Our wedding day was not how I expected or imagined it to be. I really wish I had attended several Indian weddings before I plunged into my own. In hindsight, I thought it would be the same as a Western wedding in many ways, but with more rituals and more colours (naïve). I didn’t understand Indian bridal etiquette. Despite my husband’s best efforts, I felt insignificant and uncomfortable on the ‘happiest day of my life’. I just wish I knew what to expect, then I think I would not have found it so hard. I was not prepared.
I am so happy and grateful my family came all the way to India to be at my wedding. They really helped make it special for me! Laughing can always make you feel better, and my sister Kirsty, she really made me laugh. She made me laugh when I was crying and made me laugh when I wanted to cry. She did my hair and make up but most importantly, she made me laugh.
The first part of our marriage ceremony involved everyone throwing rice at us as the priests chanted mantras. My suggestions for the decorations and garlands had been ignored, among other things, and I was feeling as if I was attending someone else’s wedding. I was upset. Kirsty stood right behind me and threw her rice right down my saree blouse, I could feel her doing it and I could hear her laughing about it. I couldn’t stop laughing, After each mantra, more rice was thrown, so after each mantra, I cracked up. You cannot imagine how much rice I had collected in my blouse.
We had to sit on the stage for a while after this ritual. I could see the guests talking to each other, they were gesturing to each other as they spoke, with looks of confusion. I could see many people touching their arms, commenting about my lack of bangles. I really wish I knew how much people would judge my lack of bridal adornments. In the West, less is considered more. In India, more is more. Whilst watching the guests critique my appearance, I felt uncomfortable. I looked uncomfortable, my anxiety ran wild.
So many people were taking photographs of us and I was lost in my own thoughts. My sisters noticed and so started making funny faces at me, standing behind the photographer, trying to make me smile. It worked. I smiled and I laughed, they would pop up out of nowhere with a huge smiles, hovering behind anyone taking a photograph.
After our heads were knocked together about one-hundred times (a Marathi marriage tradition, knocking the heads of the bride and groom together), I had to change into my bridal saree for the wedding ceremony. I was assured that I would have at least an hour to get ready for the wedding ceremony but in reality, the time had changed again and we only had ten minutes. Kirsty grabbed the bouquet of roses I had been given and stuck them into my hair, the result was amazing! She then gave me her diamond earrings to wear for the ceremony. She took them out of her own ears and gave them to me.
The day of the reception, my husband and I had to be involved in another pooja. I cried throughout the entire thing. The end of the wedding meant my family were going to soon leave India. I was anxious and scared of all the guests coming to the reception, 700 people were expected to attend. Indian weddings are so different from Western weddings in so many ways. Usually only family and close friends attend a wedding in England. My husband did not know 75% of the guests. I was tired and frustrated.
We arrived to the hotel to see my family and get ready for the reception pretty late. When got there and Kirsty announced that she had taken my younger sister, Sophie, to the mall! I couldn’t believe they just got a taxi and went shopping, it took me weeks to go out in India on my own. The really sweet thing was, they went out and bought me a jewelry set for the reception, Kirsty even let me wear her diamond bracelet. She styled my hair and put on my make up and, as always, continued to make me laugh.
The reception was beautiful. It was a surreal and exhausting experience though. Our faces hurt from smiling after meeting so many people and posing for so many photographs. I felt really beautiful, thanks to the look on my husband’s face and my gorgeous sister and all her sweet and generous efforts.
I am really surprised how much the whole “being a bride” thing meant to me, I guess all of those hours daydreaming about my wedding day as a child burst out from my subconscious. I guess we naturally want to put our wedding day on a pedestal and to claim it was ‘perfect’. Life isn’t perfect and things do go wrong, I guess our wedding showed me I need to learn how to deal with them when they do.
Some moments though, are perfect…