COVID-19: Wedding invitations include a jab code Image Credit: Marc Sporys

Now wedding invitations include a jab code. Some couples are convincing guests to get vaccinated before turning up for the nuptials. A Kolkata jeweller and his fiancee aren’t just pruning their guest list but also asking their friends and family to vaccinate themselves before attending the wedding.

Their wedding planner says she is ensuring that everyone involved in the celebration such as drivers and photographers are being vaccinated. How this rule will be enforced remains to be seen.

Will guests have to produce a certificate or will their word suffice? Or will the invitees take umbrage at being asked for proof? This is a delicate situation and needs to be tackled sensitively. In extreme cases, even pre-wedding events are being replaced by family vaccination camps! I wonder whether this move will cause permanent family rifts.

In another bizarre case in Hyderabad, four members of a family were stabbed in a fight over names included in a wedding card. Some might express disbelief as surely such a card will have the names of the couple and their parents as is the custom in most countries.

However, in India, the inclusion or omission of names of family members can cause a lot of heartburn. Remember those cards of old where everyone was welcome with the words ‘near and dear’ or ‘family and friends’ included in the invitation? Thankfully, the pandemic has put paid to such carte blanche.

The stabbing spree was instigated by the omission of the names of some family elders in a wedding card. In India, it is common to see the names of not just the couple and their parents but also grandparents.

Then at the bottom of the card you have the phrase ‘With best compliments’ followed by the names of a slew of relatives. The tough part is deciding whose names go on this list without offending anyone. It is a fine balancing act that requires a lot of thought before committing yourself on paper.

Never make the mistake of specifying ‘no children’ or ‘only adults’. Of course this is rare but avoid this however tempting this may be to prevent guests bringing along a gaggle of kids. They can be very disrupting and many parents make the mistake of letting them loose on unsuspecting guests as they play a game of tag or hide and seek.

You may write Mr and Mrs Tyagi on the envelope, but the couple invited assumes it means the whole family plus any guests who might be staying with them at the time.

The Parsi community does this invitation thing so well. Included with the card is a stamped food choice mini card to indicate your preference of vegetarian or non-vegetarian and the number of people attending. But even this can misfire as happened to a close relative whose friend was visibly annoyed at the wedding dinner being hosted on a day he fasts! The menu was mouth-watering but he felt cheated as he couldn’t eat all the things he enjoyed so much.

On the bright side, there are some enlightened families who have broken stereotypes and dared to be different. One such heart-warming story is of a couple who set an example by spending their wedding money on the education of children of farmers who committed suicide.

Another couple from Kerala had a transgender activist as a witness at their wedding. A bride from Madhya Pradesh refused gold (believe it or not) in lieu of 10,000 saplings as a wedding gift from her in-laws. A businessman from Maharashtra used the money he had saved for his daughter’s marriage to build 90 homes for underprivileged families.

One can only hope that one day the big fat Indian wedding becomes synonymous with shunning extravagance, raising awareness and making a difference.

Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India