Why the #UrwaFarhan wedding shouldn't be the new normal

Why the #UrwaFarhan wedding shouldn't be the new normal

Personal attacks aren't cool. But we can criticise the unrealistic expectations this wedding created for us mortals
Updated 22 Dec, 2016

Celebrity weddings in Pakistan were redefined this past weekend thanks to Urwa Hocane and Farhan Saeed.

Prior to this, celebrity weddings have mostly been exclusive affairs, with the general public allowed glimpses of the glamour through only a handful of images or videos.

But ‘UrHan’ – as one is beginning to refer to them in the longstanding custom set by Brangelina and TomKat – believed in celebrating with the world at large, making sure that every moment of their nuptials was floated out onto the Internet. Through the all-pervasive reaches of Instagram and for those requiring more details, Snapchat, we could follow them every step of the way.

We saw it all happen from the very start: we were there when Farhan proposed to Urwa, in front of the Eiffel Tower no less. We admit to have had rolled our eyes a bit, wondering why he couldn’t have just chosen a local spot. Then again, in the words of Audrey Hepburn, ‘Paris is always a good idea’.

We guess cliches are cliches for a reason
We guess cliches are cliches for a reason

We then proceeded on to the dholkis, enjoying the floral explosions and colorful designer-wear worn by Urwa and an ecstatic sister-of-the-bride Mawra Hocane. We saw the girls arriving at the historic Badshahi Mosque for the nikkah, Urwa signing her nikkah papers; Farhan having his ‘Qubool hai’ moment and then, inevitably, the photo shoot of the newly-weds at the venue because what better backdrop could there be than that provided by the Mughal-esque grandeur of the Badshahi Mosque?

Celebs like Urwa and Farhan have oodles of fans who look up to them and aspire to their lifestyle. But does the average bride know that most of Urwa and Farhan's clothes were borrowed? Probably not. Is it really fair to encourage young brides to buy wedding outfits worth 10 lakhs or more?

Onto an all-white brunch, a multi-colored Qawwali night and then, a wedding reception where finally, one saw celebrities other than Urwa-Mawra-Farhan. Bushra Ansari twirled, Resham grooved and Nauman Ijaz and Sajal Ali just kind of moved.

Designer Ali Xeeshan was also seen shaking it up, wearing fur because that’s what eccentric designers wear to weddings, you know. Cellphone cameras littered the periphery, recording the proceedings for posterity.

Celebs flocked to the celebrations
Celebs flocked to the celebrations

And the cameras particularly went into a frenzy when Fawad Khan made a short appearance. The dapper, suited Fawad was nudged, shoved and jostled while he and his wife posed with the newly-weds for images. Fawad didn’t dance but to make up for it, songs from his unfortunately banned Ae Dil Hai Mushkil blared in the backdrop.

Fawad Khan and his wife, Sadaf were also among the guests
Fawad Khan and his wife, Sadaf were also among the guests

Very exciting, all this! Or was it?

Somewhere between the dholkis and the selfies, we began to wonder why Urhan chose to make every aspect of their wedding so public. Should they have kept certain things – like the Nikah or those PDAs – private? Fans’ curiosity could have gotten satiated by floating out a few images or, if they felt like it, have a single event covered in detail. What prompted them to Snapchat and Instagram all the way, zig-zagging from Qawwalis to dholkis to mosques?

The ‘trending’ wedding encourages empty consumerism. That's not ok.

It could have been a very millennial desire for validation via social media that prompted them to have their wedding ‘trend’ on social media. Alarmingly, a trending wedding is the latest unfathomable concept to enamor a considerable segment of our society. One could credit the #AnushMunib wedding that took place earlier this year to have popularised the notion and now, we are inflicted with umpteen dholki videos uploaded onto the Internet come wedding season.

While some people criticised the #UrwaFarhan wedding, others felt we should ‘live and let live’ and not pass judgement on the couple’s private business.

It’s true that making personal attacks is never correct.

However, one has to ask: with the media specially invited to their wedding, with fashion designers listed like ‘sponsors’ on their wedding invitations, with a ‘red carpet’ set up at their shaadi – was this really a private event? The answer is undeniably ‘no’.

Since the #UrwaFarhan wedding was a public event and a matter of public interest, it should be critiqued as such, and there’s no denying some aspects of this spectacle were problematic.

