Indian weddings are huge celebrations involving music, bright colours, multiple feasts, staying up late and dancing. In many ways they are not unlike British music festivals. It might be a little far fetched to compare a wedding to Glastonbury, for example (we Indians like to think “the more the merrier”, and to invite large number to our weddings, but 30,000, even by our standards, might be stretching it a bit), but in terms of the experiences of a festival-goer and an Indian Wedding-guest, I think there are definite similarities. Music festivals can last up to a week nowadays, and Indian weddings can sometimes last longer than a week. Indian weddings often take place in large tents, and sometimes the younger guests will sleep in tents.
But the biggest thing British Music festivals and Indian Weddings have in common, is music. Try to imagine Glastonbury or an Indian Wedding without music. Have you ever been to a party where the sound system fails for a moment? Did it feel someone had pressed the pause button on the whole party? And on a way to a large celebration of some sort, what is it that announces you have found the right place? Is it the smell of food or the sound of laughter? If it is a small dinner party, maybe, but if it is a large celebration, music is the first thing we hear. Music is the thing that signifies that the party has started, and when the music is turned off, we know that the party has ended for the night.
The music has to be appropriate to the occasion too. Vera Lynn might not go down too well at a death metal concert, nor would Rage Against the Machine be right at a ladies coffee morning. Extreme examples, of course, but there are more subtle ways in which the choice of music can be wrong. As with a performance, a film, a book or even a meal, pacing is of the utmost importance. In a film or play, the audience would not want to sit still for two hours or more, if the whole plot was given away in the first twenty minutes. Likewise with a novel. And a chef would certainly never serve his richest, heaviest and most filling dish as an entree. The heaviest and richest music should also not be served right at the start. Music needs to build up in intensity, so that the wedding guests or festival-goers can keep up their levels of both stamina and enjoyment for the whole evening or week.
Music festivals sometimes break this rule by having raucous bands play during afternoon slots. The only reason they do this, is practicality, I’m sure. They have to fit so many bands into as little as two days. However they do tend to save the more famous bands or musicians for the prime-time evening slots.
Weddings, happily are not about fitting as many bands in as possible. Weddings may not have the luxury of choice, but they have the luxury of simplicity and good pacing. So how do you choose the right music for the different stages of a wedding? Professional wedding planners have learned a lot through study, observation and experience. Ask your wedding planner what musicians or bands he or she would recommend for the different stages of the celebration. During the afternoon it is important that the music will be gentle and atmospheric so that it doesn’t interfere with conversation, while still providing a mood of celebration. As people who work in the wedding business, we believe that Indian Weddings can benefit greatly from multi-culturalism, so we often suggest solo piano players or harpists playing western jazz or classical music for this part of the day.
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