I love weddings, but they make me melancholy

It’s unpopular, I think, to admit how much weddings mean to me. As a diehard romantic from a young age, there’s a lot I love about weddings as an aspiring bride — the chance to wear a beautiful one-of-a-kind gown, the attention bestowed upon me, the commitment expressed through vows, the promise of a lifetime of togetherness, the celebratory atmosphere of it all… it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. 

And yet, several weddings I’ve attended in the past few years have left a sad taste in my mouth. 

After one wedding in the summer several years ago, I drove to a parking lot and cried. At another wedding, I sequestered myself to a corner and moped. I felt so alone, surrounded by adoring couples and a celebration of love. I spent a third wedding mourning that my relationship with the bride wasn’t what it once was. 

I’ve always struggled with jealousy. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve struggled with comparison, which has led to my feelings of jealousy. I’m constantly holding myself up against those around me, measuring us, and coming up short in my own estimation. Usually, I compare myself to my friends and family — my brother got more Facebook likes on his post; my best friend is more beautiful; a writer friend got a book deal before me. I’m looking for reasons to love myself and have fallen into the trap of comparison, except I always come up short.

As much as I’ve loved watching the couples celebrating their love during those three weddings, I couldn’t help but compare myself to them. I’m 28, and my list of “nevers” in the dating world stretches like a CVS receipt. Never been in a relationship. Never been on a second date. Never been kissed. Never held hands. On and on it goes. The only thing I have done is go on two first dates. Two whole dates! In 28 years! 

And here I thought someday I’d be a bride!

It’s just too easy to feel like a fool, and it’s so easy to resent the people who are getting married while I’m not. When one of my family members married several years ago, I remember attending the wedding and feeling true joy for him and his bride. It was an honor to stand up at the front of the church with the wedding party. I loved the new dress I bought just for the occasion to celebrate with the happy couple and their guests.

After the ceremony and festivities ended, I took off in my five-inch heels and pretty new dress, got into my car, drove to Walmart, and cried. I cried because it dawned on me, at the time, that I was 20 and despite my strong desire to fall in love and have my own forever story, I had never been on a date. All my crushes had been unrequited. I was heartsick and devastated. The high of the celebration was wearing off, leaving nothing but sorrow.

It’s been eight years since that experience. Last summer I went to my best friend’s wedding – this time around I loved celebrating with her. I was emotional throughout the ceremony –  it was beautiful, moving, and I was unspeakably elated for my friend. During the dinner, I managed to forget that I was there alone. 

I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my friend’s wedding this way. I regret that I got so caught up in my own issues at the other weddings that I couldn’t enjoy the celebration right in front of me. Moving forward, I will try to revel in the love showcased in future weddings I attend and put to rest all thoughts of my own future.

Maybe someday I’ll have my own wedding; maybe I never will. But one fact I’m sure won’t change is that I’ll stay a little bit obsessed with the institution of a wedding.

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No, I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding and you can’t make me

We often talk about how the hijab is viewed negatively in the Western world. But I don’t think that many people realize that discrimination against the hijab doesn’t only happen in western society. In my experience, it also occurs in my home country, Pakistan, and my own family members are a part of the problem.

My sister and I started wearing the hijab when we were 15 and 13, respectively. For us, it seemed like a natural choice since we’d spent most of our childhood in Saudi Arabia, where the hijab was mandatory. When our family in Pakistan found out we still wore the hijab after moving to Canada in our teen years, they were ecstatic. They thought it was wonderful that we chose this for ourselves and praised us for making seemingly religious choices. 

But that all changed when my sister turned 20 and someone tried to propose to her. Our mother rejected the engagement and it sparked a debate within our entire family. Most of them believed that more proposals would come her way if my sister took off her hijab. I still remember my mother arguing with our aunt who said that hijabs are only meant to look good on girls who are “white, thin, and pretty.” She thought that I was too dark and my sister was too fat, so we were ruining our prospects by sticking to our hijabs.

The worst part about all of this is that my aunt wasn’t entirely wrong. The hijab didn’t make men jump at the chance to marry us. Due to pressure from extended family members, my mother was constantly on the lookout for potential matches for my sister. But every guy who approached would run away just as fast once he heard that she wouldn’t be taking her hijab off for him. 

After a while, my sister did it. She found a guy who seemed accepting of who she was and agreed to marry him after a year. Suddenly, the tune the family was singing changed, but not for the better. Everyone asked if she’d be taking her hijab off for the wedding and discussing how beautiful she would look in this or that hairdo. They tried to talk my mother into making my sister buy lehengas, which would show off her midriff and arms. This completely goes against the very purpose of wearing a hijab.

To reach a compromise with my family, I nominated myself as my sister’s makeup artist and hairstylist for the wedding day and began experimenting with different hijab styles. We naively thought that if we could show them that the hijab could be dolled up, they would accept her decision. They did not. In the end, when the engagement was broken off, they simply returned to their earlier comments about taking off the hijab to score a husband.

The sheer amount of criticism that came with all this has my sister unsure about whether she ever wants to have a wedding, let alone one in Pakistan with our family. It hurt to watch my sister try and deal with the harsh judgment and then come to realize that her opinions hold no value in our community. It hurts more to think that other Pakistani brides might have to put up with the same level of harassment all over one headscarf

My sister was always much more staunch in her love of the hijab. Truth be told, I started wearing it on the condition that it would be pink and glittery. If you asked me just two years back, I might have given in to the family pressure and agreed to take off my hijab for my wedding.

