Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 12/2/15 1:02 PM

Feature: The Hindu Bridal Book Articles


                                           Bridal Aunty is back!

This time she tackles the problems that  unwittingly  arise from those  around the bridal couple.


Q. I`m getting married in two months` time. Everything should be fine and dandy but is not because my mother has very recently walked out on Dad  and the family home,  and things are in a turmoil. The two of them are engaged in an acrimonious never-ending squabble about everything and
How do I ensure my D-Day goes off smoothly, it looks impossible at this point!

A. I am so sorry this had to happen at all, leave alone the undeniable fact that it is bad timing. Do you feel they will not rise above their  situation and give you wedding day of your life?  My I suggest that your fiancé and take over as much of the wedding preparations as you possibly can? Then, take both your parents out,  together or separately, for a quiet meal, put all the facts down on the table and plead for their understanding and maturity.

Q. Okay I will come straight to the point. My younger brother is gay and only the immediate family knows. Mine is an arranged marriage, and I’m happy with that,  but how does one handle this so-called skeleton in the cupboard?

A. Arranged marriage or not, your fiancée needs to know. She can then take a call whether to tell her people about it. As long as your brother does not show up with a partner for the event (not this early in your marriage) I think you can keep things on a need- to- know basis.

Q. I absolutely loathe my stepmother but I do love my father and so, will have to call his second wife to my wedding. It’s going to cause ripples in my mother`s family because they still harbour resentment against Dad. How do I go ahead and have a joyful wedding day?

A. Ah, the perils of a modern family. You can do the polite segregation thing here: ensure your father and his wife are seated a respectable distance away from your mother`s family. Limit your interaction with your stepmother, easy given that you are the bride. Get a wingman or wingwoman
to shepherd them to the lunch table, and see them off later.

Q. My elder brother is in rehab. Well, he is usually in and out of rehab most of the time. He is my only brother and we used to be very close but nowadays his behaviour can be both embarrassing and erratic. My fiancée seems okay about the situation but her family can be a little uppity. Will
it be awkward if I tell my family that he doesn’t need to attend the functions?

A. Well, it is your wedding. You get to decide who you want there and who you don’t want. Your brother might feel upset about your decision, so do make  a note to go sit with him and explain matters at a later date.

Q. I’m doing what the snobs call marrying below my station. My parents are throwing a reception for us in a very posh resort and already there is carping about how my in-laws will probably appear dressed down. Honestly I don’t care, they are basically nice people and my fiancée is a wonderful girl. But how do I keep my sniping family from verbally attacking those poor souls?

A. Surely all of your family can’t be insufferable snobs? Go find two or three of the nicer lot, across generations, tell them they are in charge of welcoming your in-laws, attending to them at the reception and generally seeing to it that they have a good time. This of course includes staving off bad behavior form those likely to behave badly.

Q. This is straight out of the ads! I’m marrying into a very traditional family from another community, my mother is required to wear the sari and my father, the headgear of the community. They refuse to! What on earth do I do?

A. I’m presuming you tried taking, cajoling, coaxing, bursting into tears? All of it didn’t work? Then I’m sorry but you just will have to tell your in-laws how it is, and they will have to make adjustments.



In the wings!


That small, tight team of people you have acting as host/buffer/chauffeur/bouncer/ general dogsbody? You couldn’t have a proper wedding without them. 

Out in America, they call them wingmen. This is aircraft terminology for a pilot whose aircraft is positioned behind and outside the leading aircraft in a formation. Translated to wedding terminology, these are people who have the backs of either the bride, the groom or both!

This team is like a flash mob. They are  formed  well before the wedding, given some if not secret, definitely discreet duties. Sometimes, these duties are done on the fly.

At other times, they do what they have to do as and when an unexpected situation arises.  they are expected to do unspecified tasks. The one thing common to all wingmen and women is that they go about doing their jobs quietly, without any fuss, bless them.

Basically, they are the small but vital cogs in the wedding machine.

So, have you got your team together yet?

You will need one set of competent even expert drivers. Theseare the Track Two lot who will always be on call, car keys in pocket, fuel tanks brimming, vehicles parked at accessible spots just in case the professional fleet of cars and chauffeurs suddenly plays truant, goes missing, gets lost in the by-lanes they have been sent to, the vehicles develop problems or some such crisis rears its head. Some of them are so good  that they willy-nilly become the chosen ones to ferry the bridal couple!

I know of one bride who declined the ride to the wedding venue in a gleaming Audi, insisting she would rather be ferried there by `Uncle Bhaskar ` in his not too new but still gorgeous Mercedes!

Sangeet and mehendi sessions go smooth as silk with wingwomen casing the joint as it were. They quietly and efficiently see to it that the queues for applying mehendi aren’t inordinately long; that even the most bashful girl gets her turn at the dhol; in case the bride and her immediate family is preoccupied, these girls step in and welcome guests in the most  heartwarming way; they man the music console or  if there`s a deejay in the house, they keep him/her on their toes; they distribute the return gifts (and yes, they are the one who wrapped those little gifts in the first place!); they find a safety pin, a brace of hair grips or a Disprin should the need arise for any of those; they see to it that the candles are lit and stay lit all through the evening.

