Indian Wedding Mandap Style Guide

The mandap is integral to any Hindu or Jain wedding ceremony. It’s sacred and a symbol of love. No wonder so much time is spent designing them. This is a step-by-step guide to help narrow down your choices.

1. Location

{Will Your Wedding be Indoors or Outdoors?}

indoor-mandap-JWMarriott-pink-lighting-Indian-wedding-Lin-Jirsa
Photo: Lin and Jirsa

If indoors, things to consider:  

  1. no weather worries. rain or shine, your guests will be shaded from the elements
  2. privacy. except for the baraat, other guests/public won’t be stand around and watch the ceremony. 
  3. lighting. indoors, it’s a good idea to add some lighting to the stage and mandap.
  4. some venues let you continue the baraat (sans animal) through the venue to the ceremony space…now that’s really cool.
  5. not all venues allow a flame indoors
  6. re-use the same space. At some venues you might have to use the same space for the ceremony and reception. Some couples don’t prefer that as they want a totally different look for each event.

In the photo below, you can see resort guests watching the Indian wedding happening below the pool deck.

Indian-wedding-destination-Maui-Wailea-outdoor-ceremony-mandap-Hindu-wedding-lehenga-dulhan
Gorgeous beachfront Indian wedding ceremony at the Wailea Grand Resort on Maui. Note resort guests watching from above. Photo: Image IQ

At this Hindu wedding below, the couple had the ceremony and reception in this same ballroom. So they built in enough time in-between the wedding and reception so that the venue staff and their vendor team could ‘flip’ the room from a ceremony setup to a reception setup.

Photo: Samson Productions

Outdoor Considerations:

  1. All the colors coupled with the fresh air just makes the whole event more grand.
  2. Something different. It’s kinda nice to be outdoors, especially since other events are going to be indoors.
  3. There’s always a risk with weather but you can take steps to be prepared if the ceremony has to be moved indoors.
  4. I strongly urge you to invest in a canopy to place over the guest seating

2. Type of Structure
{Gazebo vs. Custom stage}

There are two basic ways to build a mandap:

  • on a pre-existing gazebo/pergola at your wedding venue
  • on top of a custom made stage.

The photo below shows an outdoor, Hindu wedding with a custom made mandap on top of a stage that the venue provided. (By the way, most venues hotel and resort venues provide that stage whereas golf clubs and banquet halls may/may not).

Indian-wedding-mandap-outdoors-build-assemble-onsite-Hindu-ceremony
 Mandap Design: Sheer Romance; Photo by: Lin and Jirsa

Gazebo vs. Custom Considerations:

1. custom mandaps are just that…custom so you can make it look however you want; whereas mandaps on pre-built gazebos can be decorated differently but the core structure is always the same.

2. custom mandaps take more time to setup. You’ll want to work closely with your design and decor team and your venue to ensure there’s enough setup time.

3. gazebos are sturdier – I’ve heard about mandaps that were blown down by the wind or the structure wasn’t strong enough to hold the wight.

In the photo below, this venue already has a pre-built gazebo which couples choose to decorate for the mandap. The photos following show that same gazebo but at other Indian weddings so you can see what the same structure looks like when decorated differently.

Indian-wedding-mandap-gazebo-Newport-Beach-Marriott-Hindu-ceremony-Lin-Jirsa
 Mandap Design: Bridal and Event Lounge; Photo by: Lin and Jirsa
Photo: Lin & Jirsa
Photo: Aaron Eye Photo + Cinema
Photo: Lin & Jirsa
Square mandap on a pre-built structure at the venue; Photo: Lin & Jirsa

A structure-less ceremony doesn’t have a mandap but has all the furniture etc. This is an ultra-modern style. Some might like that it provides unobstructed views for guests. Furniture: Us To U Rentals

3. Shapes

 {Circular vs. Square vs. Open}

Indian-wedding-mandap-indoors-circular-fire-Hindu-ceremony-Greycard-Photography
The circular main section looks grand. Notice this mandap is flat at the top. Mandap Design: Deepti’s Floral; Photo by: GreyCard Photography
Randery-Imagery-Indian-wedding-Hindu-Patel-indoor-ceremony-mandap-fire
This transparent ‘ghost’ look is very modern and elegant. It goes well with any type of decor. Photo: Randery Imagery
Indian-wedding-mandap-Hindu-ceremony-Marina-del-Rey-Marriott-fire-Braja-Mandala-Photography-Shawna-Yamamoto-Design
Very unique customized, die-cut, white, hexagonal mandap Mandap Design: Shawna Yamamoto Design; Photo: Braja Mandala
Indian-wedding-manadp-Hindu-ceremony-Jain-Long-Beach-Hyatt
The dome-top mandap is another style. Photo: Global Photography
Indian-wedding-Jain-ceremony-mandap-multicultural-fire-San-Mateo Marriott
Pre-built gazebo with a dome top that’s covered in draping.

{Open Mandaps}

Not only are these super modern, but photographers and cinematographers love them too because there aren’t any pillars obstructing their shots. Now traditionally a mandap, by definition, is a structure with four pillars but we’ve seen couples take a fresh approach to the mandap concept and done some beautiful things with it.