Yet, knowing the struggle and judgment that comes with making a choice has given me an appreciation for the fact that it was a choice. However petty my reason is, it is my choice to put on the hijab, and I will be damned if I let someone else try to make decisions about my body and my attire for that one day in my life.

Now I can say with confidence that I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding.

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Is it worth splurging on a big wedding or keeping things intimate?

With the tradition of big, elaborate weddings still lingering, they have typically been held up as the expectation when it comes to getting married. More recently though, with the rising cost of living, stagnant wages, and the millennial tendency to question tradition, something of a debate has been sparked as to which is preferable: would you opt for a big and lavish wedding or a cozy and private ceremony? To settle this dispute, I conducted some interviews and research to finally answer the question so many married-couples-to-be seem to be asking: should you go for a big or small wedding?

In the fall of 2019, I was maid of honor at my friend Brandi’s big wedding. It was exhausting and a lot of work, and no doubt expensive. When I asked her whether she’d do it again her response was, “I would have for sure had a simple, private wedding, with me and [my husband], and our parents. We spent so much money for one day on dumb sh*t that really didn’t matter, that we could have used for a honeymoon. We didn’t go on a honeymoon because we spent too much.”

She’s not alone in this thought process either. I checked out a forum on The Knot where users were asked if they regretted opting for a smaller wedding after considering a bigger one. Most of the responses leaned towards no – smaller weddings were indeed preferable. One response said, “my wedding was absolutely amazing and I don’t regret having a smaller wedding for even a second,” while another expressed that, “my first wedding, maybe 20 people. Second wedding, about 280. I would vote for a smaller wedding, any day.”

This isn’t surprising when you look at the cost of weddings in the United States, which range from $17,000 up to $26,000. My friend Brandi explained that her wedding costs included $500 for pictures and $500 or more for food. Her dress was “around $1,000 and I wore it for maybe an hour. I spent $500 for just f*cking tablecloths. Plus, we had to pay $1,000 for just the building to have it in and it was a sh*tty building. [For] the DJ, we spent around $600.”

There are benefits to a big wedding though. There’s no limit to your guest list, a bonus if you’re a social butterfly. This also eliminates the possibility of offending anyone who didn’t get invited due to a limited guest list. If wedding venues or suppliers set any minimum spending requirements, a big wedding will help meet that with no issues. They also allow for more helping hands to delegate tasks to.

Small weddings also pose their own challenges. It’s harder to achieve a party vibe, and with fewer people involved, there’s more you have to do yourself. If a limited guest list means you can’t invite some people, you may encounter some conflict with them. You also have to be more careful of when you plan to have it; weekdays are often preferable because they allow costs to be cut. This happens as a result of the guest list being inevitably reduced by attendees’ availability. Of course, the drawback to that is that weekday schedules may also inconvenience the people you really want to be there.

Small weddings may also limit your venue options because of the aforementioned spending limits set by venues and suppliers, and how awkward it may be to hold a smaller wedding in a grand setting. 

But the cost of big weddings has been shown to send people into huge debt, as almost half of those spending so much on weddings end up suffering financially for their decision to splurge

And they may not even truly want those weddings for themselves. “Big weddings are to brag about and to make yourselves look good,” Brandi says. There isn’t even necessarily always a positive, lasting impact of having a grand ceremony. “The only lasting impact is mainly the photos and I kept the wedding dress, but it will never be worn again. It’s left in the closet to collect dust forever. Most of the crap I bought for the wedding I had to give away because it’s REALLY hard to sell wedding stuff after it’s been used. People want things new for their wedding, so they sat in my garage for a year until I finally took it all to Goodwill.”

And it’s not as if a beautiful wedding is only possible with a huge budget. Finding affordable venues, skipping on the flowers, and buying your dress from a thrift store are all the strategies you need to ensure you have what’s necessary without throwing yourself into debt.

Obviously, the choice of whether to have a big or a small wedding is a personal decision: you just have to choose what’s best for you. There really isn’t one way that is better than the other. But here’s some advice to take on board, “don’t spend any money that you won’t get back unless you’re filthy rich,” Brandi says. “Some people like big weddings for the memories, but you don’t need to please others and spend money to make great memories.”

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These are the trending, political debates ending relationships everywhere

 “We can disagree and still be friends – Yeah, about pizza toppings, not racism. Gtfo my face”. I’ve seen this meme circulating lately, taken from William Vercetti’s Twitter Status, and it’s just so apt. There are some things on which you can agree to disagree – but if your partner tries to debate and justify any form of oppression, how is that not the ultimate deal breaker for you?

Read on for the biggest political reasons ending relationships world-wide:

Debates over Donald Trump:

The domestic disputes over Donald Trump are so huge, that it even has its own term: “The Trump Effect” – Coming to a Marriage Near You. Okay so I made the tagline up, but you must agree – it fits. A year into Trump;s service, a 2017 poll showed that 11% of Americans ended a serious relationships due to political differences.  Because voting for Trump means voting for sexism, anti-abortion, racism, white supremacists, police brutality, xenophobia, the list goes on.


Ever heard of wokefishing? It’s a term writer Serena Smith coined to describe people (usually men) pretending they’re feminists, or into social justice, because it helps them score more with the ladies.

