You’ve planned this day for months, and in some cases, years. You’ve agonised over every little detail starting with the trimming on your dupatta to the exact shade of gold on your partner’s sherwani. The sangeet playlists, the bridesmaids outfits, the flowers at your reception, every decision took days and a dozen excel sheets. You factored in emergencies, but nope, not a pandemic.
Your wedding date is here, the pandemic shows no sign of plateauing and one of the most important days of your life has to play out much, much differently than you had planned.
Heartbreaking? Would seem so.
We spoke to seven couples from various parts of the country, who have had to cancel wedding ceremonies scheduled on dates during the lockdown which had left small-tropical-honeymoon-destination-sized holes in their pockets and their hearts too.
But without a shred of regret about what could have been, they gushed to tell us how the most special days of their lives turned out to be much bigger bangers this way:
1. Bhumika & Kussh
Mumbai-based fashion designer Bhumika Ahluwalia’s celebration of love with Kussh, felt urgent, but also meaningless when not shared with those who lacked love the most during this isolating pandemic:
“We had initially decided to postpone the wedding, but as we saw things only getting worse, we decided to get married just to be able to start our lives together. We went ahead with only pheras, on May 17, at the Gurudwara. All our preparations were made in a week. I did my own makeup, my sister and mom did my hair, and my neighbour put my mehendi on — so it was a simple, DIY affair,” Bhumika said.
“Only our first families were present at the wedding, so just the 12 of us, with our extended families and friends watching live on Zoom. It felt peaceful and sacred and we couldn’t have asked for a more special ceremony. The sad situation in India was one of the reasons why we were refraining from having a celebration. So, at our wedding, we made sure we donated food and necessities to sevadars and migrant workers. And this situation has made us realise how much it matters to be around your loved ones,” she said.
2. Gurpreet & Ramandeep
During her lockdown wedding, Ludhiana-based oral maxillofacial pathologist Gurpreet Kaur, had fun turning her home’s backyard into a “wonderland” with her family with whom she had not had the chance to spend quality time in years. The squad heartily made sure all the flowers were fumigated, sanitizers replaced the gulabjal in greeting the handful of guests at the entrance, and the uncomfortable masks became a wedding accessory that was going to be passed down through generations.
“Instead of ceremonies being extended over a week, we squeezed them all into two days. My cousin did the mehendi, we got face masks customised for everyone at the wedding and made them compulsory to wear! All the guests had their temperatures checked everyday too. It may not have been the way we planned it, but it was an amazing wedding. Everyone could just be themselves, and said this was way better than the usual big fat punjabi weddings. Every moment was memorable. With fewer people, we had better arrangements and it was far less chaotic. We hope the future sees more such close intimate weddings!” said Gurpreet.
3. Samuel & Sravya
Assistant pastor Samuel Timothy Dhara, scrambled for weeks to get individual permission for each of the twenty people who meant the most to the couple to be there. Finally, he got all of them together at his church in Safilguda in Telangana, which felt like home, and his vows with Sravya Cherukuri in Safilguda in Telangana.
“When the lockdown was first announced just two days before they were to originally get married, (we) just went blank, and were very stressed and upset. I was so close to marrying the person I was supposed to marry but yet so far. But after weeks of uncertainty, and running between the collector’s office and the police station, we had the wedding in our own church with only our immediate family members, two witnesses, one pastor and photographer. Wedding sure might be an event for families and friends, but more than that, it’s about two people becoming one. People watching overseas took photos of themselves standing next to the TV screens and made themselves part of our day too, it was really something!” said Dhara
4. Chaitali & Nitin
Digital marketer couple Chaitali Puri and Nitin Arora’s wedding was slated for May 2 and was meant to take place at a resort overlooking the Morni Hills in Punjab with “sunset pheras”, but the wedding they got ultimately, had an even more dramatic backdrop.
“I couldn’t imagine a wedding with ten people. Maybe fifty, but not ten! We had planned to postpone it. But on the 1st of May, my would-be father-in-law called at noon asking if we’d still like to get married on the original date which was the next day! But realised how we really just wanted to start our lives together - so we said yes! What followed was 12 hours of complete madness. Special permission came through at 6 pm. I wore my mother’s saree from Meena Bazaar, and my Nani’s vintage gold choker, did my own hair & makeup. My in-laws & fiance traveled across state borders overnight. We decorated the house ourselves - just throw on some nice curtains and artificial flowers. Catering was a potluck!” Chaitali said.
“The pheras finally happened with our closest family, and our friends and other relatives joined over Zoom. Everything felt just perfect. The fact that all the pieces in the puzzle just fit together so beautifully on the day made us realize that happiness is not made up of material things - it’s a state of mind. All my relatives who were hesitant of us doing this, were so happy and grateful the next day because our wedding reminded them of the stories they heard from their parents about how weddings used to happen in earlier times. Simple, intimate, and beautiful,” she said.
5. Cheshta & Vipul
Professional tarot reader and numerologist Cheshta Mago’s personal DDLJ moment was getting the permission slip from the authorities, and a chance encounter with someone who quickly set up the whole wedding: “After everything was locked down, there was immense uncertainty but someone we met by God’s grace set up the gurudwara wedding for us. My parents quickly made arrangements and we finally had our dream wedding on May 24. Vipul always wanted a grand wedding with a bunch of functions, but what we had was a thousand times better - everything just fell in place!,” said Cheshta.
“I am so thankful and grateful to God that we were able to get married, that things happened the way they did, and at such a time! We had our dream wedding - so simple, quick, sweet and peaceful,” said Mago.
“I want to tell all the anxious couples worried about their lockdown weddings that it always works out,” she adds.
6. Neha & Lakshay
Chandigarh-based lawyers Neha Thakur and Lakshay dated for a decade already, and felt that they couldn’t possibly wait a minute longer to be family.
“We thought, we may not have the wedding we desired but we definitely want to start the marriage we’ve prayed for! Government regulations were followed, masks and sanitizers were arranged, and the nuptials took place in a simple manner with the blessing of 10 family members. Food wasn’t a problem either, since it was a small group, we just prepared it at home!
We were just happy our parents were with us, because they matter the most! This was a lesson - to value people who love us more than the materialistic joys. And now that we’re happily quarantined together, it’s given us time to know each other better and to grow strong as a family, before we go into the hustle and bustle of life.”
7. Krishnamithra & Pradeep
Chennai-based interior decorator Krishnamithra Rajan, had to Marie Kondo her original wedding party of 600 at the Leela Palace down to ten of her dearest. But the home ceremony with the vows, retaining the simplest and most meaningful of each other’s traditions, and getting to kickstart her ‘marriage’ without a shred of the big-fat-wedding-hangover, still managed to spark all the joy.
“It was an inter-faith wedding - my husband, Pradeep John, is Christian and I’m Hindu. So we were never going to have religious rituals anyhow. We exchanged our vows and rings, did the thaali (mangalsutra) ritual, and later got registered in the office with our masks and gloves on.”
The only real challenge, she tells us, was the stress of not knowing when they’ll get to marry each other. “Not having our close friends and relatives around was also quite upsetting. But the event turned out to be extremely beautiful and intimate. After the wedding, we got to spend a lot of time with each other and our families. At a time like this where there’s so many uncertainties- work, health, economy, this was a little sliver of hope and happiness. We all felt truly blessed and our bond has gotten so strong,” Krishnamithra said.