The first thing you need to know is that an Indian wedding has very little to do with the couple getting married. And it certainly has absolutely nothing to do with love. Please. That’s for dizzy white people. The sole purpose of an Indian wedding is one thing and one thing alone.
To show off.
Why else have you slaved day and night building an empire if you can’t take blow it all on the ultimate spectacle to end all shows. Its not just a wedding you are organising. Its an experience you are designing. I mean for Shahrukh’s sake we have Bollywood to live up to to. It is our ethnic duty. Its our way of saying ‘But do I say.’ And by the way, Luo funerals aint got nothing on Indian weddings.
So fasten your bindis, put on your bangles and ensure your sari is securely tucked away into your petticoat to avoid any embarrassing predicaments.
The next thing you need to know is that an Indian wedding lasts on average five days. You know what that means. Five themes. Five colour schemes. Five dresses. Five menus. Five locations. Five bands. Five times the arguments. Five time the stress. Five times the drama. And Kenyan brides you thought you had it bad? Remember, each day has its own prescribed set of rituals that must be followed very precisely to ward off bad luck. Because luck is what it takes to keep a marriage together. Apparently.
First things first. A weight loss regime. I’m not talking about the bride silly. Who’s going to be looking at her anyways. I am talking about everyone else. It is imperative that you squeeze into that midriff baring outfit without jiggling on the dance floor. Pudge is so 1960s. Those that can afford to (and many who can’t) nip over to India to get their tummy snipped. Why go on a diet or exercise, when size zero can be bought off a menu the other side of the Indian Ocean.
Now that the most important thing is taken care of, the planning may commence.
It would be simply unthinkable to have all the events in the same location. You need a garden venue with pristine lawns for the peacocks you borrowed to strut in. An indoor venue that can be lit up to accentuate the sparkle of the 10kg heavy wedding sari made of Parisian lace and embroidered with thousands of Swarovski crystals hand sewn by stubby fingered turbaned Rajasthani villagers. Naturally, there will be ice sculptures of swans with garlands made of Orchids flown in from Thailand, so air conditioning is essential. And a helipad. You hardly expect the bride to walk to the aisle do you?
Now for the wedding cards. Or should I say merchandise. This is not a wedding. It is a brand. And every component must reflect the brand. The trend of the moment is to have a chocolatier curate a bespoke tray of Belgian chocolate truffles and slip the wedding cards inside the box. It should appear effortless, nonchalant, casual. Like this is what all your correspondence looks like.
The guest list is probably the most stressful part of the wedding. It is a careful balancing act that needs to be approached with the delicate gritted teeth diplomacy of a high level United Nations Security Council meeting. Or a freedom of speech march in the streets of France. This is the birth ground of inter-generational family feuds. You see not everybody is invited to every event. An invitation is not a right. It is a privilege deigned upon those deemed worthy enough to consume of the family’s opulence. The grandparents will insist on inviting every breathing object that has crossed their paths since they got on the ship from India. There will be resistance to this by the financier of the wedding who sees every person invited as a per capita expenditure. We are Indian after all. You didn’t expect we made our millions by being careless with our money. The magic number will be attained by calculating the minimum number of people required to create enough of a ripple in the community about the extravagance of the wedding. Gossips will be weighted at a higher priority level.
Five days of events represents five ways to dazzle a captive audience with your imaginative, sophisticated and cultured theme ideas. There is no such thing as ‘too much’. Bollywood Hungama is a must. Arabian Nights is a standard. Afternoon High Tea has garnered favour of late. Kitenge Couture is a new entrant to the theme catalog. Black Tie is the perfect opportunity to show off those backless ball gowns you paid so much money to squeeze into. Oscars. Because Hollywood is still cooler than Bollywood. And West is best.
For entertainment, there are two obligatory acts. The first is the big Bollywood Act. Remember, again the magic is in capitalizing on tremors created in the community by the arrival of this star. The sweet spot lies in the minimum expenditure for the maximum buzz. It used to be that the winner from Indian Idol did the trick, but that has just gotten so predictable. Every Shah, Patel and Singh can get an Indian Idol to come down. You need to up the ante, raise the game, increase the stakes. You require a bona fide lip syncing, hip swiveling, torso thrusting Bollywood actor. Complete with outfit changes and back up choreographed dancers. Obviously! If you can arrange for Snow/Arabian desert/Amazon Rainforest/Sunflower Fields as a backdrop, you are winning. The second item for Entertainment is the home grown cringe inducing dance number performed by cousins and friends of the couple. For this to be authentic, it must be choreographed and taught to you by the dynamic Russian (?) duo, Action In Focus.
Now for the food. The most important part of any Indian wedding. The creme de la creme of the whole debacle. This is where you cannot afford to experiment. The buffet table must be groaning under the weight of hundreds of delicacies; Beef Biriyani, Vegetable Biriyani, Chicken Biriyani, Goat Biriyani, Hyderabadi Biriyani. Why choose when you can serve them all! Rotlis, Naans, Papadaums, Dhosas, Idlis, Parathas. Why choose when you can serve them all! Potato Curry, Cauliflower Curry, Eggplant Curry, Ladyfingers Curry. Why choose when you can serve them all! Ras Malai, Gulab Jamun, Kheer, Shrikand, Laddoos. Why choose…ok you get the picture. You see the thing is, if the menu does not have enough variety, Michael Jackson himself could be moonwalking across the dance floor, but the only thing that people will have to say about the wedding is that the food was bakwas.
And after all. What people say is the whole point of the wedding in the first place.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
And congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law to be. Let the wedding planning madness begin!