If it’s December, forget about the cashmere, bring out the baubles instead. This has to be the busiest month for weddings in a very long time. Newspapers reported that last weekend alone saw 30,000 grand weddings in Mumbai that threatened to put the busy city’s busier roads into a traffic chagrin. Moreover, over Rs 1,000 crore was spent on one day with hall bookings that cost Rs 300 crore and catering costs at Rs 200 crore. That’s a lot of money to simply say ‘I do’, or ‘qubool hai’, or as in case of most Hindu ceremonies, say nothing at all.
Society gossip is rife with the mega weddings in the families of assorted billionaires. The progeny of privilege includes Niraj and Pommi Rawal’s daughter Ritika getting married to Kunal Vardan, of Atria mall; Rana ‘Yes Bank’ Kapoor’s daughter Rakhee to Alkesh Tandon; and Farah Mehta, daughter of Karl and Rita Mehta in Mykonos. Back presents such as Mercedes cars and business-class tickets to Switzerland are detailed out; one Jodhpur wedding had Priyanka Chopra in attendance, while another in Udaipur had Vanessa Mae play her violin by the spectacular lake.
Ever since Lakshmi Mittal had his daughter Vanisha marry at the Versailles Palace, tycoons are in a bid to outdo him. Hyderabad society’s first lady Pinky Reddy had the grandest of weddings for her daughter a few months ago. Over lunch at the Falaknuma Palace last month, she recounted how she ordered 600 saris from Sabyasachi to give away at the mehendi, as if it were par for the course. Pernia Qureshi, daughter of a meat magnate, reportedly spent Rs 80 lakh on her wedding dress that came from John Galliano’s sewing machine. The usually discreet Narayan Murthy could barely contain his delight when he flew in Michelin chef Vineet Bhatia to cater for his son’s Bangalore wedding. To hear of the scale of these festivities, one can only imagine the lack of personal touch in them. How much attention is possibly paid to the emotional value of such ceremonies; can sentiment be measured by greenbacks alone?
My baby brother gets engaged tonight to his girlfriend of two years — a beautiful Kashmiri lawyer. Between my Brahmin family’s vegetarian choices and her wazwaan-friendly meat-loving family, the couple is at their wit’s end trying to keep everyone happy. “I think we’ll just skip the wedding and simply elope,” my brother wakes up from his Jagermeister-induced hangover to complain. The grandmother shudders: after all, we Punjabis invented The Great Indian Wedding.
I’m discovering more and more people who are opting for smaller and more tasteful affairs, especially those from among the rich and discreet families. A quieter, more stylish and fun-filled wedding is the order du jour. A brunch, a Gatsby-themed soiree, a poolside party (For zardozi bikinis, try Sabyasachi; for sequins on yours, Sanchita’s your girl), a black-tie banquet or backyard barbecue are ideas being tossed about.
The easiest way to have a personalised wedding is to cut the guest list. (One of my closest friends gets married in three weeks, but for the last three months, I’m only communicating with his secretary.) Nobody needs more than 300 people at their wedding. It’s a personal time, not an opportunity to display your wealth. Get inventive with a theme or the location. Delhi is lucky to have gardens at home and farmhouses to get married in; Mumbai has a real challenge if you don’t want to do a five-star hotel. Do splurge on clothes you will wear again. There is no compromising on looking your best, but do realise that your prized lehenga may end up on the floor of a masterji, or languish at the back of your wardrobe for a generation until your daughter will tell you how outdated it is for her.
How you choose to get married says everything about you. It is possible to have a swishy yet memorable wedding without going crazy with the frills. I especially loved the Aishwarya Rai-Abhishek Bachchan nuptials — only their friends and family were invited, but all of Film City’s Yellow Pages received a lovely announcement note with a big box of Lebanese sweets. Kudos to Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan for keeping their wedding intimate. And to Vidya Balan, who chooses to marry her handsome beau Siddharth Roy Kapoor at his mother’s Cuffe Parade flat. After all, not all big-ticket weddings make Las Vegas seem terribly enticing.