SUBTLE CAN NEVER BE AN ADJECTIVE USED TO DESCRIBE THE FLAMBOYANT AFFAIRS THAT ARE PUNJABI WEDDINGS. EVEN THE QUIETEST OFTHE LOT ARE DAZZLING CEREMONIES, REFLECTING THE TRUE PUNJABI CELEBRATION OF LIFE. SIMPLY PUNJABI GETS THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS TO SHARE
SIMPLY PUNJABI shares secrets of making big fat Punjabi weddings even more extraordinary
Punjab’s wedding industry, is said to be ‘ recession proof’. Riding high on designer wedding cards, unconventional venues and Bollywood- themed choreography, Punjab has emerged as one of the biggest wedding hubs in the country.
Chandigarh- based wedding planner Manmeet Ahluwalia of Wedding Bells elaborates, “Punjab has wedding themes have never been seen before in India. We have even had Las Vegas- themed cocktail parties with table hostess and casinos.” “Weddings are an important element of the Punjabi lifestyle and an occasion for families to showcase their hospitality and opulence,” says Anupreet Sethi, the force behind Wedding Asia, one of the biggest wedding shows in the region. According to Rajiv Chalana, general manager, The Fort Ramgarh, a luxury hotel in Chandigarh, the sky is the limit for those planning a wedding in Punjab. “There are times when clients want everything to be over the top, including the food, décor, even the welcome ceremony for the guests. The idea is to get everything under one roof.” Preparations begin many months in advance and the wedding itself is easily a week long affair here. From the bachelor and bachelorette parties, to the mehendi, cocktails, Anand Karaj and reception, each event is larger than life. According to DJ Bhanu, one of the biggest wedding planners in Punjab, those seeking an ethnic wedding are opting for rajwaara or a royal theme with palace- like structures and elephants in the courtyard. Then there is a Mughal set- up that has the last word in opulence. “Punjabis love to experiment, and weddings give them a once in a lifetime opportunity to be innovative, creative and show it to the world,” adds DJ Bhanu.
Ace wedding photographer Amit Sood echoes same thoughts and says his clients are ready to experiment, and always dig deep into their pockets. “A Boeing 747 was hired by a wedding party that took off from Delhi, flew over to Amritsar and at 12 noon, the rings were exchanged 32000 feet in the air,” recalls Sood. After that, the entire wedding party was whisked off to Goa for a five- day celebration. A lot of research, planning and coordination goes into the event. Anupreet from Wedding Asia says that more than money, a lot of time should be put invested to ensure that a wedding turns into a fantastic day to remember. “There used to be a time when Bollywood would inspire our weddings. Today, the way things stand, our weddings could very well inspire Bollywood!,” she says. “You have to feel the emotions and see the extravagance, and only then can you truly understand the magnitude of the Punjabi wedding. We're talking huge money here. It's not a family affair anymore,” says Ishwinder Jauhar of Tejee's Studio, one of the most sought wedding photographers. Has there been a shift from the traditional? According to Ahluwalia of Wedding Bells, Punjab has two major categories, “The local residents want to try contemporary ideas. Then there are the NRIs who seek local flavour and always ask for traditional concepts.” The venues ideas are getting innovative too; there are options of having a ceremony at a fort or even the famous Rock Garden of Chandigarh. THE PLANNERS PREDICT Manmeet and Neha Ahluwalia of Wedding Bells forecast the rise of contemporary themes this season. “The focus is on all things big— huge carved wooden structures and designer floral props. Weddings must look regal and grand,” says Neha. Those opting for all things traditional are choosing to go “royal” this year. “Think rajwadas of Rajasthan, and many are inspired to try the Umrao Jaan and Pakeezah looks,” says Manmeet. The NRIs are especially keen on having traditional weddings. “From clothing, food, ceremonies,
gifts they go as Punjabi as it can get,” adds Neha, who loves planning NRI weddings. Most lavish weddings have a celebrity as the star performer. Artists like Neeraj Shridhar, Jazzy B and Malkit Singh perform at a lot of weddings. “We now see a growing demand for dance troops or even acrobats and cultural performers from abroad,” adds Neha. Wedding Bells specialises in making elaborate sets and is known for customisation. So, if you want a Mughal theme, you are assured of the accuracy of the details. TOPTIP
Always opt for bright colour themes and use lots of exotic flowers and candles. Contemporary chandeliers are very popular this season. Ensure the entire venue is carpeted
CONTACT SCO 411- 412, Level 1, Sector 35 C, Chandigarh and Aveda Hotels and Resorts, Humbra Road, Ludhiana
TEL 09646099999 STUDIO 69 His fans say that a Punjabi wedding cannot be big and fat without DJ Bhanu. Bhanu believes the season’s flavour varies from client to client but I do know that more and more traditionally- styled weddings are leaning towards a royal theme. “Double storey palace- inspired structures and caparisoned elephants, everything has to be grand. In case the client wants a modern theme, then sets are more like television show sets with international hosts and bartenders, lasers shows, smoke machines,” adds the 43- year- old Bhanu. According to him, the conservative days are over and nobody in Punjab is afraid to experiment anymore, especially when it comes to weddings. “Gurdwara weddings can now be followed by a pool party. People just want to be different all the time,” says Bhanu. He recalls a wedding where the bride was lowered from a 60 feet high crane styled to look like a ‘ UFO’ and the groom emerged from the ground underneath the stage. Of course, how could it all be complete without literal fireworks when they met on the stage! “Believe it or not, we once did a Playboy theme for a wedding,” he laughs. Bhanu says his NRI clients want to celebrate their Punjabi roots and ask for folk singers, traditional food and paraphernalia like bangles and paraaandis. “Of course, a seventier wedding cake popping champagne bottles remind you that this is an NRI wedding,” he quips. Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Bathinda are big markets for Bhanu. The Doaba region is also big on opulent weddings as there are large segments of NRI clients here.
