How To Be a Good Bridesmaid/Maid of Honor to a South Asian Bride

2015 Apr 28 - by dulhan
While traditional South Asian weddings don't include a bridal party (all female relatives have a part to play in Hindu weddings), modern weddings include the fusion concept of bridesmaids and maids of honor.

Photo via Nadia & Malcolm's Wedding

It's a big deal to be a part of the bride's special day, but what does that entail for a ceremony that's neither completely traditional nor completely Western?

Here's a simple guide to help you help your friend on her big day:

1. Ask about the program

It's easier to be a bridesmaid/maid of honor at a traditional wedding, Western especially, where certain duties are to be expected. Standard events, such as throwing the bridal show and helping out with planning.

Photo via Banga Studios

However, in a South Asian wedding, such duties might vary. A bridesmaid might not have to come along for venue scouting, food tasting, or dress selection because a bride's mother and family might be more involved in that. There may be a bridal shower, but maybe it's not only for females. If there is a maid of honor, her duties might be very specific - such as greeting the guests.

The only way to get around the confusion to is ask the bride up front what is to be expected. Don't be shy - you're taking on the responsibilities for a reason! Offer her assistance in wedding planning, decor selection, invitation writing - and even provide support for hair/makeup/touchups and seating arrangements on the big day. Just make sure you're both clear on what's to be expected so there's less confusion.

2. Know her family

If you're a friend of the bride, chances are you've met her family. However, South Asian weddings often include the whole family - even members the bride herself hasn't met or seen in ages!

Photo via Kerry & Jason's Wedding

Especially if you're helping with seating arrangements or accomodations, ask your bride or a less busy family member to catch you up on who's who and who's coming from where. That way, you'll be able to mingle more easily with the guests and keep them busy while the bride is flitting about on her busy day. You'll also know who to keep away from who, who doesn't eat what, and all the tiny details that come with planning a huge family gathering.

3. Establish the finances

As with any bridal party responsibility, you should first confirm that you're financially able to do the job. In many Western weddings, the bride pays for the bridesmaids dresses and the bridal party pays for the bridal shower/bachelorette party.

Eastern weddings are a bit more vague on this issue: if the wedding is hosted in India or a foreign destination, you'll be expected to front your own airline ticket and possibly a hotel. Account for these expenses, and make sure to ask for clarification.

Finally, set a time and place for a bridal shower/bacholerette if the bride wants one and figure out who's paying for it (this will traditionally be the Maid of Honor/bridesmaids). Indian weddings consist of days of events, such as the mehndi and sangeet. These are separate from a bridal party get-together, since they'll include all family members. If you're planning a separate shindig, confirm the plans well in advance before you spend anything on a deposit, and so that the bride and her family can account for them before booking for other pre-wedding events.

4. Match, don't clash

Many modern South Asian brides choose to dress their bridesmaids and Maid of Honor in matching sarees or Indian ensembles. If this is the case, the bride has you covered and you'll be sure to look great in photos with her.

Photo via Naureen & Ghazaly's Mayoon and Mehndi

If the wedding is more traditional, there's no formal dress code for the bridal party - but you still want to ensure that you don't clash with the bride. South Asian weddings are notoriously colorful, so it's not as simple as not wearing white. If possible, ask the bride in advance what color scheme she'll be wearing so you don't accidentally wear a similiar outfit. But don't fret too much - lehengas and sarees are like snowflakes in that no two are exactly alike!

5. Prepare yourself and stay hydrated!

South Asian weddings are like Catholic weddings times 10 - there's more ceremonies, more guests, and more chaos (but also more time to celebrate!) Your traditional bridesmaids/Maid of Honor duties won't just last one day. You'll have to keep your cool and help the bride manage her wardrobe, venue, guests, and any mishaps throughout the multiday wedding.

Photo via Kimberly Photography

So treat yourself well. Stay hydrated (especially if the wedding is in super hot India), take breaks for food, and most of all, take a long, deep breath and remember how much you love the bride and want to help her make her special day as amazing as possible!