I would love to know: Do you have a wedding drama story? Did you witness some serious nuptial shenanigans? Please tell me all about it!
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Next week, I’m the guest at Bonkers Romance! On Thursday April 14, we’ll be recapping the first half of A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor by Kathryn Moon. And then on Friday, April 15, I’ll be releasing part 2 of our recap here! I hope you’ll join Melody, Jenny and me for a very wholesome monster erotica recap.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello, Happy Friday, and welcome to episode number 505 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell, and my guest today is Jesse Q. Sutanto. Jesse’s new book, Four Aunties and a Wedding, is out now, and we are going to talk about wedding drama. We are going to talk about all the drama we’ve experienced behind the scenes and as guests. We cover weddings with thousands of guests, runaway brides, cultural clashes, and the weight of wedding expectations.
Now, I want to let you know, this is an international recording, so there is a little bit of static that I’ve cleaned up, but if you notice it, I apologize; I did my best.
I also want to let you know about a special event next week: next week is a special crossover, two-part episode. On Thursday, April 14, I am the guest on Bonkers Romance, and we are going to be recapping A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor by Kathryn Moon; then Friday, April 15th, here on my show, I am hosting part two. There is so much good stuff, and I’ll have a little bit more information after the episode.
Hello and thank you to our Patreon community, who are entirely fabulous. Each pledge helps me keep going and helps me make sure that each episode has a transcript. Thank you, garlicknitter! And thank you to the Patreon community. If you would like to join, have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches.
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Are you ready for some wedding drama stories? Let’s do this. On with my episode with Jesse Q. Sutanto.
Jesse Q. Sutanto: Hi! My name is Jesse Q. Sutanto, and I am the author of Dial A for Aunties and the upcoming Four Aunties and a Wedding, as well as The Obsession, The New Girl, and the upcoming middle-grade fantasy Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit.
Sarah: Awesome! So you’re a little busy. Just a little.
Jesse: [Laughs] Yeah! Just a little, yeah.
Sarah: Well, congratulations on Four Aunties and a Wedding. I know this is a hard question because authors have to, you know, describe their books a lot, but what will readers find in this book?
Jesse: Oh my gosh, yeah, that is such a hard question, and, like –
Sarah: It is, right?
Jesse: – I just end up, like, babbling on and on about, like, the weird and unimportant stuff about the book? And actually for Dial A for Aunties my publisher gave me like the three-line, you know, very pithy little summary that I could tell people. But they, they haven’t done that for Four Aunties, so you’re going to have to bear with me?
So Four Aunties and a Wedding is a direct sequel to Dial A for Aunties –
Jesse: – and – yeah! [Laughs] So Meddy is going to get married to her long-lost, you know, the, the one that got away, Nathan, and so they’re going to England, and of course, as it turns out, because the aunties are involved, nothing can go right, and it turns out that their wedding caterers are not who they say they are, and –
Jesse: – expect a lot of shenanigans and possible mafia? [Laughs]
Sarah: As you do.
Jesse: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sarah: I mean, this is pretty standard for a wedding, right?
Jesse: Yes. [Laughs]
Sarah: Did you have a lot of fun writing this book? Is it, is it fun to write a sequel and then hang out with those characters again?
Jesse: Oh my gosh! It was so much easier and yet harder in different ways?
Jesse: So it was, yeah, it was a lot easier because I, as soon as I started writing I was like, my gosh, I know these characters already, and I’ve missed them so much. I’m so glad to be able to, like, kind of just dive into their world again?
Jesse: But it’s also really hard because I was like, how much trouble can these women get into? I mean –
Jesse: You know, how can I realistically pull this off? So that was, that was very, very challenging.
Sarah: And it’s, it’s hard to write sort of mayhem, chaos capers.
Sarah: There’s a lot of moving parts –
Sarah: – and a lot of people involved!
Jesse: Yes. Yeah, and I want to, like, because the books are, you know, they’re meant to be ridiculous? But –
Jesse: – I, I didn’t want them to be, like, too ridiculous –
Jesse: – to the point where it, you know, kind of breaks your –
Jesse: – suspension of disbelief?
Jesse: Yeah, so it was really hard.
Sarah: Now, I understand from Erin, your lovely publicist, and from –
Sarah: – some of the interviews that you’ve done, that you were a wedding photographer.
