Planning your Indian wedding in Australia
This post was contributed by The Shaadi Project: an Australian startup helping Indians plan their weddings in Australia.
Indians know how to wedding. We really know how to wedding. But planning an Indian wedding in Australia is a completely different exercise to planning a wedding in India. Not only is the planning process different, but NRIs in Australia have different kinds of weddings to Indian weddings in India. So before you decide to have your wedding in Australia, it is important to know what you’re signing up for!
What to expect from an Indian wedding in Australia
Indian weddings in Australia have evolved to become a kind of hybrid East-meets-West affair. Part of this is due to the different planning resources available in Australia, and part of this is the cultural influence of Western weddings. Let’s look at both these things, and how they’ve impacted Indian weddings in Australia.
The planning side of things
When trying to plan an Indian wedding in Australia, there are a few major constraints that make it difficult to replicate the scale of weddings in India. First off, everything is much more expensive in Australia. A single (small) table centrepiece can cost anywhere between $10 to $50 (500 INR to 2,500 INR), and the starting price for a simple invitation card costs at least $3 to $7 per card (154 INR to 360 INR). This can be a rude shock, since in India a simple invitation card can start from 10 INR per card! The cost also makes it difficult to pay people to help with the wedding planning. In India, it is easy to pay your maid’s neighbour’s son to drive your interstate guests around for a week. In Australia, hiring such services is a costly affair, and so there is a heavy reliance on friends and family to help out. This can make wedding planning a difficult task!
The second major constraint is that some of the infrastructure and services don’t adequately support large scale Indian weddings. For instance, there are limited options available for venues that will accommodate over 500 people. Many venues only allow you to use their own food catering services, but may not provide Indian food options. Also, most venues do not permit you to light a fire for the fire ceremony. So it can be a challenge to find a venue that is both large enough, will allow you to bring your own Indian food caterer, and also light a fire! And of course, you need a special permit to block roads if you wish to have a baraat on the street. There are also no services in Australia that can put up a palace-like ‘tent’ in a park for one night to host a 1000-people wedding!
The cultural side of things
Partly due to the planning constraints mentioned above, and partly due to an increasing number of NRIs who are raised in Australia from a young age, Indian weddings in Australia have adopted some cultural practices and norms from Western weddings which are less common in India. Here are two examples:
In India, it is common for guests to continue mingling and eating whilst the wedding ceremony is being conducted at the auspicious time. In Western weddings, the wedding ceremony is the main component of the wedding, and guests are expected to sit and watch the ceremony. It is becoming more common for Indian weddings in Australia follow a similar style, where guests remain seated and watch the ceremony from start to finish. Sometimes a written program is also distributed for guests to understand what is taking place during the wedding ceremony.
In India, wedding receptions are often just a party where guests eat, drink, and dance. This is similar to Western receptions, except that Western receptions follow a more structured, formal program. They typically have an MC who coordinates the whole program, close family and friends give speeches in honour of the bride and groom, there may be a first-dance between the bride and groom, as well as a dance between the bride and bride’s father, or groom and groom’s mother. Indian weddings in Australia have borrowed many of these elements from Western weddings. While some of these things are now starting to trend in India as well, the more structured and formal event style is still a big jump away from the typical unstructured, slightly chaotic Indian wedding.
Of course, not everyone chooses to adopt these Western elements! But one challenge becomes trying to organise an event which your guests in Australia understand, without losing your own cultural preferences. It can be a challenge to get your non-Indian friends in Australia to dance in your baraat, the way you might expect your friends to do in India!
So, should you plan your Indian wedding in Australia?
This depends on you! Some Indians in Australia still choose to go back to India for their wedding. This might be the best option if most of your family and friends are back there. Some people do one event in India and then another event in Australia, to accommodate to friends and family in both locations (e.g. a wedding in India, and reception in Australia). And of course, there are many people who plan all their Indian wedding events in Australia!
When you’re making your decision, consider the following:
Who do you want to invite, and where do they live? If most of your guests live in India, it might be easier to fly a few people back to India, instead of fly all your guests to Australia.
How many people do you want to invite? If you want a very small wedding and only a few guests are coming from India, it might be more practical to have the wedding in Australia.
What is your budget?
After all this, what it really comes down to is: which location allows you to celebrate your wedding in a way that feels most authentic to you? You want your wedding day to be an event that feels special and memorable to you and your partner. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable or alienated at your own wedding! So whichever decision you make, make sure you and your partner feel comfortable with it.
About The Shaadi Project: The Shaadi Project connects you to Indian wedding professionals in Australia and provides all the information you need to plan your Indian wedding in Australia. Sign up on the blog to get free wedding planning resources and advice delivered to your inbox every week.