I’m not even American and Trump’s beliefs set me into a blind rage, so I can’t fathom waking up happily next to someone who’s marked a blasphemous, black X next to Donald Trump’s name.

Whilst catfishing may be a huge fear for men, womxn are more fearful of being wokefished and then waking up one day to realize their partner voted for Trump. I’m not even American and Trump’s beliefs set me into a blind rage, so I can’t fathom waking up happily next to someone who’s marked a blasphemous, black X next to Donald Trump’s name. “But honey, I did it for the economy!” he cries, as I set fire to all his belongings. Whilst non-Americans can’t end a relationship with someone for actually voting for Trump, it’s certainly a political debate rearing its ugly head and causing relationship unrest in many other countries, too. 

Debates over BLM:

It still blows my mind that people try and argue against this ongoing protest. There are the well-known “buts” and “all lives matter!” which was met with “um that’s what we’re saying, yo!?”

If you ever hear someone advocating for equality and your first word in response is “but..”, I hate to break it to you, but you’re the problem.

Another classic but awful “but” is “Black people kill Black people too!” That’s like saying – hey I’m dying of cancer and someone pipes in that pneumonia can kill you too. 

If you ever hear someone advocating for equality and your first word in response is “but..”, I hate to break it to you, but you’re the problem. If it’s your parent, colleague, or sister arguing with you, I get that maybe it’s tougher to end these bonds over what to them may be considered trivial (which it shouldn’t be). But if it’s who you thought you chose as your life partner; someone you’re about to make every life decision together with, it’s much more important to call it quits. 

Debates over #MeToo:

What is it about society that doesn’t want to believe sexual abuse victims? Is it perhaps too traumatic for us to deal with that our brain just shuts down and yells too. much. to compute. Heck, I don’t want to believe a president, or priest, or policeman is capable of rape and murder, either.

But let’s leave it up to the facts, shall we: Out of all the sexual violence offenses reported in Europe , UK and the US, only 2-6% are found or suspected to be false. Of course that doesn’t include the millions of cases left unreported, or reported too late because of the ridiculous stigma attached to the victim and the high cost of legal bills.

I’ve had to unlearn and relearn a million things about my gender that I was once brainwashed to believe.

It’s like, why would someone lie about an experience like that? If your partner doesn’t believe rape survivors, or adds anything to the discussion with a “why do women wear revealing outfits”, or if they spit with wild ferocity: “not all men!”, then please, do yourself a favor and dump their ass. 

Debates over Sexism:

Whilst I am a strong advocate for all the above, I’m gladly not under Trump’s reign. I am white, and I am thankfully not a victim of sexual violence. But as a woman, sexism is something I know everything about.

Because I promise you – that sexist “joke” is not funny, no matter how many times you are gaslit into believing it is.

I’ve had to unlearn and relearn a million things about my gender that I was once brainwashed to believe. Arguing with my father, my male friends, my colleagues, on issues I have formally studied as if they were just mere opinions of mine, makes my blood boil. While a lot of the time I bite my tongue and think, “choose your battles”, other times my beating heart tells me that I have chosen.

If you’re anything like me, you won’t be able to stand even a sexist meme circling your boyfriend’s group chats.  (And rightfully so!) So if your partner, friend, or family member is being sexist, you need to call them out and you need to have that discussion with them. And if you still don’t get through, it’s over boo. Because I promise you – that sexist “joke” is not funny, no matter how many times you are gaslit into believing it is.

You’re entitled to your opinion, of course. You and your partner can have debates on all sorts of things, from ice cream flavors to Netflix series; but basic human rights is not one of them. So watch out for those red flags everybody! Especially ones that read Make America Great Again”.  

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Why jumping the broom at African American weddings is significant

Wedding ceremonies often incorporate traditions reflecting the bride and groom’s lineage or culture. In Black American culture, some newlyweds participate in the long-time tradition of “jumping the broom” to seal their marriage and pay homage to their ancestors. This marriage tradition within the African American community began during slavery, specifically around 1840 to 1850. 

Though, there are many differing accounts of where the tradition originated. The most common sentiment is the tradition of jumping the broom began in West Africa. In hindsight, West Africa seems to be the most likely origin, as people taken into enslavement in America mostly came from that African region. Moreover, in older West African culture, brooms signified a tool to sweep away evil spirits and negative energy. So, newlyweds who jump the broom are “sweeping away” their old life, as well as any negative energy attached to their past, and entering into a new one.

Here’s how jumping the broom works: a couple jumps over the broom directly after their wedding vows. They jump over the broom together, typically hand-in-hand, and walking back down the aisle illustrates the couple’s transition into their new life. The broom used during the ceremony may be a family heirloom or a broom bought by or gifted to the couple. Notably, the broom is not a traditional sweeping broom. Rather, it’s a shorter broom seen and used more for symbolic purposes. After the broom is used, many couples keep the broom as a keepsake for remembrance and to pass down to future generations.

Regarding how and why the tradition was used during slavery, enslaved people weren’t allowed to legally marry, as they were seen as property and not people. As a result, the tradition of jumping the broom was used to indicate a couple in enslavement were officially married

This centuries old tradition is still practiced in some African American communities. There are even many pop-culture references to jumping the broom. For example, there is a Black film titled, “Jumping the Broom” made in 2011. It’s mentioned in OutKast’s song “Call the Law” released in 2006. Additionally, the tradition is shown in the movie series “Roots,” which came out in 1971.

