Designing for an Indian wedding is challenging. Temporary structures are constructed typically using plywood, handmade papers and papier-mch, with traditional clay oil lamps and masses of flowers for adornment. Flowers must remain fresh and fragrant during the celebration ritual. Usually weddings are on a large scale. Dinners are held for 500-2000 people. At the evening receptions of music accompanied by dance, another 300-500 people gather. Even for a small, home wedding, it is not unusual for 200-500 to be invited.
Two weddings we have designed were held on private land owned by the families. We needed to locate places for cooking and serving large numbers of guests, and for cleaning up afterwards. An electrical substation (and generator) was required, and also a chalked parking layout for 1000 cars.
Beyond these practical necessities of catering to a large event, our main concern was to design memorable and beautiful temporary wedding structures.
For one wedding, the canopy for the marriage ritual was made from densely clustered yellow marigolds. The weight of the flowers caused the structure to flex at the centre and bend towards the young couple, giving off fragrance as well as defining an intimate interior space, with the guests outside. The canopy was tied with thin metal wires, invisible, that made it appear to hang magically in mid-air. Flowers wereused to create the traditional rangoli pattern on the ground, and traditional clay lamps marked where women of the family performed ritual dances.
The stage for the reception after the marriage ceremony was simply adorned with linear patterns of yellow flowers and papier-mch. Instead of the two chairs typically for the bride and groom, we placed a double sofa.
Local craftspeople supplied clay pots of various sizes, with holes and different shapes, which were lit with oil to last several hours. They created a beautiful soft ambience around the ceremony area and made the grounds look festive. The clay pots were fashioned in symbolic forms signifying growth, fertility and peace. Lamps were also placed along paths to light where people should walk.
The guests are welcomed at the entrance to the wedding by the close family members. We designed one wedding entrance in a traditional manner, using clay and mud as well as clay oil lamps and flowers. The temporary structure was made by hand.
For another wedding entrance, we designed a temporary bamboo structure festooned with flowers. The stage for the music performances was designed with a backdrop of circular cut-outs of various sizes; negative and positive forms playing against each other.