Dream Weavers

Get the ex­perts’ tips on how to plan a stress- free wed­ding

India Today - - INSIDE - BY SARANYA CHAKRA­PANI

So, you’ve found your match, de­cided to get mar­ried and an­nounced the big news to the world. As the most im­por­tant day of your life nears, the only thing more beau­ti­ful is the count­down to it. But the run­way to the wed­ding needs time, en­ergy and of course prepa­ra­tion, say Vidya Singh and Rekha Ran­garaj of Sumyog, who have put to­gether to­gether over 200 wed­dings in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kar­nataka and Goa.

“The big fat In­dian wed­ding is called so for a rea­son. We have clients with vary­ing bud­gets but what they all want is a large wed­ding with lots of fes­tiv­ity,” says Rekha. The car­di­nal rule of a smooth wed­ding day is good or­gan­i­sa­tion, says wed­ding plan­ner Shruti Ravin­dran.

“Fore­sight is ex­tremely im­por­tant when you’re pre­par­ing your wed­ding. As soon as the date gets fixed, get your hall and your caterer booked. They’re the hard­est to get hold of. For brides, if you’re plan­ning to work out, give your cloth mea­sure­ments to your tai­lor at least a month in ad­vance of your wed­ding,” she says.

The cul­tural influences

Two ma­jor cul­tural influences that have found a spot in a typ­i­cal South In­dian wed­ding are Bol­ly­wood and the West. To­day, it’s hard to find a South In­dian wed­ding with­out the sangeet and mehendi cer­e­monies. Though th­ese are not in­her­ently part of a Tamil wed­ding, a num­ber of tra­di­tional nup­tial cer­e­monies are pre­ceded by them.

“We’ve even sent chore­og­ra­phers to wed­dings that are or­gan­ised in the cou­ples’ na­tive or tem­ple towns. It is how the new South In­dian wed­ding is turn­ing out to be,

‘ Pan In­dian’,” ob­serves Rekha. Echo­ing this trend is Lak­shmi, who along with her sis­ter Saraswathi, quit a ca­reer in tele­vi­sion to start their own wed­ding plan­ning com­pany, Event Art. “The Bol­ly­wood in­flu­ence is un­mis­tak­able. Cou­ples liv­ing abroad come down days in ad­vance along with their for­eigner friends, who are more than happy to pre­pare for the sangeet with a chore­og­ra­pher. For them, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing,” she says. From a time when wed­dings were metic­u­lously planned and ex­e­cuted by the par­ents, we’ve reached an age where young­sters, cou­pled with the best of tech­nol­ogy and ex­po­sure to dif­fer­ent cul­tures, want to plan their wed­dings them­selves. Elab­o­rate rit­u­als that ex­tended for days are be­ing re­placed by shorter cer­e­monies with fun events, classy themes and in­ti­mate gath­er­ings. “There’s a large shift in the way this gen­er­a­tion is view­ing it­self. To­day, kids go abroad, be­come more ar­tic­u­late and even fi­nance a large part of their wed­ding,” says Rekha. “They come to us with their iPads and tablets and are very up­front about how they want their wed­dings or­ches­trated,” she adds.

Al­though in most cases, the main wed­ding cer­e­mony still re­mains tra­di­tional and is su­per­vised by the fam­ily el­ders, the prewed­ding and post- wed­ding events are get­ting quirky and cre­ative. One big meta­mor­pho­sis is the elim­i­na­tion of the con­ven­tional re­cep­tion.

“Young cou­ples don’t like the con­cept of peo­ple stand­ing in long queues to see them in a re­cep­tion. They want the af­ter- wed­ding party to be ca­sual, smaller and more in­ti­mate. A unan­i­mous choice for many peo­ple is a classy ball­room set­ting or a cock­tail evening in an al­fresco set­ting,” says Lak­shmi. Tip “Ex­e­cut­ing the wed­ding can take up a lot of en­ergy and time. So, a sim­pler and more in­ti­mate af­ter- wed­ding party is the best way to cel­e­brate with loved ones and unwind. It’s your time,” says Shruti Ravin­dran.