In fact, the popularity of “Roots” gave the old tradition a resurgence within the African American community. After slavery ended, and Black people were allowed to legally marry, the tradition fell off. However, after “Roots” displayed the harsh realities of what Black people endured during slavery, African Americans felt jumping the broom during their wedding ceremonies tied them to their ancestors.

For the Black people that still participate in this tradition, jumping the broom signifies an ode to our ancestors who did what they had to to illustrate their love for their partners as well as maintain their humanity. In addition, African Americans who jump the broom feel as though they are reclaiming the history of our ancestors. Though the historical origins behind the tradition are rather ambiguous, the horrors of slavery are well known, especially amongst the Black community. We may not know the half of it, but we do know our ancestors went through hell to give us the freedoms we now possess. Jumping the broom is a nod to their hardship as well as their spirit and endurance. African Americans also jump the broom as an acknowledgement to the only connection we have to our mostly lost West-African culture.


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Dear Madame Lestrange Love

Am I desperate for using dating apps?

Dear Madame Lestrange is The Tempest’s love, sex, and relationships advice column. Have a question? Send it to Madame Lestrange here.  It’s anonymous!

Dear Madame Lestrange,

I’m 26 and I’ve never dated anyone. In my teens, my parents told me that I was to not interact with any guy because that was religiously forbidden. In my early 20s, I had many crushes but was always too shy to admit it and the infatuation faded quickly. I’m 26 now I have a career and my parents want me to get ready for marriage.

I don’t know about marriage but I am ready to meet my soulmate. I joined a dating site and all the men I talked to wanted a casual hookup (I was on bumble). My social media tells me that I don’t have to look for someone because I’ll meet someone when least expected. So now I feel desperate when I’m actively looking. Please advise. 


—Lonely Lady 

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Dear Lonely Lady, 

There is nothing wrong with dating apps and if you feel comfortable using them, then go for it! It’s true that a lot of people use dating apps like Bumble and Tinder for casual hookups but that isn’t everyone! Quite a few people have met their long term partners on dating apps, it’s just a case of sticking it out to find that person that you will be with.

It’s important to recognise that the first person you meet and are compatible with may not be your soulmate. Any relationship requires work and there should always be a sense of realism and logic to your relationship. Romanticising a relationship can have disastrous consequences so it’s important to put your own values and morals above your feelings for another person.

I agree with what your social media says in principle. The idea that your entire life should not be about finding love and you should put yourself first. Moreover, there are lots of different reasons why people are on dating apps, and everyone works on their own timeline. You shouldn’t feel bad for actively looking for a relationship, especially when you’ve achieved a career and you feel emotionally ready to be in a relationship. 

You’re welcome, 

Madame Lestrange

More Dear Madame Lestrange

I’m planning on having sex with my boyfriend soon. It’ll be my first time but not his and while I’m very excited, I’m also very nervous. I want to make this a pleasurable experience for us both and I have no idea what I’m doing. I gave him my first handjob too and while he did cum, I feel like I could’ve done better. Do you have any tips?

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Culture Life Stories Life

Getting married means that my Pakistani parents have to bribe my new in-laws

Stepping into your twenties holds different meanings for different people. For some, it might mean entering a professional life and for others entering a newlywed arrangement.

If you’re a mature Pakistani girl who has crossed the pubertal barrier, you automatically qualify for Holy Matrimony.

And with that “milestone,” your parents begin to lay the groundwork for finding and providing for their daughter’s new family.

From furniture to utensils to the most meager of tangible items, the parents present an ‘ethical bribe’ to ensure that their daughter measures up to the required standard of acceptance.

If you’re “of age,” you automatically qualify for Holy Matrimony.

As a 23-year-old female in modern Pakistani society, I question all such detestable vices. Having given birth, raised and nurtured day after day to become a civilized individual, how much more do my parents have to sacrifice just because they are responsible for a female offspring?

And who provides the assurance of a blissful married life after having fulfilled these norms?

No one.

And if ‘God forbid’ this act of compensation falls short, the poor girl is subjected to a lifetime of scoffing and contempt.

Her whole existence is measured up by how much she can provide to her in-laws at the time of marriage.

Personally, I believe this ritual has become a sort of plague. The never-ending chain of expectation.

I was taught two things: self-reliance and tenacity.

I often hear elderly women eagerly gossiping about their daughter-in-law on the account of  ‘who brought what’ in terms of dowry. And having once been a newlywed themselves, they wear a mask of oblivion when it comes to someone else’s daughter.

I was raised as an only child and lived a solitary life.

I was taught two things: self-reliance and tenacity. My father fostered me to become self-sufficient in everything I did and that no one can truly undermine a woman’s worth without her consent.

Setting foot into 2019, this age of renaissance, where art, poetry, literature, and science are at their pinnacle, our greatest concern should be self-improvement and progression.

Let alone hoarding up on meaningless and mundane material gains.

The day we decide to mold our thinking is the day when the world around us will change, massively. It is not a subject of taking action, rather, it’s a matter of perspective.

A minute frame-shift of attitude can alter the life of today’s woman by leaps and bounds.

