A few years ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the best wedding I’ve ever been to. I’ve been to quite a few family weddings and was used to the drill: stiff posing, prolonged primping, frozen smiles. I tolerated the pictures and countless questions until we could get to the reception and focus on the best part: the cake.
But this wedding was different. Yes, there was cake, but that wasn’t the best part. You see, this was the first Indian wedding I’d attended. It wasn’t the best simply because it was different; in fact, I was nervous about attending a wedding when I was so unfamiliar with the culture. I worked with the bride and watched her plan the wedding over the course of a year. I sat with her and thumbed through countless bridal magazines to find the right florist, location, etc. I knew there would be tons of different events that most American weddings didn’t have, but I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that it was the culture that would make this the best wedding I’ve ever been to!
I’m currently abstaining from fast food; you can track my progress here, but when I did order, I rarely ordered Indian. We didn’t have any good Indian restaurants where I used to live, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The wedding was buffet style and there were SO many options. I’ll admit I had my plate piled high. Roti, paneer, samosas, I had it all. My favorite was saag paneer, cooked spinach tossed with Indian cheese. The mixture is sometimes thickened with coconut milk and it was DIVINE. Had I no manners, I would’ve gone back for two and three plates, but I resisted. The buffet was such a welcome departure from the traditional roast chicken and overcooked salmon that accompanies so many weddings.
Punjabi Bhangra mixes are some of the best. Hands down, period. There were over 500 people at the wedding and every single one of them were on the dance floor by the end of the night. Toddlers, elderly, no one escaped. One particularly lively uncle pulled my friend and I from our seats and encouraged us to dance. We were content to watch since we had no idea what we were doing, but soon our shoulders and hips were moving along the music like everyone else! In case you’re wondering, yes, I do have a Spotify playlist with quite a few Bhangra mixes on them.
Often I think we get so caught up on cultural differences (language, dress, etc.) that we forget that we’re all the same at the end of the day. This wedding was the best because everyone, despite our varying backgrounds, was able to come together and delight in the celebration. There were others attending that were visibly uncomfortable with such unfamiliar celebrations, but soon they were won over by the excitement and happiness that spread around the room.
Years later, I still talk about this wedding. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun at a wedding since! I hope when I get married that I am able to inspire such happiness and joy amongst all of my guests. What’s the best wedding you’ve ever attended?