How to Throw a Dope Indian Wedding
Hey, if nothing else, just scroll through the pics.
My wife and I got married on August 1 in Austin, Texas. Over the course of the last 13 years, I’ve performed at hundreds of weddings, so I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. We did the standard Friday Night Sangeet, Saturday Day Wedding, and Saturday Night Reception. Here’s my advice on how to throw a dope Indian wedding. (A lot of it applies to non-Indian events, too.) Did I just use the word “dope”? Yes. Well, after all, my wife is a pharmacist.
1. Marry the right person.
“Take my wife… please!” — Henny Youngman
I have to start with that. It sounds obvious — and it is — but the ironic part is that planning a wedding is probably the first major thing the two of you will do together and it’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do together. If you’re not with the right person, you’ll find out quickly.
Harsha and I are two of those people who are just good at everything. I know that sounds egotistical but the fact that we’re jacks of all trades and masters of some is essential to this whole piece. If at least one of you isn’t, then you need to be honest about what your strengths and weaknesses are. This whole thing is Project Management 601. (It’s not 101 — this is high-level stuff, son.) I brought to the table my own creativity. And Harsha is the type of person with whom my ideas can really flourish. She doesn’t see limits; she sees possibilities. I did think of a lot of the concepts — creativity is my job, after all. But it was Harsha who, due to being on the ground in Austin and just being a nicer person than I, had to bring them to life. And it’s all in the execution. It also helped that neither one of us is a procrastinator. We got our stuff done in enough time so that we could enjoy the calm before the storm.
Part of marrying the right person is realizing that the person came from two people. And our parents were fantastic from the beginning. They allowed us to do what we wanted to do, to create the weekend we wanted. They supported us and laughed along and applauded us as we brought our vision to life. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Having parents who believe in you is key.
So, marry the right person — that way, the smile that you’ll need all weekend will be real.
2. Be the party.
“Be the ball, Danny.” — Ty Webb, Caddyshack
The couple sets the tone. It’s like performing onstage: when I’m having fun, the crowd is having fun. When people see you stressed and fatigued, they’ll be the same. When they see you having the time of your lives, they’ll act accordingly.
- Harsha spoke both nights and gave such a heartfelt speech at the reception that it simultaneously knocked the wind out of me and put the wind in my sails.
- We stood at the buffet line and greeted everybody. We actually borrowed the idea from our friends, Neesha & Tyler, whose wedding we attended a few weeks prior. When you stand in front of the food, you make yourselves available to everybody. But — and here’s the ingenious part — no matter how much your friends and family members love you, they still love food more, so they’ll keep it brief and move on.
- I threw myself into the weekend — I made entrances; I did standup at the reception; I danced to “Billie Jean” on the floor. You’ve got to be willing to make an ass of yourself. Love’s about being foolish, anyway. Days in advance, I hit up Harsha’s best friend and gave both her and my brothers cards for some key people to sign. On Friday night, we collected the cards and placed them in a bag along with some of her favorite things; it was delivered to her Saturday morning so she had something to read whilst her hair & makeup was getting done. I hear the latter was tough as Harsha was crying. Go out of your way to make the day extra special for the bride. Ultimately, the day is about her.
3. Build excitement.
“Hip-hop smoothed out on the R&B tip with a pop feel appeal to it.” — Bell Biv Devoe
- Our Save The Date magnet piqued our guests’ interest.
- Our invitations’ design let them know we were blending tradition with a contemporary twist.
- We took great engagement pictures and released one every few days on social media, with a “t-” countdown to Day 0.
- We created a hashtag — #phunnyindian — that blended my brand of Funny Indian and her job as a Pharmacist.
- Thank you to Sachin Mistry for all of his design work.
4. Take mental snapshots.
“I don’t carry cash anymore. I don’t carry keys, either.” — Pres. Bartlet, The West Wing
Everybody says the same thing: it’ll all go so fast. It’s a blur. You won’t remember anything. Luckily, in this day and age of ubiquitous media, you’ll have a lot of help with total recall.