I put forward this question: who bears the responsibility of judging someone’s daughter by the weight of her baggage?

Editor's Picks Life Stories Weddings

Women in my family are cursed to never marry — at least, that’s what my aunts believe

Marriage was never a question in my mind.

I’ve never spent time wondering whether or not I will get married. For me, I always worried about when and who I would get married to. 

On a lazy Saturday when my parents were away,  my two aunts showed up unannounced. It was just my sisters and I left to our devices. My parents had given no warning that we’d be expecting any guests, so we were already on edge. They sat tentatively, the obligatory salutations batted back and forth like a never-ending tennis match. Then, silence.

It cloaked the entire room for what felt like forever. 

“There is something we need to tell you, girls, as aunts,” they said. I thought possibly this was the sex talk I’d never received from my parents. What happened next, I would have never guessed.

“You are cursed. Every relationship you have is doomed to fail. It is the fate of the women in our family.” I couldn’t help but giggle and I was met with a steely gaze. They were dead serious. None of them were happily married but that was down to choices, right?

I could not fathom that I was cursed. My life wasn’t an episode of Vampire Diaries. Yet, the seriousness of the situation echoed in the emptiness of our living room. The way they clutched their purses tightly, their veins visibly throbbing. My sisters’ faces had the same disbelieving look. 

They explained how happiness would evade us, along with love. The men who entered our lives would do nothing except steal, cheat, and lie to us.

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One spoke about her own experience in her marriage how he had simply left and taken all her things. My sisters and I stole glances from each other. We’d been told this story but not like this.

From our recollection, relatives had told her that the man she was about to marry was a con artist, but she went ahead and married him anyway. She’d come home to an empty house with no furniture.

My other aunt, her husband had died. I was too young to comprehend anything they were saying. Would a long-lost ancestor grow so bitter because of her own failed marriage, that she would curse her future generations?

The story was, a long-lost ancestor had grown bitter and angry in her marriage. She’d found nothing but hardship and tribulation that she never wanted the women in her family to feel as she did. So, she’d gone up to the mountains and made a deal with a witch doctor, to curse any women in her family to never get married.

However, the more I pondered on it and went down the list of all my aunts and their marriages, a feeling of uneasiness clouded over me. I began to believe what they were saying. The way they weaved the tale and strung together the evidence of all my aunts who were alone.

In looking at them, I thought I saw my future.

Would I really end up alone? Not just alone, though, but bitter.

Suddenly every interaction I’d ever had with a boy raced through my mind. Had they not liked me because I was cursed? I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions and I could feel the panic in the tension in my eyes. Would I never get to have a wedding?

The thought consumed me, and my aunt’s words were drowned out in a sea of my fated misery. “Don’t cry, it’s just the way things are.”

I drew my attention back to my aunts, saddened by this revelation until I caught a glint in her eye. She was enjoying this. At that moment I realized they didn’t want to inform us, but rather scare us. 

As soon as they left the house, my sisters and I looked at each other. Our confused eyes bouncing between our unsaid words. We spoke about it, confused and barely able to believe it. My sister thought it was true but I was skeptical. I didn’t dwell on it too long, I didn’t want to give power to a spirit that didn’t exist. We went our separate ways both on opposite sides. 

Well, apparently, I’m cursed, and I’ll never be married.

I wonder if it’s true and question myself whenever my feelings aren’t reciprocated, or I get dribbled like a basketball. I can’t help but think that each time I was ghosted, the spirit of my ancestor was cackling. That each night I cried myself to sleep thinking I would die alone, she was rejoicing at her victory.

For a time I bought into it and decided I would fight this curse. I began taking tips from friends in relationships and reading books about marriage.

But then I sat down and thought back to that glint in my aunt’s eye. Not all kin is family. I am the master of my own destiny. No-one, not even my ‘family’ can tell me what my life will be like. I won’t let this curse be a cloud over my life. My aunt’s struggles aren’t mine. They made choices in their lives that led them to were they are.

Men who were liars, abusers and cruel took advantage of them, and for that my heart weeps. However, their history isn’t my future. You don’t inherit failed marriages.

One day, I’m going to walk down a calla lily strewn aisle, in a Pnina Tornai gown, with my face beat, and say ‘I do’.

History Wedding Weddings

Why are couples still choosing to get married on plantations?

When it comes to marriage, there are so many wedding venues in the world to choose from. The list is endless and inexhaustible. Plantation weddings are an enigma to me, more so the people who opt to have venues there. It’s inexplicable to me. I cannot imagine people celebrating atop the bodies of humans who died enslaved, tortured, and in chains. Arguing that a venue is beautiful and perfect for your big day only further negates the atrocities and heinous history that is seeped in that place. It says, ‘I don’t care about what happened here because it doesn’t affect me.’

Only people in privileged positions forget about the horrendous events of slavery and take pictures where families were torn apart.

If a person were to have their wedding at Auschwitz the outrage would be gigantic. So, why isn’t the same level of respect given to plantation weddings? People vehemently speak out against concentration camps and history, but they have a tendency to remain silent on the history of slavery. No trauma is worse than the other, yet the disrespect is shown when one is honored over the other.

It’s 2020 now, can we please cancel plantation weddings?

How can you relive antebellum times and ignore the horrors that came with it? The Antebellum era was marked by slavery, the Civil War, and tension between abolitionists and supporters of slavery. That’s why Lady Antebellum changed their name.