The charm of the tra­di­tional

But for a good share of young­sters, noth­ing can sub­sti­tute the charm of a whole­some, tra­di­tional wed­ding. Singer Saind­havi, who got mar­ried to mu­sic di­rec­tor GV Prakash last year, had dreamt of a tra­di­tional wed­ding all her life and that’s what she got. “There’s noth­ing stress­ful about go­ing tra­di­tional. I was brought up in a Tamil Iyer fam­ily and grew up watch­ing lengthy wed­dings spread across two- and- a- half days. And they were com­pleted by warm, mean­ing­ful rit­u­als and lots of spe­cial mo­ments with loved ones,” she says. She re­calls her dream wed­ding and says, “I got mar­ried

into a Mu­dali­yar fam­ily; we in­cor­po­rated a bit of our rit­u­als with theirs and that made it so heart­warm­ing and spe­cial. Only our wed­ding and re­cep­tion were high- pro­file; all the other cer­e­monies were pri­vate and took place at home. It was ex­actly how I wanted my wed­ding to be – warm, big and chaotic. I would re­live it all over again, if given a chance,” she says.

Gayathri Girish, one of the lead­ing Car­natic vo­cal­ists in the coun­try re­calls, “Tra­di­tional wed­dings are sa­cred be­cause of their Vedic im­por­tance and I had an elab­o­rate four- day wed­ding. We had homams go­ing on at home through­out and we saw it as a spe­cial fam­ily get- to­gether, more than a so­cial func­tion.” Tip “It’s al­ways nice to dream ex­otic, but it’s also good to cre­ate a bal­ance be­tween tra­di­tion and moder­nity. We must re­mem­ber that we have a rich cul­tural her­itage and there’s no bet­ter place to show­case it than our wed­dings,” says Saraswathi Kr­ish­naku­mar.

Love across bound­aries

As more young­sters find love across com­mu­ni­ties and even coun­tries, the num­ber of in­ter- com­mu­nity and in­ter- na­tion­al­ity mar­riages are on the rise, says Rekha. At times, such wed­dings need to be con­ducted two dif­fer­ent ways and the plan­ning only gets more ad­vanced and re­searched. “Our cul­ture is quite rich. So, when they marry a for­eigner, the bride or the groom wants to have a big, or­nate wed­ding, com­plete with all the cus­toms and gala. They want their non- In­dian spouse to ex­pe­ri­ence this cul­ture,” she says. On cer­tain oc­ca­sions, Rekha and her part­ner Vidya have even or­gan­ised church bless­ings for the spouses and their fam­i­lies. Tip “Plan rit­u­als and events that are fun and en­gag­ing. When the oc­ca­sion is in­ter­ac­tive and in­clu­sive, it makes it spe­cial for peo­ple who are also new to the cul­ture,” says Shruti Ravin­dran.

Walk the aisle in style

To­day, wed­ding and sangeet cer­e­monies have moved out of the four walls of the man­da­pam, and are be­ing cel­e­brated around care­fully planned themes. From the Taj Ma­hal to the Jaipur Palace, any set can be erected ac­cord­ing to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions, with the help of wed­ding plan­ners and their team of crafts­men. Th­ese elab­o­rate sets can ac­com­mo­date seat­ing for guests, the kitchen and din­ing area, the wash­rooms and even cham­bers for the bride and groom. Lak­shmi and Saraswathi re­cently repli­cated a fam­ily’s an­ces­tral home in Chet­ti­nad for a wed­ding. “We recre­ated the back­ground of their Chet­ti­nad home with the help of ref­er­ence pho­tos. It had the same elab­o­rate doors and pil­lars on the man­da­pam, against which the bride and the groom sat,” says Lak­shmi.