TRENDING NOW BOLLYWOOD Performances by Jacqueline Fernandes, Geeta Basra and Neha Dhupia
MUSICIANS Gurdaas Mann, Diljit, Mika Hari Sukhmani, Jasleen, Harshdeep, RDB, Rabbi
SETS Futuristic LED- lit backdrops and dance floors and lycra sets are hot this season
CONTACT Cyclone Acoustics. 3rd Floor, Sant Ishar Singh Nagar, Pink Flats, Pakhowal Road, Ludhiana. TEL 09814022660 LOCATION LOCATION THE FORT RAMGARH Over 360- year- old and just a thirty minute- drive from Chandigarh, The Fort Ramgarh is a much sought after backdrop for those seeking an unusual wedding venue. According to general manager Rajiv Chalana, the place hosts royal- themed weddings, complete with elephants stationed at the lavish entrance. They also offer customised colour schemes, lighting and décor. “Here, the Jai Mala ceremony is done with the help of elephants. The bride and the groom arrive on elephants and exchange garlands from their royal perch,” smiles Chalana.
So, it certainly won’t get more outlandish than this. Will it? “The sky is the limit. The packages we offer can get extremely lavish,” he adds. TEL 09814200007 DEEP ROOTS RESORTS In the words of Kanwal Brar himself, “Our endeavour is to bring pure Punjabi elements of to all our wedding functions. A lot of families are often entertaining guests from Europe and we want them to get the real essence of our state. Our wedding guests experience lush green fields, chilly mornings, sound of peacocks, the morning call for prayers and all that is Punjabi by nature. An ideal setting for the perfect Punjabi wedding.” Deep Roots offers three properties, The Deep Roots Retreat, the Deep Roots Fort and the Deep Roots Heritage are a part of a collection of properties with strong heritage. The Deep Roots Fort lies mid way between Ropar and Anantpur Sahib, about 50 km from Chandigarh and while the Deep Roots Heritage is in village Sohian, 100 km from Chandigarh. TEL 988 838 6798 ROCK GARDEN Rock Garden serves as an ideal wedding venue for those who have a penchant for all things artistic. Comfortably situated right in the heart of Chandigarh, Nek Chand's creation provides for a lovely wedding backdrop that is a break away from the mundane. Large open spaces, flanked by unusual and creative structures, make for an excellent wedding locale. Wedding photographers are biased towards Rock Garden too as it gives them ample canvas to experiment with and capture images with varied flavours. It is no wonder then that the place is hugely favoured by artists and those with a flair for creative expression. Bookings can be made at the office situated within the premise.