Sarah: How many years were you a wedding photographer?
Jesse: I think I did it for about three years, I want to say?
Sarah: Which is plenty of time for lots of weddings and lots of shenanigans.
Jesse: Oh yes. [Laughs]
Sarah: So I’m assuming it’s, it’s not a long shot to presume that your own experiences as a photographer influenced this series a little bit, yeah?
Jesse: Oh yeah, totally! Like, lots of dead bodies! [Laughs]
Sarah: As you do.
Jesse: Well, yes and no, yes and no. So to be honest, I was like, when I was writing, you know, I thought, oh, okay, so my main character, because this is not a YA novel, she’s an adult, she needs a job, and it’s like, oh, what job can she have? And I was like, oh, I’m going to have to do so much research, and I’m so lazy, and it was like –
Jesse: – I know! Make her a wedding photographer!
Sarah: I already know this!
Jesse: And I don’t need to do any research! Yeah, and then I was like, oh my gosh, no, but that’s perfect, because I love weddings. I love everything about them, and, you know, I, I know everything about them already, ‘cause I’ve been, like, obsessed with them. So, so then I was like, okay, that just all, you know, really came together so nicely.
Sarah: And it, and it works because not only do you love weddings, you know, you can –
Sarah: – there’s so much media around the sort of public side of weddings – celebrity weddings and –
Sarah: – wedding magazines –
Sarah: – but then when you work as a photographer you get the behind-the-scenes chaos –
Sarah: – of the wedding.
Sarah: So you know –
Sarah: – all the aspects.
Jesse: Yeah! [Laughs]
Sarah: Okay, please tell me about some of your favorite stories about the weddings that you’ve, that you’ve been to and worked at, because I know that people who work at weddings –
Sarah: – the florists, the photographers –
Sarah: – the bartenders, y’all have the best stories, and wedding gossip is the best gossip, right?
Jesse: We dooo! It is! Okay, so my worst ever wedding experience was –
Sarah: Oh, just go right for the top! Go for the worst one!
Sarah: Just tell me everything!
Jesse: The worst one!
Jesse: So it was one of the first weddings that I ever shot, and I was charging very little for it, and the wedding was in a pub in – oh my gosh, I can’t remember what part of England, but it was in England, ‘cause that was where I was mainly a photographer at – and so the bride got drunk and –
Jesse: – like, really drunk, and she, like, she was getting very loud towards, you know, the others, and then she, like, caught sight of me and she, like, came, like, towards me with this very angry look on her face? I went, whoa!
Sarah: Oh no!
Jesse: And my, and my flight-or-fight response is freeze, so I was just standing there like – [gasps] –
Jesse: – and then she, like, came towards me, and, and then, like, her husband – I, I guess he knows what she’s like – he, like, just, like, jumped, you know, in between us, and I was like, whoa! ‘Kay, let’s go in here, and – [laughs] – and, like, led her physically away and bundled her into, like, the limo and was like, we’re going to go for a drive, and –
Sarah: Oh no.
Jesse: – and so then they went for a drive, then I was like, my gosh, I still don’t know what happened! And I was just kind of standing there really stunned, and, and her mom came to me and was like, oh, don’t worry about it; she gets like this! She likes to get into fights, and so, you know, don’t worry; like, we know to look out for, for it. [Laughs] Like, nothing personal; like, she just, like, hit the waiter, you know, like last week for no reason. I was like, what?!
Sarah: Oh my God!
Jesse: And – [laughs] – and one of her aunts came, came up to me and was like, oh, I’d just like you to know that I’m only related to them by marriage?
Sarah: I don’t know any of these people. I’ve never met them before.
Jesse: Yeah, so that was –
Sarah: Why – wow, I have so many questions for these people that I don’t know. Like, why would you have your wedding –
Jesse: I know!
Sarah: – in a pub if you know that the bride gets angry –
Jesse: I know!
Sarah: – fight – like, some people get –
Jesse: I know, yes.
Sarah: – silly drunk, right? And some people get –
Sarah: – emotionally drunk. I personally am a very silly and then sleepy drunk.
Sarah: And I start laughing, and then I just go to bed.
Sarah: And then some people get angry-fight drunk. Why would you have your wedding in a pub –
Sarah: – with a bride who gets angry-fight drunk?
