A Delhi Wedding 11.28.16

I traveled to New Delhi, India to attend the wedding of a Carlson School classmate and friend, Tarun Jain, to his wife Sonal. This 3-day celebration will be one of the most memorable, special, colorful, fun, crazy and incredible opportunities from my year of travel.

Bryana, another friend of Tarun’s from the Carlson School, came to India for the wedding too. She and I were welcomed like family to the wedding festivities. For Indian weddings, it is common for both the bride’s family and the groom’s family to rent a reception hall with attached hotel facilities to feed and house guests. Bryana and I were invited to stay with the groom’s family at their hotel and to join all of the celebratory events during the 3-day marriage. Tarun’s family members were always checking on us to ensure we were comfortable, well fed, and having fun.

The wedding was a Jain wedding with many pre-wedding ceremonies. Tarun and Sonal enjoyed an arranged marriage, a practice common in India. Their families, as well as the couple, bonded as they spent time together during the engagement and wedding preparations. In India, the joint family, instead of the nuclear family, is the family unit. The closeness of all was obvious in the easy way everyone enjoyed time with each other 24/7. It was beautiful to be a part of this occasion.

Bryana and I escorted Tarun to pick up his wedding outfit. Superstition says it is bad luck for the groom to be alone.
Mehndi or henna is common in India for weddings and festivals. Sonal had elaborate henna on her hands, arms, and feet. Both Sonal and Tarun had intricate henna on their hands with the names of the other person hidden in the design.


Tarun’s family hosted the first wedding party. There were religious elements plus a fabulous live band and this incredible singer. This night felt like a Bollywood movie and we danced a lot.
The clothes wedding guests wore were bright, elaborate, and stunning. Each event required a more splendid outfit.
Tarun and Sonal participated in the religious portion of the evening. Then, dancing began led by Tarun’s family including his brother in navy/yellow and his sister-in-law in green/tan. Sonal is wearing peach and Tarun is wearing orange/navy.
Tarun’s mom dressed in maroon/gold on this evening. It was a happy, loud and fun affair. There were over 200 guests in attendance and a huge buffet of food and appetizers. We arrived around 9:00pm and left after 3:00am.
Tarun arranged for a family friend to loan me and Bryana traditional outfits. A woman hired to do hair and makeup for family members helped dress us. We made friends with many of Tarun’s younger family members.
The following day we awoke around 9:00am, dressed, and headed downstairs for breakfast in one of the hotel’s banquet rooms. This morning religious ceremony was for the groom’s family only. During the ceremony, family members chanted to thank and remember their ancestors.
Also as a part of the ceremony, Tarun’s aunties rubbed turmeric on him. This tradition is meant to make the skin glow. All throughout the 2-3 hour ceremony people were eating delicious food and socializing. About 100 people attended. Following the ceremony a dance party began. I napped though so I could stay awake for the evening ceremony.
Tarun showed off his wedding ring. After the morning family ceremony, Tarun dressed for the evening wedding and photographs began.
I borrowed this gown from a family friend who was rooming with us during the wedding. Thanks Rupam! Tarun’s niece wore many gorgeous dresses including this one for the wedding night.
Bryana and I were given special hats to wear to the wedding ceremony identifying us as important guests of the family. It was an honor. To begin the evening, Tarun mounted a horse for a short, symbolic walk from his family’s hotel to the wedding venue. A band played and everyone danced. The procession ended and we boarded cars for an hour drive to the real wedding venue.
Once near the venue, Tarun mounted a new horse. Then, to the music of the band, we danced down the street and into the outdoor event space to meet Sonal’s family and friends. It was about 10:00pm.
After entering the outdoor reception area, family portraits took place on a central stage. Everyone wore incredible clothing and gold jewelry. Per custom, the bride’s gown is a surprise selected and paid for by her mother-in-law. Sonal saw her gown for the first time the day before this ceremony.
There were more than 50 food stations serving many varieties of traditional Indian food from all regions of the country. We ate a tasty sampler platter around 11:00pm. Alka, in the gorgeous green gown, and her husband are Tarun’s cousins. Alka helped me and Bryana in advance of the wedding and during the 3-day celebration.
The formal ceremony during which Tarun and Sonal were officially married took place after 3:00am on the night of the biggest wedding party. For the ceremony, only close family and friends remained from the hundreds in attendance for the dinner and groom’s arrival. During the ceremony, the couple circled 7 times vowing to support each other.
Around 4:30am, Tarun and Sonal departed the wedding venue. They rode on a decorated bicycle for photos and then transferred to a car for the journey to the hotel. It was after 6:00am when Bryana and I went to sleep.
The morning after the wedding ceremony, Tarun and Sonal returned to the reception hall Tarun’s family rented to play the final traditional games. Games included competitions to see who could untie knots in a bracelet faster and who could find their name in the other person’s henna faster. Bryana and I enjoyed great conversations with Tarun’s family.


On the final day of wedding festivities, Tarun and Sonal read their wedding card from me and Bryana. Shortly afterward they left for their honeymoon. Wishing you both health and happiness now and always and many thanks for welcoming me into your wedding celebration.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Linda Woessner says:

    Looks completely amazing. I’m speechless (for once;)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Speechless. LOL. Indeed it was amazing. Thanks.


  2. Kay says:

    What an amazing experience!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Kay! It’s special all the ways Carlson School has helped me on this journey. I could not have imagined! Happy holidays to you.


  3. firmlyplantedinjello says:

    Wow! Incredible! You are having so many amazing experiences in your year of travel but this is truly one-of-a-kind. Thanks for taking us through the whole event!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ellen says:

      Also, that comment, is me. I don’t know why my phone remembered that wordpress I made and never used when I had been planning to blog my nursing school adventures…


      1. Ha! I receive email notifications when a person comments. I actually clicked the ‘Firmlyplantedinjello’ name trying to figure out who this was! Thanks for unmasking yourself 😉 It was incredible and I so appreciate that I can share a little bit of the experience with others. Just uploading the photos was fun to re-live the colors and experience. I imagine you have been or will go to an Indian wedding eventually. Time to start being selective on how you make friends 😉 Thanks as always Ellen!


  4. Trinity says:

    Wow! You are never ever going to forget that incredible experience. It warms my heart to think of all of the kindness the world and the people in it are showing you on your journey.


    1. Hi!!!!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and share your highlights. A happy and belated thanksgiving to you and Paul also. I hope it was a day of good family time and with fewer stresses than have taken place in other years.

      That fruit photo was for you!! It was both tasty and fun to eat.

      How was your day? I miss you and our conversations. What is life feeling like now? I hear it’s finally cold. Hopefully you’re excited to resume indoor activities and crafts.

      Indeed, the world is and the many people I knew before and met here are showering me with love and care and kindness.

      Have a great night! Sleep well! Means a ton that you take time to comment in addition to making time to read and Instagram. Love your updates there.

      Big hug.


  5. amandalaskowski says:

    Sarah, this is so very cool. Glad the U connected you with Tarun and ultimately this experience. Wishing the couple lots of happiness. It’s fun to read about wedding traditions in another country, especially as we’re planning ours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amanda! What an interesting lens to wear when reading this post. I’ll smear turmeric on you if you decide to include that ceremony. JK. You and I both know how many connections have come from our Gopher time! Be well and thanks for reading.


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