- Be in the moment. You’ll run into people all weekend long — you can’t go to the lobby without shaking about twenty hands, taking ten pictures, and kissing five babies. You’re a celebrity, a politician running for office. So have people run errands for you and try not to have an agenda. Those moments you spend with your guests on the elevator when you’re only half-dressed and donning sandals? Cherish ’em. These encounters ARE the weekend. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” So don’t be impatient whilst waiting for the elevator — that might be somebody’s only memory of you the entire weekend. Shake people’s hands with both of yours. Look people in the eye. Stay that extra second — people notice.
- Encourage people to take pictures. This is where your hashtag will come in handy.
- Stop at least twice or thrice and capture the moment with your own mind. Tell yourself, “This is my wedding day.” It sounds silly but even say it aloud.
- Don’t get drunk. Imbibe, by all means. But alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks… have someone let you know if you’re getting tipsy… go to the bathroom and look in the mirror and check in with yourself… whatever your trick is. But don’t get plastered. Around 10:30 pm, Harsha, apparently after I was squeezing her more tightly than usual, asked me so sweetly, “So you’re getting drunk, huh?” I immediately stopped and refused any more drinks. I’m so glad she did that.
- Give your phone to somebody to hold. A few days in advance, ask who’d like to hold your phone. I gave it to my brothers and told them to reply to any urgent texts. Today’s your day. (Well, it’s your bride’s first but it’s also yours.) Any major thing will come to your attention. Any minor thing will get done by somebody else. People didn’t fly thousands of miles to stare at my bald head looking down at my phone. I also mentioned that they should elevate any concerns to our wedding planner and only come to us with a problem if the building is on fire — not if there’s a fire in the building. There is — it’s an Indian wedding, after all.
5. Stretch it out.
“Stretch.” — “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” Baz Luhrmann
Do whatever you can to elongate the weekend.
- Get into town early and/or have your friends come in early. With Harsha’s encouragement, I went out hard with my crew in Austin on Thursday night. It was ostensibly my last single night out.
- Hold a Sangeet. Indian weddings benefit anyway from a distended couple of days due to the musical evening that normally occurs the day before the wedding. It’s great because it just gives you that much more time to celebrate.
- Open the gift box a few days later. It’s another high after the incredible nadir you’ll feel after the apex that is your wedding day.
- Throw multiple receptions. If your parents want to do something in their hometown, don’t refuse. We almost did.
6. Activate a theme.
“Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?” — The Joker, Batman
- Sit down and figure out what’s unique about your relationship. We brainstormed for hours and had so many: I’m Punjabi and she’s Gujarati. I used to work at Procter & Gamble. Get it? P&G? Anyone? This thing on? We could’ve decked the place out with all sorts of jokes — turning the Tide, celebrating a new Era, Pampering the bride. P&G even has a pharmaceutical division, which would’ve fit Harsha’s career — in fact, she almost worked there, too. But given that most people don’t know those are P&G brands, these largely would’ve been inside jokes.
- She’s from Texas. I live in California, our future home. We did incorporate elements of both — we had a Mexican Martini as “our” drink at the bar. My Baraat vehicle was a convertible and so we played “Nuttin’ But a G Thang” and “California Love” as two of the few non-Indian songs. We had a red carpet inside — a Hollywood thing. We served Tex Mex for lunch. We were even gonna throw in sunglasses in people’s gift bags since they had to go outside for the Baraat. We did include airplane peanuts, to rep Ohio as the Birthplace of Aviation. And we set up a cornhole set — few things more Midwestern than that.
- It’s just that Cowboys & Indians and Laughter Is The Best Medicine were far better and way more fun. Cowboys & Indians: we’re Indian people getting married in Texas. Plus, we’re Hindu so I’m truly a cowboy. We mostly activated this with our engagement photos, Save The Date card, and in the lobby. We brought LITBM to life in the ballroom — I’m a comedian; she’s a pharmacist. That just wrote itself.
7. Save a horse. Ride a Lincoln.
“Take most people, they’re crazy about cars. They worry if they get a little scratch on them, and they’re always talking about how many miles they get to a gallon, and if they get a brand-new car already they start thinking about trading it in for one that’s even newer. I don’t even like old cars. I mean they don’t even interest me. I’d rather have a goddam horse. A horse is at least human, for God’s sake.” — Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in The Rye
I know, I know. Given we had a Cowboys & Indians theme, riding in on a horse would’ve made a lot of sense. An equine entrance is the true tradition. I’d asked my friend, Alok, who’d just gotten married a few months ago, what his favorite part of his weekend was. He said the Baraat, because it’s the only thing that’s only about the groom. I mean, people even try to call the “groom” the “bridegroom.” Dude, I’m a groom. Stay out of my word.
