Wedding Invitations, and Lots of Them
After three trips to Old Delhi’s Chawri Bazaar, ten days of waiting, two days of folding and stuffing envelopes, and lots and lots of address and label-writing, our wedding invitations are finally ready to go! Well, not quite, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
First, I want to talk a little bit about the whole process of choosing and sending Indian wedding invitations. If you didn’t already know, Indian weddings are big events with extensive guest lists. Friends, distant relatives, friends of friends, and your second cousin’s wife’s nephew’s college roommate’s girlfriend all get invited. Most wedding invitations in India can only be ordered by the hundred, so you get the point.
Our wedding invitation process began a few months ago by sitting down with Amrit’s family members and making a list of every possible friend and relative that we could think of who needed to receive an invitation. We ended up with a tally of about 400 people. (Keep in mind that this is only the groom’s side. Invitations to my side in the United States went out last spring. Imagine what kind of number we would have come up with if we were calculating both sides now…)
Once we had our number, the next step was to select an invitation. It took a few days of visiting and negotiating at a handful of shops in Old Delhi’s hectic Chawri Bazaar, but we finally found a card we liked. The card we chose is a crimson red with an embossed paisley motif and a golden image of the god Ganesh on the front. (Ganesh is the Indian god of good beginnings, so he appears, in one abstracted form or another, on the front of most Indian wedding cards.) We finalized the card text, to be printed in gold ink since printing it in black ink would be inauspicious, and placed our order.
About ten days later, after the Diwali holiday, our cards were ready for pick up! We set to folding them, stuffing the envelopes, and labeling all of the cards with the proper names and addresses.
So, seemingly, we should now be all set to deliver the invitations, right? Not quite yet. Our final step which we have yet to do before we can hand-deliver them is to get the badam, or the almonds. In India it’s customary for all hand-delivered wedding invitations to be accompanied by a box of chocolates, sweets, or dried fruits and nuts. Now, normally, I’m all for trying to do things in the proper and customary way, but one evening when I was feeling annoyed with having stacks of ready-to-go-but-yet-undelivered wedding invitations crowding our table space, I asked Amrit if we couldn’t just deliver the invitations without the badam like we would do in the United States. He laughed and told me that, while right now I may not be used to the idea of having to give a little gift along with each invitation, after a few more years of living in India, if we ever receive an invitation without the customary gift I’ll probably be miffed by this little faux pas. And he’s most likely right.
So, I guess I’ll have to be patient and put up with this stack of invitations a few days longer until we get the badam because, ultimately, I guess it is better for us to do things the right way than to do things hurriedly and skip the small customs that make life in India interesting.