An FAQ For Non-Indians For My Wedding
Why hello there!
Thanks for answering the call and being my friend. Or even better, thanks for being my fiance’s friend. We’re eager for you to join us on our special day. Yes, we’re getting married. And soon.
Maybe you’re just an onlooker, but I didn’t know that you knew, but I wanted you to know: We’re Indian. Well, not really. We didn’t grow up in the country, we grew up in America, but our parents—who were born in the world’s largest democracy—would show us glimpses of what it was living there. That created a bond, a sense of identity. Those glimpses may come through a trip to a temple (we’re Hindu! More on that later!). Sometimes that feeling comes from eating something from the homeland. And yes, some of that food is spicy.
In America, most of the weddings you’ve gone to are Christian. My friends Billy and Axl sang about them. But don’t fret. Allow us to answer some of your questions We don’t want you to be confused. And we also don’t want you to screw it up for us.
QUESTION: Is your wedding going to be big? I saw this one Bollywood movie and…
ANSWER: Oh, allow me to stop and first of all thank you for this question. It’s a really good question. Yes, we’re going to have family that have never been to America visit and attend. This is kind of a chance of a lifetime for them to experience America. An experience that would be in jeopardy if the immigration policies of a certain clown are enacted in the White House. But I digress…
I don’t know if it’s a big wedding. We’ve got lots of friends and family that we want to share this together with. The tradition of being surrounded by as many loved ones as possible…trumps (see what I did there?) anything else.
And about Bollywood…is everything in America like one big NSync video? No. Not all brown people like the same stuff. I mean, you have heard of our good buddy Piyush? #NotAllBobbys
Q: I guess the wedding is going to be a good size then? Isn’t that a nice way of saying it’s small?
A: Ha, ha! You made a funny. You have all the humility of a colonizer.
Q: Oh…anyway. I heard Indian weddings go on for days?
A: Yes! Weddings are community affairs. But this is more difficult to do in America. It’s all “Clash of Civilizations” and everything like that. We’ve got two days of celebrations. Isn’t that enough for you?
Q: But then why didn’t you have a “Saved The Dates” card?
A: …I’m starting to regret that we sent an invite to you in the first place.
Q: So what’s this Sangeet business?
A: That’s our opening event. It used to be an all-female affair, and a way for the groom and bride’s family to get to know each other. Now it’s a party. Our siblings are hosting the event. It will feel like a variety show with dancing, a few performances and an assortment of food and booze. “Sangeet” actually means song. Just dress nicely, be prepared to meet some people and enjoy yourselves.
Q: I’ve got this really awesome sari I want to wear….
A: You do, do you? Well, that’s great. But a formal dress or suit is fine for the reception. Dressy casual for the Sangeet. The ceremony is semiformal. Smoke ‘em if you got them for Indian clothing…we’re stoked to have folks embrace our culture. I mean, it’s a change because it often feels we’re forced to “embrace” everyone else’s when it’s not wedding time. I mean, first it was Vaurnet shirts, then Big Johnson shirts….Cavaricci, Girbaud and Hypercolor. Just make sure you know a bit about what you’re wearing. When it doubt, ask! I mean, I wouldn’t want to wear my Dockers to a Journey show. I’d save my special pair for Dave Mathews.
Q: Thank you for preserving my culture. I guess this is what the difference between appropriation and an exchange is…?
Q: So is the food going to be spicy?
A: Some of it. I mean, it is Columbus Day weekend and some of you have traveled. We want your search for spices to be a successful one.
Q: How hot?
A: We won’t be serving baloney. Or bologna. Don’t worry. There will be something for everyone. Curried bolonga sounds off the chain, though.
Q: Well, will this food be mild enough for my white person palate? I’m not a fire breather like you! I mean you should see me when I eat pho. :-)
A: I’m confused. I thought I shouldn’t stereotype. Can you or can’t you take spices? I mean you did invent Nashville Hot chicken, right? Kind of?
Q: It really depends on the person. It’s not fair to group all of us together. Some of us like burgers, others like quiche. Some of us even like ketchup on hot dogs. Do you feel me?