He said it was so fun sitting up on that horse, watching everybody celebrate YOU. Here’s the thing, though: it’s awful lonely up there. It’s literally a high and you’re all by yourself, so… get off your high horse? I rolled in in a 1962 Lincoln Continental convertible. I’m not nay-nay-saying the horse but watch me whip.
- I had my groomsmen roll in with me. Of course, they hopped out and danced but the first few minutes of riding in with them were priceless.
- There’s something super-cool about coming in solo and then riding off with your bride.
8. Nail the logistics.
“Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you, honey.” — Loggins and Messina
- Imagine yourself as a guest. Look at it from the attendees’ POV as much as possible. Picture yourself going through all the motions.
- Have your wedding in a cool city or at least close to one. We wanted to do ours in downtown Austin but the costs were out-of-control. Still, downtown Austin is only a 25-min Uber ride from where we did it in Round Rock. And there are so many legit BBQ and Tex-Mex places within 10–15 minutes.
- Hold all the events under one roof. This eliminates weather as a concern. That way, you only really need it nice out during the Baraat, which is a 30-minute window. Also, people get to run into each other, which is a lot of fun — in the lobby, at the bar, at the restaurant, etc. It’s like you’ve swarmed the place. #SatyalTakeover
- Explain, explain, explain. You’ve gotta let people know what’s going on. We did this via our AppyCouple website, a weekend booklet that we placed inside the gift bags people got when they checked in, and a wedding pamphlet that served as a guide for the actual ceremony.
- Block rooms and keep in mind the room in which the kids will end up on the late night tip. Put that one in the center of the block; that way, you won’t get noise complaints.
- Treat yourself to your own room the night before the wedding. This was Harsha’s idea and might’ve been the best thing we did for ourselves all weekend. Obviously, on wedding night, you’ll sleep together. But you’re not allowed the night before. What to do? Get your own room. My parents, Uncle, brothers, and I flew down early. I started staying in the hotel Wednesday night. On Friday night, I stayed alone. And being able to go into my own place was invaluable. I’d advise you to take it a step further and book it for two nights so you can have the room all day Saturday, too. Here’s the dirty little secret as a groom: if you want it, you can grab far more downtime than anyone tells you, because it takes about three minutes to put on our clothes vs. two hours for the bride. Use that time to cool off so you’ve got energy for later. It’s a spacetime continuum after all — give yourself space and you’ll have more time.
- Irrigate your people. Keep ’em hydrated, man. We had water bottles galore after the Baraat. It was the middle of summer in the middle of Texas. I, for one, always had a bottle in my hand — of H2O, that is.
- Keep it moving. People have the program. If they miss the first dance, oh, well. Most events are destroyed waiting on “just one more person.” Screw that guy. Once people know you mean business and you’re just gonna go, they’ll get on-board.
- Set up the reception hall to minimize the distance between people and the action. Put the dance floor in the middle. Use one of the long walls for the stage so the place doesn’t feel like a bowling alley. And above all else, place the table at which the bride and groom sit FACING the dance floor so the program can be done TO the bride and groom with everyone watching. I perform at so many of these things and it’s so annoying to have to stand on the dance floor with my back either to the audience or to the couple. Or, you can set up two spots — up on the stage and then a seat for the two of you during the program. But when you’re ready, face the music.
- EAT. We told the hotel in advance that we were gonna do room service for breakfast on our wedding day (in our separate rooms, still). We also had them deliver the cocktail hour food early for us so we could eat before the reception. So many couples told us they didn’t eat the day of their wedding. This is America. There’s food everywhere. You can get it down the hatch if you just try.
- Place on the invitations and website, “No Boxed Gifts, Please.” At first, I thought that was rude but it’s become customary. Registries are a pain; you have to ship stuff home because, invariably, a plethora of people will show up with the stuff instead of sending it to your address. (And which address?) This’ll make it much easier to escape — one box o’ envelopes. Oh, and get married when you’re almost 40 — your friends are richer so their gifts are better.
