Dhaka weddings are no longer hurried affairs. Long gone are the days when all the wedding rituals were completed within a week starting from shopping to the reception dinner; done in a rush on the rooftop with a maximum of 60 guests and with just the very basics. Wedding celebrations have transformed in a huge way.
The pre-wedding hullabaloo goes on for at least fifteen days prior to the big event now. Rehearsals for the holud stint, gift wrappings, bachelorette or bachelor's nights, mehendi and rang khela; the list of festivities is endless at times.
Couples now want extravagant weddings, minus the kitschy showdown. Stylistic and simple, yet tasteful, thematic and colourful without being flashy are their current preferences.
The reason for this change might be that most of the young couples tying the knot spent a good portion of their adult lives abroad and now want to incorporate their acquired styles to their own weddings, resulting in some new-fangled ideas gaining huge popularity over the run-of-the-mill and gaudy receptions.
Engagements on river cruises with friends and families only, a very casual laid back affair where they exchange rings and have a day's outing that is full of fun instead of the stiff ceremony that is usually the norm.
Holud or our pre-wedding rituals are now being done in farm houses, if not on the couple's own then at a hired venue; giving the entire ceremony a village fair sort of a feel. With puppet shows, jatras, jari gaans, nagor dolas, light and sound shows or even fire acts, it is a happy occasion that should be targeted solely at having fun.
Then there are mid morning akhts and the registration followed by dinner that night.
Thinking outside the box, some couples are actually opting for sunset weddings on the beach and Café Mermaid Eco Resort is the perfect venue for such a unique wedding. Simple cotton taant in cream and red, a shita pati and traditional shita har, a bira khopa with flowers, a big red bindi, barefooted on the sandy beach lined with coconut trees and the orange sun setting in the horizon; it is the perfect place and time to say 'I am yours forever'. Obviously it will be followed by a sumptuous dinner.
Some are contemplating lavish, outdoor tea parties with gazebo tents and fairy lights, lending a relaxed mood and casual ambience to the whole event. One of today's hottest new wedding reception trends is the tea party and this provides couples with a unique idea that will undoubtedly be remembered for many years to come.
Along with serving the pastries, tarts, scones and lamingtons, the option for serving dahi phuchka, papri chaat, faluda, Calcutta Rolls are always an interesting mix. But the main attraction of this reception should be the tea bar, of course. You don't have to stick to just one variety; for a fun event, set up a tea bar that includes tea from around the world. Oolong or Earl Grey or even a special herbal tea, this certainly makes an afternoon tea party wedding reception a lot of fun.
In current times, the groom and the bride no longer want to sit in stiff, upright chairs on an elevated dais faking smiles all evening; in the process ending up with back aches that last for the next couple of days. They want to mingle with their guests and socialise, thanking them personally for being a part of the most special day of their lives. Thus their heavy saris are looking to be replaced by lighter counterparts, their thick pan-caked looks are being modified to light nude looks that keep the make-up to a minimum, and the aspect of apparently advertising for a jewellery store is being revolutionised by wearing just one favourite piece of jewellery or choosing a cherished heirloom instead.
Grooms are bidding fast adieu to their sheheras and pagris; with the tradition of having handkerchiefs over their mouths already long gone. They now want gorgeous panjabis, or simple sherwanis so that they are more at ease with their roles, rather than looking like a caged animal in a zoo.
Even the traditional wedding menus are subject to improved and innovative alterations- mocktails are being introduced, and finger foods such as canapés are being served while guests mingle with each other, along with starters and entrees before the main course. The main course is no longer simply kachchi; assortments of kebabs with bread baskets, fish cakes or whole fish and lobsters are making their fancy debuts.
Recently the whole new idea of giving favours to invited guests has started to catch on like wildfire in Dhaka. This is just a token of appreciation for sharing a memorable time with the newlyweds. Creative goody bags are being planned beforehand that provide a memento for the guests. This can be a simple bag of sugar-coated almonds on the table next to a thank you note from the couple or a gift that best represents the couple's tastes and preferences. It can include something as innovative as tickets for a show or invitations to special lunches or dinners that add a touch of personalised glamour, striking the fancies of many thoughtful couples nowadays.
In endnote, couples should be at full liberty to design their weddings as per their personal choices and long-held aspirations. It is after all, their day where they should be allowed to keep the whole affair dressed down to a simple and classy tea party if they so choose to do, or conversely go all out and reiterate the elaborate multi-week long affairs that have become characteristic of Dhaka weddings these days.
That said, this wedding season we continue to root for events of seldom precedence. If not much else, the river cruises, finger food tea parties and romantic sunset beach weddings will go miles in terms of exclusivity and memorability...until of course, that trend too catches on!
By Raffat Binte Rashid
Photo courtesy: Wedding Diary by Prito Reza