Read time: 5 minutes “Something simple and modern,” is what I tell the Indian wedding decorator. He shows me five more pictures of frilly linens, beaded curtains, floating candles, and purple lighting. They didn’t seem to get it and I don't blame them. Indian weddings have a long history of being everything but “simple” and “modern”. The only thing that’s evolved is the swankiness.
If I didn’t already have a lot of opinions on weddings before, I definitely do now. With the onslaught of posting pictures from every event, throwing an Indian wedding has gone from pricey to a reckless expense and painstaking formality.
What to expect:
Anywhere from 3 to 11 events
Baseless traditions that are either sexist or narcissistic
Lavish gold and diamonds as gifts, boasting a resale value you could never consciously utilize
Then add on some modesty with brides covering their hair and the grooms wearing ornate turbans
Parents invite all their friends, the bride and groom's’ friends barely make the guest list...
Then there are some traditions I do enjoy, like the central theme of Family:
Everyone in the family will dance
Family and friends take this opportunity to show how much they care - in whatever way
Plenty of jokes, chai, and sleepless nights
And in general, lots of giving
People ask about my wedding planning a few times a week. For someone who’s terrible at celebrating their birthday, I’m doing surprisingly well at answering questions about what it means to have all these events centered around me and my life partner. From the beginning, I knew I had a choice to make: I could care a lot and drive myself into the ground or take a step back and enjoy regular life as my family and friends take over planning till the big day. I chose the latter but I quickly found it to be selfish because weddings are a lot of work.
There’s no way to explain how many decisions have to be made for a wedding. Anyone who’s planned one deserves an honorary degree in Business Administration. Now I have one foot in the trenches of planning and the other obliviously dangling in happiness because life’s been good other than that.
Even if I wanted to not care, its hard not to plan silly details. I come up with new ideas for the events almost everyday but then I remind myself to care less...it's just a few days. However, I also super care about being “different” with my ideas and choices.
For an example: is there another lighting color BESIDES PURPLE that looks good at weddings?!
I wanted to have just one big event which is hilarious because reality will end the event count at six. From the beginning, I’ve fought to keep down the excess but I let my family in on the fun so here we are, excess. In general, it’s better to not fight the traditions, unless you really care about something. And for those few things, fight to the death.
I haven’t hit the apex of wedding chaos yet. I’m assuming the final battle will occur during the week of, when my repressed inner Bridezilla will rise and threaten the survival of my entire gene pool.
Until then, I have a two themes that’s kept me grounded:
Allow for Creative Freedom
Don’t choose vendors based on their work, choose them as you would a business partner. Choose people you believe in, that are passionate, and ones you can trust on the big day. You may want the best decorator or caterer but if they don't show up on time, none of it even matters. Decor, food, photography, videography, and music have one thing in common: creativity. Definitely don’t pre-plan every detail before they even get a chance to think. People need to love what they do so that your pictures, the stage or the songs all turn out incredible because they themselves were allowed to have fun with it.
Decide how much you care about the big day’s details and establish some values on what matters vs. what doesn't. You can’t make everything perfect and you cannot splurge on every aspect for an event (or 4) that lasts a few hours. Once you decide which aspects you care about, it’ll be easy to delegate the others. And it will be much easier to avoid having philosophical debates over table settings with your mom.