Time was when getting married meant a simple wedding card announcing when and where your guests had to convene. The guest list consisted of relatives and a few close friends and colleagues invited to join you in celebrating your moment of joy. The actual wedding ceremony it self was fairly simple and usually quick. After all, how long can seven rounds around a holy fire or a walk down the altar or a consent given thrice be stretched? The demure Bride would typically be dressed in traditional wear and jewellery that had been lovingly collected by her mother over the years. As for the proud groom, it would be one good suit which would last him for five years to follow, or until he gained weight, whichever happened first.
The reception, that generally followed the wedding ceremony, was simple too. A stage characteristically decorated with flowers was erected for the guests to wish the married couple. Dinner that followed had an uncomplicated menu which consisted of a few main dishes and a universally favourite dessert like ice-cream. If more than one “sweet dish” was on the menu, along with a dish or two that included cottage cheese, then you and your wedding would be the talk of the town for the next week, at least. And so, with the minimal amount of fuss and your loved ones around you, you were announced man and wife.
That time has passed. Welcome to the world of ostentatious weddings where the mantra seems to be bigger, brighter and brasher. Since weddings no longer seem to be about a couple coming together in holy matrimony, but about how much pomp and splendour they can announce their coming together with.
The card gives you the hint of the wedding to follow. Cards are no longer merely imprinted sheets of paper but elaborate, hand painted/hand carved and anything that you may have by no means imagined, affairs. Moreover, they need to be accompanied by champagne, exceptional nibbles, unique hand dipped chocolates, or even just plain boring silver/gold coins in the absence of something special.
The guest list no longer consists of only relatives and friends; in fact they are probably the last ones to be included. The guest list now includes people who will look good on the wedding and, more importantly, people one may need to network with. And if one can throw in a super star, a politician, and in the event of their inaccessibility even a starlet, the event will be automatically termed successful. In addition, if you can manage to get the wedding splashed across newspapers as a Page-3 feature then you’ll be talked about till, the next big wedding comes along.
If you thought it was only the guest list that kept extending, wait till you see, rather sample, the menu. No longer does it consist of just a few dishes but a few hundred, most likely. Ranging from the unpronounceable to, sometimes, the inedible, the goal seems to be to boast of as many rare and unheard of cuisines, unmindful of that fact that guests may not even be knowledgeable enough to appreciate or differentiate them.
The surprises don’t stop at the menu either. Ceremonies are planned and spread over days and functions set around a theme, both that are probably conjured up with the sole purpose of extending the duration of the wedding. A multitude of designers are appointed to create a succession of outfits that have to be as eclectic, and exclusive, as can be. Jewellery and accessories are custom-made to match each outfit. After all, with so many functions premeditated you do need an assorted variety of apparel and trimmings to flaunt.errr.wear at each of them.
It used to be the bride who was the cynosure of all eyes and attention, but these days the groom’s are giving their brides tough competition. Advance preparations of days spent at salons and endless meetings with designers and the like ensure that the grooms are on par, if not better presented than the brides. So when the guests queue up to wish the couple and step onto an elaborate stage that has waterfalls, swings, exotic flora-fauna and movie-set type of lighting they don’t know who to be more enthralled by, the Bride, the Groom or The Stage.
I wonder if the courtship happens over manicures and facials. And, if the couple gets to gauge each others temperament as they are skirmishing over the same swatch of hideously expensive fabric? And most of all, I wonder if the dry-cleaning expenses for the delicate, sequined, beaded, embroidered, tasselled, handle-with-care clothing worn by the entire family would be on par with the cost of the wedding? Do you wonder too?