Category Archives: wedding stuff

Pyar sirf ek bar hota hai aur shaadi bhi ekhi baar hota hai

I lead you with this famous Bollywood quote, as it seems appropriate for a post about attending my first Indian wedding. It means, “Love happens only once, so does marriage.” Also, the only other dialogue I know from Indian movies is “Jai ho” and “Aja, aja”, but Amen; come on! come on! doesn’t make for very a good title. Or anything else for that matter. They are, however, still fun to say.

It all started Thursday, the day after the “sleepover” with Adam I mentioned in the above post. A mutual friend from our Belgium days, Aga, flew in from the US just in time for the bride’s Henna (Mehndi) Party. Aga and I thought this would be 20 girls sitting around on cushions while Dimple (the bride’s name) got “henna’ed”…clue #1 that we were clueless about Indian weddings!

Dimple’s family lives among two houses side by side. The combined backyard had been completely transformed by a colorful fabric tent, turning the whole thing into a cheerful oasis. Oh, and there were at least 100 people there. Aga and I were also the only people not in a sari or other Indian-wear. Correction: the only females not in Indian attire. The men were mostly dressed in Western styles, but all had matching scarves (a party treat from the bride). I snagged one for Del but he does not seem inclined to wear it.

Dimple was secluded in a room, her hands almost done. Aga and I sort of pushed our way back there, not understanding that the bride was supposed to be secluded at this point, due to the high risk of smudging her henna if distracted. And we immediately understood this; her henna job was gorgeous and delicate, ultimately taking 5 hours –  just for the hands! She said that we were, however, special guests, so we visited for 10 minutes ooh-ing and ahh-ing, also over the fact that neither of us had seen her in at least a year. She has not only lost a substantial amount of weight, but also gone from girl to woman, in a sense. Our sweet, casual friend Dimple now sat before us like genie from a bottle. With a low braid languishing over her shoulder and reaching towards her stomach, movie-star make-up, a mega-watt smile and a joyfully embroidered, almost neon-orange dress, she was absolutely jaw-to-the-floor stunning. I’m sure the beaming happiness helped.

After causing her to giggle (and thus, smudge), Aga and I excused ourselves and joined the rest of the guests in the tent, where several women were offering henna. We’d been advised there would be “an Indian queue”, which meant we had to throw some elbows to get in line. But we managed. It was such a new world for us, being the minority for a change. We got many stares but all was cheerful and friendly and welcoming. We’re not very good at henna though, as ideally one sits still for 2 hours afterwards as not to ruin it. We did not have the luxury of being secluded, however, and crowds do not make for good mehndi.

Meanwhile, dinner was served. Surprise – it was spicy! (Over the course of this wedding we were fed 4 times. I’ve never been so generously fed and so starving in all my life…) Dimple made her entrance, led to a stage/lounging-throne at the front of the room, where she could be more social while her feet mehndi got done. During the henna process her relatives and friends serve her, feed her, everything-her as not to ruin the drying art. Given the effort required to preserve the design, it was not hard for me to imagine the ancient beginnings of this ritual – what a statement of rank and wealth an elaborate henna job was. (There goes Anthropology-me again…)

As for Aga and I, we both got fairly smudged; plus, it is body heat which determines the final color. This means that we both have beautiful light brown lacy designs on our arms, followed by smudgy dirty-orange hands. Any illusion of cool reserve is shattered for amateures like us, who don’t know well enough to ask for it on the (less heat-prone) back of the hand instead.

Four days later it has faded some, but still looks like this:

Oh dear. Work is not going to be happy…

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Filed under humor, life, London, wedding stuff

Highs and lows

When I turned 20 I was living in France for my study abroad. It was already then concluded to be the best year of my life. It’s hard to describe why, other than feeling like the world was made up of fellow 20-year-olds, situated on the beach of Southern France, inhabited by people that I thought were the coolest ever, and they seemed to feel the same. Everyone was interesting, smart, attractive, fun, interested in the same subjects, learning the same things together. It was like living with all of your best friends ever in one place, one without worries.

How depressing that was. My 20 year-old-self thought, “How can I live a happy life, knowing the best year is over!? Now I have to live 60 years (should I be so lucky) trying to not to look wistfully back.” Eventually I came to terms with that (I mean, after all, isn’t that the very definition of being 20? Thinking in dramatic terms that life could never be so good.)

Well, I am pleased to announce to my 20-year-old-self that my year in France has met its match in the wedding. Surrounded by people that I think are just the best, all of whom have gone through a lot of trouble to show up and demonstrate that they feel the same, all meeting each other at long last to make the connections I’ve long wished could be made – it’s the same as study abroad was. Sadly we couldn’t invite everyone we’d have liked, and it only lasted for days. But hey – at least we dragged it out that long! That’s the place that I wish Del and I could move to (you know, the place where all of our loved ones live. All together.)

