Invited to the Wedding…

I’ve had marriage on my mind a lot lately, so every now and then you guys will have to bare with me until P and I finally tie the knot (save the date, we are hoping for summer 2011, after 8+ years of being a couple). Anyway, today was AS’s actual birthday and at a “little” impromptu gathering (of 14 people) I got into a discussion about marriage ceremonies that reminded me of something.

A Nepali friend (NF) asked, “Have you seen 3  Idiots?” (a relatively new Bollywood movie staring Aamir Khan that everyone is talking about).

Me: “No, we can’t find an online copy with English subtitles” :(

NF: “Too bad, it’s great!There was this one scene in it, I swear it reminded me of my undergrad years!”

Me: “Really, what happened?”

NF: “So at the university [where the movie takes place] sometimes the campus is rented out for weddings. One day the student-characters are really hungry and decide to crash a wedding for food. However the wedding is for their professor’s daughter (of course, you know how Hindi movies are) and the professor humorously discovers the student-characters. [hilarity supposedly ensues]. This was like the time when I was an undergrad… and my buddies and I were sooo hungry, and we noticed a wedding taking place on campus, so we went inside to eat the food and our professor caught us!”

Me: “Does this happen a lot?”

N: “Honestly I don’t think it is that uncommon for someone to randomly show up, particularly as the guest of someone else, and I think in Nepal people are more lax about this than even in India. One time my dad and I were going to a wedding (of someone we knew). We got to what we thought was the venue, went inside, ate dinner then met with the bride and groom and gifted them an envelope of rupees. When we left the party my dad told me that he later realized that we actually went to the wrong party, and he didn’t know the couple! But no one said a word! Even though they knew my dad [he’s a public figure] and the family must have realized that we didn’t know them!” But it seemingly wasn’t a big deal.

I’ve also kind of seen this myself…

For example (for numbers), over the summer P and I went to our friends R and S’s wedding and at each reception (of which their were 3-4 official ones) there were several hundred people. I think at R’s reception about 650 people came. 650! Unimaginable in American terms! And that was just one reception of at least 3!

After R and S’s epic affair, P’s neighbor was also married, and (for example, random people) I went to the groom’s reception with P’s family. I wasn’t invited, I was just along for the ride, and it was very obvious that the family didn’t know me since I was the only non-Nepali in the crowd, but I was still welcome to dinner, and rounds of soda or wine (or whiskey) if it suited my fancy.

Now that P and I are starting to get (slightly) more serious about planning stuff for our own nuptials, numbers (in an American wedding) are a critical thing. For each person you invite you need to think about food and potentially drinks. Looking at reception sites the $ multiplies exponentially. I really can’t understand why food becomes so crazy expensive once you say it is for a wedding rather than a regular dinner! So in an American wedding you really need to think about who is invited, because the cost differential might be huge. Not to mention seating arrangements, and other annal retentive stuff like that!

Anyway, like I said, this reminds me of when my cousins were married. Their family lives in Pennsylvania, the same state where P’s brother U went to college. Each time we went to a wedding U was around and we would inevitably stop in for a visit while in the area. U would usually ask me the awkward question about being invited to my cousins’ weddings… “I’ve never seen a ‘white’ wedding before… when are we going?” and I’d have to make excuses. Most American weddings aren’t like Nepali weddings– you can’t just bring along people unannounced. It’s just not kosher. Both times I had to talk my way out of a last minute invite, I mean, my extended family hadn’t ever even met U, why would they invite him to their wedding? U had a hard time understanding. In Nepal he could just go, what was the big deal?

I’m not sure how our wedding will look some day. I won’t be surprised if there will be last minute people who might try to jump in on the action, and we will eventually have to deal with that as the situation arises. I think my family would have a difficult time imagining a wedding with 1200 guests (the number of people who attended N’s elder brother’s wedding in Nepal)– not to mention P and I wouldn’t be able to pay for them all, while some of our Nepali guests might not understand why they can’t bring their cousin who is visiting for the weekend when the wedding is going on.

Ah, the joys of intercultural marriage.

3 responses to “Invited to the Wedding…

  1. In India, as long as you are respectably dressed, and are not nervous, no one will find out if you went to a strangers wedding, for free food

    Thousands of people eat in these wedding feasts
    The dining room has seating for 200 people and there will be 3 or 4 batches of eaters

    So what will happen is that one batch will eat, then the waiters will clean the table and then the next batch will come in

    Breakfast will go on from 6AM to 10AM, Lunch from 11AM to 2PM and dinner from 6PM to 9PM
    All in batches

  2. The costs of a traditional American wedding is just insane… which is why Aditya and I, as poor recent college graduates (at the time) just opted out and did civil ceremony + dinner out with the family & guests. It does make for a radically different experience, though.

    • I don’t really have a choice on the American wedding, we have to have one or my family will be upset, but negotiating what we want, what our family expects, and keeping costs low will be the challenge of 2010.

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