Jesse: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sarah: Did you ever find out what it was that she decided that she was angry at you about, or did you just never see her again?
Jesse: Yeah, no, I, I, she came back after the limo ride, and she was very happy, and then, like, she had –
Jesse: – morphed from that angry drunk to, like, happy, loving drunk, and she was like, I’m so sorry! And then she, like –
Sarah: Oh no!
Jesse: – gave me a big hug and was –
Jesse: – okay. [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh my go- – so clearly, clearly, her husband, they were probably having fun sexytimes in the limo –
Sarah: – is my presumption there.
Jesse: [Laughs] Yeah, probably.
Sarah: Oh my gosh!
Sarah: So what are some of the most off-the-wall weddings? I mean, ‘cause I know from other interviews you’ve done that weddings in Indonesia are completely different experiences –
Sarah: – than, say, angry drunk pub wedding in England.
Jesse: Yeah, very, very different. So the biggest wedding that I ever photographed in England had four hundred people, and everyone was, like, you know, talking about, oh my God, this is the biggest wedding ever! Like, it was so difficult to find a venue, and, like, even the venue that they found, which was, like, a really, really nice, like, manor house?
Jesse: It had to, like, spill out of, you know, the, the dining hall –
Jesse: – ‘cause it wasn’t big enough, and you know, it was just like a nightmare in terms of, like, the logistics for, for the bride and groom, but –
Sarah: Oh, of course! Because then when you do the seating chart –
Jesse: Which is really fun –
Sarah: – it’s like, well, why am I not in the dining room?
Sarah: Why am I out in the hall?
Jesse: Yeah, yeah.
Sarah: I don’t even – whoo!
Jesse: Exactly, yeah.
Sarah: ‘Cause you know, people get their feelings hurt –
Jesse: Yeah, so – [laughs] –
Sarah: – at weddings a lot, I’ve, I’ve seen.
Jesse: Yes! Yeah.
Jesse: So I thought that really funny because, like, in Indonesia, you know, like, I’ve never been to a wedding that only had four hundred people!
Jesse: So, like, my own wedding had a thousand, five hundred people, because –
Sarah: Good, good heavens!
Jesse: – my husband is English, yeah, and, and so, like, he had like seven people from his side of the family –
Jesse: – and, and my parents were like, well, this is just humiliating! Like, can’t he, you know, rustle up some English people to come over? And I was like, no! That’s not how it works. Like –
Jesse: Just rustle up some more English people and, like, ferry them over here.
Sarah: Just grab them! Put them on the plane. Just grab them and bring ‘em over.
Jesse: [Laughs] And they’re like, we’re never going to live this down! We’ll be like the laughingstock of everyone! Anyway, so – [laughs] – so most weddings here have, on average, like two thousand to three thousand guests? But –
Jesse: I, I actually went to, to the wedding of, like, some politician, some politician’s daughter or something, and they had like eight thousand people –
Sarah: Oh my gosh!
Jesse: – and that was utter, that was complete chaos. That was, you know, that’s huge even for, like, you know, Indonesian, like, standards? And I was like, oh my God, I am not enjoying this.
Sarah: Where do you put eight thousand people? So first of all – I have many questions – the first question is how many bathrooms –
Sarah: – do these venues have?
Sarah: Because I’ve been to weddings –
Jesse: That’s a good question!
Sarah: Right? Like, I’ve been to weddings –
Sarah: – where the venue has, like one wedding is going on in one part of the building, and then another wedding is going on –
Sarah: – in the other part of the building, but there’s only two ladies’ rooms for all of those people, and it’s just –
Jesse: Oh no!
Sarah: – it’s just a disaster, right?
Sarah: Like, when I was looking for –
Sarah: – venues for my own wedding, which was, you know, twenty-plus years ago, I always was like –
Sarah: – all right, how many, how many ladies’ rooms do you have? Because the line for the ladies’ room is just the least fun part.
Jesse: Oh, that’s such a good – you’re so considerate to your, to your guests. That’s so nice!
Sarah: Well, thank you! I actually wasn’t super considerate, ‘cause I got married on what’s considered like a party yacht. It’s a boat that goes up and down the East and Hudson Rivers in New York, and so –
Jesse: That sounds so fun!