In the Hindu wedding below, they simply had the green archway with no canopy or anything. In the photo below that, they had a completely open mandap with 270-degree seating around it. Now that’s a photo/cinema team’s dream come true as they can get truly unique shots at various angles.

Mandap-Indian-wedding-Hindu-ceremony-Sri-Lankan

4. The Look
{Canopy, Transparent, Metalic}

Indian-wedding-mandap-Hindu-ceremony-Ethnic-Essence-Smita-Mohindra-fire-Long-Beach-Hilton
The canopy style mandap is light, airy and offers unobstructed views as it can be made very wide. Mandap Design by: Ethnic Essence; Photo by: Payal Photo & Video
Indian-wedding-Hindu-ceremony-fire-Ritz-Carlton-Dana-point-Lin-Jirsa-mandap
The transparent mandap design is ultra-modern and elegant. It’s often combined with the ghost chairs as well. Photo by: Lin and Jirsa

In the photo below, this couple had a floating mandap design on the resort’s swimming pool. Click here to see their full wedding feature on ShaadiShop.

Mandap Design: Flowers by Cina; Photo: Jim Kennedy Photographers
Indian-wedding-mandap-Hindu-ceremony-fire-Arizona-Phoenix-Chateau-Luxe
The metallic look is very regal and pairs well bold colors and especially indoors. Mandap Design: Jessica Barry; Photo by: Ushna Khan Photography

5. Dressings
{Drapes, Flowers, None}

Indian-wedding-mandap-Hindu-outdoor-ceremony-Punjabi-Lin-Jirsa-2-Create-Designs
One decision you’ll make is the ratio of flowers and drapings or elect to have none of the above. Mandap Design by: 2 Create Designs, Photo by: Lin and Jirsa
Indian-wedding-mandap-indoor-Hindu-ceremony-fire-Greycard-photography-Deeptis-florals
Flowers dress up the metallic mandap too. Mandap Design: Deepti’s Florals; Poto by: Greycard Photography

Compare the photos above and below. The mandap structure is very similar. However in the photo above they decorated it heavily with flowers whereas the mandap below has none. What do you like better?

Indian-wedding-mandap-Hindu-indoor-Ushna-Khan-Photography
without flowers or drapes the mandap looks beautiful – esp. mixed with with red and the matching gold chairs. Design: Jessica Barry; Photo by: Ushna Khan Photography

6. Dressings Coverage
{Whole vs. Some; Floral vs. Draping?}

I included different styles for you to see. Really this is personal preference and what fits your vision and style. The photos are food for thought. Make sure you read the photo captions!

Newport-Beach-Marriott-Indian-wedding-Jain-Patel-Hindu-Gujarati-fire-Samson-Productions
The whole top of the gazebo is covered. Photo by: Samson Productions

In this gold mandap below, they skipped floral designs altogether.

Indian-wedding-Hindu-ceremony-fire-phere-mandap-indoor-Casa-Real-Pleasanton
Instead of full coverage this mandap is partially adorned with green draping. Design by: Fantasy Sound & Events; Photo by: Charleton Churchill.

7. Aisle-way
{Ground/floor vs.  Elevated Runway}

On this mandap they emphasized draping with a flower framed Ganesh in the background.

Indian-wedding-ceremony-palki-walk-down-the-aisle-Hindu-Jain-phere-mandap
Design: BEL Events; Photo: Harvard Photography

You see elevated runways at weddings like the photo below. It looks really cool and creates a whole different flare when the wedding party and the bride walk down the aisle. This dye-cut mandap has a floral pattern built in and the yellow flowers are the perfect accent.

Things to consider with runways:

  • For brides coming in on a palki, the ground/floor is more stable.
  • Cinematographers find the runways difficult because there’s no way for them to shift to either side of the mandap, quickly with minimal disruption.
Indian-wedding-Marina-del-Rey-Marriott-phere-mandap-outdoor-ceremony-Hindu-fire
The runway aisle. Design: Shawna Yamamoto Design; Photo by: Braja Mandala
Decor: BEL Event Production; Photo: Braja Mandala Wedding Photography

8. {Backdrop Decor}

Indian-wedding-Hindu-ceremony-phere-mandap-outdoor-fire-Randery-Imagery
You can also dress up the mandap with backdrop decor. Images of Lord Ganesh are very common. Mandap Design: Deepti’s Florals; Photo by: Randery Imagery
Beautiful frame around Ganeshji - love his decor idea!
Photo: Harvard Photography

{Take Aways}

I hope this guide has helped you understand some of the shapes, styles and considerations to think about when designing your the mandap for your wedding.

  • 1st: is it going to be indoors or outdoors?
  • 2nd: do you prefer a pre-built gazebo or something more custom?
  • 3rd: what shape are you going for? Round, square, open?
  • 4th: what design are you looking for? lots of flowers/decor? minimal? draping?

Did this article help you? Let me know in the comments. And follow ShaadiShop on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram so you can see our latest guides and tips.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! 🙂

Samta Varia
Founder & CEO
ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues

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