Update: I just realised as I went to bed last night that I got all my math wrong. I’ve revised all the USD numbers below ….Most of them UPWARDS.
I really need to speak to someone about how the wedding preparations are coming along. I want to bore someone into a coma with the details. There is so much that has happened over the easter break and it has all been incredibly fun despite the mosquito bites, the raging heat and the sticker shock I got for every single thing or service that I acquired or tried to acquire in India.
Intelligent in-the-know readers would know by now that the Jups is not a stranger to steep price tags. Firstly, who doesn’t like nice things? Everyone does but not all nice things are cheap. And as with food, so with fashion, sometimes there are no substitutes. There’s no substitute for real chocolate cake that doesn’t have calories and there’s not really a nice leather bag out there that costs 5 bucks. Nice things cost money (and calories) and that’s okay.
What is not okay is this automatic 3-10x markup on anything if you stick the word “wedding” or “bridal” in front of it. Like most respectable Indian brides, I too am using pinterest and wedmegood for ideas and contacts of vendors and I am shocked at the price tags. Bridal henna can be anything from 100 USD to 600 USD. Yeah I am quoting prices in USD so you can see how ludicrous the state of affairs is. My friends who have planned or are planning weddings in Europe would probably find these prices in line with the general prices of similar services there but in India? People like me who earn in USD (HKD is pegged) find these prices frustrating so I can’t even begin to understand how people in middle-class urban India are dealing with this. One makeup artist quoted me almost 2000 USD for makeup and hair for three events. Mind you on most days, I have fairly good skin (knock on wood) so it’s not like she would need some industrial grade paint to cover scars or anything. She felt compelled to mention that she used faux eyelashes made of real hair but extensions made of fake hair. Oh and that she would do the second saree drape for a surcharge of about 20 USD (which firstly is petty as fuck because you just quoted me 2000 fucking dollars for makeup and hair and secondly it’s not like she’s going to deduct 20 USD from the other two events’ charges where there is no saree to be draped, is it?)
Another makeup artist quoted me 900 USD for three events but with my mom’s makeup complementary (mentioned as an afterthought after I asked about it). That’s great but what if my mom didn’t want any? Why are you baking this into the price?
Photography is another crazy one. We have now found a good photographer for the day of the wedding but even for stage coverage on the day of the reception, we are struggling to find someone. The guy I may end up using charges about 180 USD per day which is great except he won’t process a single picture unless you agree to buy the cheeseball album which costs a whopping 500-700 USD extra and it isn’t even cute. A candid five minute summary of your wedding to the tune of an evergreen hindi or tamil song will set you back another 700 USD.
It all fucking adds up okay? Yes these are all talented people but I’ll be damned if they’re getting paid that much to render the same services at a birthday party. Most of the time, you’re only half-pleased with their work but hiring them anyway cause you can’t afford the dude who charges twice as much. And can I get one more complaint in while I am at it? How come I can’t choose what I want? Why can’t I pay someone for just styling my hair and draping my two sarees? Why does it have to be one size fits all? I don’t even need that much makeup!
Anyway these were and continue to nag at me while planning this wedding but at the same time, I am prepared to accept most of these within reason (like I said I did find a good photographer who will, I hope, take some lovely pictures of the event).
Ike also says that “this is a big adventure we only have to do this once” and he’s right. And a lot of it has been fun, which I do want to tell you about as well. Especially the dresses!