Before the advent of Instagram and wedding hashtags, weddings had been intimate affairs where relatives and friends got together, danced, had fun. Now, they’ve metamorphosed into superficial productions where everything from the décor to the designer wedding-wear to the professionally choreographed dances gets publicised for all to see. In a society rife with economic discrepancies this could be considered insensitive.

It also sets an alarmingly impossible standard young people to aspire to. Fact is, the #UrwaFarhan wedding was heavily choreographed and the bill for the couple’s clothes was limited, given how many of their clothes were borrowed.

The wedding card clearly extended ‘Hugs’ to ‘HSY, Elan, Faraz Manan, Muse, Munib Nawaz, QYT, Shireen Rehman, Fiza Gillani, Sherezad Rahimtoola and Irfan Ahson’. Clearly, these were the people sponsoring the wedding, jewelry and handling the décor.

Quite a few of them also lent out clothes, although the couple did buy some also. At the main wedding reception, for instance, where the couple wore HSY, it was quite obvious that the well-fitted designs had been created bespoke. In many other instances, the ill-fitting hinted at samples borrowed just for the day.

But does the average bride know that? She doesn’t have the kind of access that’ll get her a designer outfit for free.

Inevitably, she’ll have to purchase one. And is it really fair to encourage young brides to buy wedding outfits worth 10 lakhs or more?

Everything sells

In return for lending clothes to #UrwaFarhan, these sponsors got marketed big time via social media. In fact, you can be pretty sure that right now, dozens of Internet-savvy brides-to-be have handed over Instagram images of Urwa or Mawra and asked their wily tailors to replicate the designs, as is. Bloggers and Instagrammers, are still reveling in the large number of followers they have attracted via the #urwafarhan hashtag.

This brings us to the event’s other problematic aspect – the hypocrisy of some of those who collaborated to bring it into being.

On private Facebook accounts and in their drawing rooms, the city’s supposed upper tier turned up their noses and derided the wedding but no one chose to speak of it on a public forum. No one openly expressed how appalling the concept of a sponsored wedding truly was.

The designers who confessed to have ‘cringed’ at the social media coverage, are happy with the clients that the wedding images have attracted.

On private Facebook accounts and in their drawing rooms, the city’s supposed upper tier turned up their noses at the wedding... but many weren't above using it as a means to promote their brands.

It all boils down to money and marketing but when a wedding turns into a production and gets applauded by all, it sets disturbing precedents.

Young couples may aspire towards similar ceremonies, the inclination to ‘show off’ increases and the glamour that hitherto identified a celebrity wedding wears off, replaced by a grand event open to public consumption.

What does this say of us?

What’s next for #UrwaFarhan?

Aside from the freebies, the wedding ensured that Urwa, Mawra and Farhan’s Internet followings increased and people who may not have really known much about them now knew them intimately.

They enhanced their celebrity status, not caring much to be regarded more as tabloid stars rather than bona fide icons. Everything sells on Instagram and all publicity is good publicity.

Perhaps that’s how it’s meant to be in the age of social media... quantity over quality, consumerism rules all. It’s still sad.