Sarah: It was really fun! We had to be tied to one side of the river because the, the state line is in the middle of the river and our, our rabbi had to be officiating in New Jersey, so we were tied to the Jersey shore –
Jesse: Oh wow!
Sarah: – like the Jersey side of the river during the service –
Jesse: Oh my gosh!
Sarah: – and then the minute we were legally married they cast off, and our dinner re-, and our reception was a dinner and dancing –
Jesse: I really, really like that!
Sarah: – cruise up and down the rivers. But we basically kidnapped our guests. Like, there was no leaving early; we were on a boat.
Sarah: I mean, like, if you, if you were coming, you were staying for the whole thing, no choices. And I also got to get like –
Jesse: [Laughs] Oh my gosh!
Sarah: – I guess I got a little cranky with people who didn’t RSVP. Like, I don’t care at this point –
Sarah: – but the Coast Guard needs to know if you’re going to be on this boat, so just let me know if you’re coming.
Jesse: Oh my gosh!
Sarah: So on one hand –
Jesse: That’s amazing! Wow!
Sarah: – I was super worried about the number of ladies’ rooms on the boat.
Sarah: It had several; I appreciate that. But at the same time I was also really rude –
Sarah: – and I’m like, if you’re coming you’re staying for the whole thing; no choices here. You can’t leave early; we’re on a boat.
Jesse: Oh my God. I love it!
Sarah: It was one of my favorite parties, I’ll b honest. But eight –
Jesse: Oh wow!
Sarah: – thousand – okay, first of all, there’s – imagine an eight-thousand wedding, an eight-thousand-person wedding on a boat. That’s a cruise ship. That’s a big cruise ship.
Jesse: Oh my gosh, yes, that is. Yeah.
Sarah: How do you, where do you, where do you put eight thousand people? What kind of venues do you have for eight thousand people? Where was this wedding? How do you do that? I’m, my mind is blown.
Jesse: So – [laughs] –
Sarah: I mean, for the record, I had 104 people –
Jesse: Yeah, so –
Sarah: – at my wedding, not eight thousand.
Jesse: I love it! So most hotels here are built with, like, the typical Indonesian wedding in mind, so –
Sarah: Right! Right, right, right.
Jesse: – most hotels, they would have, like, huge, like, banquet halls, and –
Sarah: Holy cow!
Jesse: – what’s really smart is that, like, the banquet halls, they, they would have like these partitions. So for example, because my wedding was so tiny, they –
Sarah: [Laughs] At fifteen hundred people!
Jesse: – they partitioned it, so – yeah. Yeah, so we only used a third of, like, the banquet hall so it didn’t look so, you know, so big and empty?
Jesse: And even then I remember, like, thinking, oh, it’s not that full. You know, even like a third for like a thousand, five hundred people felt kind of empty?
Jesse: So I think it was, it could have fit like two thousand very comfortably?
Jesse: And then, yeah, so that, and that was just a third of, like, the ballroom. So the hotels are, like, built with that in mind, and they’re always, like, competing, right –
Jesse: – to get, like, you know, the bigger weddings, so they, they’re always, like, built with, you know, good parking in mind and –
Sarah: Smart, yep.
Jesse: – plenty of, like, bathrooms, you know, located at, like, different entrances? So –
Sarah: Yep. Yep, yep.
Jesse: Yeah, so it’s, it’s like all very, like, well thought out.
Sarah: Right. Wow.
Jesse: All of it, like, ready to cater. But I think that eight-thousand-guest one, they were struggling, ‘cause, you know, that was just out of the norm.
Sarah: I mean, I can, I don’t, I don’t know that many people. Like, I don’t know –
Sarah: – that many humans!
Jesse: No, neither do I!
Sarah: Like, that is an absolutely staggering number of human beings. Even, even in your wedding at fifteen hundred, like, I understand your parents were like –
Sarah: – I’m sorry, your, your –
Sarah: – our son-in-law has brought seven people.
Sarah: But I also don’t know fifteen hundred – this is absolutely astonishing.
Jesse: Oh my gosh! No, that’s what I told him; I was like, why do you know all these people? ‘Cause, like, I only have five hundred Facebook friends.
Sarah: Oh my goodness!
Jesse: I think about twenty were, like, my friends, and then the rest were all, like, my parents’ – [laughs]. So yeah.
