India is encouraging tourists to say ‘I do’ at its fairytale palaces and dreamy beaches.
Your wedding day should be the most memorable of your life. And when it comes to celebrating love, nothing beats the glitz and glamour of a Bollywood-style ceremony.
Wherever you live in the world, whatever your faith and your heritage, India is certainly not gatekeeping its treasures and traditions. The country is inviting lovers from all walks of life to come and say “I do” in grand Indian style. (You don’t need to be an Indian citizen to be legally married in India.)
The idea is to combine an extraordinary honeymoon in India with a unique ceremony backdropped by the royal palaces of Rajasthan and Gujarat or the sandy beaches of Goa and the backwaters of Kerala.
Where are the best places to get married in India?
“The purpose of this campaign is to go beyond a selected few destinations and take it across the entire country because there are hidden gems in every state and every part of India,” Secretary of India’s Ministry of Tourism Ms V. Vidyavathi tells Euronews Travel.
“There are locations that are absolutely beautiful and fitting for a grand wedding, and others that are quieter for those who want a more understated ceremony,” she continues.
“The idea is that people from all over the world as well as Indians living in other states can travel across the country, get married in a new place and experience the culture, the cuisine and the traditions of that destination.”
For couples who want something less grand than a fairytale palace, but still atmospheric and majestic, there’s the Himalayas up north and the ancient temples of the south of India.
When it comes to choosing a venue, couples are spoilt for choice.
Current wedding locations being promoted by the government’s Incredible India tourism campaign include Udaipur, Goa, Hyderabad, Agra, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Darjeeling, Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Mahabalipuram, Rishikesh, Shimla, Srinagar and Visakhapatnam.
Same-sex marriage isn’t yet recognised in India.
What are the traditions of an Indian wedding?
Getting married in India is also a way to explore and embrace the local culture – something which India is inviting residents as well as foreigners to do.
“Every tradition is beautiful in itself,” Vidyavathi, who had a Tamil Hindu wedding herself, says of the many different wedding traditions across the country.
“The wedding tradition is not only about reciting the verses from the scriptures. It’s about putting your heart and soul out there, there’s a meaning to everything that happens during an Indian wedding,” she adds.
“It’s not just a blind ritual, it’s part of our intangible heritage. One of the things we really want is [that] when you come and get married in India, you understand the meaning of our traditions,” she adds.
Whether that’s making a grand entrance on horseback, splurging on a multi-day event, learning the choreography to an elaborate dance, having more outfit changes than Taylor Swift or writing a huge guest list, India knows how to throw a great wedding party.
And then there’s the food. While traditions change across the country, the five must-have dishes for a traditional wedding in India are butter chicken, biryani, samosa, naan and roti – but the number one rule is that there’s food in abundance.
How to attend an Indian wedding
For those who are not in a relationship or have no intention of getting married, there’s still a way to experience a typical Indian wedding.
Because of the notoriety of Indian weddings, boosted by Bollywood films, tourists can now buy admission tickets to attend an Indian couple’s wedding as guests. There’s even an app dedicated uniquely to this, called JoinMyWedding.
While the initiative might sound peculiar, know that many couples choose to open up their wedding to foreign guests to make some money back, so tourists would be helping with their likely huge expenses.