Adnan Dec 22, 2016 01:02pm
This happens all over the world. It happens because when you leave your own values and try to follow hollywoods' then this happens.
tooba Dec 22, 2016 02:02pm
It was a much needed issue to address. there are many celebrities who prefer enjoying their moments than creating a sense of inferiority complex among their fellow community. Each moment of #Urhan wedding looked more like a show off chance than to enjoy their best event most.
Khan Dec 22, 2016 02:08pm
Awesome and cool wedding.
syed shahzad bukhari Dec 22, 2016 02:28pm
What is the message for the masses for this kind of lavish event.
Aamna Dec 22, 2016 04:14pm
"However, one has to ask: with the media specially invited to their wedding, with fashion designers listed like ‘sponsors’ on their wedding invitations, with a ‘red carpet’ set up at their shaadi – was this really a private event? The answer is undeniably ‘no’. Since the #UrwaFarhan wedding was a public event and a matter of public interest, it should be critiqued as such, and there’s no denying some aspects of this spectacle were problematic." You spoke my heart out!!! I just hope the "who are you to judge" brigade doesn't spam this blog with stuff like "If you can't say anything nice then shut up". If the wedding was treated as a marketing stunt, let it be critiqued as such.
sa Dec 22, 2016 04:27pm
everybody has a right to celebrate their special day the way they they want.
Sameer Dec 22, 2016 04:30pm
Inappropriate wedding me old fashioned but I dont want my woman to be on display for others. One word...Artificial.
Shazia Bangash Dec 22, 2016 04:33pm
It was better than the PPP's Sharmeela Faruqui breaking the rules to get the Mohatta Palace for her wedding.
Dr.Sadaf Dec 22, 2016 05:03pm
It does not make sense to make such a public spectacle of something so private, although we are a poor country but we have so much time and money to spend on weddings, majority of our population is illiterate and cannot spend like this, we should always be considerate towards them.
Dr.Sadaf Dec 22, 2016 05:06pm
@syed shahzad bukhari , that we have it and you don't, create more of have and have not rift, but you know I am sure many level headed people also would not want to indulge in such an over the board affair, new fame and money screaming.
Zi Dec 22, 2016 05:07pm
Special relationship build in a special way should be enjoyed and not the occasion. But of course that takes patience and time , something that this generation is bereft of.
Muhammad Dec 22, 2016 05:10pm
I dont understand why ppl are concerned over why they wore or did ont heir wedding. It was their event and they had every right to celebrate the same as long as they dont break any law. (If they have broken any law then they should be hold accountable for the same). Societal gap on the basis of social status (rich and poor) has been always there since humans have come on this earth. Ppl's celebrations will depend on the amount of money they have to spent. They are not the first couple to do so. Same was happening in last decade, last century and even centuries before that. All of us who are commenting and bashing the couple here, dont we celebrate weddings as per our own social status? if we can afford 3 dishes then we go for three, if we afford 2 then we go for that and if we afford 5 then we go for that so arent we being unjust to those who cant even afford one dish on their wedding? just wish them all the best and move on they have not used your money for their celebration
shubs Dec 22, 2016 05:54pm
Celebrities doing what celebrities do...all over the world.
Shehar Bano Dec 22, 2016 07:08pm
@Muhammad Comment when you understand the article. Artists are public figures, what they do have an impact on people. And especially the way they were showing off, they wanted to make an impact on people. This creates sense of inferiority in people who can't afford. No one is asking them to not enjoy their wedding as per their social status, this article is just pointing at excessive show off which is unnecessary!
Ghr Dec 22, 2016 07:49pm
They are just promoting wrong norms in youngster.Everybody is criticizing now but we will be soon seeing these kinds of thing in every other celebrity wedding now (hats off to urhan for setting the trend and our creating a competition of media coverage and rest will follow blindly as to these celebrity people all it means to them is publicity and likes) and then after sometime we will get used to it and follow it unintentionally.
Ghr Dec 22, 2016 07:56pm
@Muhammad i think what people are bashing is there behaviour and norms they are setting. yes of course its there wedding but if it is make it private why call so much media ??? do whatever in your private parties nobody is arguing but if it is public appearance then one should take care of the nation he is representing ..
Naureen Dec 22, 2016 08:06pm
Come on people, enjoy the pics/ videos, and move on with your life! Aur bhi gham hain zamane mein.......
Aisha Dec 22, 2016 08:31pm
Thanks for this article. It is important for the young impressionable minds to be able to see through all the glitz and glamour.
rashid nasim Dec 22, 2016 09:10pm
May God bless you both and your marriage. Enjoy your partnership and be there for each other in sad times and happy times. Don't worry about the critiques.
Marvi Dec 22, 2016 09:14pm
