If it’s not big and fat, is it not a wedding?

A report on yahoo.com describes the unpleasantness generated because a newly married couple in Canada was disappointed with the wedding gift they received from one of the guests, the reason being the gift cost only $ 30.00 while the cost per guest was $ 97.00. One of the emails to the guest concerned said, “I’m not sure if it’s the first wedding you have been to, but for your next wedding, people give envelopes. I lost out on $200 covering you and your dates plate, and got fluffy whip and sour patch kids in return. Just a heads up for the future :)”

This reminded me of this excerpt from a report in The Economic Times dated June 6, 2011 about the marriage of Rohan Murty, son of Infosys Executive Chairman N. R. Narayana Murthy with Lakshmi Venu, daughter of TVS Motor CMD Venu Srinivasan:
‘The couple in their reception invite have requested guests not to carry gifts or flowers and instead make contributions to the Akshaya Patra foundation, a charitable organisation that provides children in public schools with wholesome meals for lunch.
“We have been very fortunate and the chances of fate have given us both so much. We would love our wedding to support a cause we care about dearly and one that will have a positive impact on society. Hence, if you are thinking of buying us a gift or flowers for our wedding, we request that you instead contribute to the following cause,” the couple had said in their invitation card.’

Lakshmi Venu and Rohan Murty were certainly not the first persons to do something like this. A few decades back, some persons started mentioning ‘Presents in Blessings only’ or ‘No Presents or Bouquets Please’ on wedding invitations, and this caught on in quite a big way. However, it is common to find many guests bringing gifts or bouquets despite this explicit request. Lakshmi Venu and Rohan Murty found the way to ensure that they did not accept any gift without denying guests the satisfaction of ‘gifting’. I hope many more people follow their example.

A related matter of concern is the lavishness of wedding celebrations. Often, people themselves go to great lengths to ensure that their wedding celebration is not only more lavish, but ‘unique’ compared to other people’s wedding celebrations. While some people may have the means to indulge in such one-upmanship, real or imagined social pressure makes many people overdo things even if they cannot really afford to do so. I know of cases where people have created financial problems for themselves by spending all their savings or/and borrowing huge sums of money only to ensure that their wedding celebrations were more lavish than expected by their relatives and friends.

This trend must be reversed. But who will bell the cat? ‘Ordinary’ people who avoid lavish wedding celebrations are generally labelled stingy or eccentric or something worse. Very few persons would not let this bother them. Most others would prefer to avoid ridicule. Hence, I wish high-profile individuals and celebrities take the initiative to avoid lavish wedding celebrations so that it becomes fashionable for ‘ordinary’ people to follow their example.

What’s your take?

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14 thoughts on “If it’s not big and fat, is it not a wedding?

  1. Some of the gifts that people give at weddings nowadays is nothing short of ridiculous. And the weddings themselves also have become so much more opulent, lavish and wasteful in nature. Like you say, it’s almost become a game of who has more money nowadays and nobody seems to care about the rest of the world when they conduct these crazy weddings.

    • Agreed. It is perfectly OK to celebrate weddings, birthdays, etc.. Unfortunately, some people have no sense of proportion and indulge in opulent, lavish and wasteful celebrations. More unfortunately, many others feel obliged to ‘keep up’.

  2. The Parsis, an enlightened community, has the practice of collecting cash gifts in envelopes at the entrance and separate line-ups for dinner for the ‘boy’s side’ and the ‘girl’s side’. A sensible practice!

    • Different communities have different practices, each of which has been developed for its own reason(s).

      A wedding celebration is meant to have the families, relatives, friends, co-workers, etc. get together to celebrate the wedding and to shower their good wishes and/or blessings on the couple. Often, this part is dwarfed by the lavishness of the celebrations and the gifts.

  3. Almost all the weddings I’ve attended recently and am about to attend next week – are “presence only, no presents please” types.
    I find the pressure of presents very stressful. In spite of being expressly told not to, many people feel obliged to bring them. And all those flower bouquets – eeks.

  4. Quite a few of the ‘normal people’ have started to change now.. The sad part is that people are more willing to accept something like this from the elite or rich but not from the ‘normal’ ones.

    • Absolutely! ‘Normal people’ who avoid lavish wedding celebrations risk being labelled stingy, eccentric, etc.. But a rich/elite person doing it is admired and respected for practising ‘simple living, high thinking’! That’s why I think, if more rich/elite people avoid lavish wedding celebrations, it will become fashionable for ‘ordinary’ people as well.

  5. Mine was a court marriage and after having gotten my sister, sister-in-law and brother-in-law married as per our parents’ wishes, and having burnt our pockets royally, we did inform them that even though they felt insulted in the society, we feel ours was a marriage which didn’t burn either our parents’ pockets or of the huge number of guests that they would have invited. I have been to quite a few weddings in the recent past, where the couple had initiated something similar to what Rohan Murthy’s wedding had or they had chosen for a court marriage similar to ours and then went onto an orphanage/destitute home and served food to the inmates. That I believe does get you some heartfelt blessings. The big fat wedding is all about show off, comparison and complaints. ‘Normal people’ at least of our generation are changing for sure. Though slowly. Wedding dresses that cost you a lifetime’s savings are the one’s that annoy me the most. I don’t think people use them even once after their wedding day. Why spend so much on something that is of no use to you or to anyone else?

    • You are correct about the expensive one-time-use wedding attire. Yes, the big fat wedding is all about show off, comparison and complaints. Unfortunately, in many cases, the wedding is followed by years, maybe a lifetime, of financial stress. Why incur expenses you cannot afford to impress people whom you don’t really like and who don’t really like you?

    • Rekha, absolutely agree with you on the wedding dress bit. I had a similar conversation with my wife at the time of our wedding. She would not have worn the dress more than once after that day, and in an year or two, I will probably start wearing my dress at home as casual wear 🙂

      • Glad that you agree because many of my friends are of the opinion that it’s a very special occasion in our life and hence we should spend hefty amounts on attire, jewellery and at parlour. For me, it pains to see people waste lakhs n lakhs on dress and makeup. Jewellery I still feel is a dead but safe investment. To each hi/her own. 🙂

  6. I’m happy to report that we had only a hundred guests at our wedding most of who were family or close friends, Pro. I do not understand the logic of big and expensive weddings…and even less first birthday parties – which invariably end up with the birthday child bawling!

    • At weddings:
      a. Quite a few invitees are invited only because the hosts feel obliged to invite them.
      b. Many attendees attend the wedding only because they feel obliged to attend.
      c. The bride’s/groom’s family invite people who don’t know the bride/groom and who will be meeting the bride/groom for the first and last time.

      Many ‘First Birthday’ parties are only an excuse for the adults to party. The child makes a ‘guest appearance’ during the cake-cutting!

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