It is impossible to find a stunning southern mansion that didn’t house slaves or hold a harrowing history that remains so pervasive. The legacy of slavery still echoes in our systems. So, I wonder what the desire is to have a wedding on a plantation. A place where not only the picturesque mansion still stands but slave quarters are also around the corner.

In 2012, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds got married at Boone Hall plantation, where black people were forced to harvest peaches and make bricks. They have shown support for Black Lives Matter by pledging $200,000 to the cause but have never publicly apologized. Their support is appreciated, but how can they move forward if they haven’t openly addressed past mistakes?

Pictures of their wedding can’t be found on the internet and Pinterest has put in place restrictions on plantation weddings on their site. Though they are still searchable you may be found in violation of their guidelines. Pinterest commented on this decision and said, “Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things.”

“Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things.”

Plantation houses promoting these sites of human rights violations as ‘the best day of your life’ is a slap in the face. It’s insensitive, disgusting and perpetuation of the legacies of slavery that run rampant in institutions. These places should be relegated to purely historical sites. Museums that tell the story of what really happened in these places. Not just southern propaganda of a time when people drank sweet tea and courted one another.

A wedding venue may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But, these actions are offensive, ignorant, and hurtful to the Black community. The disregard for the tragedy that was slavery rings loud when people say ‘I do’ at plantations.

Family Life

17 things you’re missing out on this summer if you’re a Desi stuck abroad

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken away a lot of the things we cherish. Our lives are no longer the same and we are forced to accept this dystopian reality, for now at least. As we approach summer in the northern hemisphere, expatriates or immigrants living abroad no longer have the choice to travel home.

Desi families are not only big but also well-knit. Traveling home, to us, means spending the next month or two adjusting and learning to live with people we only share blood with, but the happiness that envelopes a reunion is unparalleled.

Here are some of the things we’ll be missing this summer:

1. The unpacking

A woman reads off a packet while a man beside her empties a box.
[Image Description: A woman reads off a packet while a man beside her empties a box.] Via Giphy
Much like it may feel for some people at Christmas, our suitcases are half-filled with gifts for practically everyone we know. The over-weight luggage is worth the expectant look in our relatives’ eyes though.

2. The post-midnight game nights

Two women are seated on a bedroom floor cross-legged. One of them flips a board game over her head.
[Image Description: Two women are seated on a bedroom floor cross-legged. One of them flips a board game over her head.] Via Giphy
These impromptu game nights are what we look forward to every vacation. From Ludo to Uno Cards, charades to Antakshari , family games are best when everyone’s there, and although no one’s following the rules or keeping track of the score, everyone is still competitive. 

3. The mealtimes

A group of people sit on table with food. The camera spans as they eat and talk.
[Image Description: A group of people sit on table with food. The camera spans as they eat and talk.] Via Giphy
Somehow that table for six can fit ten people. 

Although everyone’s sleeping in for breakfast, lunch and dinner are always a big deal. Everyone is at the table and there’s food you’ve been missing for an entire year. Every mealtime is like a little celebration. 

4. The movie nights

A man rubs his hands excitedly in a crowded theatre.
[Image description: A man rubs his hands excitedly in a crowded theatre.] Via Giphy
The biggest problem with movie nights is that you can’t find a movie that both a five and a thirty-year-old want to watch. Our family’s go-to movies were Marvel or DC releases. As long as you have buttered popcorn, everyone’s going to be happy anyway,

5. The over-planned picnic

Women and children skip across the banks of a river with picnic baskets in their hands.
[Image Description: Women and children skip across the banks of a river with picnic baskets in their hands.] Via Giphy
You can never be too prepared for a picnic meant for 40 people. Did you bring extra diapers? Your grandmother’s medicine? Serving spoons? Badminton racquets?

The bus you booked doesn’t have a working air conditioner. The toddler is covered in mosquito bites. You lost your way and now you’re all an hour late. But once you get there, all your troubles are forgotten…except someone forgot to pack the plates.

6. The sleepovers

A woman opens the door to find two people standing outside and exclaims 'sleepover'.
[Image Description: A woman opens the door to find two people standing outside and exclaims ‘sleepover’.] Via Giphy
When you’re with your cousins, time just disappears. One conversation leads to another and you find yourself ranting about that fifth-grade nemesis at 3 a.m. You’re probably missing a pillow or a blanket but you sleep like a rock when you do. 

7. The street food cravings

A man and a woman eat an Indian snack 'pani puri.
[Image Description: A man and a woman eat an Indian snack ‘pani puri.] Via Giphy
It’s acceptable to crave pani puri and chaat at 12 a.m. when you’re on vacation. Your oldest cousin will be glad to drive the lot of you to a chaat stall which is suspiciously open so late. 

8. The shopping before the wedding

A woman is seated in a convertible with two other women and says 'Get in, loser. We're going shopping'.
[Image Description: A woman is seated in a convertible with two other women and says ‘Get in, loser. We’re going shopping’.] Via Giphy
You’ve spent endless hours in traffic only to pick out one decent outfit. But you have three more outfits to buy. 

9. The wedding

A woman dances in the middle of a large group of women who are clapping.
[Image Description: A woman dances in the middle of a large group of women who are clapping.] Via Giphy
If someone doesn’t get married that summer, you aren’t really Desi.