Sarah: So when you, when you’ve been attending weddings and when you’ve worked at a photographer, do you remember any, like, scandalous or incredible stories from the weddings that you’ve been at? I’m presuming they haven’t involved kidnappings, dead bodies, you know, moving a dead body around. Like, I’m, I’m guessing that was fiction, but maybe, maybe not! I mean, you know, fifteen hundred, eight thousand people, you can have a murder in there, I guess? I mean, who would notice? There’s eight thousand people.
Jesse: Yeah, no one would know!
Sarah: Yeah, I think eight thousand people, who’s going to notice? They’re just going to assume that person’s sleeping, right?
Jesse: Yeah! Exactly, or yeah, just passed out –
Jesse: – from all the wine or something.
Jesse: [Laughs] So what’s funny is that a lot of the things that I put into Dial A for Aunties were just like kind of standard, run-of-the-mill things that happen at, like, weddings here. Like, for example, the tea ceremony, there’s, like, a scene where the couple has a tea ceremony, and a tea ceremony is, like, for the bride and groom serve tea to their elders –
Jesse: – and the elders have to give them a gift.
Jesse: And so that one, like, I wasn’t even exaggerating or anything, you know, ‘cause, like, I have been to tea ceremonies where, you know, I’ve seen aunties being like, oh my God, like, they’re getting so much money; now we, you know, we’ll have to give a lot more in our red packet! Otherwise we’re going to lose face! So then they’re, like, shoving, like, clumps of cash into –
Jesse: – the red packets? Like, I’ve seen two –
Sarah: You’re watching the thickness of the envelope? Yeah.
Jesse: Yeah! So, I mean, like, the tea ceremony is where one relative is, like, oh, you know, and the gift is this! And it turns out it’s like, you know, the certificate to, like, a BMW or something, and then –
Sarah: Holy cow!
Jesse: – the – yeah! And then the other relatives are like, God damn it! Like, ugh!
Sarah: How dare you make us look bad?!
Jesse: Yeah! So, so yeah, that wasn’t even exaggerated, and, and I remember a lot of people were, like, commenting, you know, like, oh my God, this is so over the top! And I was like, well, you know, it’s just the reality here! [Laughs]
Sarah: Wow! Wow! I remember, I used to work, I used to work at the front desk of a hotel? Which is –
Sarah: – not a great customer-facing job. Housekeeping was worse, but front desk was a lot. And one time I went in and there was a wedding scheduled; it was like a Sunday, so there was a Sunday afternoon wedding, and I come in –
Sarah: – and the groom’s parents and the groom and the father and the mother of the bride and all the bridesmaids are just standing around in the lobby looking worried, and I’m like, well, those are nice dresses!
Sarah: Okay, I’ll go in the back, sign in, go to the front desk, and everyone at the front desk is sort of standing around whispering, and I’m like, what’s going on? And they’re like, well –
Sarah: – the wedding is in thirty minutes, and the bride has just run off with the –
Sarah: – groomsman and the limo driver –
Jesse: [Gasps again]
Sarah: – and has disappeared, and they don’t know where she is. And I’m like, ohhh-kay!
Sarah: And they’re like, well, it’s time for our shift to end; bye! And I’m like, wait, wait, wait! I need more detail, I need more detail! What’s happening? They’re like, we gotta go!
Jesse: Oh, I know, I know!
Sarah: And I’m like, okay! So the bridesmaids are all on their phones, and the groomsmen are all on their phones, and the groom is, like, trying to get ahold of his fiancée, and we’re like –
Jesse: Oh my God!
Sarah: – okay, do we need to, do we need to call the police? Like, is she in trouble? And one of the groomsmen apparently knew that she was planning this and was like, nonono, she’s fine –
Sarah: – she’s fine, she’s fine. And suddenly – and I could watch it from across the lobby; I could watch the, the bridesmaids and the groomsmen figure out that this one guy knows more than he’s saying, and so you watch these abs- – I mean, makeup and hair has been done, and this was, okay, so it was before I got married, it was while I was in college, so this is like the late ‘90s? So this is some –
Sarah: – this is some big hair that we’re talking about here. Like, these were some –
Jesse: [Laughs] I love it!
Sarah: – very –
Jesse: Oh my gosh.
