Our Wedding – 21 Sep 2014
The day started with alarms going off at 5am!! Kath quickly ordered us some toast we scoffed it down grabbed our stuff together and Sonu (Happy’s eldest brother) called at 5.15am to say he was outside the hotel to pick us up! I was SO TIRED already only 3-4 hours sleep, but Sonu told me after the boys got home at 11pm and then went to get a hair cut and were chatting they ended up not bothering to sleep at all as they started doing trips in the cars transporting all the family members from the village to our house in the city at 330am! so at least we had a few hours sleep compared to them and they all looked like zombies. After the several changes about where the night time party would be held they finally decided the day before we would have it at our house in the city as it was more central for everyone coming from different villages, but that involved a lot of transporting big groups from here and there with all their belongings and several outfit changes for the day!!!
We all arrived at our house in Holy City for the Vatna ceremony at 530am where Happy and I would have yoghurt, rosemary and oil put in our hair and turmeric paste on our skin to make us glow & to say goodbye to our single lives before having our first bath for the day! I went first and was yelling out to my family no turmeric on my face I will be bright yellow!!! Pip didn’t hear me and a big clump landed on my cheek! Hahaha
I had a nice COLD shower to wash it all off, not the luxurious morning bath I was hoping for on my wedding day, but warm showers are now a distant memory to me unless I want to wash from a bucket! Happy’s ceremony took place and I wasn’t allowed out of the bathroom until it was done!! We then tied special red bracelets onto everyone who had attended, and you were not supposed to take them off until they broke off – it is meant to bring good luck, Happy & I had a special one tied onto our wrists which would be taken off in another ceremony a few days later!
The boys then dropped us off to the beauty parlour at 730am to get ready! The ceremony had been changed the week before from 10am to 11am which gave us 3 hours to get everyone ready and half an hour for any issues, on the way to the salon Pinky said to me “11 will be too hot in the temple, an hour to get ready ceremony at 930am” I just said to her FORGET IT and looked out the window of the car, I thought to myself she can go ahead thinking that if it makes her & their family get ready faster but I ain’t changing my plan!
It took A LONG TIME for all of us to have our hair makeup done and outfits on, there was very little communication about what we needed to have taken with us all I was told is take your wedding outfit and told the other possibly bring your too if it saves time but I am sure we will have time after to change into it anyway? Little did I know what would occur !
We all had fun relaxing and being done up I kept falling asleep which was an issue when they were putting on my eye lashes! I was beyond tired I could barely function !
I don’t think I had mentally even clicked that it was my wedding day the entire week had been so incredibly stressful I was in a daze and felt like my family had suddenly appeared in Amritsar and we were off to a dress up party!
At 10am Shubh (Happy’s cousin & my wedding assistant for the day – he literally helped me with things for days leading up to the wedding then all day and night helped me with whatever needed doing with not a single complaint) he arrived to pick us up we were still not ready so he loaded all our bags into the car and said he would come back to get us, we still had to go back to the hotel drop all the bags off pick up Katherines mum & Katherine was to get changed, at 11am I rang the boys and said quick we are ready come now!! They came flying round to the salon – different cars! Umm where are the bags ??? No time to think we all pile into the cars and are madly chatting away when suddenly we realise we have turned into Holy City and are pulling up to the house where Happy is outside with his entire family of 50!!!!! Katherine in one car in jeans and a tshirt, her mum still at the hotel and our bags god knows where!!!!!!!
This is when I started majorly flapping and screaming in Punjabi, Saaba, Happy’s youngest brother, was driving our car (no English) I was beeping the horn to get the other car to STOP before he dropped Katherine into the middle of the wedding in her jeans! The beeping didn’t work, next minute Kath jumps from our car starts sprinting to the other car waving her arms, head scarf blowing in the wind!!! The car stopped 5m from the group of 50 Chhina’s, everyone looking over to see what the commotion was, Soman then drove that car back over to us and asked me what was wrong !! I said to him KATHERINE NO WEDDING SUIT YOU VERY VERY BAD!!! Soman lost it laughing he got out from the car and was beant over laughing his head off having not realised she was not dressed for the wedding ! “sorry bhabi so sorry I didn’t look sorry” I said NO TIME FOR LAUGHING & SORRYS HOTEL NOW GET IN! Then Pinky came running over to the cars to see what was wrong, Soman sped off to the hotel !!!!
