Can’t A Couple Look Happy On One Of The Most Important Days Of Their Lives?

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Actors Patralekha and Rajkummar Rao got married in a private ceremony on November 15. The duo shared the news and some pictures from their wedding with their fans on social media. Having been in a relationship for more than a decade, the couple looks gleeful in these pictures and that seems to have not gone down well with some people.

I recently came across a tweet in which pointed out how Bollywood couples look so happy in their wedding photos that it looks forced. “Do pandits recite mantras or perform standup comedy?” the user asked. The comment doesn’t seem misplaced because if you look at celeb wedding pictures from the past few years, the shots seem identical to the extent that they begin to feel staged.

However, many users retweeted this tweet to make some valid observations about Indian weddings. “It’s called being happy cos you’re marrying someone you actually like?? This isn’t seen in the weddings around us cos you know why Slightly smiling face,” wrote one user.

Another user recalled how they were told to not talk or smile during the wedding, writing, “Reminds me of my Bua who sent a msg asking us not to talk, smile or laugh so much while the Shaadi was going on. We definitely decided not to pay heed. Also, there are certain rituals that inadvertently evoke smiles and laughters esp. if the partners know each other well.”

A user named Anuj pointed out that the happiness seen in these photographs is a result of being able to marry as per your choice. “People who do marriage according to their choice, usually enjoy at their wedding to the fullest rather than being serious and sad. Photographers should be given credit that they capture beautiful moments like these.”

Here are some other reactions to this tweet:

These tweets encapsulate an experience shared by many. Indians are unnaturally grumpy and coy during our wedding. While brides are expected to be radiant, sad, and shy in equal measures, grooms are encouraged to be pensive and wear a frown on their faces. I remember how a groom was once told to not smile during the wedding  to look “raubdaar” and masculine. I have also seen aunts and uncles shake their heads disapprovingly when a to-be-married couple strikes romantic poses for a photoshoot. And then I was taunted after my wedding for being too “chatty” while sitting with the groom on stage for our reception.

The bottom line is- you are not supposed to have fun on one of the most crucial days of your life. We still put brides and grooms to stereotypical standards and any sign of happiness or expression of affection – holding hands, smiling at each other, talking to one another, etc., is seen as shameless behaviour. These are two people who are expected to spend their lives together. Why can’t they have pictures that capture the bliss of their wedding day, so that they can remember the occasion with fondness? Why must wedding pictures look like mugshots meant to discourage children from asking “Why wasn’t I invited to this party?”

It is great that celeb couples are sharing such blissful images from their wedding day on social media as they can help normalise the idea of being happy, feeling happy and looking happy on one’s big day. A couple’s wedding day is not just about following rituals and seeking approval of family and society, it is also about committing to each other, to marry someone you like or love and doing it with full consent. If a person is marrying out of their own free will then society needs to stop expecting them to look like hostages with no way out in this life. Those expressions must be reserved for wedding anniversaries.

Views expressed are the author’s own.

Suggested Reading:

This Chilled Out Bride Took A Break From Wedding Preparations To Enjoy A Bowl Of Maggie

Dear Society, Why Do You Have To “Define” How A Bengali Bride Should Be?

The Wedding Ritual Of Baraat: Why Should Grooms “Take Away” The Bride After Marriage?