Sarah: – and, and the dresses were very, very blue, and they had –
Jesse: Poofy, yeah.
Sarah: – very poofy, and really, really big hair. Like, that’s what their hair was like –
Sarah: – it was big, beautiful, curly gathers with flowers. So you watched these angry Valkyrie bridesmaids start going in on this groomsman like, where is she? Tell us everything. We’re going to, we’re, we will hurt you –
Jesse: Oh my God.
Sarah: – and, and, like, they’re all just really angry at this guy, and this is all happening in the lobby in front of me? I have never been so scared –
Jesse: Oh my God.
Sarah: – of well-dressed people in my life. Like, I was terrified of all of these angry people, and I was just sort of standing there going, I’m at the front desk; would you like to check in? Oh my gosh! Finally, finally –
Jesse: Oh my God.
Sarah: – finally they get hold of her. She doesn’t want to get married; she has run off with the groomsman. She went to the airport and was trying to get her, her fiancé’s ticket changed to her apparently runaway groomsman.
Jesse: To the groomsman?
Sarah: Yeah, she’s trying to get his, the ticket changed to him so they could go on the honeymoon?
Sarah: And she hadn’t told her fiancé any of this. And the person that I had to end up –
Jesse: Oh my gosh!
Sarah: – talking to was the father of the bride, because he had to come to the front desk –
Sarah: – and pay for the wedding that didn’t happen.
Jesse: Oh no! But why did she just –
Sarah: I don’t know!
Jesse: Why did she not – oh my God, I have so many questions for her!
Sarah: I do too!
Jesse: Wait, so, how is she doing now? [Laughs]
Sarah: I honestly don’t know. I remember that they, they sort of got up in front of all of – ‘cause, you know, guests are arriving, and so eventually –
Sarah: – eventually we had to move the angry bridesmaids and the very scared groomsman –
Jesse: Oh my God.
Sarah: – we had to move them into an additional room because guests were coming in and were like –
Sarah: – what is happening? And then the, and the wedding guests were coming in –
Jesse: Oh yeah.
Sarah: – and, like, what is happening? And the lobby was just becoming absolute chaos, ‘cause people were arriving for the wedding and then –
Sarah: – you know how when you walk in a room –
Sarah: – you can feel stuff is wrong?
Sarah: So guests are arriving in the lobby, and they’re like, oh, wait! Oh, this is not good. People look angry! This is – oh boy! So we had to move all these people into –
Jesse: Oh boy, gosh!
Sarah: – like, into like a meeting, they were, like, in a meeting room. Like, they were in some sort of conference room –
Jesse: Oh no!
Sarah: – and finally the father of the bride was like, all right! So he goes out and talks to all the guests at the start of the wedding and said, we’re not having a wedding, but we are having a party. Please eat and drink – ‘cause it was already paid for! He couldn’t cancel it, so he’s like, please eat and drink and enjoy yourselves and have a good evening and, you know, uh, sorry! And then, like, took his wife – his wife was devastated – they went back in the conference room.
Jesse: Oh my God!
Sarah: I remember we had room service bring them a lot of wine. Like, a lot. A lot of wine was given to the parents of the, of the bride –
Sarah: – and the parents of the groom and the groom.
Jesse: I’m so glad that they at least got wine.
Sarah: Oh, they got so much wine. And, you know, you, when you’re at the front desk you, you’re sort of confronting people at the worst, like, moment. Like, they’ve, they’ve just arrived; they’re tired; they –
Sarah: – probably flew in, you know. They just, they just want to go to their rooms. So, you know, I’m used to dealing with people who are just like, I’m ready to collapse; please put me in a room. So I had to help the father of the bride –
Jesse: Oh my God!
Sarah: – write a check to pay for the wedding? And, like, I’m, I don’t know, I’m like –
Jesse: Ohhh, I’m cringing for him!
Sarah: I know, right? And I’m like twenty years old; what do I know? I don’t know anything. So my, my –
Sarah: – my supervisor, who was much older and much smarter – I remember this part very clearly – she said, you know, I, I know this has been an absolutely awful day for you, but I promise tomorrow will not be this bad, and the, and the father of the bride said –
Sarah: – yes, and I keep telling myself it is cheaper to call off a wedding than to get a divorce. And I’m like, yes! That’s very true!