- Skip the focus on the cake-cutting and first dance. We did these but didn’t make a big deal out of them, even though we had an awesome ice cream cake and amazing songs. Nobody cares. Do it and move on.
9. Pick the right vendors — remember you’re hiring a person more than a business.
“I have no responsibilities here whatsoever.” — Lt. Sam Weinberg, A Few Good Men
- We hired a wedding coordinator, Satori of Blueprint Events, who was amazing. It’s imperative to have one point person on the day(s) of the wedding. You’re then in a 1:many relationship instead of trying to clamp down an octopus. We told all of our family members to go to Satori for everything. We wanted to be accountable for nothing. Satori did a masterful job of catering to our every whim. I’d say some was left to be desired in terms of handling the crowd. A lot of people didn’t really know what to do next, where to sit, etc. Be clear with your coordinator that you expect her to not only coordinate the vendors and you but also your guests. Again, though, we couldn’t have been better taken care of.
- Do not ask your friends to help. Hire people to put away the chairs. People came in to celebrate, not do manual labor. It costs more but it’s worth it.
- When it comes to your vendors, realize that it’s the point person that you’re buying. In California, I’ve run into a lot of entrepreneurs. I can generally tell who’s going to be successful based on the lead guy/gal. A bad idea in the hands of a genius has a shot; the best idea in the hands of a jackass will get botched.
- Work with a Pundit/Priest/Minister who’s going to explain things to the crowd. This isn’t just for the white people. I knew almost nothing of the intricacies of the ceremony, either, and it was nice to know what I was inherently promising to my wife. The procedure is far too long to not explain what’s going on. We also used a Mandap with an open design so people could see. If we really wanted to splurge, we would’ve used screens and cameras, too. This was the first Indian wedding I’ve ever seen where almost everybody stayed. It’s because of all this.
- Do it at a hotel. It’s turnkey. They know what they’re doing. And while we also liked The Westin at The Domain, we liked the Marriot Austin North well enough and fell in love with the sales manager, Nicole Green. She was spectacular and made as many accommodations (pun intended) for us as she could. She rocked it every step of the way. A suburban hotel can be kind of boring but their packages were awesome — we invested in swagging out the ballroom so you forgot you were in a suburban hotel.
- We shopped at Frontier on Pioneer Blvd. in Artesia, the main Indian drag in Los Angeles. We loved working with them — all super-nice people. They have the best outfits, largely because California is so fashion-forward. Harsha said their stuff was better than anything she could find in Houston, Chicago, or New Jersey. That doesn’t surprise me one bit as everything is better in California. Being ahead of the curve is just part of the culture. Do give yourself enough time, though — they, like many stores, made mistakes so we had to get stuff redone. Start months in advance so you don’t stress yourself out.
- Our photographer, Dustin Finkelstein, and videographer, Dylan Reid, in a word, rocked. They asked us in advance which shots we absolutely had to have, including which people to capture and get on tape with comments. The most stressful part of the weekend was getting families and friends to the Mandap for formal pictures. We submitted an order and they did the best they could, given that Indians love to add last-minute changes to almost everything. It was frustrating but we just rolled with it (pun intended), especially because it’s hard on your face to alternate between yelling and smiling.
10. Get the food right.
“Let them eat cake.” — probably wrongly attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette
Neither one of us cares THAT much about food — we, as a pair, barely cross two hundred pounds. But if you mess this up, especially the Aunties (most of whom could do with skipping a few meals) will smack-talk and therefore unravel your entire event. I think it’s the lamest focal point ever, as who goes to a wedding to eat? Call up a nice restaurant, make a reservation, and go to town. But I knew I wasn’t gonna win this battle so we sucked it up and hired the best we could find.
- Swad killed it at the Sangeet — even though it had to be vegetarian, hardly anyone noticed. People couldn’t stop talking about the cuisine and the presentation thereof.
- Taj Palace catered the heck out of that reception, both veg and non-veg. Universal acclaim.
- The hotel did Tex-Mex for lunch on Saturday; it was amazing.
- And we filled up the gift bags generously — name-brand on cookies, chips, peanuts, muffins, and water.