Similarly, it seems cruel that we are now at home and – aside from the mess of suitcases and some boxes just waiting to be opened – it’s almost like we never left.

Everyone tells you that your wedding will go by in a blur. To take it easy, take a breath, soak it all in. Well, guess what? It’s nice advice, but it doesn’t help at all. Time is the trickiest of forces. You can pay close attention all you like, but he won’t be slowed or sped. He’ll bring everything you’ve waiting for, but he also promises to take it away. What a thorny friend.

My sweet sisters and best friend all seemed to have the post-wedding blues for me. I’m hoping they have taken the bullet in my place and that I can avoid the sadness that comes when most of the people you love most in the world have come together and thrown a big love-fest for you and then gone home. Like before, they’re now spread again to the 4 corners of the globe. I just can’t wait for the next wedding. Sister – you’re next up!

P.S. No wedding photos yet. We’re waiting, waiting…

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Filed under if I'd known than what I know now, life, this time THIS year, wedding stuff

Married!

We’ve done it. After 18 months of engagement and planning, the wedding has finally come and gone and oh my goodness what fun it was. Let me just say this – we are so, unbelievably spoiled. In family, in friends, in generosity, in affection. At times, it kinda felt like I was in Disneyland, and there was some elaborate parade put on for us.

I so hate for it to be over but at the same time we’ve partied for five days now and I can’t wait for a full night’s sleep (hence, a super short post with little details as of yet). That’s right, it’s ended up being five days of festivities – you’d think we were Indian, doing it up for so long!

I just wanted to pop in and say “Yeay!” and to share what an unbelievably wonderful weekend we had, full of (most of) the people we most love, all together in the same place. If the attendees are to be believed, it was one of the most cryin-est weddings ever. But also one of the most fun (well, I’m judging that by the photos of certain friends streaking around the gardens at 5am!). I promise to be back soon with some photos and more details. Meanwhile, I hope this weekend, you all felt as lucky and loved as we did.

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Filed under life, this time THIS year, wedding stuff

Weddings – English Style

Hi there.

I wrote a post today, but decided it should go on my other blog, so I moved it there.

Hope you’re having a great day!

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Meanwhile…Wedding Stuff

I’ve had all the tests for my back, finally. I don’t see the doctor until next week, but I’m confident that she would have contacted me were there anything to do with cancer showing up in the results. The leg tingling has 99.9% gone away too. I’m still experiencing back pain at the old fracture site, but the other sore spot has also dissipated. All good news.

I’m in England again. Since Del and I are moving to America, we realized we’d better get to concluding the hunt for a reception venue because – when are we both going to be able to “pop” back over here together again to look? So here we are, and it’s been very successful. In two more days of searching we’ve seen the two most promising properties yet! And if nothing else, I love the excuse to drive around looking at all the most interesting historical properties in the West Midlands. What a treat! I have to admit that it makes the task of finding a reception venue rather romantic experience…driving to all corners of the countryside to poke around all its grand historic properties – all to see if “me and my man” can see ourselves inviting our loved ones to enjoy it with us in a grand personal fete. (The task is not supposed to be that fun, is it?) Certainly it’s helped me feel like I’m really getting to know the area Del is from.

Yesterday we were very excited about a place called Welcombe Hotel and Spa. This Victorian manor is a “calendar” building: built with 7 entrances (days of the week), 12 fireplaces (months), 52 chimneys (weeks) and 365 windows. I’d never heard of this before, but how cool is that? And the room we’d get to use opens out onto the terrace and gardens. Gorgeous! We came home so excited for the first time since discovering Ettington Park, which is firmly etched on my heart as one of the most awesome properties I’ve ever gotten to tour, but has its shortcomings vis a vis our needs.

Then today we went to Coombe Abbey. I’d been wanting to look at this place for so long that I was pretty sure it couldn’t live up to my initial enthusiasm. But…wow. I am in love once again. It went straight for my heart. Restored to its gothic sumptuousness inside, the lobby area in particular is all dark carved wood, hallways lines with busts, heavy curtains, plush red fabrics, stained glass, creaking floorboards and lots of stone archways. I can’t imagine I could ever be so lucky as to celebrate our day in a place like this.

We’ll be happy however it turns out. We have to investigate the details a little more before putting our money where our mouths are, but it’s a new and exciting feeling to be making some headway on the planning, however primitive, and to have such inspiring options. How wonderful to have such national treasures to see at all!

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Filed under life, wedding stuff