In another new trend, con­ven­tional mar­riage halls, due to their tough avail­abil­ity for most part of the year, are fast mak­ing way for plush ho­tels. Ac­cord­ing to Rekha, Taj’s Fish­er­man’s Cove is a clas­sic for beach wed­dings. Among the list of newer ho­tels, the ITC Grand Chola is turn­ing out to be a pop­u­lar venue due to its sheer size and ex­trav­a­gance. As Chen­nai’s only 7- star ho­tel, it is a pre­ferred lo­ca­tion for those who like hav­ing two to three events, each with a dif­fer­ent set­ting and am­bi­ence. The new Leela Palace and the ren­o­vated Taj

are also ideal, thanks to their open nat­u­ral spa­ces, which give a lot of scope for open air pool par­ties and cock­tail evenings. Tip “In a ho­tel, you can have the wed­ding, cock­tails and din­ner in a ball­room, ban­quet hall or by the pool re­spec­tively. Also, good food is guar­an­teed with­out a caterer,” says Rekha Ran­garaj.

Wed­ding plan­ners Lak­shmi Ravichan­der and Saraswathi Kr­ish­naku­mar — Event Art

Lak­shmi and Saraswathi have grown from be­ing house­hold tele­vi­sion names in the 90’ s to one of the city’s most sought af­ter event man­agers to­day. Af­ter di­rect­ing a num­ber of suc­cess­ful tele­vi­sion se­ri­als like Savithri on Sun TV and Min­sara Poove on Vi­jay TV, this sis­ter- duo left their tele­vi­sion back­ground to start Event Art in 2004. “We were al­ready do­ing a num­ber of cor­po­rate events and wed­dings for close friends. Af­ter we were called by a high pro­file client to do a wed­ding, we de­cided this was what we wanted to do,” says Saraswathi. “The most im­por­tant thing in this job is to be hands- on. We never del­e­gate a job and leave it there; we make sure we’re up­dated at ev­ery step.” In the last nine years, Lak­shmi and Saraswathi have done over 100 wed­dings and boast of a famed clien­tele. They have erected sets of tem­ples and mag­nif­i­cent Ra­jput and Chet­ti­nad palaces, as part of their de­sign port­fo­lio. Tip “It’s al­ways nice to dream ex­otic, but it’s also good to cre­ate a bal­ance be­tween tra­di­tion and moder­nity. We must re­mem­ber that we have a rich cul­tural her­itage and there’s no bet­ter place to show­case it than our wed­dings.” Ad­dress Event Art, 2B, Rahul Apart­ments, 104, Chamiers Road Tel 9841266654

Vidya Singh and Rekha Ran­garaj — Sumyog Wed­ding Plan­ners

Af­ter work­ing to­gether on some of the most high- pro­file fash­ion shows and talk shows for IWA ( In­ter­na­tional Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion), a so­cio- cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tion, Vidya Singh and her best friend and con­fi­dante Rekha Ran­garaj de­cided they can do wed­ding plan­ning just as well. They got them­selves reg­is­tered in 2005 and since then have planned cer­e­monies for a num­ber of the city’s A- lis­ters, as well as a loyal clien­tele that keeps go­ing back to them.

“The best thing about this job is that it makes peo­ple happy. And this is what earns us all the good­will,” says Rekha. “We cre­ate all our props and we have all our labour in- house – from the florists to the dec­o­ra­tors,” she adds. Tip “Vi­su­alise your wed­ding, list out the most im­por­tant things and start work­ing back­wards. There’s noth­ing more vi­tal than be­ing or­gan­ised.” Ad­dress Sumyog, 38, Poes Gar­den Tel 9840747561

Shruti Ravin­dran— Vida

Shruti’s con­nect with wed­ding plan­ning re­ally be­gan with her job as a fash­ion de­signer and stylist, where she pre­pared brides for pre- wed­ding photo shoots. But her real in­cli­na­tion for the job came dur­ing her own wed­ding in Jan­uary this year, when she pulled off a de­mand­ing event sched­ule with ease. That’s when she re­alised that her re­source­ful net­work of dec­o­ra­tors, stylists, make- up artists and fash­ion de­sign­ers could be put to use for pro­fes­sional wed­ding plan­ning. And early this year, she started her brand, Vida.

