Originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2012
Big fat gypsy weddings might have hit the headlines, but the traditional British Asian wedding has always been big. Often including several separate ceremonies and events spread over a week or more, the cost of the average Asian wedding in the UK is frequently well over £30,000. With the significance of marriage or ‘shaadi’ being huge in south Asian culture, weddings are a serious business. From the lavish designer outfits and the elaborate cakes to the grand stages where the bride and groom sit on their thrones, complete with a lighting and sound system to rival a TV talent show, this is an industry worth a reported £300 million a year in the UK alone.
Yasmeen Khan explores the glamorous world of British Asian weddings. She takes in an Asian wedding exhibition in the UK, meeting the clothes designers, wedding planners, toastmasters, food suppliers, chefs, videographers and ‘yellow gold’ jewellers making their fortunes as the second and third generation tie the knot, all of them keen to help the families show off their wealth. She learns about the different cultural aspects of a Muslim, Sikh and Hindu wedding. She visits a couple’s big day and explore the meaning behind cultural traditions, such as the confiscating of the groom’s shoes by the bride’s sisters and cousins – finding out what he must do to get them back.
Yasmin also delves into the politics of the guest list at an Asian wedding, many of which are huge affairs with hundreds and sometimes thousands of guests! And she discovers just how much family relations are tested as an increasing number of couples pay for something that has traditionally been paid for by the bride’s family.
Produced by Yasmeen Khan/Neil Rosser & Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd for BBC Radio 4
N.B. Some audio has been edited from the original broadcast version due to copyright restrictions