My mom and dad got married in March 1977.
The wedding was supposedly quite, intimate, ritualistic like any Indian wedding in its true essence. Well, this is what we (me, my boisterous bro and sis) were told. You see, we weren’t born that time! LOL!
The only proof of this divine “merging” of two people and their families and their cultures for us is a single black and white photograph. Needless to say, my dear mother guarded it with her life and treasured it jealously in a family wedding photo album. We, the boisterous and naughty siblings chanced upon it one really hot summer afternoon. No, it was no treasure hunt. It was simple boredom that led us to open a very old, dirty brown album that seemed quite lost in a shelf full of books.
After making fun of our childhood pics, we landed on this single proof of my mom and dad’s wedding. Now comes the interesting part. All three of us had three varied opinions about what were the things that were covering our parents’ faces. You see, the only way we knew it was my mom and dad was purely because of the Amitabh and Jaya combination of height that my parents have. Their faces were covered with decorative mukut kind of things and necks heavily garlanded. Amidst all this were a set of sparkly things shining in happiness. Eyes of our parents we deduced.
The contagious laughter riot that spread after we saw the picture and spoke our deductions is a fond family memory for us. My father told us that day, that even that single picture was taken by a friend of his who happened to be attending the wedding. “Your parents didn’t even hire a photographer!” he would tease my mom.
My brother got married in February 2016. He was the last to get married. No, it was not any brotherly duty to see both his sisters married. It was simple laziness and the inability to make up his mind that he was the last to marry. (I am hoping he reads this and picks up his usual fight!)
Both my sister and I were meticulously and religiously involved in anything and everything to do with his wedding. We care for him. We love him. We want him to be happy. We also want him to buy all things we want for the wedding and beyond. It’s quite simple you see and so unselfish and utterly sisterly. You are getting the gist of it, aren’t you?
We sisters were done with shopping for jewelry, clothing for ourselves, our immediate families and the horde of relatives, finalizing wedding cards, booking the banquet hall, decorations at home and all the little endless tasks that seem to make the Indian wedding such a family affair. Mind you, all this in less than a month! She lives in Singapore and I live in India. So we used technology, the much loved, whatsapp to finalize everything. God bless Jan Koum. I’m sure he never intended whatsapp to organize Indian weddings. But, I am super confident he will be happy to know its varied applications in the hands of original thinking Indian sisters organizing their only brother’s marriage.
Then came the simple chore of selecting a good photographer to capture all those precious moments of the marriage. We sisters made a resolution that it has be lot more number of pictures than the single black and white picture my parents brag about. After all, my brother is the next kuldipak. He deserves better than my dad.
So, I called a friend, who also happens to be an event manager. What I thought was a simple call to get one good reference for a wedding photographer turned out to be a knowledge sharing session of an hour, about the various kinds of wedding photographers. For most part of the call, as you can rightly imagine, I was silent. Purely because I was so over whelmed with the choices!
Naturally, I called my ally, my sister. Please note, not a whatsapp conversation. Something that helped us finish all the other activities didn’t seem formidable enough for this discussion. (Sorry, Jan Koum, its nothing personal). After transferring all my latest acquired knowledge of Indian wedding photography to my unsuspecting sister, we both decided we will leave the choice to my dad. Hey, he is the man responsible for my brother’s wedding. We are just helping.
My father being the sensible and loving parent that he is applied his years of experience and decided on a photographer. He called the photographer home to discuss further details. Long story short, the photographer came, floored us with all the options he has, threw five different budgets on the table for us to consider and left us with his visiting card and brochure. After we realized what hit us, we sat down to estimate the costs and the efforts.
Costs ranged from couple of thousands to couple of lakhs! Efforts ranged from a simple hand camera to a complicated Bollywood level DSLR to a full-fledged crane supported camera equipment with a quadcopter! Oh boy! What did we land into! After wading through all the information and somehow maintaining our mental semblance we nailed the deal.
The wedding day neared, family, friends and the groom were home. The home looked so festive with fresh marigolds, mango leaves, Rangoli and the smell of yummy food. Then arrived the photographers, four of them with different cameras and their sets of focus lights. They took their positions and started commanding the show.
Everything changed. Everybody posed. Everybody smiled. Everyone including the pandit who is in charge of the wedding! The photographers ruled the show. Rituals were repeated so they can catch it in the right frame.
The bright side of it, every little thing that was part of the wedding was captured. The mehndi cone, the lonesome betelnut, even the distant relative sitting by himself near a fountain because he was bored of the wedding. Kids whom we haven’t seen in our lives before. The street dog in our neighborhood which came to partake the wedding feast. The bride’s maangtika. Zardosi work on her wedding saree. The list goes on.
They did such a wonderful job of literally capturing every minuscule detail of the wedding. That’s Indian Wedding Photographers for you!
About 3 months after the wedding and after multiple follow ups (these photographers are busy with another Indian wedding), 10 GB of photographs were delivered to us. We were supposed to identify the 200 pictures from this ginormous volume of photos to make the wedding album! A task this huge can only be handled by one person. Any guesses? No, not my dad, how much will he do! It’s the newest member of the family – the bride. After all, this album is for her kids to see on a lazy summer afternoon.
So, as we near the first anniversary celebrations of my brother’s wedding, the album is still in the making. 10 GB is humongous to filter through.
We definitely have come a really long way from that one black and white photo of my parents wedding to this multitude of choice that my brother’s wedding photography presents.