Saaba drove us around the corner to the temple to wait until they came back so that the big group wouldn’t see me yet, and we all had a good laugh, there’s not a day here without a drama!!! Luckily Katherine also found it hilarious! When we left the salon I had said to them Hotel Hotel Hotel but with all the excitement, commotion and lack of sleep they drove us straight into the wedding! hahaha
At around 12 Somans car arrived back with Katherine changed and her mum Yvonne on board too, most probably wondering by this time if she had completely missed the wedding all together!!! But no, no one was clock watching that’s for sure! (Except me)
The big group of the Happy’s family made there way over to the temple and it all began, I stood on one side with my small group and half of his family joined us to make it even and Happy stood on the other side with his parents, brothers, uncles and lots of cousins! I remember looking over at him and thinking ‘oh my god he looks amazing in his outfit, turban & sword and I can’t even remember if I spoke to him this morning before going to the salon!!’. At that point I remember he looked over at me from the other side of the room and winked at me, and that made my day and calmed my nerves!
After prayer, we entered the main room where the ceremony would take place and I was told that Happy’s father’s eldest brother would play the part of my father today (passing me Happy’s scarf, blessing me & giving me away), he is a very nice man although it made us all start crying immediately that Dad was missing and it was just not the same without him, he can’t be replaced, however I was so happy to have my own family & friends by my side on what was a very overwhelming day. Some of Happy’s family didn’t understand why we were teary and kept saying “why are you all crying we will look after her!!” They just didn’t understand the background of the situation and how hard it was not having your own father at your wedding day.
The ceremony (called anand karaj) involved us getting up and down several times and walking around the holy book for 4 verses, while I was holding Happy’s scarf and told not to break the grip! Which was difficult whilst crying and wearing a majorly heavy dress, with all kinds of dangly bits hanging off my arms & head! I had several of Happy’s cousins sat around me helping me getting up & down, a few times when we came back I just dropped onto the floor next to Happy and the girls giggled! After the last verse I sat back down perfectly and had mastered it, Palvi his cousin patted me on my back and said that was much better haha!
I remember at one point in the ceremony Happy whispered to me “Steph your shaking don’t worry it’s ok it’s just us forget about everyone watching! But you need to wipe your nose it’s dribbling in the photos” THANKS!! Hahahahhaha
After the ceremony was finished we filled out a wedding registry book with all our details, parents details and they stuck in a couples passport photo of us into the book – old school!
Finally we were married and we left the temple hand in hand and headed to our wedding car decorated with loads of flowers – India style!! Loved it !!!!
The entourage of cars & bikes then headed to the hotel for the reception, the decorations & lights at the entrance & stage were amazing and everything looked so nice, there was a lot more people at this event as we had family only at the wedding ceremony & the lunch had everyone invited, all Happy’s friends & cousins friends, as well as a few friends from Perth & some families of Perth friends, and everyone from the two family villages.
Mum, Pip, Kath, Aunty Joan, Yvonne & Katherine sat at the table closest to the stage which I was relieved about as I could signal when I needed something!! (I was stuck sitting on the stage the entire time!). Happy’s family kept bringing me cups of coke over and I would drink half and give it back to them and they would say “oh she’s full”, then Katherine would bring me a huge glass of vodka & lemonade and I would drink the entire thing in minutes trying to do it subtly so they didn’t know the bride was downing vodkas on stage! I don’t think they realised it wasn’t just lemonade but I needed something to calm the nerves and hated being on the stage with the entire crowd just sat staring!!!! I noticed Sonu kept an eye on my families table and made sure they had enough alcohol at all times!! At one point someone made me laugh and I spilt my drink on my lap so a huge stain on my wedding dress was a lovely classy look for the rest of the day – not!!!
