About four years ago, I joined a company that was all about weddings – celebrity and otherwise – and life changed as I knew it, almost overnight. I had some idea about how hyped we, as a society, are about weddings, of course. But, up until that point I had no idea about how EXTRAA even ordinary folks aspire to be on their D-days. You see, the Sabyasachi sarees and Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla lehengas aren’t coveted wedding items just for the rich and famous. Even the moderately well-off want to throw weddings ostentatious enough to make every NRI Punjabi proud.
The real catch is that it isn’t about how much you spend on the wedding anymore to earn street creds among relatives. Now, it’s also about having this weird flex to flaunt it all to the whole wide world by hiring photographers and videographers who charge almost as exhorbitantly as Sabyasachi does for those regular heritage Bengal looms you can find in any respectable sareer dokan in multiple corners of Gariahat with his name-tag on it.
Everyone wants a show-reel from their grand wedding day(s). What started of more as a fad a few years ago has snowballed out of proportion instead of dying a quiet respectable death like it should have. Now is the time for not one ostentatious wedding+reception combo. Regular folks might just soon start aping the likes of DeepVeer, Virushka, and NickYanka. All of them had multiple receptions which kickstarted a meme-storm that hadn’t even died down when we were hit with the grand Ambani-Piramal wedding extravaganza that saw all these newlyweds dancing, even Salman Khan showed up as a backup line dancer.
The crazy has clearly magnified over the years with absolutely no one giving a damn about the plethora of the parody videos mocking the ones who commemorate their weddings with pre-wedding, wedding, and honeymoon photoshoots and show-reels. Even the ones who share in the mirth with friends, secretly dream of, and get their very own photoshoots planned in stealth, when time comes along.
An average Indian wedding, can cost anywhere between Rs 5 lakh to Rs 5 crore. While these figures could have given middle-class parents a severe heart attack about a decade back, they don’t faze anyone now. Shelling out anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh to a photographer doesn’t really sound that ludicrous anymore either, truth be told. The folks at popular wedding photography company ShaadiGrapher charge Rs 60,000 for shooting candid photos per day. The rates shoot up to Rs 90, 000 for another additional half a day. According to their website, they are also in the business of making your life simpler, “We don’t dump thousands and thousands of RAW unedited files and expect you to choose the best ones. From a day, you can expect anywhere between 300 to 400 and from a half a day something around 200.”
A decade or two ago, the idea of actually paying anyone any money to document a wedding would have received a few good chuckles and ridicule. But, that’s not the case anymore because a photographer’s fees is one of the lesser worries among other things. There’s the trousseau of the entire baraati to be kept in mind. Then again, if it’s a destination wedding, then it’s a whole another story. Everything is subjective in this burgeoning, recession-proof million dollar wedding industry of ours. Who even cares about personality, actual intelligence or our personal happiness as long as everything looks good on Instagram. How have we reached a point where the priority is having a few hundred guests and several thousand photographs witnessing and documenting the one and only ‘milestone’ in our lives society deems worthy of counting?
Are we ever going to be ready to get over our collective obsession with ostentatious weddings or is that now the one day everyone’s allowed to live out their fairy-tale fantasies? The celebrity wedding madness fueled awws and oooos are going to drown out the noises of any logical, pragmatic answer to that question for now.