How to Plan a Multicultural Wedding: The Indian Mehndi Party

Real Weddings, Showers & Parties
Multicultural Wedding Mendhi Party Amber Herring

Photo: Courtesy of Amber Herring

Meet our latest real bride blogger Amber Herring, a New York City-based fitness and style editor! Over the next few weeks, Amber is chronicling every last detail of her wedding planning process — from getting into shape to managing a gigantic bridal party (she has 13 bridesmaids!).

Now that I've had my first wedding dress fitting, sent our rehearsal dinner invites and spray painted over 100 clear vases gold for the centerpieces, it's time for some fun stuff. Next up, is finalizing the details for the Mehndi, or henna, party that my soon-to-be mother-in-law and grandmother are hosting.

While our wedding is a traditional American ceremony, my fiancé Rajiv is Indian and we always planned to represent his culture. One way is through the Mehndi party, a pre-wedding ceremony where intricate henna designs are applied to the bride's hands and feet. The letters of the groom's name are even hidden in the design for him to find before the wedding.

See More: How Real Couples Put A New Spin on Old Wedding Traditions

My mother-in-law Geeta has been hard at work finding a place (an Indian restaurant near our venue) and choosing a light lunch menu for the Friday afternoon before the big day. The restaurant will be decorated in bright colors and include an area where I'll sit while the artist applies the design with a paste to my palms.

Female family friends from both sides will join me in the ritual and all our designs will dry and brush off to reveal a deep red stain. Now all that's left to do is pick an outfit. As the women at a shop in Islin, NJ pulled bright "lehengas" (long skirts with matching tops) full of heavy beadwork, I knew I'd be okay — as a former dancer, I've never been one to shy away from sparkles. Now it's just a matter of choosing one beautiful garment over the next (the look pictured above was one of the lehengas I considered).

See More: How To Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue

At the top of our ceremony aisle there will be a sign greeting guests that reads, "Today two families become one, so pick a seat, not a side." While a wedding is about the couple, it's also about your family's joining, so when planning a multicultural wedding try and pick something that reflects each of you.

For me, adding the Mehndi party never felt like a compromise, because I was always excited about it. I read somewhere that the henna designs are considered a blessing and I think that's my favorite part about the party. It's something I'll carry with me through the ceremony and the first few weeks of our marriage. So whatever your reasons, make sure you choose something that truly makes you happy.

There's more!

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