Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Wedding Lie

Your wedding day will be the happiest day of your life - It 's a lie that people tell to brides. Mothers tell it to daughters, friends tell it to each other, we see it on the TV and in the movies. It gets repeated so often that we have all started to believe it.

It is unrealistic and creates so much pressure on a day that is already loaded with emotion. How can a day when everyone you know and everyone your future husband knows, come to one place and judge the way you look, talk, dance, eat, the food you serve and the gifts you give, be the happiest day of your life?

A wedding is stressful. We had a traditional Nepali wedding. I couldn't understand what was being said, the rituals made little sense to me and i didn't even know what I was agreeing to. Mero Budda had to slowly explain every step to me while his family watched and waited. I felt really disconnected from the process. Even though we dated and chose a love marriage during the ceremony my father and brother (my sister's partner and a family friend) had to GIVE ME to my husband, a ritual which goes against every feminist cell in my body. If i had understood at the time what was happening i would have called my mum inside the temple as well. I am as much her's to give as i am my father's.

At one point Mero Budda announced we are married now... I didn't feel married, I just felt confused and a bit hungry.

I thought all this tension and misunderstanding might have stemmed from trying to mesh two cultures. I recently spoke to a recently married Nepali friend and she said her wedding was horrible. "It was so difficult, I didn't know what I should be doing and the ceremony went for hours." She told me she spent the whole ceremony praying for her wedding to just be over.

At least I had Mero Budda with me. Many Nepali women don't actually know their future husbands on their wedding day. They might have met them on a handful of chaperoned visits but it is difficult to get support from someone you barely know! Another friend told me she had only spoken to her future husband over the Internet and they met for the first time a few days before their wedding. "I spent the ceremony and the first few weeks thinking I had made a terrible decision to marry," she said. (Now she is happily married and waiting for her first child).

Some women don't get to decide anything. I recently read a story about a  13 year old girl in Dang who's parents tried to marry her off to a 25 year old man. She had to rely on her friends from school to bring the police and put a stop to the forced marriage. See ekantipur for the whole story.

Maybe it is the same for the groom. When Mero Budda looked at our wedding photos he seemed genuinely surprised "We look so happy?"

Don''t be sucked in to the lie,it probably won't be a magical day. The wedding isn't really for the bride, its for the uncles and aunties who you have never met (and probably never will again). My wedding was beautiful. Everyone else had fun. For me the pressure to please and to have a wonderful romantic day was too much. I am a happy wife, glad to be married but i was a miserable bride!


  1. Hope the post-wedding days relieve the stress a bit. It's so true, weddings are designed for everybody but the bride and groom.

  2. Congratulations. Have a happy maried life together!!!

    I agree with you partially, yes, a wedding can be designed to pleasure the family. However, my husband and I married here in Europe without that much family or friends. Very little and I remember the 'ceremony' those 15 minutes over here, really as a romantic moment.

  3. Congratulations ! It looks like it was a fun wedding, the few nepali weddings Ive been to it seemed to me that for the bride & groom it was a bit like a marathon,sitting cross legged for hours with your head down a lot of the time. I remember at one friends wedding it was quite windy and smoke was blowing in their eyes the whole time by the time she was ready to leave her parents house to travel to her new home she was just shattered. But your right we the guests had a great time.

  4. So sad that you feel this way, but understandable. Thinking back our wedding was a little similar. It was so hot that the minister cut the ceremony short. However what you are signifying and what you are getting makes it "symbolically" the happiest day of your life as traditionally it is the start of your life as a couple.

    Maybe you should now sit down and plan a "wedding ceremony" the way you want it. One that does and says what you want. This could be as relaxed and happy as you want it. And maybe when you come to Australia we could redo this "wedding". No, not to replace the one you have had but just to celebrate with people who didn't have a chance to travel to Nepal. This might be a good way for Arjen to be welcomed into the Australian extended family, and for him to feel welcomed here.

    Interesting that you found it funny that only the father gives you away. Didn't you comment to me that you expected your intending husband to ask my permission to marry you......or was that one of your sisters? Of course having both parents "give you away" would have been nicer.....but I think you have been brought up so that you know your own mind and don't need anyone to "give you away".

    Love Dad.

  5. Thanks for he comments everyone. Now that the stress of the day has been over taken by visa stress all the wedding problems are forgotten. It wasn't a beautiful day of violins but i am glad everyone had fun.