I've never been to an Indian wedding before. When I told my friends that I would be going to India to attend a wedding, they all expressed their jealousy, and needless to say, my expectations were sky-high. Nonetheless, I ended up being surprised by the sheer extravagance and the endless activities.
On the first night Paul and I were there, we attended the sangeet. It was a bit like a western reception - open bar, dancing, an emcee, and dinner ... except it was all backwards. The evening began with drinking, speeches, and dancing, and ended with food being served at 10:30 PM. It was a lot of fun -- and the groom's uncle kept the Johnnie Walker flowing. Around midnight, everybody went home to prepare for the next day.
The second day offered breakfast and lunch, but Paul and I skipped both to attend another event on the schedule, a cultural show featuring regional Indian dancing. After watching for 30 minutes, we asked our assigned driver to take us to the ferry so we could take a boat across to Fort Cochin, an older part of the town. We rode around on an autorickshaw (think three-wheeled rickshaw with a small engine and driver) for a few hours and then went back to the other side of the water to attend the evening reception.
The evening reception on the second day of the wedding was at the luxurious Le Meridien resort in Cochin. There were probably 2,000 people in attendance. They were mostly the bride's family's friends, relatives and business associates. There was a live performance, more free liquor and table upon table of food. As it was nearly 30 degrees Celsius (= 86 degrees Fahrenheit) outside and very humid, we spent most of the evening inside bathing in air conditioning and drinking Johnny Walker Black (more about Johnny Walker later).
The third day of the wedding started early as our wedding schedule indicated a "procession" at 8 AM. Instead of bridesmaids and a flower girl, we found a parade involving three elephants, an army of dancers, and a large group of the groom's family and friends walking in. This was followed by 2 hours of ceremony and more eating. After this, the couple was deemed married and the days of celebration were over.