Saturday, December 5, 2009

Marriage and ceremony

A wedding should be a time of joy. But when you see the drawn faces of the betrothed couple and families you know it is anything but joy in the run-up to D-Day. Before you know it, you are totting up the numbers and you find that you are already paying out a couple of lakhs on things like hire of the venue, fresh flowers, decorative lighting, pretty cloth covers on the chairs with big bows, which match with the pretty centerpieces which cost a bomb and are placed on each table. Another lakh flies like the wind into decorating the church or mandap, and the clothes for family members and friends who will be holding positions of honour during the nuptials.

Yet another lakh goes flying out to a very expensive band that will provide you with live music. Then you have to get a Master of Ceremonies, wine, cake, a sumptuous dinner for 300 guests. You never know how many people you know until you draw up a guest list for a family wedding. There are the cards that have to be selected and printed. Then they have to be delivered. I would have presumed that the cards would have to be posted, but no, according to my friend Omlet one cannot post cards. They have to be delivered personally or you will upset family and friends. And you don’t want to upset anyone because then they’ll consciously or unconsciously put a hex on your wedding.

By now you have lost track of the lakhs that are flying into limbo. There’s money to be paid for the bridal couple’s wedding finery. Wines to be selected, cocktails, mocktails, the wedding cake, decorations; nothing costs less than Rs 20,000 and the number keeps increasing. At no point does it strike you that all this money is being spent on just one day. To you this is the One Day of your life when you must spend all this money. Everything, but everything has to be just right.

You have attended other weddings and have taken notes. You like certain things that they had, so you set about getting those for your own wedding. You have already taken a loan to fit in the honeymoon. You find you are running low on funds, so you ask around and take small loans from family and friends. You take an advance on your salary because this is the Most Important Day of Your Life. No expense is to be spared for the ceremony and its reception thereafter. You want a wedding to be proud of; an event that is dressed to impress.

But it seems such a colossal waste of money and effort. Your guests will ooh and aah, but once they return from another wedding yours would have faded completely from their memory. Also no matter what you do, someone somewhere will have something to complain about.

One wishes one were back in the 70s when to flaunt wealth was vulgar. To have a regular wedding with the usual components was ho-hum. 30 years ago, we chose to go completely anti-establishment. The wedding nuptials were in the morning with mandatory white gown and dark suit in church, followed by a wedding lunch for relatives. The main event – the reception - was a party for friends held in the house. Good thing it was a huge house. The dress code was jeans, kurta and sandals for bride, groom and everyone else. The food was biryani, sorportel and ice cream. There was recorded music, good wine and wild dancing which can only be done with 70’s music. A wonderful time was had by all. That was a wedding that the guests spoke about for a long, long time, decades in fact. Even now they talk of the wonderful time they had. And the cost was a fraction of the cost of a ho-hum regular wedding.

With us, the wedding was not really important, what made us extremely nervous was the marriage that was to follow after the wedding. We were convinced we’d make a mess of it and of course we did. But we blundered through somehow and 30 years later we are still blundering through. But one thing is certain. As wedding receptions go, I have yet to enjoy another one as much as I enjoyed my own.

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