  Now it’s more for the beautiful color and design it gives.  When the bride is getting her henna put on her hands and feet, the artist usually hides the groom’s name in the intricate detail. On their wedding night, the groom is supposed to search his bride’s hands to find his name. Only if and when he finds his name, will he be allowed to consummate their marriage. This tradition is obviously all in fun and I’m sure most brides’ cheat ;)!

Ready to jump in and learn about the other 4 events? Here are a few quick to-dos’ to help you get more acquainted:

1.     Talk to the bride and groom and understand what events and customs are important to them
2.    Try to attend different types of Indian weddings to get a feel of what goes on
3.    Read a couple of books like “Rituals & Customs of a Hindu Wedding” by Kavita Kapoor to get a deeper understanding of the ceremonies

Niki Shah is a part-time graduate student at Northwestern's Medill program, studying Integrated Marketing Communication. Currently working at Energy BBDO, she is very interested in brand strategy and bringing the strategy to life creatively. Follow her @NikiHansotiShah and connect with her on LinkedIn: Niki Hansoti Shah.


  1. Can't wait to read the rest!

  2. nice post... interesting fact on the henna thing - never knew that!

  3. Thanks, this is really helpful for those planning on a indian wedding!! And informative for those who want to learn about the culture.

  4. This blog got me super excited for tanvi's wedding. Thanks for the insight!

  5. I'm planning a wedding myself so this is very useful. It's so true about planners with limited knowledge of Indian weddings. Great blog!

  6. This is such an informative blog! My wedding is next year and this is a great help to start planning!

  7. Very useful. Considering my wife is a indian wedding planner, I can say this is really valuable info!

  8. Excellent site. Very useful. Bookmarked!

  9. Turning The Ignorant Into The Informed, Since 2012....

  10. This is very useful information for all during hectic time of wedding planning. Very useful.

  11. Great start it is a useful tool for girls who need somewhere to start.

  12. Job well done, can't wait for more!!

  13. Planning for wedding! Your are most welcome. You can get lot more ideas, it’s also a great idea that choosing a perfect matching. There is a web you could get lot more information. Please visit