Brides of all kinds have lots of planning to do before their big days, but Indian brides might just have everyone else beat. From colorful decorations to elaborate henna designs to a score of traditional events, Indian weddings take a little something extra to plan. If you’re planning your own wedding, you’ll know that’s no exaggeration.
One of the most exciting decisions you'll make when prepping for your big day is choosing the perfect mandap. A mandap is an Indian wedding canopy, and it's where all the magic happens. Whether you're going for a classic and elegant look or something a bit more modern, there are so many beautiful mandap designs to choose from.
Which, of course, is where the trouble starts. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. That's why we've put together this guide to help you navigate the world of Indian mandaps. With decor ideas and pairing suggestions, we've got everything you need to know to make your mandap dreams a reality.
Whether you're a bride-to-be or a lover of all things Indian weddings, keep reading to learn more about the beautiful and meaningful tradition of the mandap.
What Is a Wedding Mandap?
Let’s start with the basics. What is a mandap?
Simply put, a mandap is a decorative structure at the end of the altar. It’s not dissimilar from a chuppah, the rough equivalent seen in Jewish wedding ceremonies. Mandaps are made of four posts and are generally elaborately adorned with fabric canopies, flowers, and garlands to create a truly shimmering and awe-inspiring effect.
If you ask us, a mandap decoration certainly fits the bill when it comes to weddings. What other opportunity will you have to go all out? It totally sets the wedding stage and brings a sense of significance to the ceremony. It’s also an excellent opportunity to express yourself and your taste, whether you’re doing an outdoor mandap or an indoor mandap.
How Long Does It Take To Build a Mandap?
Now, this is a tricky question. It depends on who is setting it up and how elaborate the decorations are. If you have a wedding planner, wedding designer, and a florist, aka a professional team, a mandap can take an hour or two to put together.
But if you’re doing it on your own or opting for a glamorous mandap set piece, it can take many hours and hard work to get the look just right. Some brides even go for elaborate chandeliers and crystal mandap displays which call for a big setup production. It all comes down to the look you’re trying to achieve and the investment you want to make in your mandap.
How Long Is a Mandap Ceremony?
Mandap ceremonies are prevalent at many South Asian weddings. They’re often the centerpiece of the whole weekend of events (besides the bride, naturally). The length of the mandap ceremony can vary depending on the family’s traditions, but most of the time, they go for about an hour to an hour and a half.
How To Choose a Wedding Mandap for Your Big Day
Now it’s time to get inspired! Let’s talk about some ways you can approach your mandap design for your Indian wedding ceremony.
Coordinate Mandap Colors With Outfits
One great place to look for inspiration with your mandap is your outfits. What colors are included in your and your groom’s looks? After all, you'll be the center of attention on your special day, so why not make sure everything complements your outfit and accessories?
Imagine walking down the aisle in a gorgeous red lehenga with golden accents toward a mandap decorated in matching hues of gold and red. In fact, that’s exactly what Priyanka Chopra and Nick put together for their wedding ceremony in 2018.
Or, if you want your dress to stand out from everything else, you can take a cue from western weddings and match the wedding theme and mandap style with your bridesmaids and groomsmen. Imagine your bridesmaids all wearing teal and emerald lehenga cholis, with a mandap design featuring blue iris flowers, orchids, and elaborate greenery. We’re already obsessed!
Embrace Timeless Floral Designs
When it comes to creating a floral mandap, there are certain classic styles you can lean back on if you’re in need of inspiration. Perhaps one of the most popular choices is to include hanging flowers, in which flowers are threaded together to create eye-catching panels of color.
The most common flower for the hanging design of the traditional mandap is the always classic marigold, which brings a pop of personality and sophistication to any wedding venue. Roses, peonies, and hydrangeas are also go-to picks but don’t be afraid to experiment with succulents, air plants, or tropical flowers for a whimsical and unique touch to your wedding day.
Abundant floral designs on a mandap are an especially good choice if you opt for an outdoor wedding. The mandap will look robust and full of life, just like your marriage will be!
Mango and Banana Leaves for a Spring or Summer Wedding
One of our best wedding ideas for mandap decor is not to overlook natural elements, like mango and banana leaves. Sometimes brides go all in on flowers and forget about the power of greenery.
Mango and banana leaves are not only beautiful and plentiful, but some people like to consider these to bring good luck and prosperity. Beyond that significance, these decor elements are also fantastic ways to add an organic touch to your wedding, perfect for the boho bride.
They can be used as a background for floral arrangements or even as a standalone decor element, creating a lush and tropical ambiance. They can also be used in different forms. For example, you can use the leaves to create garlands, ornaments, or even as a backdrop for the mandap. The possibilities are truly endless.
Indian Wedding Decorations To Pair With Your Mandap
If you treat the mandap as the focal point of the wedding event, then you can use it to inspire the rest of your wedding reception decoration.
Candles and Lanterns
We have to say: We love when Indian weddings feature candles and lanterns heavily. It gives the whole event a sense of romance and intimacy that makes everything feel more special.
Many mandaps include a burning fire at the center of the structure; bringing that traditional element into the table decor will make everyone feel included and a part of something.
Vases and Vessels
Similarly, you can use the wedding flowers you chose to include in your mandap to inspire the vases and flowers you feature on the tables.
Don’t just look to color for inspiration here. If you’re going for more of a classic, art-deco-style mandap, then you can pick crystal and glam vases. If you want your mandap to be an explosion of vibrancy and organic growth, go for colorful and non-traditional vases to keep the party going on your tablescape.
One non-traditional mandap design that we love is handmade gota hangings. This dainty but eye-catching style will look fabulous on your mandap and will translate well to being featured during your wedding reception and party.
Go for gold, pink, and blue gota hangings to give your wedding a feeling of celebratory richness.
Make Your Wedding Unforgettable
The most important part of any South Indian wedding ceremony is the love and commitment the couple is sharing with each other. We like to think of mandaps as the framing structure with which all of that love is contained and concentrated for a truly unforgettable day.
For modern brides, the choices are seemingly endless when it comes to putting together their dream mandap. They can go for something over the top with elaborate floral arrangements, something sleek and refined with silky canopies, or something totally non-traditional with chandeliers and crystals.
But no matter what you choose, make sure it’s something you’d want to see in photos 50 years from now. A mandap should only ever add to the specialness of your wedding ceremony, not take away from it.
From choosing a stunning mandap design that matches your bridesmaids’ outfits to incorporating natural elements such as mango and banana leaves, there are so many ways to make your mandap truly special. Whether you're going for a classic and elegant look or something more modern, there are endless possibilities to make your mandap memorable.