Your cousin insists on teaching you to dance, despite your clumsiness and lack of rhythm. It’s either really hot or pouring heavily on the day of the wedding and it’s not doing your makeup any favors.

10. The road trips and train rides

Trolls with long hair look out of a moving train. The caption reads 'Trolololol'.
[Image Description: Trolls with long hair look out of a moving train. The caption reads ‘Trolololol’.] Via Giphy
Desi families are not only big but also well-knit; this guarantees traveling long distances to meet them. The long train rides through ghats and mountains, the spectacular beauty of nature, the waterfalls and the fields, the smell of your country’s soil, and the crisp fresh air is priceless. 

11. The reunion with your culture

A Holi (Indian festival) scene where colour is released into the air.
[Image Description: A Holi (Indian festival) scene where color is released into the air. ] Via Giphy
Traveling home unites you with the people who represent your culture best. The connection with the food, entertainment, and routine is raw. 

12. The old souls

An older man approaches to hug a woman. Another man beside them is ignored.
[Image Description: An older man approaches to hug a woman. Another man beside them is ignored.] Via Giphy
As we get older, our grandparents do too. Every visit makes you vulnerable; this may be the last time you see them. So you hug them, you tell them you love them, and you cherish your time together. 

13. The street animals

A dog stands on a moving turtle.
[Image Description: A dog stands on a moving turtle.] Via Giphy
You often see way too many animals, in your house or otherwise. Watching cows, goats, ducks, stray dogs, and cats in your front yard is not uncommon.

14. The mosquito bites

An animated boy swats away mosquitoes that surround him, saying 'The mosquito net's not working'.
[Image Description: An animated boy swats away mosquitoes that surround him, saying ‘The mosquito net’s not working’.
If you’ve got out of your vacation without mosquito bites, consider yourself really lucky. 

15.  Homemade food

Butter melts on a stack of parathas (Indian bread).
[Image Description: Butter melts on a stack of parathas (Indian bread). ] Via Giphy
Home-cooked food with indigenous, fresh spices and organic, fresher-than-ever fruits and vegetables will taste better than anything you can eat elsewhere.

16. The many, many get-togethers

A group hug.
[Image Description: A group hug.] Via Giphy
Having 200 relatives living in the same city means you keep getting invited to parties and get-togethers. Let’s not talk about the upset stomachs every time you come home though.

17. The grocery hoarding 

An assortment of Indian sweets.
[Image Description: An assortment of Indian sweets.] Via Giphy
You can’t find the kind of achaar (pickle), ghee, mithai (sweets), tea, masala, spices, and dry produce you get back home anywhere else. We always hoard a kilo or two of these before we return from our vacation.

Jokes aside, Southeast Asian countries are fighting the pandemic with all they have right now. Look out for your loved ones abroad and stay safe.

Culture Weddings

Are weekday weddings really the more popular choice?

When people are planning their weddings, there’s an important question that needs to be addressed: the date of the wedding. It’s always a serious decision, and can significantly impact the attendance of the wedding. 

In different places, the norm varies. In Pakistan or India, for example, multi-event weddings are favored and wedding celebrations can last for days. Inevitably, some part of the wedding is held on the weekdays. In America, however, Saturday weddings have historically been the norm

Although many couples are married on the weekend, there has recently been a huge spike in weekday weddings. Some years ago, weekend weddings were a trend that couples religiously followed. However, many engaged couples are now breaking this trend by having their ceremony on a weekday.

Some people who’re getting married feel the need to customize everything about their wedding, including when it takes place. They want their weddings to evince their personal tastes and preferences, and selecting the date is an important element that they can customize about their big day. It makes them feel empowered and personalizes their event even more. 

It is to be noted, that a huge reason couples are choosing to be married on a weekday is to effectively cut down costs. The wedding hours are usually curtailed on a weekday because people have work or school the next day making, the event less time, and subsequently, less money. Vendors and venues also charge less for their services on off-peak wedding days. 

Furthermore, most vendors—photographers, caterers, florists, stylists—are readily available on weekdays. Their services if needed on a weekend are booked well in advance, leaving them free only on weekdays. Vendors also treat their work on weekdays as their chance to earn a bonus and keep their prices slightly lower than their regular prices.

Some couples even choose weekdays purposefully, if they’re attached to a particular date—it could be their birthdays, parents’ anniversary. Sometimes, they want to get married on a day that means something to them personally. 

Whatever the reasons, there has been an upward trend in weekday weddings. But they also have certain drawbacks that engaged couples should consider before deciding their wedding date. 

If the wedding is held on a weekday, it might be inconvenient for the guests especially if they have office or other work commitments. It gets difficult to stay up late to attend the wedding if you need to show up to work at 8 am. Or to a class at 9 am. Secondly, you’re always so tired after coming home from work and you feel drained. The process of dressing up and meeting people feels dull and unexciting – sometimes even arduous. For the same reasons, it might also become impossible for the guests to make it to out-of-town weddings. You might not get a leave or you might not be able to travel with your family if they have other commitments. 

I remember attending a weekday wedding right before COVID-19. It was a Wednesday. And coincidentally, it was the most stressful and tiring day of the week for me at college. I had several classes clumped together on the same day, and I got free very late. I was enraged when I found out the wedding was on a Wednesday because, after an exhausting day at college, the last thing I wanted was to attend a wedding. From the guests’ perspective, weekend weddings are always more preferable. 

