Dear Aunties…It is a wedding, not a match-making event or a beauty pageant…
No culture in the world does a wedding quite like South Asians do. A desi wedding is truly a magnificent affair made up of multiple events that not even Bollywood can really replicate. This kind of a magical affair is apparent whether you live on the subcontinent or not. What worked on the motherland is no longer affordable or feasible. This past summer I have attended a few of my friend’s weddings and I am at the age where I expect multiple wedding invites every year. When it comes to getting married, we desist go bigger, harder, and wilder. South Asian weddings are one of the most fantastic displays of family, food, and festival. But now that I have attended my fair share of them, there are a few things that have to change.
- Feeling entitled to an invite – I know that as a desi we have large families and lots of friends, but asking someone about their big day when you see they have recently gotten engaged is awkward. Why is it when someone announces an engagement on Facebook they get a million likes on the announcement from people they haven’t spoken to in years! The most annoying part is when someone who you had 1 class with in freshman year of college comments – “I cannot wait for your big day!” As if they are your close friend and they are going to get an invite! Not everyone can afford to have 800 guests at their wedding. If you actually care about the newlywed couple but didn’t get an intake then keep your mouth shut and send them a gift.
- Neglecting to read the invite or RSVP – Okay, so for the people that are lucky enough to get 1 of the 500 invites for an upcoming desi wedding, please for the love of god – RSVP! For all the fuss that desis make about receiving an invitation, they sure don’t seem to think much of actually reading it. You should not be asking the bride/groom where or when a wedding is on the day of! Invitations also have the dress code, registries, and directions on them! It takes two seconds to RSVP in 2017. Auntie – it is called the internet. Nowadays most RSVPs are done online and done within seconds. Just read the invite, go to the designated URL and let the bride and groom know to set out a chair and plate for you.
- Bringing along an uninvited family member – This is my worst fear for my wedding. Anyone who did not RSVP will be turned away, I don’t care if it is considered rude. I think it is worse when someone’s childhood friend is visiting and they bring them along to my special day without an invite. Bringing along a random person is extremely unfair to the couple. If you have family or friends visiting and you cannot part with them then decline the wedding RSVP and stay at home with them.
- Inviting everyone and their mom – This really has to stop. An average South Asian wedding has about 500 people. That number can easily be over 1000 back on the subcontinent. When people hear you want to have 250 guests at your wedding, it is considered small! The economy is down and wedding prices are up. There is no need to invite people that you don’t even know the name of!
- Showing up late – Desi Standard Time is a known fact in South Asian life. But there comes a time when it is no longer acceptable. In addition to having a curfew, some wedding venues will charge you extra for overtime. Late guests result in a delayed start to the ceremony, speeches, and food. Show some consideration for the newlyweds and show up on time so they can make sure everything stays on schedule.
- Ignoring the emcee – The emcee is there to run the evening and make sure everything runs smoothly and on time. For some reasons, Aunties and Uncles feel like they are in charge and show no respect to the emcee. Mainly because they are younger and they think that being older makes them entitled to ignore the emcee. If you are being asked to be quiet, please be quiet. If you are being asked to sit down, then please sit down.
- No rehearsal – Desis don’t usually have rehearsal dinners the night before because there is usually another wedding event the night before the big day. I have recently attended a desi wedding with a rehearsal and it helped massively. Wedding organizers need to really have a quick run through of the itinerary, who is walking where and when, the order of speakers, dances, etc. It will help put the couple’s mind at ease and will help everyone feel less confused on the day of. Last minute changes happen, but it is important to have a plan beforehand and stick to it.
- Talking during the ceremony or speeches – PLEASE STOP. It is extremely disrespectful and the person you are speaking to can wait until dinner to hear your story.
- Serving the food late – You are paying for this vendor to provide a good experience. Hire someone with a good track record because let’s be honest no one remembers the flowers or the speeches, but everyone remembers the food. Guests should not be waiting until 10 pm to be served food because you decided to be cheap and now your food vendor has not shown up.
- Rushing the buffet – Again, listen to the emcee people! Wait until your table is called and everyone will get food faster. Desis are sooo bad about this! You are there to celebrate the new couple and not to stuff your face. Don’t run to the buffet during the speeches, don’t worry you will get fed, but wait your turn!
I know I said I would only list the top 10 things we need to stop doing at South Asian weddings, but here is a bonus pointer because I am a single 20-something woman.
Please, Aunties, remember that you are there to enjoy a wedding and celebrate the happy couple and not set up your single family member. Just cause my wedding is not next it doesn’t mean I need you to introduce me to your son/nephew that is a doctor/lawyer/etc.
I really do not expect much to change with South Asian weddings with this one article or even in my generation. Bring frank, these aren’t necessary changes, just more improvements. South Asian weddings are some of the most vibrant celebrations in the world and they will continue to be. We need to make our weddings more about the love and less about the pageantry and we really need to serve food on time.