Growing up in a South Asian household, I remember being enamored with the notion of a big Indian wedding. The gorgeous outfits, mouth-watering food, and all the people! I had romanticized every part of these weddings. Moreover, given that I live in Canada, these weddings were even more special. It was a window into traditions that I usually only saw in movies and through photos!
This love grew with me, I wanted the big Indian wedding, and I wanted to soak in all the beauty of it. I am sure some of you have seen the jokes about how South Asian girls plan their weddings since the day they are born, but I truly fit that stereotype! I have the Pinterest boards, the guest list, and all I am truly missing is the groom! However, the issue with growing up is that certain realities rise to the surface. Even though I still love the idea of having a huge wedding and celebrating that day with my closest friends and family, some minor details have changed.
I will not bore you with the details that have changed, but I will share the eye-opening stories that made those changes happen. I have actively chosen to support local businesses in Canada that are owned by people of color for the past few years. Some of these amazing companies have also shared the most heartwarming stories about their own lives.
One story that really struck a chord with me was about the owners of the New Delhi Company and their own wedding story. He highlights how he and his wife had an intimate wedding that was focused on love and positive energy. This story was organized in three posts, and they were accompanied by breathtaking photos of their ceremony that warmed my heart. In one of the posts, he highlights that “As the owner of A South Asian Bridal store, I’m supposed to sell you the wedding day. The biggest and best of everything life has to offer. But you know what, I can’t sell you guys short like that. The best advice I ever got about our wedding day was to make sure it was not the best day of our marriage.”
For someone who had focused on every single thing of what I wanted my future wedding to look like, this got me thinking. Did I romanticize the wrong part? Have I focused on the parts that look the happiest because, as South Asians, we have highlighted that the most?
On the one hand, we have shown how weddings bring two families together and loving exchanges. On the other hand, movies, books, and other forms of media have highlighted how South Asian women have suffered once they leave their family homes. Did a South Asian bridal store highlight how while your wedding day is an extremely important day, it is only the first step of an amazing journey?
I have witnessed amazing marriages in my own family. Still, I have also heard heartbreaking stories of others. Many have begun with “They had such an extravagant wedding, so sad that it ended this way.”
I used to accept this fact silently. If one had an extravagant wedding, it was sad that their wedding ended in divorce. However, these two things do not correlate. The size or grandeur of a wedding does not equate happiness. South Asian weddings have been glorified in every form. Yet we overlook the importance of how marriage can be a challenge, and that our life is not a Bollywood movie where everything works out in the end. While things do work out in the end, it takes hard work on both ends. South Asians have focused on the importance of getting women married and doing it in a way that solidifies their social status within this community.
The burden is ultimately on the women’s family, given that it’s a very common South Asian practice for the bride’s side to pay for the majority of the wedding and organize the events. This may only add on to the bride’s burden, given that her family has spent so much on her wedding day, she may feel guilty if the marriage were not to work out. One of my uncle’s once told me that in any relationship, for it to succeed, both sides need to fight the problem and not each other. While big weddings are gorgeous and a feast for the senses, the problem is that there are underlying issues when we romanticize big weddings and do not protect the couple post-wedding week (weekend).
Weddings are amazing and a great way to bring everyone together. But they are only the first step of any marriage. It is time we focus on the marriage and not the wedding. Let’s romanticize families coming together post-wedding and maintaining strong relationships and being supportive! Let us focus on how we can pass on traditions, customs and create new memories during these times!
During the lockdown, it is amazing to see how many people who have organized their wedding in small ways. They really showed how their friends and family had come together in safe ways to celebrate the couple! Many have noted that these intimate ceremonies meant the world to them and that the energy was amazing during them. I believe the focus shifted during this time, rather than focusing on showing society. Families were focused on showing traditions and sharing moments of love together. Regardless of the size of the wedding, this focus should always be the priority!
I was not surprised reading that smaller weddings are more appreciated because so many of my family friends have noted that regardless of what they do or how much they spend, someone will always be unhappy. Weddings should only focus on how the bride and groom feel, not how the aunt once-removed who only shows up to special occasions feel. People should only come to weddings in order to share good vibes and love.
I will always love big Indian weddings and love the pomp of it all. However, I also have learned to appreciate that the most important part is the energy and the love that is shared amongst everyone. I hope that we move towards more inclusive and more positive weddings. I also hope that the wedding is only the first step, and the emphasis is moved to making the marriage work regardless. That more unity is put forward and that South Asians are not burdened with wedding expenses, but overloaded with love. South Asian weddings are gorgeous for the outfits and the glitter and glamour. But the best part is the families getting together. The emphasis on coming together and families joining during this time is truly the best part!
And don’t be fooled, I still have every outfit, every song and every event planned to perfection. But I also want to be able to embrace the traditions and love in a way that will allow me to focus on the importance of these rituals and how they pave the way for the rest of my life with my future significant other.