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Hemant Oberoi
Hemant Oberoi

CHEF'S CHOICE

The wedding business

Married to luxury Married to luxury: A posh Indian wedding underway in Savelletri di Fasano, Italy.

The decision to get married is taken by the bride and groom, but the lion's share of the worry goes to the parents. They start the process of choosing the right partner for their kids. Often, the kids do the process for them. In many places outside India, marriage is a simple affair: an engagement attended by close family and friends, and a wedding attended by a maximum of 200 people.

In India, things are just the opposite. Engagement means an expensive ring, gifts for the groom's family and a grand function, possibly in a five-star hotel. The number of guests varies according to the status and influence of the families.

Weddings are mostly managed by planners these days.

They take care of fixing the dates, functions, printing invitations and picking gifts to go with it, styling, theme and destination. Themes range from aircraft weddings to yacht weddings and even submarine weddings. Weddings have become show-off events and it is good business for the planner.

These days, destinations can be anywhere from Macau to Florence, Athens, Istanbul, the Maldives, France and Monte Carlo. No high-profile wedding is complete without music, bands, famous DJs, tequila girls, champagne girls and internationally known dance troupes.

Themes are often created for every evening of a seven- to ten-day event. Sometimes, designers are asked to do outfits for each invitee for all these days. Of course, the bridal outfit is always a designer creation and no one can beat Indian designers when it comes to Indian weddings. Dresses are often studded with anything from Swarovski to diamonds. Jewellers outdo themselves in creating exquisite pieces.

Selection of cuisine, menu and liquor has become important. The biggest wedding I catered to had 25,000 guests and the smallest one had 300. Destinations have ranged from Paris to Thailand and London. Themes, too, were varied: casino, palaces, clubs of the world, T-3 (technics, technique and technology), Playboy Club, temples of India, bicycles, airports, stock exchanges of the world, the French Riviera, best streets of world, wheels and The Orient Express. It takes a lot of creativity to design the room, and then to match the décor and cuisine.

People talk a lot about the cuisine in our weddings. The host and the hostess are often advised by the immediate family. Suddenly, everyone is a connoisseur of food and they give you the wildest suggestions. One client insisted that they will do food tasting and pass the menu only after three or four trials. That was against my policy and we had a long argument. Finally, I lost my patience and asked him if he had multiple trials before choosing a life partner. He was furious.

But, the next day he called to thank me and commended me on my confidence. The menu was cleared without tastings.

Every caterer tries to be creative in his own way. Some copy five-star chefs blindly. Never forget that the star is the original creator. The rest are photocopies. Yet, there is a market for both creator and copier during the wedding season, as there are thousands of weddings each day. God bless the newly-married ones, and let their rich parents pump money into this industry!

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