My wedding day. Why there were less than 15 guests in total.

by Heena Modi on January 22, 2009

I got married on 22nd December 2008. Very recent! If you’ve seen my picture on the ‘about’ page, you might think that I’m Indian and you would be right. Why is this relevent? Well…If you know what typical ‘Indian’ weddings are like you’ll know there’ll be lots of people there.

Typically, there’s a registry marriage, a religious ceremony, a reception and possibly a party beforehand too. Of course, as we evolve (not sure if this is the right word) and grow richer we have more and more events e.g. Mehendhi (Henna) party, pizza party etc. etc. etc. These events can last a whole week and sometimes more!

Suraj and I had discussed what we would like a while back. We didn’t want any of the above. This was not because we feel that we are above it in any way. It is not because we lack tradition, culture, heritage or faith. It is not because we mock or disagree with all those who have and will marry in the way I have described above. It is mostly because of our increasing ability to reflect and think about things objectively. Mostly this has resulted in us striving towards minimising things, be they events, material items etc.  This of course, played a huge part in the decision we made about our wedidng day.

Why have I written this post? Well, to name one of the many, I was talking to a father who is arranging his child’s wedding. This made me realise that the traumas that often go hand in hand when arranging a wedding, have changed. These now include debating what type of wedding we ‘should’ have. The considerations involved with big weddings and small weddings alike are not clearcut and this can make discussions emotional and difficult. Thus I thought this post might help those of you who are arranging a wedding now or thinking about what you might like in the future.

Suraj is a very ‘low key’ kinda guy. He doesn’t like the spot light or having huge events in his name. This has not affected him attending events by the way. 🙂

Me? Well…I was married before! Back then there were lots of things going on. My father had recently passed away, I had completed my PGCE at Uni, visited my family whom I blocked out when I was grieving and I had met someone very special. Mum had recently become a widow; there were lots of emotions flying around, fear, joy, worry and so on. Family members were helping us to plan what we needed to do, organise, buy etc. I was caught up in the ‘do’ mode and I also wanted to give mum what she desired.

Mum wanted to invite those who meant a lot to her. This meant family on her side and dad’s side, friends of mum, dad, either set of grandparents, siblings; people they knew through previous jobs and so on. The guest list was huge!

So I guess the point is, I would not mock/disagree with those who go for the big do because I had it myself. We held a Sanjee (party) before the wedding, and then we had the civil marriage, which was followed by the traditional wedding. The latter 2 could not be combined as the hall where the religious ceremony was taking place was not licensed to hold the registry wedding there. Thus there were 3 events.

Anyway I remember being shattered, not knowing who was there and who wasn’t. Not being able to see those of MY friends who were there. Not really seeing members of my family that were there either. It was a big blur which left a dent in mum’s purse. Was it worth it? In my mind, in hindsight….no.

So this time, I wanted a small wedding. I would have loved to have gone away and had just our immediate family there but this didn’t suit us when we thought it through. So we decided that we’d have a registry wedding and that would be it! We agreed on having 3 people on each side. I think this was because Suraj’s immediate family consists of his dad, brother and brother’s wife to be. I didn’t realise at the time, but this made it quite difficult for me. If I was to match his 3, who would I choose? My immediate family consists of me and mum. I have no brothers or sisters and my dad, like Suraj’s mum has passed away. Anyway we’ll get to that later.

So…we shared our thoughts and it didn’t really go down that well but we were strong and sure as opposed to stubborn and rigid. We got the support we needed and went ahead with our plan. This was right for us.

So why not go for the ‘usual’? These were our thoughts: –

  • How big would it get? Who would we cut out and who would we include? Our families amount to 150 people. The family in this case was defined as our parents, brothers & sisters of both parents, their spouses and children plus grandparents. What about family beyond this? What about friends? We haven’t included them and it’s already quite big!
  • We didn’t want to spend that much money on an event that’s gone in a flash when the same money could help us progress in other ways.
  • Did we want to hold an event in which people wouldn’t really do quality mingling? It would be so nice to a hold an event where people can meet, talk, interact. Weddings don’t really allow for this nowadays or it isn’t managed prhaps becuase the event itself is quite long. Thus if we allowed for mingling it would be a longer lasting event and would probably cost more.
  • Did we want a wedding in which lots of people would have to travel across the miles to attend? This could be through ‘desire’ or ‘obligation’
  • Did we want a wedding that may impose a cost on the guests in terms of clothes, travel and the feeling of their need to give a gift? Do we then need to repay this in some way? I’m going to write another post about this.
  • Was it good enough to go ahead with it because some members of family want a big wedding?
  • Do we want people there who should be there by relationship but in reality, do little except cause trouble/harm to us or our loved ones? It is meant to be a happy occasion, not one that’s full of fear of these troublemakers, for example.
  • Do we need this occasion to bring people together? In the past, there were less occasions throughout the year or even during ones lifetime. Thus people invited lots of people to their wedding. It was a way to meet up. Nowadays, we meet so often. Do we need it for this reason?
  • Did we want people to ‘have’ to attend because they’re a cousin/aunt/uncle?
  • Did we want a big wedding so that our status was well known i.e. that we were now married? Well, we have FaceBook, Twitter, Email, our on line family tree and so much more. Word soon got out so most people know.
  • Did we want a ceremony where the guests do not respect the ceremony itself. Often I have attended a wedding and have not been able to hear anything as guests talk, move around, children are free and loud etc. I have been to others where there has been pindrop silence but this has been rare.
  • Did we want to purchase lots of things that went with the various ceremonies? What do we do with it after? Will it amount to more things to keep at home? Will itb used again?
  • Did we understand what the ceremonies were for?Do we feel we ‘need’ it to be/feel married?
  • Did we actually need to get married at all? Why not just live together?

For all these reasons and probably more, we stuck to having a small wedding. We chose to marry, rather than, just live together because we felt that the latter would be too radical. Also I didn’t want my mum to have to listen to people judging us badly etc. I guess she may have to listen to comments about our small wedding anyway. However, I think that there are many people who ‘get it’ and support our decision. Thus I think she will get less criticism and more support or silence.

To read about how it worked out and what actually happened in the end, read the post titled ‘My wedding day. Did it all go to plan in the end?

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