Indian weddings being what they are, invariably some guests are called for form`s sake; yet others have the potential to create trouble either through nasty comments or well meaning awkward statements. Then there are sets of relations who are not on the best of terms with others  but have to come face to face at weddings of someone both sets hold dear. This is when the wingmen and women come into play, do a neat and most subtle job of segregation without offending anyone`s feelings, see that no one is isolated or alone for the major part of the function, scoop up monster children out on a wrecking spree and quickly distract them. They divide the collection of money gifts, floral bouquets and packaged gifts, collecting and  keeping them away methodically.

Another lot act as the bride or the groom`s multiple shadows. The former`s wingwomen are the ones who, free of the task of dressing her or layering her with jewels, instead keep a concerned eye out for her state of body and mind, bring her a much needed tall cold glass of something to drink
just when she starts to feel dehydrated,  hover near her when she’s greeting guests so that a quick handkerchief (yes our modern-day wingwomen carry old- fashioned hankies!) can be passed to discreetly wipe those beads of sweat away.

he wingmen rally around the groom and set  the mood with a lot of joshing and raillery, so that even if he contemplated it, there is no question of feeling nervous. They adjust each other’s ties, liberally splash on the groom`s cologne (wingman’s privileges!), and in one case, a wingman drove like an F1 racer,  ten kilometres back to the groom`s house to pick up and bring the forgotten  wedding ring!

They are really amazing, these wingmen and women. I have seen them spray water at a reception when they noticed some of the flowers were looking less than fresh. I have seen them ferry cartons of drinks to the cocktail counter when they ran short. I have even seen a wingwoman quickly give her strappy sandals to the bride when that unfortunate girl`s fabulous heels got caught in a grate en route to the venue!




                                                                      Six To Go!

D-day is getting closer now and you need a watertight Masterplan.

With just six months left for your wedding day to dawn, we are presuming you have the main stuff well out of the way. Stuff like fixing the wedding date, the number of functions, doing the rounds of venues before you decide on the final ones, going over the financial end of things (unless it’s your parents who are handling this end), choosing your wedding attire, settling on a menu, booking the music people/deejay. Once this out of the way, you need to focus on the smaller, finer details that go up to make a perfect wedding.


The wingman/woman list. See elsewhere in this issue for a piece on the trusted team of wingpeople and just what they bring to your big day. Draw up a list of essential duties for all the functions, then sit down with the Wing  team and assign those duties.


The guest list. This you will have to do with your parents, siblings, fiancé and future in-laws., just so that the list is a complete one. Don’t forget to include people who have been part of your life but stand just outside the immediate circle: beloved teachers at school and college, faithful domestic help, the postman, milkman and  newspaper man. Most of them are not likely to attend but it makes all the difference to them to get that invitation.


Flower power. We mean the people who will turn your wedding venue into a floral fairyland. Not just the veue, the doli, sehra, pandal, etc. Select the flowers of the season, settle on a colour scheme (the blooms must not clash with what you and your bridegroom are wearing), ensure they hang where they can be seen…too high or too low and it`s money down the drain.

The wedding snapper. Interview some wedding photographers and fix on one. Tell them  just how the balance will stand: how many candid camera snaps, how many official photos. Tell them if you don’t want shots of you staring at the sky dreamily, or shots of your wedding guests stuffing their face sat the table. Give them a list of all those who just have to feature in the snaps.

Save the date: Make an innovative,  fun save- the- date video or e-card and send it out online to everyone. Don’t overload info on these missives: have  the date, time and venue stand out.

Colour coordinates. Talk clothing colour with your fiancé, with your maids of honour, thalam girls, bridesmaids, etc. Be merciful and don’t ask the girls (or your soon to be other half) to wear purple, florescent pink or flaming orange…unless all of them are happy with that!

The honeymoon talk. Decide where the two of you want to send your special get- to –know- each -other –better time. See that your passports are travel-ready if you are planning to go abroad. Go meet your travel agent and do the bookings. Book hotels and guided trips too, while you are at it.

The pre-wedding counselling. Some communities have this as part of the wedding run-up and we cannot recommend it enough. Marriage is not child`s play, so having an expert talk to both of you can only help.

Card matters. Sit down with your parents and go over the finer details of the wedding cards. The text, the colour scheme, the trimmings. Remember less is more, less is more elegant too.

The wedding fleet. Find out if you can do anything to streamline the transport decisions. Suggest how you want to arrive at the wedding venue, be it a Rolls, a Merc, a horse or a buggy.

Gifts galore. This is something you need to do discreetly, maybe with a sibling or friend in tow. Buy a host of small but meaningful gifts for your parents, wedding attendants, wedding planner, domestic staff.

F & H. Select and book your hairstylist, mehendi artiste, make- up person. It`s important to do a trial run of face and hair, you have the time.

The final dress fitting. Take along a friend, and of course your mother. Don’t get carried away. If there are changes you want, ask for them firmly, politely. You are paying for an expensive dress, it has to fit and look like a dream.

Sweets corner. Order all the mithai one will needat home. There will be a steady stream of guests and mithai is the ideal and festive item to serve.

Goody bags. Have welcome baskets put in the rooms of all outstation guests.

And after all this is done, calm down. Stay calm. Everything is going to go smooth as silk!

These are three articles from THE HINDU`s BRIDAL BOOK of 2015.

6 days to the weddingBridal Aunty answers questionsbridal q and abrides guideThe Hindu Bridal Bookwedding wingmen and wingwomen

Sheila Kumar • December 2, 2015

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