- To put the icing on the cake (literally), we had an ice cream cake from Amy’s (Austin’s best).
- And we surprised everybody post-Baraat with even more ice cream at 11 am.
11. Make alcohol accessible.
“Pour up. (Drank.) Head shot. (Drank.) Sit down. (Drank.) Stand up. (Drank.) Pass out. (Drank.) Wake up. (Drank.) Faded. (Drank.) Faded. (Drank.)” — Kendrick Lamar
- What’s not necessary is to serve alcohol at the Sangeet or at lunch. What’s not acceptable is to not have it nearby. We ensured the hotel bar was open Friday night, Saturday day, and remained open till the legal limit of 1 am on Saturday night.
- For the reception on Saturday night, we went through our list of guests and determined how many drinks we were comfortable covering. We actually thought we’d make it till about 11:30 pm. Our reception was going till midnight (another game-changer and very much worth the extra $500 we paid) but we figured this was good. Yeah, the bar was busted at 9:30 pm. So much for that. It then converted to cash. And we got 0 complaints — and believe, you, me — my friends would’ve let me know. People aren’t expecting you to get ’em drunk. Lubricate ’em and you’re more than good.
12. Use gimmicks.
“I love quotes.” — Rajiv Satyal
My friend, Samia Khan, talks about how much she loves gimmicks. And boy, did we use a ton of ’em.
- Rx Bottles: Our theme of Laughter Is The Best Medicine truly came to life when we placed, as table favors, prescription bottles filled with Mike and Ike candy and containing a joke. Only Rajiv Satyal would place a ton of Rajiv Satyal jokes along with the greats of comedy history.
- Ed Weeks: OK, so he’s a person and not a prop but having a major character from a major TV comedy, with an Indian lead, was phenomenal. Nobody could’ve been more gracious or charming with the number of pictures he took. Well, almost nobody…
- S’mores: Cowboys & Indians love the campfire. So we set up s’more stands on Saturday afternoon, after lunch.
- Step & Repeat: Combining Texas and California, we used a cardboard cutout and a red carpet. This is better than a photo booth because spectators can enjoy it whilst you’re doing it, which also pulls more people in.
- Games: We set up cornhole to bring Ohio into the mix. Have something for the kids — it prevents them from running around the ballroom, which is one of the most annoying things possible — and about which you can only do so much without looking like a bully.
- Storm The Sangeet: Harsha suggested that the groom’s side make a big entrance on Friday night. We’d never heard of it before but I fell in love with the idea. We lined up outside the ballroom and crashed the party with some very upbeat songs. Then, she had her people line up with their Garba sticks and she ran in underneath them. It was the best stick entrance of the weekend. Well, until Saturday night. Who’s with me?! Um, yeah. The Sangeet is the first official wedding event of the weekend so turn up the energy. It sets the tone for the next two days.
- Single Mingle: Seat all the single people together, preferably near the bar. Hey, we met on OkCupid, so we know all about awkward intros.
- Start with Fire, End with Fire: We walked around the fire seven times to get married so why not cap the night with a reprisal? Our guests lit up sparklers and we ran back & forth three times… I originally was against the idea while Harsha liked it. As usual, she turned out to be right. It was a ton of fun.
- Guestbook: We made our own Shutterfly guestbook for people to sign. It just gave a physical place for people to capture their notes. We also arranged to put out childhood pictures of ourselves.
13. Over-prepare, then go with the flow.
“Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen.” — Regina George, Mean Girls
I sent an email early on to my family with the subject line, “Mistake Management.” That’s what the whole thing is. Stuff will get missed and you gotta do everything you can to anticipate it all. But then, the day of, when the wheels come off, just keep rolling with the punches. There were three accidents that turned out to not be that big of a deal:
- Even though DJ Tamim, who did a great job, recommended that I get a mobile Baraat (van with sound system that rolls along and blasts music), we thought the car stereo was loud enough. I didn’t take into account how loud the car’s engine is and that the windshield was going to block the sound in front of the car. My bad. Luckily, DJ Tamim played Dhol and every Baraat, music or no, ends up being about the Dhol, anyway. I’d placed two Cali songs on there — “Nuttin’ But a G Thang” and “California Love” — and fortunately, my boys in the car as well as my crew near the car got to hear those.
