You Can Pay to Attend a Traditional Wedding in India

Couples in India are selling travelers tickets to their nuptials, giving foreigners a chance to experience the lively cultural ceremonies.

You Can Pay to Attend a Traditional Wedding in India

In India, some wedding ceremonies extend into multi-day festivities.

Photo by ashok india/

Indian weddings are known for their vibrant decor, elaborate song and dance, symbolic rituals, and overall opulence. Attending one of the colorful ceremonies is among the most authentic cultural experiences a foreigner can have while visiting India. But the extensive festivities aren’t just spirited—they’re intimate, which is why not just anyone gets a spot on the guest list.

Now, a startup company called Join My Wedding is making it easier than ever for travelers to score an invite—er, buy a ticket—to one of the traditional celebrations in India. And while it might sound like an invasion of privacy to purchase space at a stranger’s nuptials, attendees can rest assured that the hosts are on board with the situation because it’s the couple-in-love actually offering up the tickets to take part in their big day.

How Join My Wedding works

Couples in India who are interested in hosting travelers at their wedding ceremonies can share details about their upcoming event on Join My Wedding’s website. From there, the listing will appear to international visitors who are searching for traditional Indian wedding ceremonies taking place during their trip in the areas they’re planning to visit.

Once travelers purchase tickets to a wedding ceremony, they can connect with the “host couple” to introduce themselves and ask any necessary questions. Most of the funds from the ticket sales go to the happy couple, but Join My Wedding does, of course, take a cut.

The concept does in some ways feel slightly uncomfortable, but the idea behind it is intended to be inspiring. According to cofounder Orsi Parkanyi, Join My Wedding’s founding purpose is to facilitate the sharing of culture by “connecting people through life events.”

“If you think about it, there’s nothing more cultural than a wedding,” Parkanyi says. “The local people, local food, customs, the outfit, the music—basically every cultural element is right there.”

Because many traditional Indian weddings take place over more than one day, travelers can choose to attend just the ceremony itself (from $150), or opt to partake in several other ceremonial rituals over the course of a few extra days. Among these additional ceremonies is the Mehndi, a henna party of extreme Hindu significance in which artists paint the bride and her relatives with the ancient body art designs (from $250).

It’s not hard to understand why travelers would want to experience the joy of attending a traditional Indian wedding ceremony—the beautiful rituals; the colorful fabrics and flowers; the flavorful cuisine; the familial hospitality. The more puzzling aspect of this arrangement might be: Why would couples actually want to host strangers at their marriage ceremonies?

Some hosts might be inspired to open up their weddings as a way to expose non-Indian people to a rich side of the country’s culture. Others might simply want to gain back some of their wedding expenses. But when travelers have the opportunity to experience a collection of India’s richest traditions among the locals who keep those rituals alive, an invaluable cultural exchange takes place.

And that’s cause for celebration in and of itself.

>>Next: The Extraordinary Confessions of an International Wedding Crasher

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