“I lit­er­ally planned my whole wed­ding to my lik­ing. I think my great­est ad­van­tage lies in the fact that I can re­late to the needs of a young cou­ple be­cause of my age.

I know just what to do when I’m asked for some­thing new- age and quirky,” she says. Shruti’s strength lies in her knowl­edge of the im­por­tant tra­di­tional as­pects in a wed­ding that could strike a bal­ance with more in­no­va­tive ideas. “My aim is to pro­vide A– Z so­lu­tions; I start with pre- wed­ding pack­ages, in­clud­ing fit­ness, salon and spa ser­vices, diet pat­terns and fit­ness regimes, and go all the way up to cus­tomised trousseau, cater­ing, dec­o­rat­ing and shop­ping,” she says. Tip “Peo­ple tend to spend a lot of time and money on the dec­o­ra­tion, wed­ding halls etc., but miss out on per­sonal groom­ing, which takes time and is ex­tremely es­sen­tial. Things like hair­style, make- up and photography must be planned well in ad­vance, as th­ese are what re­main as last­ing mem­o­ries in your al­bum.” Ad­dress 11/ 2C Supraba, 96/ 43,2nd Main Road, Gandhi Na­gar, Ad­yar Tel 98848 34737

Trousseau

Omar Sait— Gatsby

Omar started work­ing on new- age de­signer so­lu­tions for men un­der the la­bel Gatsby in the mid- 90’ s, but his fam­ily has been in the busi­ness for over a 100 years. Their lat­est col­lec­tion Aliph of­fers a stylish and classy range of eth­nic, western, for­mal and ca­sual wear, hand­crafted with pre­mium fab­rics. The col­lec­tion fea­tures sher­wa­nis, kur­tas, bandgalas, Jodhpur pants, tur­bans and mo­jiris for the mod­ern groom to choose from. “The trends have def­i­nitely evolved. Ear­lier it was just the brides who put in time and care into their trousseau, but now grooms get in­spired by the run­ways too,” he says.

The trend is to match the groom’s trousseau with the bride’s sari in terms of colour, mo­tifs and themes. “The grooms wants to make their wed­ding day mem­o­rable, long af­ter it is over. While black is mostly avoided for the cer­e­mony, shades of blue and wine are per­fect when you want to syn­chro­nise your out­fit with the bride’s. Gold, light greys and char­coal are great for sher­wa­nis,” says Omar.

“Bol­ly­wood and the red car­pet cul­ture play a huge role here in the form of long, dressy sher­wa­nis with heavy em­broi­dery work. Re­cep­tions were ear­lier con­fined to suits, but now we’re see­ing a lot of tuxe­dos, open ban­dis and dressy shirts with jeans,” he adds. Gatsby can even cus­tomise the en­tire wardrobe for the groom and also the guests to a theme, de­sign or re­quire­ment but the or­der for this needs to be placed well be­fore the wed­ding day. Ad­dress 34, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungam­bakkam Tel 28331677

Erum Ali— EA Bri­dal Lounge

Erum Ali, who has been ex­clu­sively craft­ing lux­ury bri­dal wear for over a decade, ob­serves a sig­nif­i­cant change in tastes and pref­er­ences to­day. “The young In­dian bride has be­come very dis­cern­ing. I sel­dom come across brides to­day who zeroin on their cos­tumes as early as the sec­ond time. I’m en­cour­aged by how much we’ve grown,” she says.

Hav­ing grown up watch­ing the women of her fam­ily adorn ex­quis­ite In­dian hand­work and em­broi­dery, Erum’s affin­ity to eth­nic­ity re­flects heav­ily in her work. Her sig­na­ture style in­cor­po­rates long, flowy anarkali gowns com­plete with yoke, gold thread and kun­dan work. She loves ac­cen­tu­at­ing the bor­ders and the lower ends of her gar­ments with or­nate In­dian mo­tifs. She rec­om­mends light­weight out­fits in soothing tones of beige and white.