Jesse: Oh yeah, that’s so true!
Sarah: So apparently the wine helped, but that was probably –
Sarah: – and I had nothing – I was not, I was not invited to this wedding; I was in my little uniform at the front desk? – but I –
Sarah: – remember this so clearly, because, you know, when you have that many people, and, and weddings are big emotions, right?
Jesse: Yeah! Yeah.
Sarah: The minute you have all those big emotions and all that fancy dress and then something goes wrong, it can be so –
Sarah: – so awful.
Jesse: Oh my gosh! That was so wise, though! I love that! That, oh, it’s cheaper to call off the wedding than –
Jesse: – than divorce.
Sarah: Well, I mean, he was writing a big check. I pretty much, I, I think he would have told himself anything at that point, right?
Jesse: Yeah. [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh my gosh. So when you were planning your own wedding, when you were planning your own wedding, what was that like for you?
Jesse: Honestly, it was very difficult because, yeah, there was like a, a cultural clash, and, I mean, our two cultures are just so different. Like, my, you know, my husband is like, he’s from a very quiet, sleepy, little English village.
Jesse: Like he thought that Oxford was overwhelming – [laughs] – and so to come to, you know, Jakarta, like a huge metropolis –
Jesse: – was like –
Jesse: – oh my God, like, blew his mind, and, and then of course my family has all these expectations and, and, you know, my mom was like, well, you know, what about the engagement party? Like, so, and there’re like so many, like, traditions involved, like, oh, he has to gift me a necklace, and that necklace better be diamond! And –
Sarah: Oh my gosh!
Jesse: – and, and then she was, like, describing it. So that’s actually the engagement party; like, traditionally we, we actually don’t have, you know, rings? Like –
Jesse: – our rings are the necklaces that the, you’re supposed to, like, put it, you know, the guy’s supposed to put it around the girl’s neck, and I was like –
Jesse: – I don’t like that; it sounds like he’s putting a collar on me. I, I don’t like –
Jesse: And she was like, oh, and then he, his family is supposed to, like, give these huge, like, hampers that are filled with, like, branded goods and blah-blah-blah, and it was just really a lot of, like, expectations? And finally I was like, well, look, you know, we’re not going to do any of that, ‘cause it’s just, like, too much –
Sarah: Right, right, right.
Jesse: – and it was so overwhelming. So finally I was like, we’re not going to have an engagement party, but, you know, you can plan the wedding that you want.
Jesse: It was a compromise.
Jesse: So yeah, it was very stressful.
Sarah: Weddings are very stressful because everyone has an idea of what your wedding look, should look like.
Sarah: Right? Like there’s, well, the-, these people –
Sarah: – did it this way, so we have to do it this way. This is the family tradition; we have to do this this way. There’s all of these expectations placed on you when it’s, it’s your wedding with lots and lots of –
Sarah: – people’s opinions, right?
Sarah: So were there any experiences that you had that were similar to, to Meddy’s in Four Aunties and a Wedding?
Jesse: So in Four Aunties and a Wedding I really wanted to highlight that it can be very, like a rude awakening when, like, immigrant families meet other immigrant families, and then they expect, you know, the experience to be completely similar, but then it turns out, like, it’s not, and they find that they’re actually, you know, more – it feels like they’re even more different than the non-immigrant families. So that actually happened with, you know, when my parents met my husband’s parents. So my husband, his dad is English, but his mom is actually Singaporean, and so my parents, you know, we lived in Singapore for a very long time, for many years, and so they were very excited to meet his mom? But his mom has actually, like, completely assimilated to English culture –
Sarah: Oh boy!
Jesse: – and so when they met her, they were so, like, taken aback. Like, what, what do you mean you don’t, you know, speak Chinese? And, and they were, like, getting all huffy, you know, and I wanted to put that in the book –
Jesse: – to show that, you know, there isn’t, like, a single right, you know, or a correct way of, like –
Jesse: – being a person of color, that all of our experiences are just so different –
Jesse: – and so varied.
Sarah: The people getting married often –
Sarah: – they have to be the bridge between two very big misunderstandings and have sort of partial fluency –
Sarah: – in both? That is a lot to –
Sarah: I, I can understand why people elope is what I’m saying here.
