A somewhat recent phenomenon I noticed on social media is what I’m calling the South Asian Bride to IG Influencer Pipeline™. This is where new brides or women who recently had their big fat Indian weddings leverage the photos and videos from their recent nuptials to build up their own social media persona.

In the months, or even years following their wedding, they share every small detail about their outfits, the venues, the decor, the cake, the planning process and everything in between. Then, they transition into lifestyle bloggers, sharing other details about their lives or marriage, or simply continuing to post their outfits and the bi-weekly throwbacks to their wedding (even if it was five years ago).

I’ve watched videos where former brides share everything—from the lipstick colour they wore at their wedding, to the steps they took to plan the wedding, to intimate photos with their partners and families—all for a single drop of Internet clout.

Some start posting about their upcoming wedding as early as the proposal, going viral by sharing their proposal videos or photos, and then every single pre-wedding shot that comes after.

Others build upon their newfound notoriety off the heels of their engagement photos and videos, their bachelorette parties, the entire wedding planning process, leading up to the big week. 

While South Asian weddings have always been grand, in recent years the “keeping-up-with-the-Jones’” has intensified tenfold. whereby having a bigger wedding can not only wow your guests (including the aunties and uncles you’ve quite literally never seen before), but also birth a new brand of micro-celebrity.

Weddings become highly publicized events that transcend beyond the day or week of the event itself, and are staged, showcased, and packaged up not only for the sometimes thousands of guests, but also for complete strangers on the Internet. 

Brown people love to talk, and we also know what gets people talking. 

“Did you see the wedding with the dancing robot?”

“Did you see the wedding where Jazzy B performed?”

And most infamously, “did you see the wedding with the ferris wheel?”

Listen. Whether or not you agree with the pomp and circumstance of the recent Punjabi singer who had a ferris wheel at his Surrey nuptials, you must admit that the entire situation, love it or hate it, propelled his celebrity, just like it does with every one of these Bride-fluencers.

We may not even know who the bride or groom is, but a cool outfit or flashy gimmick at their wedding sends us two months deep into Instagram looking at their pre-wedding photo shoot.

As much as I hate that weddings are used as another lavish way to show your neighbours how much happier than them you are, this is a monster we’ve all created and actively participated in—and I am not exempt from this.

We say we hate it but we literally cannot look away.

This culture of lavish weddings is toxic and creates even more comparison and competition in our culture. Oftentimes, people go into debt over their wedding planning, and put more emphasis on the wedding than the marriage itself.

But we can’t act surprised.

From a young age, specifically South Asian women are conditioned into becoming brides, and are told that their wedding will be the happiest most meaningful day of their lives. 

It is often the one time they are regarded with utmost importance by everyone around them, and get to have things go entirely their way, on a day that they were quite literally bred for. 

In doing so, however, we also condition our young women into planning for this day their entire lives, just like a Bride-fluencer. We watch in awe as a complete stranger gets their “fairytale” moment, and take notes for when we eventually will have our own.  

To this day, I gaslight myself by openly saying I don’t care to get married, while simultaneously saving wedding outfits to a folder on Instagram. 

And I know I’m not the only one. 

Some girls go so far as picking out a wedding date, outfit, makeup artists, and dream vendors years in advance, before even having found a person to marry.

Naturally, this means that the lavish weddings we do see posted online become markers for other brides and grooms, who prepare for their own weddings by seeing what others before them have done, and preparing for how they can match, or outdo the other couples.

While I say that it is beyond bizarre that one’s wedding has the ability to create a micro-celebrity that gains them thousands of followers and a new gig as an influencer, what do we expect when weddings are set up as lavish ceremonies, marketed and advertised to the general public the same way a star-studded event would be?

But the cost of doing this is that we overlook the way that many rush into marriage for the wedding itself, as if a big fat Indian wedding is just a box on a checklist to satisfy your parents and your egos instead of a lifelong commitment and partnership, and a spiritual moment when two souls become one.

I know many of us who have heard the stories of large lavish weddings, costing upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars ending in divorce just a few years later. 

This is what happens when weddings are used to show social status and create “content” for Instagram, and when more emphasis is placed on how much money so-and-so’s parents paid for their wedding, than whether or not you are happy, safe, and loved in your relationship.

When I look at the ever-growing South Asian wedding industry, however, I am saddened to say I only see these events getting even more elaborate as time goes on. 

And although some people, including myself, are wholly deterred by the big-fat-Indian-wedding industrial complex and the subsequent IG influencers that come with it, we can’t bear to look away from the circus.

I mean c’mon, there’s even a ferris wheel.

About the author

Rumneek Johal

Rumneek is a journalist, host and speaker. She is currently the BC Reporter at Press Progress where she focuses on systemic inequality, workers and communities, as well as racism and far-right extremism. Her previous work centers on asking tough questions within her community, starting conversation and chipping away at the status quo. Other focus areas for her work include the South Asian community, arts and culture, pop culture, and more. She is a proud Punjabi woman from Surrey, BC.

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