A few months before a birthday the biggest question on any child’s mind is, how big is my birthday party going to be this year. Will there be a bigger cake, larger gifts, more friends invited? Parents on the other hand do everything they can to make this day extremely special for their child.
After “almost” three decades of attending fabulous parties thrown by my parents, what they had in store for me this summer was out of this world!
Four years of dating and one spectacular Royal proposal later, parents want the inevitable question answered, “so what kind of a wedding do you kids want?” Is this a trick question? How many kinds are there? Not wanting to know the answer to that question, we asked them if we really needed to even have a wedding ceremony at all? Wrong move. You see, honestly, Indian parents wait all their life for this one event. In your growing up years, sentences that start with, “At your wedding…”, “when you get married…”, “for your wedding…” are not uncommon to hear. Purchase of big ticket items and personal indulgences are held off till weddings are on the horizon. So you are almost crushing their dreams when you tell them you don’t want a big wedding. Their immediate response suggests that it will be “Something simple and small.” As soon as they uttered those words you knew they would have to eat them!
An Indian wedding is not your regular exchange wows, reception, have cake, and drive into the sunset affair. Approximately a $38 Billion industry, Indian weddings are called “big and fat” for a reason. Mine thankfully wouldn’t qualify for either big or fat! Or would it? Wink.
What starts off as a small wedding soon snowballs into the most elaborate affair of your life.
Never-ending lengths of guest lists are curtailed unsuccessfully. Budgets for catering, drinks, DJ music, wedding photography, décor, henna artists, multiple sets of clothes for everyone, wedding trousseau, make-up & hair trials, actual hair & make-up sessions, accessories, flowers, invitation cards, pre-parties, bachelorettes, post-parties, spa-sessions, guest accommodations, guests travel, welcome gifts, wedding favors, wedding priests and so much more are reigned in hopelessly. Of course everything is eventually overshot well beyond anything that remotely resembled a budget proposal and if a CFO existed would have resigned on day zero!
Bride and groom being south Indian, you would think there would be no north Indian festivities like Mehendi (henna ceremony) and Sangeeth (Singing and Dancing). Additionally, non-vegetarian food and alcoholic drinks would be a complete no-no. You think wrong; both sets of parents from the Indian Army having perfected at entertaining diverse crowds all their life, happily agree to a fusion wedding leaving no stone unturned!
Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends & everyone practice their dance moves and singing voices for almost a month with of course a little bit of help from Bollywood choreographers of blockbusters movies like Ram-Leela who script a show at par with the Film fare awards in style!
Was almost a year of constant planning, several Face time sessions discussing wedding details, months of shopping, several exorbitant bills, everyone falling ill multiple times, weeks of physical, mental and spiritual exhaustion, and the logistical nightmare of hosting almost 500 guests at multiple locations, navigating high security given the President of India decided to come stay a couple of miles from the wedding venue at the same time, worth it you ask?
Two months ago, I know what I would have said!
But now, I am not so sure. Because all I remember now is the pure joy and love that everyone put into throwing the biggest party of our lives!
Grandparents beaming with pride to see their kids, grand kids, and great grand kids come together despite the busiest of schedules. Uncles and cousins running around happily helping out with prep for the wedding. Aunts and grandmothers working tirelessly to ensure every flower was in place and the last person had eaten. Friends traveling from all corners of the world despite work deadlines and jets lags from recent business trips, and getting crazy drunk and stupid and showing up late for their dance performance on stage!
My little baby sister throwing me the most special surprise bachelorette, hosting a fabulous show for everyone, and putting up with my every whim and fancy! Moms lovingly putting together my wedding trousseau keeping in mind my favorite colors and my taste! Dads being their cool and calm self, firefighting and ensuring everything went off flawlessly. Finally, photographers scampering around to capture every emotion and moment.
So was the cake bigger? Were there larger gifts? Were there more friends? Hell ya! It literally was the biggest, all expenses paid for party of my life so far, and I think sometimes I am still recovering from the hangover. I only wish I had given my parents the biggest hug once again for hosting it! This goes out to all the lovely parents who strive each day to make their children’s lives so very beautiful and magical!
Leaving you with some magical moments from the biggest party of my life!