From the time she was old enough to understand the concept of a party and dressing up for one, my sister has been planning her dream wedding. I remember once watching her walk down the staircase of our home and into the living room that she’d set up as a chapel.
She’d dug up Mother’s housecoat from the laundry basket and slotted her four-year-old feet into a pair of Mother’s size 6 sensible pumps. An old curtain served as a long train which she fastened around her head with a ring of crumpled tinfoil she’d procured from the kitchen.
Mother took one look at her daughter, turned on her heels and walked out the front door. It had already been a long morning, and she was late for mahjong.
Later, when Michelle’s child mind understood that a man was essential to any well-staged fantasy wedding, she strong-armed me into walking her down the staircase, but when Mother shouted, “I know this is make-believe, but you can’t marry your own brother!”, she replaced me with Prince, our loyal German Shepherd — a decision that gave Mother pause, but she figured, better this misguided, but unintentional, bestiality than incest.
Years later, Michelle would say that all those make-believe weddings she threw for herself from the ages of four till nine probably ruined her for real adult relationships.
“I mean, how can anything match up to the purity of a child’s fantasy of a wedding?” she once said as we strolled past a row of bridal boutiques in Tanjong Pagar. “Especially when you walk down the aisle with a dog that thinks its sole purpose in life is to let you literally sit on it like a sofa!”
I laughed. “Prince really was a stupid dog. He let us do anything to him!”
“Right? He was the benchmark! Never complained. Always smiling and good natured. And then you grow up and meet actual guys, and you realise they have sulky moods and they won’t even put the frickin’ toilet seat down even though you’ve already told them a million times! I mean, how well is that going to end?” She paused in front of a shop window and stared at the wedding dress on the mannequin. “Okay, that’s actually quite pretty. I can see myself in that. Wait, let me take a picture for Pinterest.”
A few days ago, Michelle Telegrammed me. “Have u watched The Big Day on Netflix? Crazy!”
I was with Saffy at the time I read the message. “Michelle just asked if I’d seen The Big Day yet and…”
Saffy’s bosom inflated. “Oh my God, that crazy show! It’s completely insane!”
“Ugh. Don’t tell me it’s another reality show!”
Saffy puffed up even more. “Well, when you put it like that, of course it’s going to sound stupid, but it’s really good! Who doesn’t love a good wedding?”
Especially if you’re Indian, according to The Big Day, which showcases six weddings in India, each more outlandish than the last. Amanda, who’d not seen the show, added it to her growing list. It helped the whole thing was only three short episodes.
“My God, who are these people?” Amanda sighed as she watched one couple get married in a stunning ancient fort in Rajasthan. She swooned over the thick ropes of sparkly bridal jewels, whilst I was transfixed by the fireworks. I’ve always loved fireworks. Even the dullest party can’t be a total bust if there are some fireworks at some stage.
“Don’t you love how there’s all that dancing?” Saffy said. “Compaired to all those Chinese weddings I’ve been. Utter duds! You sit there for hours, and then just as dessert is being served, everyone gets up and leaves! I mean, look at this lot!” She waved a hand extravagantly at our TV screen. “They’re having so much fun! When was the last time we had fun at a wedding?”
The three of us sat there and cast our collective minds back, mentally Rolodexing through all the weddings we’ve ever attended in Singapore. “Never!” I said finally.
“Meanwhile, here’s this gay Indian wedding!” Amanda said, arching a perfectly manicured eyebrow. “I honestly don’t think it could get more fun than that!”
My sister Michelle wonders what kind of fantasy weddings these Netflix Indian brides had when they were children. “Maybe I didn’t dream big enough, and that’s why nothing’s happened for me?” she said the other day.
“I think it’s called having loads and loads of money!” I said, not unsympathetically. “Those fireworks don’t pay for themselves! Money and arranged marriages.”
Michelle sighed, no doubt thinking of Jake, the boy our parents had set her up with and whom she’d rejected because he was shorter than she. He grew up to be a Silicon Valley bazillionaire and she’s always regretted her youthful foolishness.
Amanda says Netflix should make a show about women who’ve made tragic dating decisions in their lives. “They could film an entire season just on me!”
Season 2 of The Big Day premieres on Netflix Apr 7.