World of Weddings: In India, arranged marriages are as strong as ever

World of Weddings: India blends tradition & tech

"CBS This Morning" kicks off our new weeklong series World of Weddings. We sent a team of correspondents around the globe to witness unique ceremonies and understand what marriage means in different cultures. In our first report, we take you to India, a country where modern technology is blending with centuries-old marriage traditions.


One of the most spectacular shows on Earth, taking place on the outskirts of New Delhi, isn't a music video, or even a Bollywood movie; the high-end production is an Indian wedding celebration. Amidst all the food, fireworks and fanfare, here in India centuries-old traditions, like arranged marriages, remain alive and well.

About 90% of all Indian weddings are arranged, and that is despite the rising influence of the West.

Sumit Gambhir is a 29-year old tax attorney, and Vani Mehta, 24, just finished business school. They were only acquaintances, but six months ago both families agreed to the union. Sumit flew to Canada, where Vani was living, and proposed. They'd never dated.

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Sumit Gambhir and Vani Mehta had never dated each other when Sumit proposed.  Family Photo

Correspondent Ramy Inocencio said, "A lot of Americans might ask, 'Is this love?'"

"I think for me, it's an 'arrange-come-love' marriage, because in the six months, we fell into such a great place that now I can just say, you know, that I love him a lot," said Mehta.

"I love her, too," said Gambhir.

For many young couples in India, their perfectly-arranged match might start at the Mumbai headquarters of the website shaadi.com. "In India, you know, we often say you don't marry an individual, you marry their family," said its founder, Anupam Mittal.

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Shaadi.com claims to have arranged nearly six million successful matches. shaadi.com

Inocencio asked, "Do people find love?"

"This is a great question," Mittal laughed, "because we're gonna get very, very philosophical. In India, it is a stage of life. We go through childhood, we go through adolescence, and then we go through what is called the domestic stage of life, before you retire."

Shaadi.com CEO on why Indians are looking for "love that grows over a long time"

The company claims to have arranged nearly six million successful matches, navigating hundreds of different religions, cultures and languages.

"When we think about love in India, it's not necessarily a chemical reaction where you fall in love. You find love out of respect for each other over time," Mittal said.

Once the marriage is arranged, the wedding arrangements begin.

Wedding planner describes cost and culture of Indian weddings

"So, people have their family, then family's family," said TV wedding host Ambika Anand. "Then, in India, there's this huge thing that everybody gets offended if they're not called for a wedding. So, it might seem really large to Western audiences – you guys have 100 guests and if 101 person shows up, you're like, 'Oh my God, where will they be seated?'"

Behind the economy of weddings in India

A small wedding venue might have 500 people. Have a slightly bigger family? Wedding venues can hold 1,200, or 2,000. That includes Bollywood blowouts like one hosted by one of India's richest families. 

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A blowout wedding hosted by one of India's richest families was like a Bollywood production.  CBS News

Another was capped off with a performance by Beyoncé, with an estimated price tag of up to $100 million.

Vani and Sumit's wedding celebration was a five-day affair. It began with traditional celebrations for the bride and the groom.

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Vani Mehta at her bridal celebration.  CBS News

Two days later, Sumit was on horseback surrounded by hundreds of friends and family, as he rode into the wedding venue.

Nearby, Vani was decorated with hundreds of precious jewels gifted to her by family.

The Hindu wedding ceremony takes several hours, with guests popping in and out to wish them well.

Once the marriage vows are exchanged, the party begins.

Inocencio asked, "What was the most stressful part of your wedding?"

"That we have to live with each other for the next 50 years, you know?" Mehta replied.

"Is it gonna be okay?"

"I hope so!" she replied, fingers crossed.

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Sumit Gambhir and Vani Mehta, now husband and wife. CBS News

Gambhir said, "Even if it's not gonna be okay, we're gonna make it. I am gonna make it perfectly fine for us."

A sense of hope at New Delhi's biggest wedding reception hall, where everyone, including the newlywed couple, looked on as the sparks began to fly. And that's marriage in India.

As for divorces, get this: only one percent of marriages end in divorce in India compared to 50 percent in the United States. There's a lot of societal and family pressures, and also there's probably a little bit of love floating around, too!

Indian couple on their modern-day arranged marriage