How I Survived Planning My Big, Fat Indian Wedding

31/01/2016 12:00 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
In this Monday, Nov. 3, 2014 photo, Ram Charan, 35, from Bareilly some 256 kilometers (160 miles) from Delhi, a member of Master Band, an Indian brass band specialized in playing weddings, poses for a portrait in New Delhi. Dressed in faded military-style uniforms or long silken tunics and turbans, brass bands playing the latest Bollywood tunes have long been a must-have at any Indian wedding. But as the tastes of young, wealthier Indians shift to more modern music, young couples increasingly choose DJs playing electronic music instead of live bands. The shift is leaving band owners and musicians struggling to find gigs, exacerbating an already difficult existence. (AP Photo /Manish Swarup)

It was about eight months from the roka to the wedding day, which meant eight months of planning the big, fat Indian wedding. We mulled over whether to have a destination wedding (which meant fewer guests but offending dozens in the process) or a wedding in Delhi (which meant a thousand guests, from first-grade tiffin-sharing buddies to Pilates class pals to relatives of every imaginable hue). In the end, we decided to just go for it in Delhi, thinking it might just be more fun and less stressful.

I decided very early on that I did not want to be a "Bridezilla", the kind of person who weeps into her rajma-chawal if the table cloths are ivory instead of snow white. I haven't asked my parents their opinion, but I think I held it together as best I could. So let me just jump straight to the point of this post. This is a bit of advice for the to-be brides who are going to find themselves in the same boat that I just got off.

There are parts of the wedding (for example, the décor and caterer), which you should just let your parents handle.

Wedding planning is a lot of things -- part fun, part stressful, part exciting and part nerve-wracking! From finding the perfect wedding outfit to the perfect DJ to play on your sangeet night, there are tons of things to do - say hello to interminable to-do lists and say goodbye to sanity and routine. Some things are a given. Your wedding will be on your mind every day till the festivities begin. Even if the grand day is months away, you're likely to find yourself mooning over wedding blogs and Pinterest boards even when there is a pressing deadline at work. Don't worry, you haven't gone cuckoo - such behaviour is quite normal for brides to be.

Delegating responsibility

So, what should you tackle first? What should you handle, if anything, and what should you leave to those who are older and wiser (i.e. your parents)? These are significant decisions you should take early on, which will make this ride smoother. My mother gave me a great piece of advice when I jumped into wedding-planning mode a day after my roka. "You've got 8 months to go", she said. "Don't burn out. There are some things you should just leave to me and plan those for your own kids' weddings." She was right.

There are parts of the wedding (for example, the décor and caterer), which you should just let your parents handle. For one, they have years of experience tackling certain kinds of vendors. Second, you're probably more equipped to take over other departments, the DJ for example.

The dress! The dress!

Before you do anything else, get the wedding outfit out of the way. I actually texted my fiancé "I have found my wedding outfit, I am now ready to marry you" when I got mine! It's a big responsibility and one which you should be fully involved in.

Before you do anything else, get the wedding outfit out of the way... It's a big responsibility and one which you should be fully involved in.

If you obsess too much, don't take a picture of it at all. If you must, take one so you can match the jewellery and then just delete it. Else, you may find yourself waking up in the wee hours to stare at the photo, second-guessing whether it is, indeed, the perfect attire for your big day. Remember that dark circles are the last thing you need for the endless days of upcoming parties.

Matching guests with addresses

The next thing you should work on very early in the planning is the guest list, addresses and all. My fiancé and I were in university abroad. Plus, I've lived in multiple cities and have been in boarding school. So, there were many special people from around the world who I wanted as part of my celebrations. What could have been a tortuous task was made much easier by technology. My (now) husband set up a link on Google Drive, which we sent to our friends and relatives over Facebook and WhatsApp. It was easy to fill, and voila, the list of names and addresses prepared itself in a neat spreadsheet format. (He's quite a genius, my husband, that's why I love him so much!)

My (now) husband set up a link on Google Drive, which we sent to our friends and relatives... voila, the list of names and addresses prepared itself.

Technology comes in handy for other things too. I created many different mood boards -- for outfits, make up and décor. Apps like Evernote are great for creating these.

Chill out

Now for the biggest tip -- enjoy the process. Meet your close friends over coffee and do things you enjoy . Everyone will fuss over you so enjoy the attention and endless shopping (even though you have almost dropped dead in the hundredth fitting room). There will be things which may not go as per plan, but just go with the flow. There will be disasters. I had my share -- from an expensive outfit (after months of meticulous discussion) delivered torn to me by a "top designer" to my mehendi wali giving me a hard time (I had to type the names of the gods she believed in before and after every message and yet she reached me late).

Some things will be beyond your control, so you may as well laugh about it and enjoy each and every minute. You will also meet some very kind people along the way. The designer for my wedding outfit gave me my dream outfit and had the sweetest team. All in all, the wedding will pan out perfectly -- the people who mean the most to you will be there to celebrate one of your biggest life events. So take a deep breath. Don't make such a fuss if the florist hasn't got the perfect pink shade of flowers you wanted. Because really, it's about a lot more than that.

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