The first thing that I do when I receive a wedding invite is to check what day does the wedding fall on, and I know many other people do the same. We do it instinctively. It’s our reflex response to receiving a wedding invite. 

Selecting the wedding date is a big decision for marrying couples, but it should be made completely at the couple’s discretion. As a guest, I’d always prefer a weekend wedding but I won’t say that they should be the norm. If the couples choose a weekday for their wedding because it makes them happy, then they should get married on a weekday. It’s their wedding, and it should be their decision. 

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Editor's Picks Culture Weddings

11 too-real things that happen at every Sri Lankan wedding

Being a guest at a Sri Lankan wedding can be a lot of fun. Not only do you get to see two people begin a life together, but you also get to take part in wedding guest activities that happen so often that they seem as traditional as the rest of the wedding rituals. In my long career as a wedding guest, I’ve seen many retinues, buffets, and eaten many, many wedding cakes.

Here’s the ultimate guide to every Sri Lankan wedding:

1. The secret life of centerpieces.

A living room filled with floral arrangements.
[Image description: A living room filled with floral arrangements.] Via Giphy.
The wedding’s wrapping up, hotel staff are sweeping confetti off the floor, the band is dismantling their equipment, the bride and groom are long gone, and the guests start trickling out holding the floral centerpieces that decorated their table. It looks awkward, it feels awkward, but still, the centerpieces will get a second life in a new home.

It’s like a difficult-to-carry unofficial goodie bag.

2. That photographer uncle nobody asked for, but he’s not going anywhere.

A photographer saying, "Work it."
[Image description: A photographer saying, “Work it.”] Via Giphy.
He wasn’t hired to take photographs, but if you think a technicality like that is going to stop him, think again. You might have to wait months for the official wedding album, but that photographer-uncle has his photos up the very next day.

3. Cake thieves. Think I’m being dramatic? Think again.

A raccoon steals food from two cats and runs away.
[Image description: A raccoon steals food from two cats and runs away.] Via Giphy.
Old aunties use the couple’s exit as the perfect distraction to swoop in on unattended cakes.

If you’re not going to eat your cake immediately, then definitely stash it in a secure location. If you’re following the action, make sure your cake travels with you.

Wolf & Badger US

4. Oh yeah, and then unidentified juice gets served.

A woman gazes out suspiciously as she shuts a door.
[Image description: A woman gazes out suspiciously as she shuts a door.] Via Giphy.
Sometimes the fluorescent color of the drink suggests radioactivity. Sometimes the color of the fruit balancing on the edge of the glass is in complete contrast to the color of the drink itself. Often the drink is already at your place setting when you get there.

Where did it come from? What is it made of? We may never know.

5. You step on your own sari while trying to stand up. Oops.

Jennifer Lawrence trips on the steps of the Oscars stage.
[Image description: Jennifer Lawrence trips on the steps of the Oscars stage.] Via Giphy.
You may think you know how to get up off a chair, but getting up off a chair in a sari is its own feat. Sure, you could shoot up with all the confidence in the world, but more often than not your foot’s going to be conveniently pinning down the edge of your sari, bringing you back down to earth as soon as you try to stand up. 

6. Your period jewelry is finally taken out of that dang box.

A woman decked out in jewelry untangles a handful of gold necklaces.
[Image description: A woman decked out in jewelry untangles a handful of gold necklaces.] Via Giphy.
You know all the bling you got just because your body started menstruating? You finally see that stuff come out of the box.

7. I now pronounce…

A woman exclaims, "huh! an all-you-can-eat glow!"
[Image description: A woman exclaims, “huh! an all-you-can-eat glow!”] Via Giphy.
…..the buffet open!

Move over, first dance, the most romantic moment at the beginning of a shared life witnessed at each wedding is the moment the new couple opens the buffet. Not only is this a great way to start the rest of their lives, but it also means the buffet is officially open, which is great news for everyone!

8. Naptime stops for no matrimony, no matter who’s up on that stage.

A cartoon animation of a little girl abruptly falling asleep in bed.
[Image description: A cartoon animation of a little girl abruptly falling asleep in bed.] Via Giphy.
There’s always a small person passed out on two chairs in deep REM sleep while a party rages around them. Sleep on, random tiny child, you do you!

9. No wedding is complete if you don’t hear that classic hit, “Congratulations and Celebrations” by Sir Cliff Richard.

The wedding march may be a classic, but nothing says “We’re newly married!” like this smash hit! The rousing celebratory beat truly gets the party started.

10. The bathroom is an entirely different world.

A woman adjusts her dress in the bathroom mirror while her friends look on.
[Image description: A woman adjusts her dress in the bathroom mirror while her friends look on.] Via Giphy.
Gone are the amicable smiles and party atmosphere.

Welcome to navigating bathroom stalls in saris and heels, quickly assessing your makeup situation, pinning what you can, quick changes, and diving back into the party without missing a beat.

11. Last thing? The wedding cake conspiracy.

A man drops a wedding cake off the side of a building.
[Image description: A man drops a wedding cake off the side of a building.] Via Giphy.
The moment you realize that most of the wedding cakes you’ve seen were fake, and only had one little section made of real cake.

The encouraging move towards 100% cake is the honesty I need from the wedding industry. Please?

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