- I gave both of my brother’s songs to DJ Tamim, when I was supposed to give one to him and one to DJ Gatsby for Saturday night. Luckily, Rakesh did it a cappella and rocked it. It was reminiscent of the Jingle Bell Rock scene from one of his favorite films, so it worked out.
- My parents wanted a photo of the entire Cincinnati crew but, because of the late request, this was proving to be a logistical nightmare. Luckily, we get a chance to do this at the Cincinnati reception.
14. Please don’t stop the music.
“Just chilll to tha next episode.” — Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg
Experiences are about the five senses. So much of this thus far is about sight and touch. The food takes care of the taste and the smell. Sound is mostly going to be the music. You gotta pick the right soundtrack for the weekend.
- Strike the right balance between Indian and Western music. We did Indian for most of the Sangeet, including of course the Garba; the vast majority of the Baraat; the wedding; and the first hour of the reception. We sprinkled in some Western (mostly American) for just a couple tracks at the Sangeet and in the Baraat. For the background music during dinner and for the last two hours of the dance floor, we went heavily American. There are only about 20 good fast Indian songs. And these crowds hear them all the time. Mix it up with classic and especially some new American songs.
- Pick some great entrance songs and intro songs for the entertainment program (the tracks the DJ will play as speakers come to the stage).
- We did a medley for our first dance: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Frankie Valli and then Lauryn Hill.
- We gave our DJs a Do Not Play list:
- Party Rock Anthem — LMFAO
- I Got a Feeling — Black Eyed Peas
- Cha Cha Slide — DJ Casper
- We Are Family — Sister Sledge
- Celebration — Kool & The Gang
- Brick House — The Commodores
- Forget You — Cee Lo Green
- Play That Funky Music — Wild Cherry
- Cotton Eye Joe — Rednex
- Electric Slide — Marcia Griffiths
- Cupid Shuffle — Cupid
- Sexy and I Know It — LMFAO
- Time of My Life — B. Medley & J. Warnes
- What I Like About You — The Romantics
- Macarena — Los Del Rio
- Chicken Dance — Various
- I Know You Want Me — Pitbull
- We meticulously spent hours on picking the right songs for the CHILL time (as people filed in and during dinner) and DANCE time (on the flo’). DJ Tamim did a very good job on Friday night. And DJ Gatsby rocked it as hard as any DJ I’ve ever seen. And a big shout-out to DJ Vikas Sondhi, who made our Baraat mix and is the DJ for our Cincinnati reception. Props to DJ Naveen Sharma of Detroit for all of his advice, too.
15. Encourage and enable participation.
“All y’all: get off the wall, have a ball, and get involved.” — The Beastie Boys
We have the best friends ever. People SHOWED UP and were PRESENT the entire time, whether it was during the wedding ceremony (unheard of) or the reception.
- My brothers, Rakesh and Vikas, simply could not have been better. Vikas scheduled a conference call for us to go over everything and asked with what specifically did we need help. I needed them to just jump in the mix and be Hype Men. And they were. They led the Sangeet entrance, the dancing for the Baraat, paying attention in the front row for the wedding ceremony, corralling guests to move to the next event, hosting the reception program, and bringing everybody out on the dance floor Saturday night.
- Sachin Bansal lifted me up during the Baraat.
- A bunch of dudes, though it doesn’t take a bunch of dudes, lifted both Harsha and me in the air on the dance floor.
- I prepped DJ Gatsby for this moment — and it happened: I ran over, grabbed the mic, and handed it to Rakesh as he serenaded John, his partner, with the song featured in his book, Blue Boy — “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston. The whole place went nuts.
- Samia Khan busted out her phone and recorded so many moments on Periscope so people from afar could join in. She even lost ten Twitter followers for this, and social currency to her is worth more than real currency. Guess she loves Rs. more than dollars. Because those are my initials. (Her brilliant observation, btw.)
- Anita Chandra-Puri took hundreds of pictures. And her four kids came and challenged me to a dance-off… which they won. For all intents and purposes, she served as our second photographer. #lonegunman
- As we went through our lists, we identified anyone who might be alone. We told our friends to be sure these folks were included. Maybe I am nice, after all.
