It's on the cards!

Sep 26, 2012, 11:15 IST | The Guide Team

From custom-made cards that cross the thousand-rupee mark to ten-rupee wonders, Mumbai's wedding card merchants continue to cater to a cross-section of communities and budgets. The Guide girls scoured the city to present you with a spread of the best, brightest and most artful wedding card designs after which you might say, "I Do"!

That Indians are spending a lot more than before on wedding cards is echoed by most wedding card designers. But they assert that customers want more — and are going to great lengths to make sure the cards are elegant and high-end.

 “People have become very classy and innovative with designs. Card design is getting minimalist,” says Bhavika Shah who runs BeyonDesign from Marine Lines. Destination wedding cards are also getting popular. “Most people are these days looking at usability as well.

Mysore Palace wedding card designed by Kankotri

So, the cards go into boxes that can be reused or things that can be framed. People are willing to spend a lot for them,” she adds. Uttara Shah who runs a design studio in Lower Parel feels that people are going in for less bling and prefer cards that are subtle and artistic. “We have done cards on themes like Udaipur. We have also got an artist to do paintings for one of the cards,” she adds. Rajesh Vora of Kankotri says that box-cum-wedding cards are more popular these days. “It costs about Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 for one such card. The box has chocolates of dry fruits usually. Laser engraving on cards is also popular,” he says. Their most innovative one has been a wedding card on the theme of the Mysore Palace.

Christian & Parsi
Amidst Dhobi Talao’s bustle is an establishment that has supplied wedding cards for countless Christian and Parsi weddings. Since Catholic and Parsi wedding cards have similar styles, they supply to both communities. Set up in 1953 by Felix John Dias, the shop initially sold textbooks and soon, started printing them. But with rising costs, they shifted to making wedding invites, which proved to be a recession-proof business, and has helped them survive over the decades. Today, Felix’ son Bryan Bernard Dias (39), handles the store operations.

Wedding card design by Uttara Shah



Says Felix, “I was a rolling stone and dabbled in several ventures before starting David and Company. We started with two workers and today, we have 70; we publish religious books as well. While letterpress printing used to be cumbersome, the advent of the digital age has helped save time.” Bryan adds, “One has to move with the times and be innovative. After being around for so many decades, we understand trends but we also research online. We look at competition as a challenge.” Dad Felix says that while earlier people preferred handmade cards, nowadays, fabrics and diamond-studded cards are popular. “A decade ago, only 5% of the population opted for customised cards but today, almost 40% clients opt for it. Plenty of thought goes in wedding cards as it acts as the first look to a person’s wedding,” adds Bryan.

Apart from wedding cards they also sell wedding paraphernalia like gowns and decorations. Their printing press is located on the premi- ses. “Nowadays, theme-based cards are popular and so are colours like white, navy blue and silver,” concludes Bryan.

Though sprinkled with a few high rises, Chira Bazaar still exudes the old-world charm, the mix of the warmth of different communities with two Agiaries, Thakurdwar, Sri Ram Mandir and the Goan Institute Building. Nestled between these landmarks is the wedding card market at Chira Bazaar. Like the area, the lane too is a mix of old and new card printers apart from numerous paper and cardboard stores.

The oldest store in the lane is Jayantilal Jain’s Rolex Cards. Founded by his father Mishrimalji Jain in 1966, the business is now run by the third generation of the Jains. “Initially, it was usually the uncle, older brother or father who would drop by the store to choose the card where the design was finalised, quickly. Today, we have entire families including the kids visit, and on several occasions we have had fights as there was no consensus on the design!”
shares Jain. He says that people today are ready to shell out more for customised cards, even though they take more time to create them. Also, in vogue are laser-cut details and accompanying boxes filled with dry fruits or chocolates. “The biggest challenge is to stay updated, as the market is so volatile that what is in trend now from October to December, will change during the second wedding season in March,” says Jain.

When I ventured to find out about current trends in wedding cards in the Muslim community, scouring through Bhendi Bazaar’s chaos was a given considering the area is a shopper’s delight for every denomination within the community. It is located between Mohammed Ali Road and Khetwadi, and is surrounded by Crawford Market, Chor Bazaar and Nul Bazaar. My first stop was a small store, Godiwala Cards, which has been in business for 15 years, and is housed on the first floor of an old building. Owner Firoz Godiwala (42) was welcoming and enlightened me that in present times, people are more concerned with presentation: “If they like what they get, they don’t mind paying.” He revealed that people usually colour-coordinate their cards, depending on the wedding theme. Flowers and peacocks are still the hot favourites.

My next stop was Saifee Cards, across the street. A swank store in an old market, the shop stood out. Although it was started in 1967, it was redeveloped to be in sync with the times. When I quizzed them, Juzer Kothari (45), a partner in the enterprise informed that although their business is in good shape, they face several challenges, the primary one being competition and deadlines. “When the wedding season is not on, we rest, but during season, we don’t get to sleep,” he shares, adding that with new technology, people opt for aesthetically superior designs, created with the new software and machines.

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