Wedding Day questions? Ask the Bridal Aunty!

BA is a combination of your favourite aunt and a desi Emily Post. Here, she has some straight and not-so-straight answers to all those big day qs!
By Sheila Kumar

Q. My BFF is getting married and with three weeks to go, she`s turning into a classic Bridezilla. She wants her bridesmaids to wear hideous outfits  (in puce, mind you!), she wants some `friends` not to be in the group photos, she wants us to ensure her ex-boyfriend doesn`t meet her in-laws or her new husband. All this is putting way too much pressure on us. Help!
A. Others would recommend you shirtfront your BFF and give her a talking-to. I won`t. I would just ask you to suck it up, remember why exactly she is your BFF, and just be there, in puce if need be, on D Day. You can get your own back on your wedding day!

Q. I`m marrying my boyfriend of four years next weekend. The problem is that his family believe in major show-shah, mine doesn`t. They want the standard big fat Indian wedding, I’d rather elope than go through with dressing up in matching colours with my bridegroom, and doing a synchronised first dance the moment the band strikes…in any case, I have two left feet. How do I get him to ensure we have a classy, pared-down wedding? It`s my big day and I want it the way I want it!
A. This one calls for a serious tete-a-tete with your bridegroom. Both of you need to talk, then to listen. If he will stand up to his family (this early in the day), well and good. If not, compromise. Adjust. Do some things the way they want it, get them to do some things the way you want it. And hold onto this thought: it`s just a day or three. This too shall pass.

Q. it`s my mother! I`m getting married in a month`s time and she wants me to go what she calls the traditional route and what I call the jewellery store route: seven chains of differing lengths and 24 bangles…yes, you read right, 24… on each wrist. The way I see it, if I am to sponsor jewellery stores in such a blatant manner, I might as well go and model for them. Do I persuade my fiancée to run away with me instead?
A. The litmus test here, I have found, is what your fiancé has to say about your bling extravanganza. Because your mother is just doing what she thinks will impress/please your in-laws. Get your man to sound his parents out on this one, and go with that. With a caveat, though: pare it down a bit, as much as you can possibly manage pleasantly. Remember, keep things pleasant. Twenty-four bangles is not worth rifts in this lute.

Q. Our only child is getting married soon and I want to personally design a tasteful wedding card for him. Is it really necessary that I put in the `antecedents` line in the card: grandson of so- and -so and such- and- such, etc? He loves his grandparents, they love him but should that love be expressed via the card?
A. Put yourself in their place. How would you feel?  If you are sure they won`t feel bad, go ahead and keep the text on the card short and simple. When in doubt though, go with that extra line or two. It could make all the difference.

Q. My son is getting married and my alcoholic brother-in-law is coming all the way from Dubai for the events. The man generally drinks way too much and create scenes at ordinary times; I’m sure there will be dreadful (unwanted) drama at the wedding. What do I do, I`m quite driven to despair at the very thought of an impending scene…
A. Keep calm and pour yourself a glass of wine! Seriously though, you need a wingman or wingwoman for this. Designate an individual or two whose sole duty will be to keep the b-i-l occupied, entertained and as far away from the centre of the wedding as possible. Also, do drop in a word about his proclivities to your son`s in-laws but keep your tone light. Remember, every family has one of these.

Q. I`m the bride to be and really excited about my upcoming wedding. Only, my parents live separately and are barely polite to each other. I adore them both and want them to be part of the festivities,  but a convivial part. How do I go about this?
A. You need to talk separately to both of them, tell them what you have told me, and ask them to strive for some conviviality for just the wedding. For your sake. I`m sure they will be happy to oblige. 

Q. I had a best friend who is no longer any friend at all, after a bitter fall-out last year. But I do so want her to attend my son`s wedding. Shall I risk a snub and send her an invite? If she does attend, how do I and my family behave? Like nothing happened?
A. Follow your gut instinct on this one: send her an invite if you really really want to. If she comes, be most gracious and cordial. Only, this may be a one-off gesture from her, so don`t peg your expectations too high.

Q. My daughter is getting married outside her community and there will be a host of events: church, temple, Christian and Hindu rites. We are not rolling in it, and things could go far better if the other side agreed to split expenses. Except, they haven`t offered. Does one broach the topic oneself?
A. Most families are practical about this and agree beforehand to split expenses. There is absolutely no harm if your side broaches the topic. Maybe your daughter can gauge how her in-laws stand on this. Once she reverts, you can either go for it or drop the idea.

Q. My husband doesn’t know the meaning of the word delegate and I’m worried he`ll run himself ragged on our daughter`s wedding day, micromanaging a zillion little and big things. How do I get him to calm down and well, delegate?
A. No point talking to him, men being from Mars and all that. If I were you, I`d let things be. He will do what he wants to do. If he feels he cannot, he will abruptly delegate. Trust me on this. Men are like that.

Q. Can we replace the traditional thank-you notes to all wedding attendees with small return gifts instead?
A. Yes you can…if you attach a small thank-you note to the gifts.

