Wedding etiquette 101

Wedding season can be painful, especially when guests have no manners. Have you ever stampeded a buffet table? Or pushed aside an elderly aunt for the last decent chair?

Ghausia Rashid August 09, 2010
David Bowie's summers were  a time for dancing in the streets. Unfortunately summer in Pakistan means the wedding season. It also means monsoons, sweltering heat, and madness.

I am a girl who likes getting dressed up. It’s not like I put on tons of makeup every time I go out for a casual dinner, so it’s nice to apply some rouge, mascara and eye shadow and scrunch my hair to give it that extra bounce and wear pretty clothes. However, I do not like my hard work go to waste. And go to waste it does. Faux-natural waves (or straightened tresses) go limp in the humidity and all the makeup in the world can’t hide the oily sheen from the heat. To top it all off weddings absolutely have to be outside which means you may end up getting soaked in the rain. I paid 15 grand for this outfit! Who is going to compensate me for ruining it? Certainly not the bride.

Be that as it may, weddings can be fun if you are with close relatives who you can gossip with or cruise guys with. So I can let all these negative points slide. But the one thing I absolutely cannot tolerate is lack of manners among guests. So without further ado, I present 'Wedding Etiquette 101'.

Stampede at dinner time

This is the most important part. Most people come to weddings for the food. I have a partiality to deghi alu salan myself. But I always eat beforehand as my dinner time is eight o'clock. However, most people don’t and are understandably hungry. But that does not give you  carte blanche to act like an animal.

I was recently at a wedding and my niece kept crying because she was hungry. The minute dinner time arrived, I went to get the poor child some food. Please note that this is a 3-year-old I’m talking about. My niece went to the table, and an eleven-year-old girl pushed, yes, pushed her away so she could get food first. The only reason I didn’t punch her in the face was because my mother stopped me. Seriously people, if you’re that hungry, eat at home.

Greet everyone; even people you loathe

Call me old fashioned, but I believe in saying assalam-alaikum to everyone I meet, whether young or old. I don’t care for most of my extended family (actually I don’t care for people in general.) But I still paste a smile on my face and act pleased to see everyone and manage to make small talk. What I loathe is people that don’t do the same.

If someone’s standing in front of you saying assalam alaikum, have the decency to at least greet them back and then snub them. Go on, say it, I dare you. Say walaikum assalam.

Share a chair - Barney likes it when we share

For some absurd reason, there is always a shortage of chairs at weddings. Why the bride or groom’s parents can’t have extra chairs is beyond me; it would look far worse if guests remained standing than if a couple of tables were left empty. The result is people end up sharing chairs; not a problem, we are used to it now. But there will always be one ill-mannered woman happily sitting there while some elderly lady is standing right beside her and the entire table is glaring at her waiting for her to offer the lady her seat. This is the height of disrespect, especially in a society where we place so much emphasis on respecting our elders.

Yes, that’s the bride - now stop ogling her

Every wedding I attend I feel like the other guests are all new to the concept of the event. They stand in front of the stage, gaping and whispering about the poor bride, who is suffering from the heat, plus itchy clothes, as well as the inability to move or even smile for fear of cracking layers of makeup. Why does everyone have to stand and stare at the poor thing? Its like the final stage in the much detested wedding ritual; first, you’re paraded in front of prospective mama's for months, days, years and finally when you think it might end, they dump you on a stage and leave you to fend for yourself.

What if the bride is anti-social like me? I feel for her, I truly do. Go away everyone, she’s not going to do any tricks, she’s just going to stay seated like she’s supposed to.

The wedding’s segregated for a reason - go away!

I’m not a fan of segregated weddings. I loathe them. But I understand the necessity, especially in conservative, traditional families. You would think that our male population would understand that too, but go figure. Why are you barging into the female section to call your wife/mother/girlfriend when you could call them from the male section too? While not every woman won't frantically snatch her veil to cover her face, some women do tend to get uncomfortable when this happens, whether they’re hijab wearers or not.

Children should be seen, not heard

There is nothing more cruel than bringing a child to a wedding. The poor thing chafes in the heat, can’t wander around for fear of getting lost and is bored out of his mind. The result? Massive wailing and screaming. The worst part is, often I see a child screaming his tiny lungs out because he wants a a Pepsi. “Nahi beta, it's bad for you,” says dear old mama as she casually sips her own Pepsi. Now my teacher taught me not to be judgmental, but I’m pretty sure doing that is kind of wrong. If you can’t manage your kids, then spare our eardrums and leave them at home with your parents.

If I have to take another picture than...

I understand the concept of taking pictures. A photograph helps make a memory, after all. But why must I be dragged into every frame? Does my bored and annoyed expression not clue you in to the fact that I don’t want to take a million pictures with you? Oddly enough, it’s always the girls prettier than me who want to do this. Ego boost much, girls?

If I knew who you were, wouldn't I have greeted you by your name?

Auntie, please explain to me how you expect me to know your name when you just told me that you last saw me when I was a baby. Come up with a logical explanation for this. Go on, I dare you.

Remember, the next time you’re at a wedding, make room for other people to get food, greet everyone even if you want to stab most of them with a very blunt fork, and just for one night, try to behave. You would want others to do the same, wouldn't you?
Ghausia Rashid A BSS student majoring in journalism at Bahria University. She enjoys writing about anything that matters, is an avid reader, talks more than she should, and to her bemusement, is frequently asked if people find her annoying! She is interested in activism, politics and culture.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Ali Haider | 13 years ago | Reply @Safi: Thank you. I surely could not have "moved on" had you not suggest that. See, I wasted another two minutes here. Alas!
Maria S. | 13 years ago | Reply Ghausia, I'm not sure why others are offended by this piece, I found it to be quite accurate and funny! Keep up your candid writing - it's refreshing! P.S. CRITIC is what we in the cyberworld call a "blog troll." Best to ignore him.
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