5 Tips For South Asian LGBTQ Weddings

Having a wedding is crazy enough. Having a South Asian wedding takes you to another level of planning, arbitration, and shopping madness. Be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, or Christian, a South Asian wedding is a very special event that will test any brides or grooms to the max.

The good news is that you are a pioneer in South Asian weddings. You and your partner will be some of the first couples ever married under Hindu, or Islamic, law and civil law. Pat yourselves on the back for being that awesome and changing society’s narrow-minded views of marriage.

The bad news is that you are a pioneer. You may be the first couple to get married at your Hindu temple; no one may know what to do. Or maybe you’ll make dozens of phone calls to pandits who have no idea what ‘same-sex’ is and you just can’t think of the right Hindi word that doesn’t sound derogatory. You may confuse your tailor saying there are two brides each wearing a sari, or two grooms each wearing a sherwani. But overall, it will be an exciting, amazing, and probably confusing experience.

Key Tips for South Asian LGBTQ Weddings


After speaking with two ministers who work with same sex couples and even Indian couples, we have come up with a few great tips on having your own LGBTQ South Asian wedding that maintains its cultural and religious traditions.

1. Choose rituals that have meaning to you.

Hindu weddings are traditionally long and in Sanskirt. Most of us have no understanding of the pandit’s poojas except for when he yells in English or a local language on what you need to do. Muslim weddings are somewhat easier as marriage rituals are laid out in the Qu’ran. Except LGBTQ marriage rituals, which are not codified at all.

What you need to do is decide with your partner and family, what are the most important rituals (rasms) for you. Do you want the ruksathi (vidaii)? Do you want a civil wedding at the courthouse and then a symbolic wedding around the fire? Does you mom insist going to the mosque to pray?

Reverend Annie Lawrence, an an interfaith minister in New York City, suggests to, “make a list in order of importance of the rituals you want.” This is really the hardest part of wedding planning. Once you know what you want *in* the wedding, you can seek out the right minister/pandit for you.

2. The wedding is for you, the reception is for family & friends.

Visiting point #1, the wedding is about you first and then everyone else. So make the reception a party for your guests to celebrate and enjoy your union suggests Reverend Mary-Rose Engle, an interfaith minister in New York City, NY. Of course, diplomacy in the wedding rituals will go a long way, don’t shut that door if mom insists on feeding mithai (sweets) to both of you.

If your nanniji supports you, chances are, the whole family will.

3. Call, call, and call some more.

For anyone planning a wedding, this is frustrating: finding the right vendors for you. Sometimes you have to call, and call again, and call all over until you find what you want.

Reverend Mary-Rose Engle ran an experiment and called around to two temples in the New York City area.

She didn’t have luck. One temple kept transferring her over to another person to speak to so she could keep explaining what “same sex” means. Another temple dropped the call several times after she asked about “same sex” Hindu weddings. Whether there was intend to not speak to her, or that they had absolutely no idea what she was saying, we’ll never know. The point is, it will be frustrating for people to understand what kind of wedding you’re having.

Be patient and courteous. Even if the other side isn’t, you still want to have the higher ground and be respectful of others. And with your smile on your face, keep calling.

4. Find a family diplomat and break it to the matriarchs.

South Asian families can be loud, obnoxious, and opinionated. If you haven’t yet told your extended family you are having a traditional wedding (we will assume they are already aware of your sexuality, though this tip can still help you), enlist the help of a family diplomat.

In any major family event, there is always a diplomat who negotiates the discussions between family members and help keep everyone in line. Use your family diplomat to let the matriarchs know first about your impending nuptials. Your nanniji does not want to find out about your wedding from another granddaughter or a newphew. Let your family diplomat talk to them, get their ideas for wedding planning, and then go ahead and tell the family.

If your nanniji supports you, chances are, the whole family will.

5. Choose your pointman/woman at the wedding.

Your South Asian wedding maybe a day or several days long. Not all your guests will be the same religion/culture, so there will be plenty of questions.

Enlist a trusted friend or family member who can field all questions from your guests. “Does the couple want to be known as Mr. & Mrs. or Mrs. & Mrs.?” or … “What do I wear as a guest if the wedding is at the courthouse but then there is a prayer at the mosque and a reception at night?” or… “Will the couple have a first dance? Who leads?” … “What is with the fire pit?! Who leads around it?”

You can also make a guidebook that is handed out before the wedding day (via email) on the gist of the wedding along with a Q&A. On the day of the wedding, have a wedding day guide to go over rituals, details, food, itinerary etc.

You will be saved from answering the same questions over and over and going insane. Plus, you will help make the wedding a smooth success for everyone by already anticipating and answering potentially awkward questions.

These are just few tips on making your wedding run more smoothly. Next time I am going to discuss actual Hindu rituals that work for same sex couples as well as tips on creating the Hindu ceremony just for you.

Preeti Moberg is the founder of The Big Fat Indian Wedding, a South Asian wedding resource. She can never get enough henna and lengha wedding photos and believes all weddings are beautiful regardless of budget, style, size, gender, or religion.