Boy meets girl, they fall in love, marry and ride into a happily-ever-after—this is what fairytales are made of. Occasionally, it would involve a fairy godmother who, with a beautiful gown or two, would make a girl a princess for her special day. Over the last decade, the trimmings of the magical ever-afters have grown extravagant. According to reports, the wedding industry in India is worth Rs1 lakh crore, with the clothing and jewellery departments alone worth Rs70,000 crore.
More is definitely more when it comes to weddings of the rich. “Make it different,” is the most common brief that Bhavnesh Sawhney, co-founder of Wedniksha, the company that managed the wedding of Sonam Kapoor and Anand Ahuja, gets. In the wake of the luxury wedding of Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh at Lake Como, and the royal affair of Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas in Udaipur, aspirations have soared.
And so, out come cruise liners, seven-tiered cakes, celebrity performers, designer wear, exotic locales and delectable cuisine. In India, where a wedding marks the coming together of the whole family, nearly everyone gets involved in the planning. Aman Anand, founder-director of Kickstart Entertainment, who arranged the wedding of Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput, says that the couple entrusted departments like cuisine and décor to family members. According to Sawhney, Sunita and Rhea Kapoor, Sonam's mother and sister, were involved in every step of her wedding.
For Madhura Lingayat, the wedding photographer behind Little Big Weddings, it is all about making the bride and groom the heroine and hero of their special day. “Celebrity couples usually do not find the time to discuss the details,” she says. “But they are clear about what they want and know what angles work.”
So, what is the process like? “We mostly meet with the families of the bride and groom to understand the functions and the themes,” she says. “Non-disclosure agreements are always a given, and we are not allowed to post pictures of any high profile weddings on our website or social media pages until the events are over. Then, there are teaser videos and video invites which are often circulated only among close family and friends.”
She says that gone are the days of gilded invites and photo frames. But, some couples do request coffee table books that highlight the theme of the wedding. “The challenge is to capture after-parties which tend to get pretty crazy,” she says. “So, there has to be heavy discretion as to which pictures can be used and which cannot. Technical glitches are rare since spares are always kept handy.”
Drink and make merry
Drinq by Flaming Trio is a bartending agency started in 2003. It has handled 1,100 destination weddings so far. Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh and celebrity couple Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma used its services. Founder Binny Dadhwal says that the company now has branches in Mumbai, Delhi, Dubai and Thailand.
“We get most of our bookings even today by word of mouth,” says Dadhwal, who has mixed drinks at famous clubs like Mykonos and Lush in Goa. “Since requests for after-parties are usually last minute, we are ready with a full bar and two bartenders on call at any time. These days, most clients ask to exclude syrup or artificial flavouring from drinks. So, we offer options like cucumber and basil leaf juice, distilled green tea water and freshly-squeezed orange juice.” Dadhwal says that the crowd went gaga over the soya mojito, aloe vera martini and wasabi martini they had created for the Virat-Anushka wedding.
“Celebrity clients always expect a show,” he says. “We have indulged in many theatrics, including beer towers and domino, flaming, molecular and jell-o shots made from fresh fruit.” He says it is refreshing to see celebrities at their candid best at parties.
Behind the scenes
In the five years since it began, Wedniksha, the Mumbai-based wedding and event planning division of Wizcraft headed by Farid Khan and Sawhney, has already planned many high profile weddings. Like that of Poorna Patel, daughter of businessman and politician Praful Patel, and Namit Soni; actor Shriya Saran and Andrei Koscheev; and Sonam and Anand.
Sawhney says that every wedding that Wedniksha has planned has been special—be it that of Sanjay Hinduja and Anu Mahtani (of the London Hindujas), or the cruise wedding of Adel Sajan, heir of the Danube group, to artist Sana Khan.
In the case of Sonam's wedding, the couple's main concern was making the event as intimate and private as possible. They sent their guests home with scented candles featuring notes of Jo Malone perfumes. “For Shahid and Mira's wedding, we had to feed wrong information, so that the media did not come hounding for pictures,” says Anand of Kickstart Entertainment.
When Parth Jindal, entrepreneur Sajjan Jindal's son, married Anushree Jasani in Vienna, chefs from all the best restaurants in Europe, including Nobu London, were roped in. Guest rooms had goodie-hampers with chocolates, popcorn and cures for hangover. “We also arranged for artistes Mika Singh and Enrique Iglesias to be flown down to Vienna for the baraat (the groom's wedding procession),” says Anand.
There have been a few glitches. “For a Mumbai wedding, the protocol was to serve only vegetarian fare,” he says. “However, one of the cheese platters contained a cured cheese with meat. We discovered it at the last minute, and the entire platter, more or less, had to be replaced.”