Another drama unfolded when we realised Happy’s wedding ring was missing, the ring ceremony would be done on stage, Shubh was sent home to find it, and as usual boys can never find anything and he returned without it! Happy then had to leave the wedding to go home to find it, I said to him are you ACTUALLY SERIOUS your going home yourself leaving the wedding to find the ring just FREAKING borrow one from Someone! and I was sat on the stage on my own for an hour !!!! I was NOT very happy and the photographers kept making me do embarrassing poses while we waited!! I made everyone take turns sitting on the stage with me having a chat so it wasn’t as bad and I ate lots of snacks brought to me, I was starving by this point!
Once the wedding ring was found things got underway and we had a slow stream of friends & relatives stream through onto the stage to have their photo taken with us and to place a gift in our laps, it took quite a long time to get through everyone but it was nice to see each person separately on the day to say hello as I hadn’t had time to talk to anyone yet.
Once everyone had their turn having their picture taken we had a ceremony on stage putting a garland over each other and and then a jet from the back of the stage came on and flower petals rained over us for the ring ceremony it was so surreal and amazing I loved it!!!
We then had family photos of Happy’s parents giving me gold & my family giving Happy gold & gifts, once this was all done we headed to the dance floor and the wild Bhangra dancing began and our first dance as a married couple !!! I remember it was so much fun that I was swinging my dangling Kaliras from my wrists over my head like a whip hahaha
The lunch reception finished around 630pm, and as usual due to the lack of communication and lack of English I didn’t really know where we were going or what was happening, all I knew was that there would be a party on our roof with fireworks later that night! My family stayed at the hotel to change and get ready and would meet us there, however I didn’t realise that when the car would arrive at our house it was a big ceremony to bring me into the house for the “first time” as the married couple and now my family had missed out on seeing it, also Happy was already half drunk and stressed from so much going on he had to still arrange and we had already had words in the car (I just gave him a little reminder to slow down there was still one more party to get through! That went down like a lead balloon) also we were both sooo mentally exhausted, I entered the ceremony in tears!!! That was great!! It was all so overwhelming, I have no photos of the entry ceremony as everyone’s useless iPhones had run out of battery by this point – when I get proper internet access I will upload some of the professional photos.
Happy’s mum did a ceremony where she had a pot of buffalo milk which she carried around me a few times, each time welcoming me to the family, drinking some milk after each round and then she finished it and brought us into the house, all whilst there was a band playing drums and singing and everyone dancing it was brilliant!! His mum was so cute she had a huge grin on her face and was so happy & proud. I was so glad I pushed for the drummers when we were organising the wedding! The house looked amazing, the entire front of the house was lit up and the roof had lights going up into a tent shape! As I entered the house all Happys female cousins were in a line welcoming me “welcome to our home bhabi ji”, I said really?? Welcoming me for the first time into my own house where Happy & I live!!! We all cracked up laughing and they said to me traditionally you would be welcomed into the village house if the party was there so we are just pretending go along with it!! and they all giggled !!!
The girls then proceeded to take me out of my outfit and unpinned my hair and everything I didn’t even have time to think what they were doing and my jewellery from the day was so heavy I couldn’t wait to get it all off, but my hair was like a WILD MESS once it was all taken out and there were so many people in my room I could barely even think or change or find any of my belongings Letalone a hair brush!!! I just wanted space !!! They were all saying “put on your night suit you can relax now!!!”
I was like are you freaking kidding me ????? No laying around on beds gossiping with women all night I have a huge party arranged on the roof which I will not be wearing pyjamas to!!!!!!
I went into the bathroom had a second cold shower haha put my wild hair into a bun put on my new very heavy red punjabi suit I had made for the night party and came out ready to go! They were all saying no no no wear something comfortable you are tired you need rest, relax here! No no! Get out of my way haha
Happys mum said to them she’s fine don’t worry and she put my new gold jewellery on me and then luckily at that moment my family all arrived and I said to them don’t sit down let’s go we are going to the roof before we get stuck drinking tea with the elderly all night!!!!!
