• Amber

My Big Fat Indian Wedding - Planning

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

In October of 2016, around Diwali, we started wedding planning. My parents decided they would go to India with us, as did my grandmother and her friend. Ari, who was with me when I met Ravi, was supposed to be in Kerala at the time and bought her flight to Surat to join for the functions, as well. We picked February.


I got everyone tourist visas. We bought flights. I'd ordered velvet scroll invitations from Jaipur. They'd arrived about a week before we got the news.


The demonetization of Indian banknotes was announced on 8 November, 2016. This meant that the government of Indian was denouncing 500 and 1000 rupee notes and they would no longer be legal tender. Anyone in possession of these currency notes would have to deposit them by March 31.

Initially, I was in denial about what that meant for us. On the first day, he simply shook his head at the news. The next couple days, he'd mix "we may just have to have a smaller wedding" into conversation. On the fifth day, he sat down next to me in the living room and told me we'd need to postpone the wedding.


I was devastated. I'd done so much planning. I didn't know if our visas would be transferable to new dates. Who knew how much Emirates would charge to change all of our flights. I had a beautiful long layover in Dubai on the way home- there was no telling whether that would be available this time around.

Explaining this to everyone was very difficult. This issue was related to black money, which is a foreign concept to Americans. Essentially there were millions of rupees of 500 and 1000 notes that had be printed privately and fraudulently introduced to the market. Distrust in the government is commonplace in India, which leads many businesses to do business in cash and avoid paying taxes. This is largely the cause of some of India's major issues including lack of funding for infrastructure, public education, and indoor plumbing in lower income neighborhoods.


Like many, or even most Indian families, this cost ours a great deal in back-taxes. It also required people to stand in line for days at banks and ATMs trying to deposit money before the deadline. It was an expensive measure that the Indian government put in place, which ultimately meant that families wouldn't be able to travel to attend our wedding and that vendors would difficult to work with.

I tried to pretend this wasn't happening. I turned off my phone often and I spent less time socializing. I cried a lot. My pity party was making my new in-laws more upset than they needed, considering everything going on there. I felt selfish. At some point, I simply gathered up my melted pieces and forced everyone to pick a new date.


Flights book 11 months in advance. Everyone else's goal was to push the wedding a year or more. I felt like I was holding on to a rope that was slipping between my hands. We pushed it to the very latest departure date that the airline industry would allow.


We'd fly October 13th and marry on the 24th. Diwali was that first week, which felt like a perfect homecoming for Ravi.


I didn't really know what to plan or what to do, but once flights were booked my heart settled. My grandmother decided that she wasn't going to join us. She thinks she's getting old, but she's really healthy for her age. I hope I'm as vibrant in my mid-80's. I think someone talked her out of going, which is a real shame, but life happens.

A gown I looked at for my mother to wear

After things were booked, I spent months looking at clothes I liked for me and my family. I planned our honeymoon in Bali on a nearly hour by hour basis. I didn't know how to prepare my parents, since I'd still never been to an Indian wedding. I read so many articles. I watched so many videos.


The peak of my excitement with planning was the day my lehenga fabric was selected. It was 4 o'clock on a summer morning when Ravi's mother Facetimed us. I remember being dreamy-eyed for some time, but forcing my eyes to focus so I could make decisions.


She was with her sister and Ravi's female cousins. She picked up heavy pieces of embroidered fabric and asked if I liked them. There were probably 30 pieces of red-variant fabrics with gold embroidery in different patterns. The darkest reds were my favorite and I'd chosen velvet, since it was the most luxurious.


The final fabric was gorgeous. It was rich and weighted. The embroidery work was detailed and there were stones that glistened in the light. It was so much more beautiful than anything I'd seen from the retailers. She told us that when we arrived, the tailor would stitch me into it to be sure it fit perfectly.

Every day I spent dreaming and trying to prepare myself for the trip. Traveling is by far the most enriching experience I believe a person could have and I spend so much time dedicated to planning my trips.


One bit of advice I could give to a bride would be: if you have someone in your life that is willing to plan a wedding for you, you should let them. There is a near-absence of stress when you don't know the schedule.


Even the invitations... the ones I'd ordered from Jaipur were for the February dates. My mother in law loved the design, so she too ordered red velvet scrolls. I felt really good having inspired that. It made me feel like I did add some value to the planning. I loved it.

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