THE UGLY TRUTH
Our very own Sirf Coffee bride tells you what no one else will
Who can forget #virushka breaking the Internet: A pastel-perfect fairytale wedding in romaaantic Eeetalee. A good-looking, power couple with a shiny future, sprinkled with extra magical fairy dust. There was no escaping the oohs-and-aahs and surgical dissection of the ‘exclusive’ pictures that constantly plagued our phones, courtesy the millennials in my office.
I thought about my own wedding from a few months ago. Could I look back and smile about the weeks that came before it? It’s the same answer to, ‘Would you like to accelerate premature greying?’
Don’t get me wrong. Getting married (if you’ve found the right person for yourself) can be a fantastic life change, including the shockingly blissful comfort that one derives from living together. But here’s a fun fact that no bride will publicly share: The planning process is a shortcut to hell. Teary outbursts, emotional meltdowns and unexplained rage are a part of your very own reality show. It’s a free pass to The Upside Down, without Bob the Brain to save you. If you think the rest of this article is going to read like a Pixar screenplay, now is a good time to walk away.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m an advance planner when it comes to pretty much everything. I’d organised events several times, and generally like being methodical and in control –without leaving big, open gaps to chance. I thought I had it covered.
So when an old college friend called me to ask if she could double up as a rookie-wedding planner, I wanted to say, Gurrrrl, I planned your birthday party before you were even born. (More on how I had to eat my words, but later.)
Herein the six months of planning, lies the ultimate test of your relationship. You are at high risk for PWTSD (Pre-Wedding Traumatic Stress Disorder). I don’t have stats on this, but apparently, it happens to almost everyone. One of my make-up artists told me about how her inter-community marriage made her constantly lose her cool with everyone’s cultural demands and nagging. Her fiancée spent an entire night listening to her cry, two days before the wedding. Another trousseau designer sheepishly confessed that she hates looking back at her wedding day. She was just angry the whole time. The incessant events organised by her then-fiancée left her exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed – to the point of her leaving her own function to head home straight after.
A few days ago, I encountered my own species. A young acquaintance pinged me for suggestions for a wedding photographer. In the same conversation she admitted that the planning process was turning out to be more nerve-racking than she had imagined. To give you an idea of her daily stress levels: she manages the career of a Bollywood celebrity. Do the math.
None of these women were even potential bridezillas. They were normal, regular women, just making sure the basics of ‘the big picture’ were right – venues, décor, etc – not whether each napkin had their guest’s name monogrammed on it. Some didn’t even particularly care. Again, the pre-wedding stress eventually got to them. Because it gets to everyone.
Pinterest boards feed you lies. For all the ‘18 summer hairstyles you need for your Mehendi’ and ‘Designer lehengas that you can sell a kidney for’ stories (I’m looking at you, www.wedmegood.com), what every bride-to-be needs to know is that it’s not easy. It’s okay to live deliriously.
Long story short, here’s my quick five to survive:
1) Master the art of not giving a…
I’ve realised that our loved ones don’t mean harm; they just have opinions. Emotions run high. People love dispensing advice. It’s up to you to listen, or take it with a pinch of salt without being too sensitive. Unfortunately, the stress of making a joint decision can ripple like a Pacific Ocean oil spill in your relationship. All your wedding-related fights are weighed with new gravity, often questioning marriage in the first place. One of the few things that will keep you together: You’ve put down a heavy ass hotel deposit and bought your lehenga.
Lesson: Be thick-skinned.
2) Be Decisive
Finalise the big choices in order of priority. First: The groom, wedding dates, events, venues and accommodation. Second: décor, outfits, jewellery, photography + videography, etc. Third: invitations, wedding favours, make-up and hair experts, mehendi artists, etc. Start ticking things off your list, because it’ll mean less for you to do, even if its sixty days before the Big Day. Skip the rituals that don’t really matter to you. I’m so glad I didn’t have a ghastly Bollywood-style sangeet with 35 performances, because no one watching even gives a shit. Certainly not me.
Lesson: Do not subscribe to ‘Chill yaar, you have time naa’. It flies faster than a kilo of Goriawala cake. (The cake. Life changing.)
3) Sleep? What’s that?
You will feel the stress, and there’s little you can do to escape it. Wedding planning is not a romantic experience. There is simply too much to handle: your own family might drive you crazy, and vendors can be a source of drama. Your head can be a scary space in the pre-wedding months, working overtime – balancing work-home, visualizing, payments, following up. They’re all ingredients for a pre-wedding perfectionist breakdown. Don’t be surprised when most ideas only come to you at 4:00 AM, when you’re already awake. It’s honestly the worst version of yourself that you’ll experience, probably before parenthood.
Lesson: Say hi to those Chanel eye bags.
4) The Meltdown
The good news. Most men can’t care less about weddings or anything remotely related to them. Several of my questions were met with: ‘hmm’, ‘sure’ (without looking) or ‘whatever you want, babe’. I stopped involving my boyfriend when he asked me if we really needed a videographer. Coming to what caused my meltdown? It was petty, really. I was coordinating the schedules of the head chef, my fiancé, our immediate families, and the banquet manager for our food tastings. At one point, we actually found a date that suited everyone, until I was told to reschedule to accommodate a family aunt, who was holidaying in Barcelona. It was as if someone whispered, ‘Dracarys’.
Lesson: Delegation. The only time my husband rolled his sleeves up – was to call in the experts, to urgently preserve the last sliver of his fiancée’s sanity. (This is also the moment when I knew I picked the right man.) Let a professional planner take some work off your plate. Mine was a delight to work with, and a great sounding board to all my late-night paranoia.
5) Enjoy yourself
After everything I’ve said, you’re probably thinking this is a joke. I’ve heard too many people tell me that they didn’t have fun at their own wedding – and have lived to regret it. During the three days of our festivities, I brushed all my worries aside. I hung out with my guests; danced, laughed, cried and ate breakfast with them every day. On the day of our ceremony, I was so excited to see my groom that my best friend did a live video to let me in on all the action at the baaraat. Because things were well organised, we left our wedding reception at 11:00 PM, changed into our PJs and hung out with thirty of our closest friends and family, and chilled in our suite. We drank, laughed and played silly games for over two hours. It’s one of the most intimate, unphotographed memories that I have, and cherish.
Want to hear something else? Every single vendor I chose, irrespective of scale or scope, exceeded my expectations. They did their best, and more. They care because you care. Because they were all referrals from friends, and we had built some kind of relationship beforehand, we already knew how to manage each other’s personalities (it doesn’t hurt to over-research, does it?).
Lesson: Let go.
The thing is, weddings make you feel loved, blessed and so special. It feels amazing to have the best friends in the world (including the one standing next to you); and family that has your back, forever. Contrary to what you may think or believe, it is a real privilege to be able to celebrate with all the people who have made a difference to your life, and those that made it there. It’s unforgettable.
Would I do it all over again? Not even if my life depended on it.
Photography by Studio Zeppic