As anyone who has seen The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel knows, Indian weddings are not just any ordinary celebration. A traditional wedding in India usually lasts an average of three days and is a colorful, music-filled affair that spares no expense when it comes to food or drink.
For travelers, attending an Indian wedding when simply visiting the country is not something you should expect. However, now thanks to Join My Wedding, a new Indian start-up, you can purchase admission to a traditional Indian wedding and enjoy the revelry like a local.
The idea is to help Indian couples that may need a bit of cash for the event. Travelers simply need to visit the Join My Wedding website and buy tickets for the ceremonies and receptions they want to attend in the area they are visiting.
"Experiencing all the cultural elements at once, meaningfully connecting with the locals in India, that's a huge motivating factor for the travelers," Orsi Parkanyi, CEO of Join My Wedding, told CNBC. "It's a safe experience. You attend an event with hundreds of people, you're a distinguished guest, people look after you."
The service, which acts as a dating app for wedding crashers, introduces hosts to guests before the wedding so that travelers aren’t simply strangers dropping in on the big day. Weddings usually vary in size but expect at least a few hundred people.
Tickets also range in price, depending on the type of wedding you wish to attend. For guests that want to witness just one day of the ceremony, the cost is roughly $150. For a two or three-day ticket, prices can increase to $250.
The main ceremony is usually held on the third day and includes a cocktail hour and a reception. Guests can expect the baraat, or groom's procession, in which the groom arrives at the ceremony on a decorated white horse. Guests participate by dancing around him and beating a dhol, an Indian drum. After that, the bride and her family welcome the groom, and the couple exchanges flower garlands, which are worn around their necks to symbolize their acceptance of each other.
The food will include a spread of naan with different curries, samosas, pakoras and a dessert plate with cake, kulfi and decorated sweets made from nuts. There are usually at least four stations of chefs preparing food for guests. As for gifts, couples usually ask that guests not bring boxed gifts to the wedding, therefore, you can either have the gift shipped to their home or bring an envelope with money.
So far, Join My Wedding has been very successful, selling tickets to more than 100 different weddings across India.