A: That stuff about ketchup is truly sickening, but I guess it’s not fair to assume. We’re still confident that we care about our guests. Hospitality is something Indians are good at. I mean, we’re awesome at customer support. Haven’t you seen that awesome TV show “Outsourced?”
Q: So, that’s dope. We’re going to mess up some tandoori chicken on Saturday afternoon! What’s on the menu?
A: Sorry, friend. No meat for the ceremony. No beef either. Though the holiest cow makes the tastiest burger, we’re going to observe our family’s traditions…at least for this weekend. There will a fine selection of meats for the Sangeet and reception.
Q: I hope that doesn’t mean we don’t get to drink Malört. It’s vegan friendly, isn’t it?
A: There’s nothing in the Vedas about Malört. I’m pretty sure it’s heresy if you don’t drink it.
Q: So, what kind of a ceremony is this…a Hindi ceremony?
A: No, kind friend. Hindu or do not. There is no “I.” Hindi is a language. It’s the second-most spoken language in India, behind English. Hindi is one of six languages my mom can speak.
It’s a Hindu ceremony. There’s a covered area where the brides and grooms sit called the mandap. Brides wear red. Groom comes in on a horse, during the baraat. We’ll be bound together during the ceremony, and there’s a fire. Lots of family involved in the ceremony.
Q: So do you have a priest guy?
A: Yes. He’s a priest. You could call him that, or a pandit. Or, like my mom says, “purohit.”
Q: Can we take photos?
A: Sure. Just try to be civil during the ceremony. Some folks take this seriously. Be courteous. That means no loud talking. I’m actually looking at our uncles right now on this one. I’m menacingly looking at our uncles on this one. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE. KEEP YOUR VOICES DOWN. I HAVE A LONG MEMORY.
Q: Indian weddings are just the best, aren’t they?
A: I guess if you say so. I mean we are so getting Indian married. The same way two men can get gay married.
Q: So is there a seating chart?
A: Well, for the Sangeet not at all. It’s informal. For the wedding ceremony, the groom’s party will be outside, acting like an entourage around 10:15 a.m. as the groom and his horse gallop to the museum for the baraat. Dress for the weather and prepare to dance to the music.
If you know how to screw in a lightbulb, then you can dance. The bride’s party will be waiting at the museum for #TheArrival.
Q: So how long will the ceremony be?
A: Hopefully about 90 minutes. We make no guarantees. But we’ll try to hit that mark. Indian Standard Time (IST) isn’t real.
Q: You’ve got a lot of events going on. Do I have to attend them all?
A: The events you see are only the ones you’ve been invited to. There’s a few more family ones we haven’t subjected you to. That being written, we’re happy to see you anytime. We are honored that you can spend any of your time with us. Attend what you can. We’d love it if you could celebrate as much as possible. I mean, there’s not going to be another FAQ. I can’t answer what you’ve missed.
Q: What about henna? It’s cool enough for Gwen, Madonna and Coldplay!
A: A mehndi artist will be on hand on Friday. You can drink your chai tea and wear your namaste in bed shirts next week while showing off to your BFF Becky.
Q: That Becky was never a scholar…so what’s going on with the reception? Can I bring kids?
A: It’s formal. There’s going to be good food. Kids can’t sit at the table, but we will have a kids room with supervision. If you’re considering that option, let us know. Good people. Kanye will be there. I’m wearing a tux.
Q: Yeezy? I KNEW there was a reason he was in Chicago over the weekend.
A: If he doesn’t make it, may be we’ll see Fletcher from Pennywise. They’re playing at the House of Blues next door to the hotel on Oct. 8.
Q: I don’t know what a “Pennywise” is?
A: You don’t know lots of stuff, that’s why I did this FAQ.
Q: Thank you?
A: You’re very welcome. We’re very glad that you’re interested in our wedding. But seriously. Don’t sweat it; common sense rules the day. And love. It’s OK to be outside your comfort zone for a little bit. Most of us feel this way every day. I think you’ve got the emotional reserve in the tank to enjoy and maybe learn a thing or two.
To wrap it up, here’s some sage words from an Indian.