An Indian (East) Acquaintance of Mine is Getting Married...

And I want to give him a gift. I have no idea where to begin.

Here’s the background:

My company is doing a major implementation of a new back-end system for one of our divisions. It’ll be worth ~$200 million by the time the dust settles. The company we’re getting the system from is based in the US, but has offices around the world.

One of the network resources I have been dealing with for the last 2 years was born in India (southern India I believe) but came to the US to go to University in California.

He works his ass off on this project (crazy hours, no overtime, very little vacation time, etc.) and is a great guy. Because he is being paid by the other company, there’s nothing we can do to change this (we’ve tried).

He just told me he’s getting married and will be going back to India for the wedding and will be gone for 5 weeks. I’m 99% sure this is an arranged marriage (What ev’s, it’s his culture. Who am I to argue!).

A coworker and I want to go together and get him (and his new wife) a decent wedding present. We’re probably willing to kick-in about ~$90US each (That’s about $100 CAN), but we have no idea what is appropriate to give (would he have a gift registry in North America?).

Is there a traditional wedding gift we should get? Can we give money (that’s easy but not very personable and I don’t want to insult him)? Will the answers here vary depending on what region he was originally from in India?

Any feedback would be appreciated.



Don’t try getting him a “traditional” gift. They will get a big pile of those (saris, jewelry, gold, etc.) and not a single one will be useful in the United States. His wife-to-be—assuming she has lived her whole life in India—probably has no idea about gift registries—mine didn’t, but that was 10 years ago, so who knows. If I were you I would wait until after the wedding, meet the couple together, and try to figure out something they really need that they haven’t thought of and no one in India knew they would need it.

If the wife has also lived in the United States for some time, then meet her first and you’ll get a better idea of what an appropriate gift is.

You might check if he’s registered at one of the usual suspects; Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma or If they’re registered in the US, it might be with one of those companies and you should be able to look them up using just his name and perhaps the wedding date.

As someone who is from South India (yay! I can contribute to cultural understanding!) I just wanted to pitch in and say that cash is a perfectly acceptable gift at an Indian wedding. It doesn’t have anywhere near the same stigma that it seems to have at Western weddings. In general, when giving cash, the only thing to note is that numbers ending in 1 are auspicious, so $201 is better than $200. Put cash or a check in a nice envelope with a wedding card, and you’re all set.

(As an aside, this applies to all financial transactions, so a down payment for a house might be Rs. 100,001 rather than the nice round 100,000. Never ceases to amuse me, but there it is.)

If he’s having a traditional Indian wedding in India, I very much doubt he’d be registered at a gift registry in America, but never hurts to check, I suppose. Acsenray’s advice in post #2 is also a good way to go if you feel uncomfortable about handing over a wad of bills. :slight_smile:

At South Indian weddings, perennial favorite wedding gifts include artful carvings, especially of the gods from the Vedic Hindu pantheon, as are items of jewellery, watches, cookware and similar stuff.

Weddings differ widely in tradition across the length and breadth of India. North Indian weddings are strikingly different from South Indian. There are few “standards” - traditions can differ village to village within the same community, even.

IMO, any gift that carries an Indian flavor to it should make the couple happy. It should have some enduring value, which means kulfi would be inappropriate.

I don’t have much to contribute to the thread, sorry, but I do have a question re: the “Indian(East)” in the title? Is this common usage in the US to refer to people from India? I can’t recall having come across it before.

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are also commonly referred to as Indians. The title is to avoid confusion with Native Americans.

I understood that. My question was different though. Is it common usage in the US to refer to people from India? I can’t recall having come across it before.

I wouldn’t say it’s common, but it’s not rare either. Usually it’s used to juxtapose with the West Indies (i.e. the Caribbean). Also, it’s a more PC way of distinguishing south asians from native americans than “red dot vs red feather”.

Well, it’s certainly common enough in Canada. If I were to say “he’s Indian” there may well be confusion due to the aboriginal population who still share the same name, as politically incorrect as it may be.

“Indian (East)” is not common, but it gets the point across. More common are “Indian,” “Asian Indian,” “Indian from India,” etcetera.
“West Indian” is practically unheard of in the United States. A lot of Americans would have no clue that it means “Caribbean.”

Indian from India is the one most familiar to me.

Interestingly, while many Indians(myself included until only a few years ago) have heard of the West Indies, we think it’s a single country, not a region, because they have a test cricket team, and are the only collection of countries to have one.