Namrata Iyer talks about her real life experience in the ‘The Raw Life’ today. She talks about how Indian weddings are not just about the bride and the groom, but the families of both as well. And in that bond, lies all the beauty.

I was supposed to get married on 25th December, 2016. I did. But not in the way I thought I would.

I’m from a liberal, upper middle class family in Pune. I met my now husband in college, about 13 years ago. He’s been my best friend for more than a decade and thinking of him as my boyfriend was a seamless extension of our friendship. I’ve known his family for almost as long as I’ve known him. My visits to his house were often characterized by long conversations with his mom and sister about random things, with him sometimes meandering away unnoticed to play games on his computer. Both our families knew each other well and got along. All in all, very favorable circumstances indeed.

The villain in our story? Geography. We moved to different cities for education and every successive degree/job seemed to take us further apart. While marriage was a foregone conclusion, the big question was when! The story of how we arrived upon a date for our wedding is probably the least romantic one out there.

Me: “Hey, I’m coming to Pune for vacation this December. Are you gonna be in Pune at that time too?

Him: “ Yup”

Me: “What would you say if I suggested we get married then?”

Him: “Sure why not?!”

And then as expected, all hell broke loose.

As soon as the families got to know, the usual Indian wedding drama ensued. As both of us sat cozy in separate countries, our families went into overdrive getting the hall, the caterer, the cards etc organized. After all, we’d given them just 6 months’ notice! We had the usual fights over how long the ceremony should be, what I should wear, what kind of ceremony and of course the quintessential tussle over the guest list. We tried hard to fight our parents on it, before realizing, that the wedding ceremony wasn’t solely about us. It was just as much about our parents sharing this special moment with all the people in their lives. It was their dream. So we stopped fighting it and decided to make our peace with the magnum opus that our wedding was becoming. Go with the flow is an amazing strategy!

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It’s two days to D-day. We have a massive tragedy in the family. All of us are devastated by the loss and there is not a moment’s hesitation before we decide to cancel the wedding celebration. Months of planning and inviting people and then two days before the wedding, we find ourselves calling those same people to tell them not to come. It broke my heart to see our families have to go through this painful process.

In a way, their loss was heavier than mine. All I had done was show up, whereas they had been living and breathing and dreaming this wedding for months. As we dealt with the tragedy, we reached a decision. While the ceremonies planned for the 25th would be cancelled, we’d still go ahead with a registered marriage. It was a practical decision and I agreed to it. Sometimes you just have to put on a brave face and do what needs to be done.

Come the 25th, and I get up not knowing how to act. I was getting married that day, but nothing was as I thought it would be. There is no mehendi, no make up, no house filled with close friends and relatives and yet it’s my wedding day. My mom insists I wear the saree we’d bought for the ceremony. When I’m almost ready, the doorbell rings. My fiancée and his immediate family have arrived and I walk out to greet them. The moment my fiancée looks at me, he smiles and suddenly everything is clear. I love him, he loves me and today is our wedding day. That’s it. It’s that simple.

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There wasn’t any of the traditional wedding hoopla. Instead, it was the two of us at home, surrounded by the 6 people we cherished the most in the world. We signed on a paper, exchanged garlands and became partners for life. It was more intimate and beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Despite the loss we were dealing with, there was something really bittersweet and precious about that moment. The love and goodwill in that room was palpable. In that moment, everything was perfect.

In retrospect, I wish I had realized earlier what truly makes a wedding. Yes, the people and the food, the clothes and the makeup are a lot of fun. But you don’t need all of that for your wedding to be perfect. What truly makes you feel special on that day is having the people you love the most with you. It’s having a partner who can make you smile even when life seems bleak.

There is a sanctity to a wedding that can sometimes get lost amid all the chaos of the celebration.

Surrounded by hundreds of guests, many of whom you haven’t seen in years, so much of your time and energy can be spent in coordinating their accommodation, getting the food just right and trying to keep everyone happy. Contrast that, to a simple intimate ceremony with the people you cherish; everyone’s hearts and minds in sync as you make the biggest commitment of your life. No stress, no hassle, just a room full of people you love the most wishing you the best in life!

Does a part of me miss not having a big wedding like everyone else? Yes, of course. I’m only human. But I wish I’d seen the different shapes and forms a wedding could come in as I was growing up. It was not how I’d imagined it, but in the end, I think I had a perfect wedding!


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