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What are pros and Cons of Indoor vs Outdoor Ceremony?
Outdoor wedding ceremony can be very are romantic and beautiful. It is a great success if the weather cooperates, if the venue meets all the requirements and if there are no external distractions. The indoor ceremony can be well planned and managed.
For Indian weddings, the audience tends to be large, the ceremony involves many unique rituals and we use candles and small fire in the ceremony. Major considerations must be given for the stage/ Mandap, sitting arrangements and audio considerations. Outdoor ceremonies, if planned, should have a good back up plan.

What are the Legal Considerations?
Due to different county and state laws, I recommend that you obtain formal marriage certificate through the county Judge or Justice of Peace or, if there is a church wedding also, through the ordained priest. This can be done same day, a day earlier or a day later than planned wedding day.

What should be the ideal Stage or Mandap Arrangements?
Whether indoors or outdoors, the stage or mandap size should be 4 ft high, (2 ft minimum), and 16 ft wide (12 ft minimum) and 12 ft (10 ft minimum) deep. Mandap should be well decorated. Preferred Guest Sitting is front, in two sections, with a middle path for arrival/departures. Ideally, the mandap should be facing East. However, we need to be realistic and take into account other considerations as well.

All folks entering the Mandap should remove shoes. It is customary for the parents on either side to sit inside the mandap. However, in many cases, the mandap is too small to accommodate everybody and parents may end up looking at the ceremonies from behind! I generally recommend that they sit in the front seats and come to the mandap as requested.

All sitting arrangements, Mandap/ stage, Mandap decorations, Microphone /speaker set up, items required for the ceremony etc should be complete two hours before the ceremony. I need the stage for an hour before ceremony for setup.

What are the Audio / Video / Music requirements?

The Pandit should have a clip on microphone. There should be a separate standup microphone available for any other participants or for other announcements.
The groom and the bride should choose appropriate music for following steps:

  • Celebratory, enthusiastic Music during Groom's welcome
  • Specific Music during Arrival of the bride
  • Congratulatory and celabratory music after formal announcement
  • Soft music background music, eg Shehanai, throughout the ceremony. The volume can be increased at appropriate times.

What are ideal days/ times for the Ceremony?

In USA, people prefer weddings on Saturdays. Our Indian customs insist on good Muhurta and an auspicious day. For marriage, all days excepting New Moon and Eclipse are considered auspicious. We need to jointly work this out based on the wishes of both the families as well as practical considerations such as major holidays, weather, hall availabilityetc.

We have done a few weddings where the ceremony is in the morning followed by reception in the evening. In the USA, most Hindu weddings are done in the afternoon immediately followed by reception and dinner/dance. From the logistics point of view, it is suggested that marriage ceremony start no later than 4:30 PM. This gives enough time for all follow on activities.

How long is the marriage ceremony?

Typical Time for the ceremony is between 50 and 60 minutes depending upon Number of steps in the program. This assumes that we have done a complete rehearsal on the previous day and all logistics and everybody's roles have been fully understood.

What Items are needed for Pre Marriage Ceremony?

  • Ganapati Idol, Other specific Deities that are important to you,
  • Three, low profile wooden pedestals (chowrang) for Pooja
  • Flowers, Halad, Kunku, Udbatti, Niranjan, Aarti
  • Betel Leaves, Supaari (30), Mango leaves if available, Metal Bowls (4), Stainless or Copper plates (4), water Kalasha, Pali (Small ladle) or spoons
  • Bell, Rice (half a pound), Coconuts and other fruits, Food Offerings ( naivadhya), Prasaad, Panchamrut (mixture of Ghee, honey, sugar, yogurt, milk)
  • Small Agni Kund, Liquid ghee, Fire wood (I will bring if it is not available)
  • Clip on Microphone and Speakers; stage (if more than 30 people
What items are needed for the Wedding Ceremony?
  • Three low profile pedestals (2 ft round or 2x2-ft Square for the homa, Ganesh prayers and Kalash)
  • Aarati for groom's welcome
  • Carpet, Table Cloth, Mandap Decorations, Chairs for the bride, groom, parents and the two attendants
  • Clip on microphone for Pandit plus one extra hand held or with stand.
  • Small Towels (3-4), 4 metal bowls, 4 metal plates, 4 spoons, 4 metal glasses
  • 2 Very Small garlands (for initial welcome) and 2 large flower garlands (at the final acceptance), One each for bride and the groom.
  • Shri Ganesh Idol, Lots of loose flowers, Rice and Akshata (rice grains with Kunku /Halad) about one pound each , Udbatti, Coconuts(2), Halad, Kunku, Water Kalash from previous day) , 10 good size candles ( 3-4 inches high)
  • Large metal collecting plate for Kannyadaan
  • Mangal sutra (Gold or beaded Necklace), red Cloth, Rings to be exchanged
  • Popped Rice about a pound , Large Tile (12 X 12 inch),
  • Agni Kund and Fire material (I will provide), Gas lighter, matches (Note: I light a very small fire, no bigger than 4-5 inches in Diameter, 5-6 " with flames. Some venues may not allow fires. In that case, we will use 4-5 candles, about an inch diameter with holders)
  • Varmala for the Mangal Fera. Bride and Groom should wear Shawl at the homa so that these can be easily tied.
  • Flower baskets to distribute flowers.

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