Q. My soon-to-be husband is the sporting kind and wants to go on an adventure holiday honeymoon. Me, I’d rather trawl Paris or Venice. How do we get on the same trip page?
A. Toss for it. No, what you need to do is, split the honeymoon into two parts so both of you will be sure of a good time. Or else, indulge him now and do Paris/Venice later, the soonest both of you can get away.

Q. I’m watching as my parents are mounting what must rate as the loveliest wedding ever for me, next month. How one earth can I ever thank them for all they are doing?
A. Old but true cliché: parents derive much happiness doing all they can do at this time. However, you can always treat them to a weekend break after the wedding, someplace they like to go.

Q. I’m a couple of weeks shy of my wedding and I’m already sick and tired of the prep! If I have to see the insides of another shop or showroom, I will scream. Everything and everyone bar my fiancée, thankfully, is getting on my nerves big time. Do I need to fill out a prescription for Valium?
A. You need to calm down, girl. Take some time out from the prep, tell all your near and dear ones to take a break, too. Recharge, then dive back telling yourself that it will all go off like a dream … if you put in some effort. Hold onto the first part of that sentence, though: it will all go off.

Q. I’ve heard of Bridezillas. Is there any such creature as the Momzilla? Because my mom is trying to like, take over the wedding. My wedding. We have to wear what she thinks is right, the food has to be her choice, she`s even vetting my guest list! I love her but I need to find a way of telling her to er, butt out. How do I do that?
A. Alas, some moms just don`t know when to let go. You need to handle this with tact. Sit her down, tell her it`s your big day and you have definite ideas on each and every thing. Show her your blueprint for your own wedding (quick, make one!). Clincher: tell her that`s how your fiancé and you want things. Be kind but be firm. 


One List Fits All?

Here we help you tackle and face down the dilemma of making a guest list that pleases everyone.

It has to be said. Many a fraught temper has clashed, frayed and been lost at what is actually the frontier of wedding planning: the invitation list. It`s pretty much like three countries are sitting at the table for a tripartite pact. Three countries, you ask. Well yes, there is the couple about to enter holy matrimony, there are his parents and there are her parents. A fair amount of realpolitik, economics, social manipulation  and diplomacy is called for.

What has to be factored in is whether the young couple`s wish for a compact list,  thereby leading to a compact number of guests,  can be honoured under the circs, the circs being that their parents are paying for the wedding, as is mostly the case in India. If the betrothed pair want a list comprising just their friends, they can forget it because usually the parents` list include a zillion near, far and farthest kith and kin, as well as their bosses,  work colleagues, people they feel they are obliged to invite, and suchlike.

Another point that usually sticks in the craw of all present is the number of guests both sides want to invite. If one side manages a neat acceptable round figure, the other ups the ante by insisting they need to add at least 50 more names to their list, simply because their family circle is huge.  

That hurdle was just the first, there are many pitfalls ahead. Like the groom`s aunt who insulted the bride when she first met the girl; does she really have to be invited?  Like when the groom`s uncle happens to be a close friend of the bride`s father but absolutely loathed by the groom`s mother… yes, it happens. Like when uncle Babu has to be called but no one can remember what his current wife`s name is.

So, how exactly does one go about making that One List that fits all expectations and keeps everyone happy? Well, for one, settle on a certain number, divide it by three,  and decide that all three parties can and must invite only that number of people. Of course, the bridal couple gets to add more names to that list if they absolutely must.

That first list should be a rough one…edit, edit and edit it till it reaches the right proportions. The economics of the situation has to be considered: the chairs at the venue,  number of plates of food, the drinks, strings of flowers, limes, the return gifts and all the rest of it. Oh, and car parking space, too while we are at it.

Make a must- invite list, then a should- invite list, and finally, a could- invite list . As the date nears and people RSVP, you will get a clearer idea of how many people will attend, and can therefore move some names from the B list to the A one, from the C list to the B one. Usually up to 10 per cent of those invited will not be able to attend for various reasons.

Be tactful but firm. Clearly write out the names on the invitation. If people call to ask if they can bring their cousins, kids and in-laws along, tell them regretfully that the caterers have been given a certain number and it`s too late to make changes. Worse comes to worst, you can always blame your obdurate future ma-in-law, irascible caterer or inflexible wedding planner.

Factor in the size of the venue and trim the list accordingly. A crush is not the best way to have a wedding. Times have changed and now you can expect your single friends to come as they are…singly, we mean. Where former boyfriends and girlfriends are concerned, just three words: don`t call them. It may well and truly be over between the two of you but it might make your new spouse very uncomfortable. Your boss of course you must call, unless you loathe him or her but you don’t need to call all your  coworkers, only those you hang out with.  Facebook friends? Really? People known to create scenes, drink too much, squabble with perfect strangers? No. Ideally, children should not be dragged to weddings unless they are your flower girls, ring bearer boys, thalam girls, or your family. However, try telling that to people here in India! So, with this one, you might just have to grin and bear it.

One litmus test is if you have to think hard on whether to invite someone , don`t.
Finally, remember the diplomacy bit. Hold onto your temper and stay calm through the ordeal of making lists. If compromises are unavoidable, compromise. Remember this is your big day and if smiling like a shark at a handful of people you don’t know is part of the turf, then you will do it. With grace and charm. And courtesy, lots of it. 

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