“Young brides don’t want clothes that look too typ­i­cal. They want some­thing wear­able, funky and most im­por­tantly, light. Long, flowy skirts could be worn with jack­ets and saris can be teamed with corsets to give a hip look,” she says. Erum’s clas­sic de­signs in­clude re­gal Vic­to­rian gowns with a heavy use of nat­u­ral ta­pes­try. Ad­dress 4- 5, Shyam's Gar­den, 17, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungam­bakkam Tel 42323032

Ko­dak Mo­ments

Amar Ramesh— AnRb Photography

While as­sist­ing some award win­ning pho­tog­ra­phers in the US, Amar Ramesh found scope in bring­ing down the con­tem­po­rary style and work cul­ture to In­dia and in De­cem­ber 2010, he shot his first wed­ding in In­dore.“Wed­dings are such an emo­tional af­fair in In­dia and you can see fam­i­lies re­ally com­ing to­gether. As a pho­tog­ra­pher I’m al- lowed to im­merse my­self in a fam­ily and share the ex­pe­ri­ence with them,” he says.

Ac­cord­ing to Ramesh, cou­ples are in­creas­ingly go­ing for can­did photography. “So­cial me­dia has played a very im­por­tant role. Ev­ery­one wants Face­book share­able pic­tures to­day,” he says. His style of photography blends pho­to­jour­nal­is­tic and cre­ative fine art portraits. While Ramesh started off with a pri­mar­ily can­did/ pho­to­jour­nal­is­tic style, he found his love in fine art and por­trai­ture. “I've found a way of in­cor­po­rat­ing all of that into my work,” he says. Tip “The stage/ man­dap is ac­tu­ally the only place the cou­ple should pay at­ten­tion to. In terms of themes and lo­ca­tions, it’s al­ways good to go for sim­ple, un­clut­tered dé­cor; fewer colours in­stead of an en­tire rain­bow of shades and fewer peo­ple on stage. Most im­por­tantly, be happy on your wed­ding day.” Ad­dress 64, CP Ra­maswamy Road, Trust­pakkam, Man­dav­eli Tel 42037218

Hari and Yad­hav– Cre­ative Wed­ding Photography:

Hari and Yad­hav found their true call­ing in wed­ding photography in 2007 and took a plunge into it full- time. “Hail­ing from an ad­ver­tis­ing back­ground, we pos­sessed the cu­mu­la­tive skill set in­clud­ing ar­chi­tec­tural, fine art and fash­ion, which are key here,” says Hari. From a time when wed­ding chron­i­cling was con­fined to stan­dard event doc­u­men­ta­tion and for­mal portraits, cou­ples to­day in­sist on nat­u­ral, can­did shots, he adds.

The best way to go about it is to have pre- wed­ding por­trait and en­gage­ment shoots, sched­uled much ahead of the wed­ding week. “Though it’s hard to make time, we al­ways in­sist that our clients give their wed­ding photography its fair share. Our ap­proach is to cre­ate im­ages that de­pict their love; for in­stance, we try to shoot at the place they first met or have shared spe­cial mo­ments,” he adds.

Hari and Yad­hav are known for their night and twi­light shoots, with cre­ative use of speed lights to mimic the street lights and am­bi­ent lights. Their style is non- di­rec­to­rial and they fol­low the nat­u­ral course of the event, to give you the most hon­est and can­did im­ages. Tip: “We sug­gest an open lawn, hill­side or a sea side shoot, where there are nu­mer­ous photo op­por­tu­ni­ties. Any place the cou­ple as­so­ci­ates with is also great. Af­ter all, the pho­tos should be a re­flec­tion of their char­ac­ter and chem­istry.” Ad­dress 11B, Chan­drabagh Av­enue, 1st Street, My­la­pore Tel 9884345618

Cover Photo by Cre­ative Wed­ding Photography

AMAR RAMESH

EABRIDALLOUNGE

ALIPH’BYGATSBY

CRE­ATIVE WED­DING PHOTOGRAPHY

CRE­ATIVE WED­DING PHOTOGRAPHY

CRE­ATIVE WED­DING PHOTOGRAPHY

CRE­ATIVE WED­DING PHOTOGRAPHY

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