The vow factor
Marwari weddings are surely going places with exotic locales, themed ceremonies and unusual entertainment options featuring on almost every other couple’s wish list.
THE PREPARATIONS COMMENCED WITH A VIRTUAL TOUR of the globe. After reviewing numerous destinations and brainstorming on their pros and cons, Kota Kinabalu on the island of Borneo was selected as the venue. This was the easy part. Next came putting together the event, which required tremendous effort—from taking over the entire beach hotel with over 400 rooms and training the staff on managing expectations to picking the right entertainers and building a 20,000sqft wooden deck for performances on the beach.
“A total of seven site visits were planned before the big day, with the bride’s father (who had an eye for detail) providing assistance,” says Kunal Rai, head of events at Tamarind Global, recounting a “memorable” destination wedding that his team organised recently.
From tropical beaches to majestic forts, couples the world over are searching high and low for venues that inspire them to plan what probably is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration. Taking cue, the Marwari wedding is also going places with couples and their families scouting locations within India and on international shores to make the big day memorable. And with the community learning to splurge on style and glamour, celebrations are getting more extravagant with exotic locales, themed ceremonies and unusual entertainment options making it to the to-do list.
Marwari weddings have traditionally been opulent affairs, interspersed with a number of rituals and are celebrated with exuberance for days prior to and post the actual ceremony. They typically have a large number of guests in attendance, with the couple and their family members involved in every aspect of the wedding, be it gifts, food or décor.
But these days, rather than celebrating with a large gathering of family members and friends at a local reception hall or the banquet room of a five-star hotel, brides and grooms are opting to marry farther away from their hometowns.
“With a series of pre- and post-wedding rituals, Marwari weddings are undoubtedly a celebrated affair. Beautifully woven in traditions, the various ceremonies cast a magical charm on each occasion, while the chosen destination reflects the unfolding of distinctive style of celebration the couples imagined for their most important day,” says Pooja Rajmohan, Director of Catering Sales, The Leela Palace New Delhi.
Destination weddings are normally booked well in advance, with a lead time of 8 to 15 months. This is typically done keeping in mind the logistics involved in pulling off a stupendously successful gala.
In terms of the venue, there are many exotic, remote and breathtaking locales to choose from. These days, Hawaii, South Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are popular international choices for an enjoyable and intimate experience, as are Middle-East countries such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Ras al-Khaimah. Even Borneo, Vietnam and Cambodia have found favour among Marwari families.
“We have conducted numerous weddings across destinations. The trend is to be unique and organise something exclusive. Even within Asia, families are opting for newer locations such as Bali, Sepang and Kota Kinabalu. This year, Europe and the Middle East are especially trendy. We organised two Marwari weddings in Ras al-Khaimah in February,” says Rai.
Certain places within India too are popular with the community. Among the metros, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata find favour, while Hyderabad, Agra, Goa and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are other preferred destinations. Rajasthan remains an eternal favourite. Its vibrant culture coupled with royal grandeur provides just the right setting for a Marwari wedding. Fabulous venues such as Fatehgarh Fort in Udaipur, Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, Umaid Bhavan in Jodhpur, Shiv Vilas Palace in Jaipur and Aman-i-Khas in Ranthambore are perfect for a grand wedding with a generous splash of romance.
Marwari weddings are traditionally known for their opulence. However, experts say this need not always be the case when it comes to a destination wedding, which can be an intimate or elaborate affair depending on the couple and their families. However, there are some elements that remain constant. Marwaris tend to have a lot of traditions accompanying the nuptials, so there is always a packed agenda and a steady flow of events. All meals are vegetarian and no
alcohol is served. Also, mahurats are strictly followed. The décor tends to be elaborate and entertainment varied.
“Marwari weddings are about rituals and traditions. Festivities begin right from the time when the marriage is fixed. We have sessions with potential clients and understand the deliverables with respect to décor, food and beverage, and the events to be organised. Accordingly, a team is set up and the operations that eventually will culminate in a glorious celebration are distributed,” says Sanjeev Advani, Director of Sales and Marketing, Sofitel Mumbai BKC.
For the foodies
Marwari weddings typically have massive vegetarian spreads. These are at times highly specialised and prepared by a maharaj brought by the family. While a massive variety of food is normal across Indian weddings of different cultures, a Marwari wedding can serve up to 20 different types of sweets. Occasion-based cuisine is prepared for all pre-wedding functions. These days, live counters are getting popular. In fact, clients want the entire menu to be live with the food looking visually appealing and served warm. Dishes prepared also have to be authentic. For instance, if Dal Baati Churma is being served, it needs to be as original as a dish prepared in Jodhpur. Also, food for the family elders is usually prepared only by their known maharaj and served before sunset.
“Our banquet and kitchen teams are well-versed with the requirements of this community. From chaats to snacks, main course and halwai, our team spends hours liaising with the family to customise the menu and the flow of events for the function,” says Vikram Antao, Vice President, Radisson Blu Resort Goa Cavelossim Beach. Some of his latest innovations
include Pani Puri in varied flavours such as Hajma Hajam, Cola Pani, Orange Pani, Hing Pani and Chaas Pani or the use of molecular gastronomy in dishes such as Hariyali Paneer Tikka Deconstructed and Green Pea Kachori Espuma.
Wedding planners say they get quite a few requests based on what the couple likes and what they have dreamed of doing on their special day. These wishes range from the downright mundane to outright weird. For example, at one wedding organised in Kota Kinabalu, there was a special attraction for the guests. There are protected wildlife species in this region, one of them being the pygmy elephant. So, a pygmy elephant was made available for viewing, fully protected by the keepers and the mother elephant. That apart, there have been requests for Flyboards in swimming pools and for specialised synchronised swimmers doing their routine in the water. Special acts, offbeat entertainment, eclectic food requests and bridal baraats are also common requests these days.
But a Marwari wedding definitely requires attention to detail. It is important to have a central point of contact to coordinate with the family and make sure all requirements are taken down in advance.
“From spectacular backdrops and the option of multiple venues to the choicest cuisines and finest themebased décor, destination weddings ensure that each occasion is an inspiring celebration that will be cherished forever,” says Rajmohan.
Top: The ballroom at the Leela Palace New Delhi is a favourite with the Marwari community
Right: The set-up for a mehendi ceremony
Below: Kota Kinabalu —a popular option for destination weddings
From left: Destination weddings are gaining popularity among the Marwari community; A wedding organised at Hriday at Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Top right: A suitable venue for the sangeet needs to be a top priority. Marwari sangeets are quite elaborate
Below: The set-up for a mehendi ceremony