One of my favorite things about living in the Washington, DC area is the cultural diversity, especially when it comes to the wedding scene. The diversity of DC-area weddings brings us modern multicultural fusion nuptials that are rich with tradition and when East meets West, these celebrations involve a great deal of traditional customs that may be unfamiliar to you as the wedding guest. If you are attending a South Asian wedding in the future, but are unfamiliar with the customs, fear not, because today local event stylist Sarah Khan, owner of Sarah Khan Event Styling, (who specializes in South Asian and fusion events!) is here to share the essentials of South Asian weddings that any guest will want to know. Take it away, Sarah…
If you are attending a South Asian wedding for the first time and are panicked that your familiarity with South Asian culture only goes so far, let’s take a moment and give you the basics so you can attend confident and ready to party!
It is not required that you wear traditional clothes to a South Asian wedding, but it will always be encouraged. When attending a ceremony or event at a religious venue, avoid short dresses or skirts, because you may need to sit cross legged on the floor at a Gurudwara, for a Sikh couple. You may want to carry a shawl or stole with you to cover bare shoulders or to have over your head during religious ceremonies for a Muslim, Sikh or Hindu wedding. Ladies, avoid red, as this is reserved for the bride! Bright colors are worn at the majority of functions, where black and white are reserved for funerals.
Most religious venues require taking off your shoes upon entering, so be aware of your surroundings and follow the crowd. Religious venues and some families will have men and women seated on different sides of the rooms, so take note and find your seat accordingly.
You may be invited to three or more events to celebrate a couple’s nuptials, but you will be required to take a gift only to the reception. Other events are designated for enjoying and getting into the spirit of the wedding festivities. If a registry is not listed, then consider a monetary gift that ends with an odd number, because it’s considered auspicious, such as $101.
Food + Drinks
Depending on the religion of the couple and their families, food and drink will vary. At Hindu weddings the menu is vegetarian and in some cases, chicken or goat will be available. Due to the sanctity of the cow in the Hindu religion, beef products are not served. A Sikh wedding will have vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Muslim weddings will have a bevy of meats and vegetarian dishes all of which will be Zabiha (Muslim Kosher equivalent). One major thing to keep in mind at a Muslim wedding is that alcohol is not served.
With these basic parameters you should feel comfortable enough to enjoy your evenings with your South Asian brides and grooms-to-be weds. For more South Asian wedding, fashion and décor loveliness keep up with me at Sarah Khan Event Styling!
Thanks so much, Sarah, for sharing this great advice for guest etiquette at South Asian weddings! If your South Asian or fusion wedding or event is in need of a fabulous stylist, be sure to check out Sarah Khan Event Styling.
Photo Credits: Liz Maryann Photography