Atithi Devo Bhava
According to Hindu customs the first guest to whom the first invitation and traditional sweets are extended is the one who will not be physically present at the marriage – the family God! The popular temples in India receive hundreds of thousands of wedding invites every wedding season and most of them are given in person by one of the family members including sweets and cash gifts. Some are even mailed to the temple with token cash gifts inside. You see, it pays to be a God in India especially during wedding season! Other religions also have similar traditions in order to ensure an auspicious beginning to the marriage and also to invoke divine blessings before the big occasion. As far as the first wedding invite is concerned, elders of the family will chip in with suggestions. Muslims will deliver a card to their mosque before taking one to the groom’s family. Usually a wedding card should be sent three to six weeks before the wedding event. Out-of-town guests should be alerted with a Save-the-date announcement so that they will be given a fair amount of time to schedule their trip and other travel arrangements can be made in advance. You could hand-deliver invitations to close family and friend while the rest can be sent by post. Most courier services will give you a delivery confirmation but you might also delegate someone in your friends circle or a relative to follow up with some special guests. Call them yourself to confirm will also make the invite more personal. The groom’s invitation were usually sent out with with a box of sweets or a token gift. But this tradition has now been adopted by families of both sides. Some brides and their families send their invites with a box of ferrero rocher chocolates while some opt for more creative ideas such as silver coin mementos, crystal showpieces or porcelain figures.
Inviting Guests Over Email or Through a Website
While etiquette consultants differ in their views over using digital technology to send wedding invites, we say why not?! But use digital media as an addition to the traditional invite and not as the only medium of communication. Wedding websites is a popular western wedding trend that is catching on fast in India. So what is the kind of content that you can add on your wedding website? Good question. The wedding website must contain practical information for your guests such as the dates of the event, timings and locations. For outstation guests, you can also include more details such as itineraries, accommodations, extra events and tips for shopping, sightseeing etc. while they are in town. And of course you must also include the fun stuff – the story of how the bride and groom met, photographs and videos of your early years and time spent together, pics and biographies of the families, a trivia quiz about the happy couple etc. etc. A webpage can have dozens of pages and posts. So if you have the time and inclination, write all the content yourself and give it to the web designer or let the web designer hire a content writer to do it for you. But whatever you do, ensure that the website is well designed. Hop over here for some good ideas on Wedding Website designs and themes – Wedding Website Designs. Or contact us to put you in touch with some great Wedding Website Designers in Mumbai.
Hosting Outstation Guests
Traditionally speaking, the bride’s family hosts the guests who don’t live locally. Although the groom’s family might help out with the expenses for a modern wedding, it is still customary for the hosts to treat the guests. All arrangements for guests must be worked out and planned in advance so as to ensure that they have a smooth stay in a strange city. First things first. Figure out who is attending. Most of the outstation guests will rsvp you to let you know their arrival details and the duration of their stay. The bride and her fiance or the bride’s family may need to contact some of the late RSVP’ers by phone or email to find out if they will be requiring rooms. In the times of the past, the bride’s friends and relatives would host out-of-town guests in their homes. This is still a viable idea though may not be so practical due to the smaller sizes of city homes and hectic lifestyles.
Depending on the number of rooms that you need and your budget, you could check out hotels, service apartments, house rentals, private clubs (places like CCI, Willingdon Club, India Habitat Centre, Bangalore Club etc.) guest houses, company accomodation (if your company provides the same or your friend’s company does) or even dormitory style housing for younger guests. If you have a family member in the armed forces, you might be able to rent rooms for a decent rate at one of the armed forces mess facilities though prices vary depending on how close a relative recommends your case. Also some facilities are only available to immediate families. You must also take the help of local travel agents and wedding planners for the same if your budget allows. Putting your guests up at a 5 star hotel also has it’s perks. If you can fit it into your budget, top hotel chains offer great value-for-money deals and high quality amenities and will go out of their way to accommodate large groups. Some hotels will offer wedding party groups a block of rooms in the same area of the hotel, fresh flowers and exotic fruits in every room, wine and dessert, a separate hospitality desk and discounts on laundry service.
Greeting and Treating Guests Respectfully
Every great hostess will ensure that guests are greeted warmly. Ensure that a friend or relative meets your esteemed guests at the airport or train station and brings them to their hotel. A good idea is to give each guest a printed itinerary with pick-up and drop timings (if a bus is being arranged) along with venues for wedding events and meals. Also include information about shopping and sightseeing.
Note: Ensure that guests are reminded tactfully that only the room tarriff has been paid in advance and if they ask for room service or order meals etc. it will be so at their own expense. Also include the mobile number of a contact person on the itinerary note. Since the bride and the groom will obviously be the busiest person at the wedding, it makes sense to ensure that one of the heads of the family or a responsible person from the family is designated as the main contact person on call for emergencies or queries.
Try and anticipate what your guests might need in order to be comfortable during their stay. Some things are universal. The ladies will appreciate help with their hair and skincare and help with ironing their formal wear and trips to the beauty parlour. Some of them might even do some local shopping for their wedding attire and may need help with information or some guidance on the best buys and bargains in town. If possible, ask a friend or family member to assist guests for all their beauty and shopping needs.
You could even arrange a small day tour of your city for your guests to enjoy the local sights and sounds in one of the free days between say the mehendi or the marriage date or after the marriage ceremony in the morning etc.
Note: Leave a welcome basket in the hotel rooms of your guests with snacks and bottles of water. You could even thank them at the end of their stay with a box of mithais or chocolates or a CD containing pics of the pre marital or marriage ceremonies and other events.
Tania Verma is the Head of Operations at Alliance One’s Pune Head Office. A mechanical engineer by education, she has a wide variety of experience in various fields such as manufacturing, consumer products and services and the Retail Sector. A strong operational person Tania gets the job done however tight the deadlines and however tough and arduous the task. She excels under pressure and maintains excellent relationships with our corporate clients as well as high net worth individuals all over India who have used the company’s services in the past and continue to do so. Having married recently she feels strongly about untruthful people taking advantage of others and has taken a deep and abiding interest in our pre matrimonial detectives in Mumbai business and leads our able team from the front.