India days 8-12: fairytale Indian wedding in Jaipur

These last few days were a whirlwind of fun as they were dedicated to celebrating the marriage of my good friend from San Francisco, Karan, and his beautiful bride, Ashna. It was my first traditional Indian wedding, and boy was it one to remember! It was the most lavish and beautiful wedding I’ve ever attended. I loved soaking in new cultural experiences of a traditional Hindu wedding and reuniting with old friends as well. Get ready for a lot of photos. πŸ™‚

Day 8: sight-seeing in Jaipur + enjoying Jai Mahal Palace

I took a 3-hour taxi from Pushkar to Jaipur and settled in at Jai Mahal Palace, where the wedding took place. After months of staying in hostel dorm rooms, this was SUCH a treat! Karan/Ashna rented the entire palace for the wedding guests, and it felt like summer camp all staying together at this 5-star paradise.

We had the whole day to kill before the wedding festivities began tomorrow, so I headed out for some sightseeing in Jaipur. Jaipur is the capital and largest city of the Indian state of Rajasthan. The city is known as the “pink city” and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a popular sightseeing destination for its historical forts and opulent buildings.

My first site was City Palace, a building complex with picturesque pink buildings and a historical site for cultural, religious, and political events. The palace was ornate and a relief from the bustling city.

Then I snapped a few photos outside of Albert Hall Museum. From my short time sightseeing, I felt like Jaipur was very intense! It definitely had the big city vibes that I shy away from for the usual reasons (e.g. locals swarming to you trying to get your business).

Back at the hotel, I enjoyed an evening by the pool. I was more than happy to camp out here for the next few days and enjoy the hotel’s amenities.

Later that night, I hung out with my roommate, Nancy. We were acquaintances back in SF, and after this wedding, I’m happy to call her a good friend. So many hours of girl-talk and getting ready together while blasting music – it felt like an adult sleepover. πŸ™‚

Day 9: wedding day 1: Mehendi + Sangeet

The wedding festivities begin!! The morning started off with breakfast at the hotel. Acquaintances from San Francisco started trickling in, and it was nice to see some familiar faces for the first time in a while.

Then, Nancy and I got ready for the first party together. I also reunited with Anna and Ben, which was the sweetest reunion ever!! Long-time readers of this blog will remember Anna as my best friend from San Francisco – we were inseparable during my first 2.5 years living in SF before she and Ben moved back to NYC. I haven’t seen the two since the pandemic, and so our reunion was a very happy one. ❀

Girls photo before the event. πŸ™‚

The first event was the Mehendi party, a pre-wedding event where the main focus was getting henna done. It was a festive event, with poppin’ music, dancing, and great food. The decor was a color explosion and all the guests matched in our pastel outfits. πŸ™‚

Lots of dancing at this party. It was nice to meet the other guests who we’d hang around the next two days. We took part in the party’s lively dance floor while staying hydrated in the heat.

After the Mehendi party, we had a few hours to relax. Nancy and I hung out in our room and chatted away with girl talk. Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for the evening’s party. We got ourselves dolled up and showed up right at 5 pm (the start time on the invitation), and turns out NO one else was there! I guess we were the only ones who didn’t understand “Indian time” means everyone is fashionable late. πŸ˜‰ We hung out in the room and finally headed down again two hours later.

Finally, the Sangeet party began. Sangeet was the official party for the wedding, full of performances, speeches, dancing, and more. The whole vibe was upscale and lavish, with darker nighttime decor and indo-western outfits.

We met Sima Taparia from Netflix’s Indian Matchmaker show!! I am a sucker for reality tv and had a major fan-girl moment. Apparently, she is a good friend of Karan’s father. Leave it to Karan to have a popular tv personality at his wedding. πŸ˜‰

The groom’s crew! We roll deep for Karan. πŸ™‚ It was heart-warming to see so many friends fly all the way from San Francisco, New York, Dubai, and more.

There was a brief traditional ceremony called Tika, including gift-giving, ring exchanges, and “sealing” the engagement.

Then onto the performances. Both the bride and groom’s sides gave a dance number. Karan’s dance was so fun, choreographed with all his best friends.

Ashna’s was beautiful as well. She did a solo dance, and the crowd couldn’t take their eyes off of her.

The cake was the chandelier…did I mention this wedding was lavish?

The best part of the evening was the dancing. A live Indian pop-rock band played some bumpin’ songs. Everyone in the crowd knew all the songs as they seemed to be a popular band in India. I loved the live show and had a blast dancing with everyone.

Hung out with my favorites at the afterparty. It felt like old times in SF staying out late into the night together. ❀

Day 10: wedding day 2: Haldi + wedding ceremony

We had the next morning to ourselves before it was time for another pre-wedding party called Haldi. The Haldi ceremony is a ritual holy bath where you throw turmeric on the bride and groom on the morning of the wedding. This is believed to bless the couple before the wedding. Everyone wore white and yellow to match the ritual.

The party had many break-out booths with games, tattoo art, kite-flying, and caricature drawings.

There was a corsage station for the ladies.

There was even a bangle-making station. So neat!

The Haldi party had some dancing and food too, followed by the Haldi ceremony. Karan and Ashna opted for flowers being thrown on them instead of turmeric, which was the less messy option. πŸ™‚

After the party, we had some downtime again. Nancy and I hung out in our room and passed the time with a nap and more girl talk. Then, we got ready for the night’s event: the actual wedding ceremony! Getting ready for this one was fun as everyone wore traditional Indian garments. I loved rocking the lehenga that I bought from Ajmer earlier in the week – I felt like a princess. πŸ™‚

The women went all out with this event. In Indian fashion, more is more. You can never have too much color, sparkles, accessories, or makeup. I loved it. πŸ™‚

The festivities started with the Baraat procession, where everyone from the groom’s side marched together with Karan in live music and dancing. The drum beats and marching-band instruments gave the whole procession a festive parade vibe.

Karan knows how to make an entrance… πŸ™‚

Then, Ashna’s side entered together, and the couple came together on stage. Following this was a series of religious ceremonies to make the marriage official. It was more of a private affair between the two families, and so the rest of us ate dinner and hung out on the lawn. Overall, the second day was more chill than the first as it was more focused on the religious ceremonies, while the first day was focused on the pre-wedding parties.

Day 11-12: recovery + travel day

What an amazing two days! So much preparation went into this wedding, and I couldn’t believe how fast it went by. My heart is so full from seeing old friends and witnessing Karan get married. A few months ago when I got the invite, India was not on my travel list. This wedding was the main reason I came to India, and from there I was inspired to stay a few weeks in India. Now, I can’t imagine this trip without it. India has been amazing in so many ways, and I’m so glad this wedding planted the seed that sparked this chapter.

In the morning, it was time to check out and say goodbye to everyone. Most people headed out to Dubai for the reception, but I decided to stay in India to continue my travels. πŸ™‚ I moved to a hostel in Jaipur and spent the next two days chilling and recovering after two days of parties.

Next up, I’m saying goodbye to the state of Rajasthan and heading to the Himalayas for one month! I have an exciting gig that I’ll share more about in my next post. This blog knows I’m a mountain girl at heart, and I’m beyond excited to spend a whole month in the scenic mountains of northern India.


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