This is the year of weddings with THREE friends tying the knot, two of which I will not be able to attend because it is also the year of babies (I will be the fourth in my family to give birth this year; also the year of baby boys because three of the four are boys).

Anyhoo. Since I have less than fond memories of my own wedding day, I am super excited about other people’s wedding plans. And like the old married hag that I am, I’m posting my dos and don’ts of wedding planning for would-be brides (of men, because that’s where my experience lies):

Do not

• Wash your hands of planning your own wedding because the family drama, your disinterested partner, or other extraneous factors are stress you think you can do without. You get only one wedding and if you don’t at least try to get what you want out of it (so that what you get is at least halfway there) , you will regret it. Remember, a wedding is just the tip of the iceberg of married life so don’t be surprised if it’s a little like war. Go in with your guns blazing and stake your claim. Preferably while smiling sweetly.

• Plan your wedding in your partner’s city instead of your own. Men are not that into wedding planning and, rest assured, the gauntlet will be taken up by his mother and sisters, who you will find yourself spending 10 months coordinating and negotiating with.

• Assume that when your Sil says she is super efficient, she is (grateful as you are to her for offering to take over planning). It could just mean that she is one of those people who is enthusiastic and takes on more than she can chew, is uncontactable most of the time and then does everything at the last minute without consulting you. The result: a wedding that looks slightly different than you’d imagined.

• Let go of a colour you like as a theme simply because someone else chose that colour for a wedding planned a week before yours. It does not matter. Unless everything is exactly the same, noone will care. And you will be happy surrounded by a colour you like.

• Succumb to the idea of a formal wedding reception for boring guests and another “fun” party the next day. The one that came first, that was held on the day you got married, will be the one that you will remember as “the wedding” no matter how fun the next day’s event turned out to be. (This is not relevant to people where there are traditionally a whole week of wedding events. Then you are used to it.)

• Under any circumstances, omit alcohol from your wedding reception. This is with special reference to above separation of “boring” and “fun” days. It is really hard to smile for hours on end at people you don’t know if you are not slightly drunk (or stoned, which was my other option but I couldn’t risk giggling helplessly through the entire evening). Moreover, if you are a Goan, your entire family will decamp to the nearest bar and you will be left fake-smiling alone until someone slopes back to ask you if you want a drink and sneaks one to you before disappearing again.

• Choose younger cousins you are fond of as your bridesmaids instead of good friends (though there is the huge risk of causing drama in friends circle). Because younger cousins will tire of the smiling and sneak off to bar with the rest of your traitorous family.

• Have an arrangement whereby you are standing on a stage under blaring lights while your guests are lined up in seats in front of you staring. This is just odd. Very odd. (Again, this might be something common in your tradition, which makes it easier to bear. But believe me, table settings are so much better. People then have conversations among themselves instead of focussing on you expectantly).

• Have a videographer. You do not want evidence of yourself grimacing and rolling your eyes every now and then. If there was no alcohol or dancing at your wedding, it makes for a very boring video anyway.

• Assume that because the photographer took good pictures at your sister-in-laws wedding, he actually knows what to do. You will realize only later that your sister-in-law is wonderfully photogenic, and your traditions are different, and you have landed up with a hideous album, presented to you as a fait accompli, with your face and your huband’s face morphed into sunflowers etc. Also the photos of people you actually gave a hoot about will be omitted from said album, so that you will gift the album to your ecstatic mother-in-law and stash your own copies of your wedding photos in a plastic bag at the back of drawer.

• Let go of silly, cringe-worthy traditions like the “masala” and the “chicken dance” because they are not your husband’s traditions. These traditions are what you associate with weddings and unless you do them, however silly you look and feel, you will forever feel like your wedding was somewhat lacking. Besides, if you actually go with a videographer, these are the parts that are actually fun to watch.

• Have your wedding in a five-star hotel. It is a waste of money. Go to Paris instead.

• Let “friends” come to your hotel room and tease you after all the guests have left. You are tired. It is not amusing. Besides, chances are you are not a blushing virgin and you only want to sleep.

Do

• Stress to the priest your actual name. It is very frustrating (and somewhat embarrassing) to listen to your name being mangled for over an hour.

• Accepts gifts of gold jewellery. The price of gold has risen considerably. Besides, if you are married to a Malyalee you will need to wear this gold and it helps not having to buy it, even if you think it’s hideous. If you are not married to a Malyalee, you can sell the gold and go to Paris five years later.

• Do (maybe) agree to change into a sari halfway through your wedding. Sure, it’s a waste of a good dress worn for only half a night but if your wedding is as dull as mine was, you’ll be grateful for the intermission.

• Have friends who did not make it to your wedding. That way, you can call them and moan when everyone else has abandoned you for the bar and they will have to talk to you out of guilt for not being there at your wedding.

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