After we were all sat in the party on our roof for a while the women in his family all started realising I probably wasn’t going to come back downstairs and sit on the bed all night with them like some other punjabi weddings we’ve been to and I was ready to have a good time and relax and enjoy myself with my family & friends !!!!!
They all started coming upstairs finally and realising ‘oh there is another party and it’s not just for men!!!’ We all danced and ate food all night and all had a great time, the drummers played on the roof too & we had a giant sound system set up and all the girls did traditional dancing around in circles, it was great fun, great music and the lights were amazing!!!!
On our table we had a bit bottle of vodka sat in the middle and cousins kept coming over and asking if my family needed more!! Hahaha then later on Katherine decided her long pants under her dress were cutting into her and she needed to get them off, somehow they got kicked off under the table without anyone noticing, the boys kept bringing us plates of meat & chicken and snacks and then when we all went to the edge of the roof to watch the fireworks, we ended up sitting down again at a different table for dinner with Happy, I said to Katherine “oh god all Happys aunties have gone and sat at our other table with the big bottle of vodka, big platter of meat and the spare pants under the table!!!” Hahaha they were oblivious! Hilarious!
Then the boys started letting off the fireworks from close range on the roof!!!! Everyone waS screaming so they took them all down to the road outside our house and let them off from the park they seemed to be never ending it was amazing and we watched from the roof for about an hour. Happy was the main one letting them all off, entire shirt wet and dripping with sweat he was so exhausted, organising things going and getting anything that had run out etc, I felt annoyed that he had to still be running around doing everything and no One seemed to help him much but he is not good at delegating! I felt like I had barely seen him all day or night but I guess that’s what happens when you arrange everything for the wedding yourself!!
Later that night I said to Happy & Sonu “oh my god we forgot to pick up the cake!!!!” Their faces dropped, I didn’t even know where the receipt for it was also it was about 930pm!! Happy headed off with someone to go and pick it up from the cake shop!!!! Luckily it was ready to go and they were back in no time! After we had photos taken cutting the cake, a man from the catering company started hacking it up with a small plastic knife, Pip appeared “NO NO NO STOP STOP !!!!!” We quickly got a big knife and then pip was the cake manager cutting it properly and handing it out, they must think all the Browns are so bossy, we aren’t really we just like things done properly!! Dad always said to us “if you want something done properly do it yourself!”
All night I noticed Happy’s Dad was always around, keeping an eye on things and making sure all the drunk cousins were behaving, giving them stern looks and checking my family were okay and always giving us a big smile! At the end of the night all the younger boys were quite drunk and he said to me it’s time for you all to go now before it gets messy, I will sort them all out! And from what I heard the next day, that he did!
At the end of the night we all headed to the hotel and my mum & sisters had arranged for a room to be decorated for Happy & I which was sooo nice of them, it was the perfect ending to our day, I couldn’t wait to get there and relax and not have so many people around me after such an overwhelming day!!! As we were leaving at the end of the night to go to the hotel his entire family was basically staying over at our house and couldn’t believe we were not going to sleep there too and didn’t understand why we would need to go to a hotel!!! Ummmm probably because I don’t feel like sharing a bed with the entire family on my wedding night and need a break from the smothering !!!!! Hahaha as much as I love them they always find it so difficult letting go, and I am used to always having had quite an independent life whereas they love always having everyone together at all times, Little did they know I had booked it for 3 nights not 1!
All in all it was such a fun day full of drama, action & a lot of stress but so much fun all the same, and a amazing day to look back on with so many funny memories, the next morning We both woke up feeling like a huge weight had lifted off our shoulders and we could relax at last as a happily married couple !
Thank you to my Mum, Pip, Kath, Aunty Joan, Katherine & Yvonne for travelling all the way to India for our wedding & for all the gifts, surprises and special touches you added to our wedding week, it would not have been the same without you all and I definitely benefited from the mental support and never ending laughter!!!!
Over & out
Mrs Chhina x