I know of friends that spent the equivalent number of months as I did days preparing for the wedding. I was in despair about this from the start. I had just under a month to pull everything together and I was really freaking out about it.
However, looking back, I think it was the biggest blessing ever. Two reasons for this: First, I was not second guessing myself. When I fell in love with something, it was bought. I really listened to my instinct – and I know that if I had more time, I would have thought about it, thought about it some more, changed my mind, and then hated my decision. So I went in with a good deal of research, knowing what I wanted. As soon as I found “it”, it went home with me.
Second, for that entirety of 8 weeks, I slept, ate, drank and breathed the wedding. Each minute of my day, even my night, was spent actively living it. Each day I was out and about, each day I was planning for the next batch of shopping. As a result, the whole wedding planning process was concentrated and absolutely relished. I enjoyed the freedom of having literally nothing to do except the wedding because my job was another country, I had left my responsibilities there, and I was pretty much a visitor to my home city, free of any distractions. When you combine a vacation and your wedding together, it amounts to the sweetest experience ever.
Weddings come with practically an avalanche of gifts. There is a huge migration of stuff from one place to another, all round. But it’s only the immediate family that knows the sheer effort it takes to put all that stuff, and all that fluff together. The end product of those shiny wrapped packages are actually the result of weeks and months of planning, and of a lot of thoughtfulness.
I experienced this firsthand when we started shopping for the families. It had all started before we even left Toronto. Mom and Dad had been stocking up on gift items for both our family and for A’s family. Household items, crystals, candlestick holders… stuff like that. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The real shopping was to be done when we were in Delhi.
The week after our arrival was dedicated to just that. Mom and I had flown in about 10 days before Dad and bro, and Mom was adamant that gift shopping be wrapped up in that time. From the second day onwards, we were tackling a shopping list that seemed to run for miles. However, step by step, it was done. Mom amazed me with the thought she put behind every purchase. Where I was just picking out random stuff, she vetoed it all. She thought of each person’s taste and their likes. Each present for each family member was customized. I remember being exasperated while she made her way through oceans of fabric trying to find the perfect sari for an Aunt, or spending hours at the jeweler finalizing the design for the set that was going to my mom-in-law. The love and care she poured into this was overwhelming.
I realize now that it really was a big deal for her. Her daughter was getting married, and she wanted to make sure my future family was well looked after. For all that I was irritated with the time it took to do all this, it did pay off. Not only was everyone happy with the presents, but seeing my Mom’s painstaking efforts all around me in the form of presents stacked everywhere gave me a lot of support on my first day in my new home. It’s amazing how something like a pack of kajus can comfort you – I knew that this had been personally packed by my Mom. It was a reminder of familiarity, and a bridge between that home and this.
For all that shopping, Mom had emptied out a couple of closets at home. Each day the space in those closets decreased sizably. We had to empty out a couple of bed-closets and start dumping stuff in there.
I remember one night, after a particularly tiring shopping spree at Old Delhi, I opened up one of those bed-closets to review the stuff we got, and I caught the sight of the Sagan ceremony stuff sitting right next to my Barbie dolls. It actually took my breath away for that second. And it brought me out of the frantic pace I had been running at. How many times had I married these Barbies off! How many times had tiny, clumsy hands brushed their hair, put on their crowns, and washed their dresses! My hands weren’t tiny or clumsy anymore, but they still ached to brush their hair, to straighten their crowns, to return to that childish world of fairy tales and Disney.
The paradox of my wedding things stored right next to my childhood toys was almost heartbreaking. I was leaving one and choosing the other. For that moment, I would have given anything to go back to those doll-playing days. I had always been a romantic at heart, brought up with visions of fairy tales, and had always dreamt of a Prince Charming. When A came into my life, he took up the mantle of fulfilling each of those dreams – he is very flamboyant, and a Bollywood lover at heart – my very own Prince Charming!
So though my chance encounter with my dolls did stop me in my tracks and remind me of the life I was leaving, they also reminded me of the love I was moving towards. I slept well that night – without running a mental list of things to do the next day.
10 days into our arrival, we had closets full of presents and suitcases bursting with clothes. A packager had been hired to give everything the polish it needed. We had put quite a dent in my Sagan shopping list. With Dad arriving, we knew he could take care of the rest, and now it was time to turn attention back to me and to trousseau shopping!