16. Leverage the talents of your friends — only if they’re talented.
“Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.” — Saturday Night Live
- Be ruthless about whom you let speak. Do not grant permission to anyone until you and your spouse-to-be discuss it. You start making commitments and, before you know it, you have seven speeches lined up. Don’t allow this to happen — to yourselves and especially to the crowd. My friend, MONROK, wrote about this. We didn’t use screens for a Power Point presentation since we had so much talent in the room. But if you don’t, bust out the videos and photos.
- My brothers, Rakesh & Vikas, are both incredible hosts. They absolutely wrecked it. They did a Top Ten List of Runners-Up Themes:
- Whiskey Is The Best Medicine
- Because You Drugged Me
- Everything’s Bigger in Texas (Except Rajiv)
- Yes, We Can
- First Comes Love, Then Comes Planning a Wedding in Six Months, Then Comes Marriage
- Good Luck, Vikas
- Remember The Alimony
- Mistri Loves Company
- So-Soon Wedding
- Better Great Than Never
- Rakesh brought the house down with “Your Song” on Friday night and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” on Saturday night.
- My Mom sang on Friday night; everybody was moved. I knew my Mom could sing but it didn’t only feel like a performance; even though it was in Hindi, it felt like a message from her soul.
- Sachin Shaan Bansal did a comedy set on Friday and Saturday and had not only the adults but also the children laughing.
- MONROK delivered an ode to my Mom about how long she had to wait for me to find somebody — and she moved people to tears, from being both hilarious and touching.
- As I mentioned in my speech, I knew I could never meet expectations — it’s MY OWN wedding speech and this is my job. But I went for it and there was no getting around the fact that I had to do it. I loved every minute of it.
- My brother-in-law, Jatin, was hilarious — he spoke on behalf of his (and Harsha’s, incidentally) parents. He also threw in a number of phunny lines during our wedding ceremony, mentioning the obligatory hotel they as Gujaratis own.
- Harsha’s cousins did traditional dances on Friday and Saturday. And her cousin gave a warm and amusing toast.
- And my parents gave great speeches themselves — hey, like I said, we came from somewhere.
17. Pray — because it’s about luck.
“Doctors say that Nordberg has a 50–50 chance of living, though there’s only a 10% chance of that.” —Ed Hocken, The Naked Gun
- It rained during my Haldi, which in India, is considered good luck.
- Friday night was a blue moon.
- You can do everything to maximize fun but it’s all about the dynamic, which is chance. Fortunately, everybody got along extremely well. They always say that the cool thing about your wedding is that it’s everybody who loves you in one place. Well, everybody in one place who loves you. The other sounds kinda… well, whatever. The part I found just as cool was that people from different spheres of my life finally intersected in real life and not just on Facebook.
18. End with an exclamation point!
“I’m not internationally known, but I’m known to rock the microphone.” — Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
Taking my own advice, I really waited till the end to mention him, though he could’ve fit in multiple categories. International superstar comedian Russell Peters came. Not only did he come, he came early (Oh!), stayed late, took about a hundred pictures with the guests — smiling in all of ’em — did a customized standup set, gave us a great gift, and even hopped on the turntables with DJ Gatsby for about an hour. There’s simply nobody in the world who could’ve surprised and delighted the guests the way Russell did. He and I have known each other for a decade now, as we met in 2005, and he’s always been super-nice to me, but this was just above and beyond any of my wildest expectations. Being a celebrity, he rarely initiates conversations but he did twice this year: when I was betrothed, he texted me, “U get engaged and can’t tell a brown man?” And then, eight days beforehand, he pinged me with, “I’m coming to ur reception if that’s cool.” (Um yeah. It’s cool. I’d finally get him to open for me.) So, I knew he’d be there, but I didn’t even tell Harsha. I didn’t want anybody looking at the door, waiting for him to come. The day was about her. I’m eternally grateful to Russell for doing everything he did for us and just think he’s amazing. But the focus will always be on my wife.
I love you, Harsha. Oh, wait… I mean…
I love you, Harsha!
Rajiv Satyal is a comedian, blog post writer, married man, and wedding planner, probably in reverse order. He resides in Los Angeles, but for now, his heart is in Austin.