So glad this issue is being highlighted. For a country where people are struggling to meet the basics, such extravaganza and its display is insensitivity towards all those.
Kamran Dec 22, 2016 09:36pm
Think of it this way, they spent their money, which helps the economy. The money out of their pocket, and trickling into the pocket of general population. As long as they spent it inside Pakistan, its a win-win situation. Its better than having a destination wedding at an island with only close friends and family. The money drain would be similar, but spent differently on airline/hotels/foreign country. This way the money stayed inside the country.
Fredy Dec 22, 2016 09:59pm
I'm sure they don't know who junaid jamshed was.
Akram Dec 22, 2016 10:34pm
I hope the marriage lasts longer than the wedding.
Zalmay Dec 22, 2016 10:54pm
Who're they?
IAM HUMAN Dec 22, 2016 11:40pm
They will be signing divorce papers within a year. Book it.
justrandomperson Dec 22, 2016 11:46pm
yes forget "tehzeeb", being naked is the new modernization of Paksitan though these small percentage do not represent Pakistan as whole. I am not hating on them but when we have to questions such as "is this Pakistani culture" then it becomes little difficult. I am all in support of tolerance and possessiveness but definitely not at the price of giving up my cultural values and haya.
javeria Dec 23, 2016 12:32am
Live and Let Live. Why can't we leave Urwa & Farhan alone, it was their wedding, they have a right to invite the whole world or make it a private celebration, wear borrowed clothes or get custom made from designers, invited media or not, enjoy their own wedding instead sitting like a dummy on stage. I for once really enjoyed their wedding ceremony and felt part of it too. I just hope for once that we all could learn as a society or individuals to stop being judgmental and handing out verdict to everyone whether its Urwa Farhan, Junaid Jamshed, Qandeel Balouch,etc. If the author of this article @Maliha Rehman and Dawn Images was so bothered by their wedding festivities why did you guys accepted the invitation, and shared all their content and getting all this like and free publicity on Dawns' offical Instagram , FB page, etc. HYPOCRITES
Nadia Dec 23, 2016 03:22am
This wedding reminded me the famous dialogue by Al Pacino (as Devil) in the movie "The Devil's Advocate"; "Vanity! is my favorite sin" .
Habib Dec 23, 2016 05:00am
Let the couple enjoy short term to be idealise by their followers I don't think they should be criticised anyway !
UnshacklePak Dec 23, 2016 06:11am
Freedom of choice. Those who don't want to watch aren't forced to. I am not watching any of this wedding hoopla but I don't begrudge others of perhaps wanted to get a peek into a glamorous wedding. Is watching a round leather hitting wood any better? Cricket itself isn't adding anything to one's understanding of the universe. Live and let live. Be thankful you've got a channels to choose from.
Muhammad Dec 23, 2016 06:36am
@Ghr Even that is wrong. Celebrity weddings have always been publicized either by the media or by the celebs themselves because ppl do want to know what they did, what they wore etc. ppl are aware that most of them cant afford such weddings and they are not concerned with that but just our of curiosity and / or being loyal fans they still do want to know what happened.
rahamd Dec 23, 2016 07:37am
@Marvi Yes you are right. Common people want marriage in Bollywood style and Celebrities get married in Hollywood style.
Hamid shafiq Dec 23, 2016 09:39am
@shubs she is celebrity? do you think?
AF Dec 23, 2016 10:18am
Get a life people. I don't mean support them or be like them, but why do so many of us have so much time to focus on what these so called celebrities are doing. It might be wrong of them to not be socially responsible given whatever fan following they have (if any), but its not their legal responsibility to take care of what others want or what others think. If you don't like what they are doing, nobody is putting a gun to your head and asking you to follow them. Get more busy in setting your own standards and achieving them rather than feeling insecure by what other people are doing. Don't you think all this marketing was successfully done because the people doing it knew that they will have so much attention of the masses? Attention is the most valuable gift you can give to anyone, we should be giving it out very wisely.
Zubaida Khan Dec 23, 2016 10:25am
@syed shahzad bukhari why does everything need to be a message to the masses? Let them be. You are free to imitate them or not, its your choice. They are not forcing it on you. And they are not role models.
PUmA Dec 23, 2016 10:31am
What's with the clothes , are we supposed to see parts of their bodies or not. What is the norm here ? Look at how Urwa is dressed ? Are we supposed to see that skin or NOT ? or should our brains auto-censor everything.
PUmA Dec 23, 2016 10:33am
@Muhammad "Societal gap on the basis of social status (rich and poor) has been always there since humans have come on this earth." LOL ... please read anthropology. Class society and division of labor did not exist before agriculture.
Osman Dec 27, 2016 08:04am
The message for the masses is that it's okay to be cheap and vulgar.
Rani Dec 28, 2016 07:11pm
@Sameer Appreciable sentiment,