One of the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic was to reduce the size of weddings. For a brief period of two or three years, the so-called “big fat indian wedding” got significantly slimmer.
It had started with the lockdowns and some insane government-imposed regulations on the size of weddings. I remember attending even some close relatives’ weddings over Zoom during 2020 and 2021.
And then there was the bandwagon. Because during that time people had been used to not being invited for weddings of people they knew (a few years back my wife’s French flatmate had been shocked to know that we had invited my wife’s aunt’s friends to our wedding. And this was before we told him that we’d also invited the priest of the temple across the road, and the guy who ran a chaat stall down the road), some people continued to have small weddings.
As a consequence, it had been a good four years since we had attended a “random” wedding – the wedding of someone we didn’t know too well. And as we were getting ready to go to my wife’s school friend’s brother’s wedding reception, she remarked that “somehow these receptions of people you don’t know too well are more fun than those of close friends or relatives”. Having gone to the wedding and come back, I attest that statement.
A few pertinent observations, in no particular order:
- The “density of a queue” is a function of the level of trust in society. In a high-trust society, where you expect everyone to follow the queue, people can have personal space in the queue. In a low trust society, when you are concerned about someone overtaking you in the queue, you stand close to the person in front of you. By recursion, this leads to a rather dense queue.
- Unfortunately, by the time of my own wedding in 2010, I hadn’t figured out why lines at wedding receptions were so long (apart from the fact that we had invited the priest across the road and the guy who supplied coffee powder to my father-in-law). And then later found that the culprit was the “panning shot” – a video taken by the videographer where he pans across the set of people posing with the couple for the photo.
It is 2023, the panning shot still causes hold-ups. Now, I expect generative AI to solve this problem for good. All you need are a bunch of still photographers at a few strategic angles, and then the AI can fill in the panning shot, thus saving the time of everyone at the reception.
- For a while I had stood alone in the queue, as my wife and daughter had gone somewhere with my wife’s close friend (whose brother was getting married today). I had a bouquet in hand, and the density of the queue meant that I had to be conscious of it getting squished. And the uncle in front of me in the line kept walking backwards randomly. Soon I decided to let the thorns on the roses in the bouquet do the work
- Of late we’ve had so many bad experiences with food at functions (and remember that we’ve largely gone to close relatives’ and friends’ events, so we haven’t been able to crib loudly as well) that we recently took a policy decision to have our meals at home and then go to the events. As Murphy’s Law would dictate, the food today looked rather good (and my wife, who had the chaat there as an after-dinner snack, confirmed it was)
- At my own reception in 2010, I remember my (then new) wife and I feeling happy when large groups came to greet us – that meant the queue would dissolve that much quicker. From today’s experience I’m not sure that’s the case. The advantage is one panning shot for the entire group. The disadvantage is the amount of time it takes to get the group organised into a coherent formation for the photo
- Reception queues, if anything, have become slower thanks to people’s impatience to wait for the official pictures. Inevitably in every largish group, there is someone who hands their phone to the official photographers asking for a photo using that. In some seemingly low-trust groups, multiple people hand over their phones to the official photographer asking for the picture to be taken with THAT
- Wedding receptions are good places for peoplewatching, especially when you are in the queue.
And not knowing too many people at the wedding means there are more new people to watch
- One downside of not knowing too many people at the wedding means you are doubtful if the groom or bride recognise you (especially if you are the invitee of one of their close relatives). You will be hoping the parent or sibling who invited you is around to do the intro. I’ve had a few awkward moments
OK that is one wedding reception I’ve attended in almost four years, and I’ve written a lot. I’ll stop.