TEL 08558882810 TOPTIPS
Book well in advance to avoid seasonal rush. CAR RENTALS JHAJJZ CAR RENTALS Punjabis sure know how to arrive in style and weddings are no less than a luxury car show. “In the past few years, there has been a steady rise in the demand of limousines, BMWs, Mercedes- Benz and Porsche Panameras,” says Ramjesh Jhajj, who owns Jhajjz Car Rentals, one of the most sought after names for wedding vehicle rentals, especially for NRIs. According to Jhajj, people who come from Europe demand Audis, BMWs and the Mercedes- Benzs, while those coming from North America favour Limousines and high- end SUVs. “The bride and the groom often arrive in separate Limousines or SUVs and after the ceremony both leave together in a convertible, it's all very romantic,’ says Jhajj. CONTACT SSS- 103, Sector 63, Mohali TEL 9814400019; jhajjz. in THE LEGENDS Mohali- based Manraj Virk, who owns The Legends car rentals, says vintage cars are the best to stay simple when settling for a classic ride. “We offer our cars with just a simple ribbon on the bonnet, or the handle bars. Keeping it simple is what makes it more eye- catching,” says the 29- yearold. The Legends offers Austins, Minis, VW Beetles, Mercedes- Benz, Ford, and Chevrolet. His team also offers trips to the Harmandir Sahib and even pickups for the wedding guests. CONTACT 9988999706; thelegends. co. in MUSTDO Keep a mix of sedans and suvs Book at least two months in advance.
MUSTAVOID Drinking and driving. Over- decoration. Arms and ammunitions. THE DOLI Somewhere in the lanes of Chandigarh city sits Nand Lal, 35, owner of the Nand Lal Master Band, sought after by wedding planners for Dolis, the traditional bridal palan- quins and Brass Band services. Lal has seen more weddings than any modern wedding planner and dolis for him are still an essential and sentimental element of the traditional bridal departure or vidai ceremony. “It’s a beautiful aspect of Indian weddings. There is a delicacy attached to the moment when the shy bride is carried away to her new home in an ornate doli,” says Lal, who believes that trends may come and go, but a doli will never lose its charm.
“There has been a steady decline in the demand of dolis and I too have been forced to reduce my collection. Today, I have five dolis and customers who want royal themed weddings ask for those. Some people want a fleet of elephants and camels to accompany the doli,” adds Lal, who is popular for his bands as well. “A Punjabi wedding cannot be complete without the dhols and tasheys, trumpets need to be heard louder, the dhols need to beat heavier, the manjeeras need to go faster, you’re in the land of Heer Ranjha after all,” he says. CONTACTNand Lal, S. C. O. 8, Sector 41- D, Chandigarh TEL 9357234703. DRESSING UP Subtle is out, glam is in. Minimalist attires, dull colours, and faint embroideries have made way for stunning ensembles, vivid colour palettes and embellishments. And the designers are more than willing to usher in the new wave this season, from striking corsets with flamboyant lehengas to
heavily detailed fishtails with traditional dupattas adorned with intricate thread work, they are crafting it all. Honii Sandhu, who has designing bridalware for a decade, says the rage this season is floor length, heavy anakalis and those Pakistani styles. “Punjabi brides never fail to surprise us. They are choosing traditional suits instead of lehengas for the wedding day this season,” says the 46- year- old Sandhu, whose signature styles include floral motifs and deep cut silhouettes. In many ways, bridal fashion follows Bollywood fashion, tracking various trends that our favourite heroines have glamourised. Sandhu agrees that the influence has been huge. “There was a time, when everyone wanted Madhuri Dixit's backless blouse from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. Today, it is about Kareena's chiffon blouse from Ra1 or the embellished saris from Karan Johan movies. Brides are experimenting these days, so there is no boredom,” she says. But a beautiful Phulkari remains the key component of a wedding ensemble. “If the right pieces are chosen with care, this can be one of the prettiest pieces in your trousseau. Keep an eye for detailing and you are bound to land up with a masterpiece,” advises Sandhu. TOP TIPS Hair Your hair can enhance the subtle features of your garment. If you are heavy on the bust, go for V- shaped necklines and hold your hair in a bun and let a few strands frame your face. SONU GANDHI Sonu Gandhi who has been designing bridal outfits for the past 15 years says this wedding season seems more fashion forward. “We are designing bridal gowns with embellished jackets. The idea is to keep warm while maintaining the stylish, newlywed look”, says Gandhi, who started in Ludhiana and now she has a store in Jalandhar as well. According to her the perfect occasion to wear this contemporary ensemble is the wedding reception. “The look is bold in silhouette, but traditional in terms of the heavy embroidery. We have used rich fabrics, in golden hues to make the outfit look classy,” she says. The conventional, warm colours are always in demand, but what has changed is the treatment they are given now, says Gandhi. “You have a outfit with basic warm colours and just a dash of a contrasting shade— just one aspect will stand out in the garment, ” she adds.
The best places to shop in Punjab for a wedding, according to Gandhi, are Ludhiana and Jalandhar. “However, for traditional jewellery, you have to head towards Patiala. Even for Phulkaris, Patiala is a great market. TOP TIPS
DRAPE WELL Make your own fashion statement, understand your body's moves and swirls. Drapes are very hot this season, do try them.