There was a time when I loved attending weddings as a guest, but not anymore. Marriage ceremonies these days have become affairs that sap patience and energy. Take for example an event that I and my better half went to some years ago (before the 10 PM deadline was laid down in the Federal Capital). Being a stickler for punctuality, we entered the venue to find no one – not even the host present in order to receive guests. Embarrassed, we asked the hotel staff if we were at the right place, only to be informed that we were. Thirty minutes later we placed our gift on one of the sofas, along with a hastily scribbled thank you note for inviting us and not being there to receive those, who had appeared on time.

Then there was the occasion, when the hosts got so much involved in extended photo sessions that they forgot about serving dinner. It was not until another senior couple preempted us, by telling the hostess that they were leaving for their home. I almost smiled in amusement, when the lady insisted that they stay and have dinner. The guests left, followed a few minutes later by us. I am told that dinner was served that evening, when we were snoring in our beds after having snacked in a restaurant on the way home.

I remember my own marriage more than four and a half decades ago, where the whole event including dinner was over in a mere two hours. However, the best wedding event I have attended was a walk in one. The hosts had laid a time bracket of three hours from arrival to departure of guests. Arrivals found a buffet laid out and smartly attired waiters moving around bearing trays of appetizers and soft drinks. The whole arrangement was designed to make the guests happy and this was the exact effect it had on every one.

Then there was a wedding I went to, where a massive fireworks display was part of the program, without giving any thought to safety procedures. As salvoes of ‘hawaiis’ became airborne, some fell still burning on the marquee, throwing guests into panic. The end result was chaos, turning a happy occasion into a traumatic one.

Ever, hear of a marriage disrupted by a horse? Well I am witness to one such fiasco, while attending a rural event during my pre-retirement days. Unable to regret, what was a very affectionate gesture, I was sitting comfortably, when a horse accompanied by a drum and ‘shehnai’ made its appearance. Now a horse is a noble warrior steed and in my books if the equine family could speak our language they would vehemently protest their misuse as ‘dancers’. Nonetheless, this particular animal decided that enough was enough and something should be done about it. Moments later, it reared up to its full height and instead of daintily prancing on its hind legs, leaped across the chairs, past guests - some of who hit the ground for safety and disappeared beyond the ‘qanats’. I must compliment the host for maintaining his ‘sang froid’ and immediately serving food, the quality of which, soon pushed the incident into oblivion.

Mention of a horse reminds me of the time, when no marriage in the walled city of Lahore was without a mounted bridegroom. The tradition often developed into situations that were not only comic, but dangerous to the young man, who in many cases had never ridden a four legged beast. I remember visiting my aunt and rushing out to the balcony to see a wedding procession on the road below. I received full compensation for my efforts, when the horse (which in all probability had not been doped) reared up, throwing the unfortunate rider, complete with ‘sehra’ and ‘pugri’, on the hard asphalt. Not satisfied with what it had done, the ‘noble steed’ disappeared at full gallop down one of the narrow side streets. It was some time before the procession could be reorganized and another sleepy looking animal found, to carry its thoroughly nervous burden, whose safety was ensured by two hefty looking individuals walking on both flanks in case the action was replayed. Since my maternal side hails from the walled city of Lahore, I was more than apprehensive of being coerced into a similar situation. Mercifully, my fears were laid to rest as I settled into a car to take the first step into the ‘happily ever after’.