Jesse: Oh yeah! [Laughs] It took a few years, you know, even after we got married, for us to kind of like smooth, you know, smooth over –
Jesse: – the initial bumps.
Jesse: So I think, you know, even now, my parents are not, like, they don’t have the kind of relationship with my husband’s parents that they wish they could?
Jesse: ‘Cause they’re, like, they’re very close to their friends; they’re very close to, like, my sister-in-law’s parents. You know, they go on, like, vacation together; that’s the kind of, like, relationship that they wanted?
Jesse: Whereas, you know, my husband’s parents, they’re very like, oh, no, no, no! Like – [laughs] – we do not vacation together!
Jesse: Can’t blame them. [Laughs]
Sarah: So I always ask this question: what books are you reading that you want to tell people about?
Jesse: So I just finished reading Such a Fun Age –
Jesse: – by Kiley Reid? It’s so good! Oh my gosh! Everybody should read it! I don’t know why, like, I only just picked it up now. I know it came out, was it like last year or 2020? But yeah, I, I’m kicking myself for not reading it sooner, it’s so good.
Sarah: Ah! Don’t be so hard on yourself! First of all, time has no meaning in COVID times, and also –
Jesse: Ah, yes.
Sarah: – any book you haven’t read is a new book to you!
Jesse: It’s, it’s so, like, cringey –
Jesse: – you know, and I’m, like, listening to it, ‘cause I was listening to the audiobook. I was like, oh no! You know, and I’m like, oh my gosh, she shows, like, the, the good intentions so well, I felt. Everyone is, like, so complex in it. I, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Sarah: Have you listened to the audiobook of your books?
Jesse: I, I tried, but it’s like, it’s so weird, ‘cause it’s not even my own voice, but –
Jesse: – it’s like watching yourself, you know, on, on video, and you’re like, I have that same, like, secondhand embarrassment.
Sarah: I can understand; I know a lot of authors can’t listen to the audiobook, but I have to tell you, I am part of a few different reader groups, and people absolutely –
Sarah: – love the audio performance of Dial A for Aunties. Absolutely love it.
Jesse: I know, yeah! I, yeah.
Sarah: The, the narrator, Risa Mei –
Jesse: She did such an amazing, yeah, she did an –
Sarah: Absolutely –
Together: – amazing job.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. Thank you to Jesse Q. Sutanto for connecting with me over many, many time zones, and thank you to Erin Galloway for helping me set up this interview.
I would love to know, do you have a wedding drama story? Did you witness some serious nuptial shenanigans? Please tell me; I would dearly love to know about it. You can email me at [email protected]; or you can email me a sound file where you just tell me the whole story, ‘cause you know I really want to hear the details; or you can call and leave a message at 201-371-3272. Please tell me all your wedding drama; I would love to hear.
And, as I mentioned in the intro, next week is a special crossover event. Thursday, April 14th, I am the guest on Bonkers Romance, and they are hosting part one of our two-part recap of A Lady of Rooksgrave Manor by Kathryn Moon; and then on Friday, April 15th, I am hosting part two. Listen, there is so much. There is so much! Rooksgrave is what I would call wholesome monster erotica. So please tune in to Bonkers Romance on Thursday, April 14th, for part one, and join me and Melody and Jenny here for part two.
I’m very curious about the different types of podcasts; there’s the sort of interview podcast that I do, there’s conversation podcasts that I do, and there’s recapping podcasts that I do, so I’m curious which is your favorite? You can always email me and let me know.
And as always, I end with an absolutely dreadful joke, and this week is no different. This joke is from Erin, and Erin wrote, I really enjoy the SPTB podcast; it has helped to lighten my mood over the last few very long years. Thank you, Erin, and thank you for sending me a joke! Y’all ready? Okay, here we go.
What kind of shorts do clouds wear?
What kind of shorts do clouds wear?
[Laughs] Thunderwear! I’m surprised that hasn’t been taken as some sort of like, you know, custom, bespoke, special underwear online company. Thunderwear! Thank you, Erin!
And thank you again for joining me this week. It is really an honor to keep you company. We will be back next week with a two-part episode: Thursday on Bonkers Romance and part two here Friday on my show. But until then, have a wonderful weekend. We wish you the very best of reading.
Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is part of the Frolic Podcast Network. You can find more outstanding podcasts to subscribe to at frolic.media/podcasts.
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.