I’ve seen my dad disappointed many times. It happened when I returned home with a report card that could only be described as abysmal in ninth grade. And it happened when he discovered that I had been skipping a proper lunch in favour of eating processed ramen because it’s quick and delicious. So, I immediately recognised the look on his face recently as he sat down for his daily hour (or hours) of scrolling through Instagram Reels in the evening.
“Ye banyan pehen ke aaya hai apni shaadi mein?!” (He is only wearing a vest to his wedding?), I heard him mutter. My father, like millions of other Indians, had tuned in to see what Ira Khan and Nupur Shikhare’s wedding outfits looked like and was dismayed at the absence of newlyweds dripping in Manish Malhotra/Sabyasachi fits. The bride was even wearing kolhapuri chappals! The same chappals I wear to run errands on a regular day?! Unacceptable!
The sentiment was echoed by millions on X (formerly Twitter) and by my friend Sakshi (I’ve changed her name for anonymity, she’s actually named Simran), who summed up the collective emotion around Aamir Khan’s daughter’s wedding when she bemoaned, “This is the opposite of aspirational!”
Which brings us to the question du jour: Do celebrity weddings have to be aspirational?
Our obsession with celebrity weddings is not anything new. It has always been an extension of our unhealthy parasocial relationships with celebrities in the country, but social media has increased it tenfold.
Future anthropologists will, perhaps, trace this back to December 11, 2017, when the nation was swept away by the beauty and romance of Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s stunning wedding ceremony in Tuscany, Italy. The wedding set the standard for other celebrity weddings to follow.
And follow they did! Within a few months, we got to witness equally stunning wedding ceremonies, complete with breathtaking surroundings, gorgeous outfits and carefully candid wedding photographs. Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone took a card out of Virushka’s playbook and whisked their guests away to Italy for a wedding at the picturesque Lake Como.
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas chose Rajasthan as a venue and were followed by celebrity couples like Vicky Kaushal-Katrina Kaif, Parineeti Chopra-Raghav Chadha, and Kiara Advani-Sidharth Malhotra who chose the popular wedding destination as their venue too.
Even those who picked their own homes for their weddings, like Athiya Shetty and KL Rahul who got married at Suneil Shetty’s Khandala farmhouse or Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor who tied the knot on the balcony of their (sea-facing) home in Mumbai, made sure their weddings looked straight out of Karan Johar’s fever dream.
These weddings became fodder for Pinterest boards for millennials who were planning their weddings, including yours truly. I had considered myself above all that but as I sat in my lehenga that weighed a little over 14 kg, with fake eyelashes partly obscuring my vision, surrounded by decor that was painstakingly curated from the details I had loved in celebrity weddings over the years, I assured myself “At least the photographs would be insane” (and they were).
So was the public right to feel upset at being cheated of another pastel celebrity wedding?
Ira Khan and Nupur Shikhare’s wedding was unconventional by many standards. The groom ditched the typical baraat and ran 8km to reach the venue in jogging gear and proceeded to sign the wedding registration documents (and exchange vows with the bride) in the same sweaty vest-shorts combo that had left my father despondent.
Many displayed righteous anger on behalf of Ira Khan, with variations of “How dare he disrespect the bride by showing up looking like that when she’s all decked up?” or “I would have left the altar if the groom had shown up like this at my wedding!”, forgetting the fact that Ira Khan is a virtual stranger to them and could very well have approved the bizarre outfit choice beforehand.
Celebrity weddings have become synonymous with decadence, glossy displays of wealth and unabashed glamour. Watching people you’re used to seeing on the big screen getting married offers people a window into their lives, despite being exposed to it 24x7, thanks to social media. This does the job of making them human yet unattainable because having a Sabyasachi-curated trousseau for your wedding is still a pipe dream for most of us.
The stunning, edited-to-perfection, photographs from these weddings offer a respite after going through news headlines of devastating natural calamities, war and economic decline.
The pedestal that celebrities, like Ira Khan, never asked to be placed on, makes them seem like a fair target to direct our disappointment towards. With formidable teams of stylists and designers at their disposal, couldn’t they have chosen something that you could take screenshots of before scouring Chandni Chowk to find someone who could make first copies of the design? Well, may be in a world run by my dad and those on X (formerly Twitter) who couldn’t stomach the blatant disrespect (“The guy ruined one of the core memories the poor bride was trying to make!”).
Before you get back to responding to emails or mindlessly scrolling through Reels on Instagram, remind yourself to direct your disappointment and anger towards things that truly matter: like the rapid decline in the number of shows dedicated to desserts on Netflix.