A couple of weeks ago, I read this article on how we should modernise Indian wedding traditions to make them less sexist and cater them to 21st century couples.
I agreed with many of the points the writer made and although upholding tradition wasn't really a problem in my own wedding planning process, it did get me thinking about the implications it may have had on Ty and I choosing not to have a wedding at all.
We always knew we'd get married before our 'actual' wedding with family and friends because we wanted to have our civil ceremony pretty soon after we got engaged, meaning we could get on with applying for my visa so we could finally be together. That didn't leave much time for planning a big event as we tied the knot just two months after he popped the question, saying our vows in Beverly Hills Courthouse with just my sister, Parker, as a witness. (FYI - the photos in this blog are all from that day. Shoutout to P for the photography!)
It was low key, because at the time we were planning to have a bigger celebration the following year but we loved that our day was just about us two and that we got to spend it exactly how we wanted (going to get tattoos after the ceremony, stuffing our faces with seafood and posing for photos on the beach). Looking back now, I wouldn't change a thing. I'm just so glad we decided to have our photoshoot with the amazing Taylor Kinzie as we now have those beautiful photos as a reminder of our day.
After the 'getting married' trip to Cali, I had gotten into full swing with wedding planning and my mum and I went out to LA a few months later to look at wedding venues. It was on this trip that I started to realise how much fun I WASN'T having with the process and although it was nice going to see pretty venues and exciting imagining up different things we could do for the day, I wasn't getting the kind of pleasure out of it that I'd hoped I would.
It turns out that my feelings about planning and participating in my own wedding weren't completely unexpected. They actually stem back to my childhood and relate to the subject of Indian weddings and traditions. Being Indian and all, I've obviously been to a ton of week long Indian wedding events, from the Mendhi (where all the girls get their hands adorned with henna) to the Ladies Sangeet (where the women from the bridal party get together to party and sing songs) and of course the wedding days themselves (where you dress up in the most bejewelled outfit from your 'Indian wardrobe' and eat, dance and drink the night away). As a kid I loved these festivities and it was only when I got to an age where I realised that an event like this could very well be in my own future, that the sheer magnitude of an Indian wedding started to terrify me.
Just the thought of being the (Indian) bride at an (Indian) wedding made me well up with embarrassment at all of the attention and fuss, not to mention the dread I felt at the possibility of having to pretend to cry at the end of the reception (as per tradition) when it was time to leave with my husband. I was excited about the clothes and the parties but I wasn't cut out for the theatrics. It was all a bit too much for me to accept as my reality so I promptly decided, at the age of 10, that I wouldn't be getting married so therefore, I wouldn't be having a wedding.
It turns out that life had other plans, so I did get married, but my 10 year old self was right about the wedding. It's funny how we can so innately know what's right for us before we even consciously realise it and clearly, being a blushing bride wasn't in my destiny.
Thankfully, Ty and I were on the same page with the whole thing and we came to the realisation that although a wedding with all of our loved ones in the same room would be an amazing memory, it would be just one memory of hundreds we were yet to make in our marriage and the cost and energy spent on making it happen just wasn't worth it to us.
I think when it comes to something like this, you have to know what's important to you both as a couple and for us, a wedding day wasn't it. We wanted multiple trips to faraway places, buying and furnishing our first house and being able to comfortably settle into our life together. When I was still in the angsty stages of indecision about the wedding, Ty said to me "a wedding is only as important as you make it". That was the turning point for me, when I accepted that deep down, I didn't really want the wedding anyway, and that it was ok to feel that way.
What comes with making a decision like that is the fear of disappointing people and this is something else that feeds back into the article I mentioned at the beginning. A lot of couples (not just Indian ones) feel like they have to forge ahead with their weddings, even if they don't want to, because of tradition or what their family/friends will say. This does apply particularly to Indian culture, though, which makes me realise how lucky Ty and I were to not have had any pressure from either my side or his side to do anything we didn't want to do. The freedom to choose is something we tend to take for granted until it's not available to us and the pressure to keep up with tradition can take that freedom away.
I do LOVE Indian tradition and Indian weddings. They're a part of my heritage, my culture and my people and I wouldn't change the essence of them for the world, but I do think that all traditions have a purpose and that purpose should evolve as we do. Weddings in India now are quite different to the weddings that many Indians here in the UK have, I guess because as immigrants we fossilise our culture so that it remains as it was when we left 'home', while 'home' has kept it moving and changing with time. I do think it's possible to keep the essence of our culture alive whilst still catering to the lives of younger generations if we're open to change.
While not having a wedding was right for us, I totally get that it's not ideal for others and that some couples dream of their big day for years (which I'm very glad about because I do love a good wedding - just other peoples!).
Would any of you consider not having a wedding? Or if you didn't have a wedding, what was the deciding factor for you and your partner?