Wedding Viral Fever
The simple shaadi flies out of the window. The opulent offline one loses sheen. Mumbai's couples across communities insist they wish to be Internet sensations first, man and wife later
The grand Indian shaadi is of course, about Sabyasachi Mukherjee lehengas and destination receptions at Borgo Finocchieto.
Parth and Minal Tolia pose at Borivli National Park for their pre-wedding shoot with Darshan Ambre. Pic/Satej Shinde
But it's as much about the middle class wedding, the one that aspires to be custom-tailored, exclusive, but viral. Hiring a public relations professional to handle publicity and social media is just as acceptable as approaching a composer to think up original wedding tracks. And this is how it's done.
Nelson Patel tutors soon-to-wed Nehal Kumar and Marian Feuz at Bandstand in Bandra West during their pre-wedding photo session. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Global Backdrop in Bhiwandi
A couple shoots at Bhiwandi's Sets in the City
In an age when pre-wedding shoots are the norm, pushing the envelope is a good idea. While shooting at Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Vasai Fort and Bandra Fort is now common, some couples are going to Santorini. Without leaving the country. Off the Mumbai Nasik Highway in Bhiwandi is a location called Sets In The City. It's where 25 sets are up at any given point, from Moroccon architecture to a canal in Italy. Photographer Darshan Ambre recommends the venue to his clients, and undertakes close to 15 shoots a month during season, which is November to March. He usually suggests that the couple shoot both, in traditional wear and westerns, so that they have the best of both worlds. "It's an easy way to take Insta-friendly pictures."
A day's shoot with four looks will cost about R20,000, plus location cost. SGNP charges R4,000 for a day, while Sets in the City charges approx. R12,000 for half a day
Wedding Insta Handle
Ruchit and Krupa Mehta's pre-wedding shoot in Abu Dhabi was organised for Instagram
It's all about going viral," believes Digisha Shah, founder, DSPR, who spends much of her time these days conceiving innovative wedding hashtags. Her latest was #rugothiskru. The couple, real estate professional Ruchit and chocolatier Krupa Mehta, got married in Abu Dhabi in December 2018 and were advised to kick off their social media campaign six months before the wedding. "Since Instagram is so big, we used it to keep the guests on the same page. After every pre-wedding function, a one-minute capsule video would be posted so that everyone could relive the moment almost immediately. Instead of going through bulky wedding albums, all memories are now on one Insta handle to scroll," says Krupa. Along with same-day video edits, Shah and team worked towards the couple's wish "to go viral". "We got their friends to dance on the hit, Love, love, love hua, and shared the videos on their wedding Instagram handle. We also shared their love story, and pre-wedding photo shoot... basically every single detail of the wedding," Shah says. It worked. The prep inspired prominent wedding blogs to feature the two. "Couples want to be celebrities for two days. It's always a good feeling to help them achieve it," Shah says.
Digisha Shah, PR executive
PR firms will handle your wedding social media accounts at Rs 20,000 onwards
Champagne Over Manicures
Anushka Mulchandani Tata organised a "sparty" for friends
When social media influencer Anushka Mulchandani Tata realised she was being a Bridezilla, she decided to host a "sparty" for close friends and family. "I had planned my wedding in just two-and-a-half months, so everyone was going crazy. I had to get my nails done anyway, so I decided to take everyone along with me," she says about her 2019 wedding. She chose The White Door, which has branches in Bandra and Worli, to organise manicures and pedicures over fruit champagne, cupcakes and finger food for the guests. "My friends got crystals put on their nails. Finally, everyone was relaxing." Sana Dhanani, owner of The White Door, says she organises at least five bridal showers a month, a time for the bride to disconnect and relax with her family. "We can get everything organised, including a musician who'll come and entertain you."
Sana Dhanani, The White Door
A sparty for up to 15 people could cost anywhere between Rs 15,000 and Rs 30,000
Bride's Surprise Entry
Ayusmita Sinha made an entry on a boat at her Thailand wedding
Vikram Mehta, founder of Mpire Events, says he tries going beyond what a client wants. This was certainly the case for Ayusmita and Arjun Sahani from Kolkata, who got married in November 2019 in Thailand. The bride's entry had to be grand. After all, she was wearing Tarun Tahiliani. "The venue was hotel Dusit Thani Hua Hin in Cha-am. The property has an artificial lake, so we got the staff to put on the fountain in the middle of the lake, and the bride sailed through in a Chinese boat. We used dry ice to create fog effect. The vision was surreal . She took a ride around the fountain, and then came off at the barge where she was met by the groom," Mehta recalls. If a boat is too much for you, you could choose to enter your wedding with 16 bridesmaids carrying diyas. "We tried that in Bahrain, and it looked beautiful!"
Original welcome drink recipes
The umami-infused mocktail is a sought-after booze-free drink
Gone are the days when virgin pina colada and cranberry cutie were served as welcome drinks. "Today, guests want unique options," says Bhavnesh Sawhney, co-founder, FB Celebrations Pvt. Ltd., a bespoke events and weddings planning firm. "It's the welcome drinks that are your introduction to the ceremony, and therefore, they need to make a statement. The welcome aarti, teeka and garlands are so done. What next?" The drinks are innovative and healthy, or alcohol-infused, depending on the couple's preference. "Earlier, welcome drinks were the hotel or venue's responsibility. But now, we understand the couple's tastes, and brainstorm with the hotel staff to curate a drinks menu," he says. Last year, at the destination wedding of two scions from the city's oldest business families—Hero Cycles and Bhushan Steel—Sawhney created a gourmet guava drink. "Molecular drinks with nitrogen are common," he adds. According to Sandeep Lodha, CEO, Weddingz.in, the exotic umami flavour is currently in demand, and a breakaway from the cloying sweet drinks that were once the norm. "Mushrooms in classic mocktails evoke a subtle savoury flavour. The avocado is also getting increasingly popular. In India, it is not a commercial fruit; it comes from Sri Lanka. While it sounds a bit odd to have the superfood blended into a mocktail, we have found that avocado mocktails are a hit, thanks to the smooth and creamy texture, and people's obsession with everything healthy."
The original playlist
Vishal Punjabi of The Wedding Filmer, has launched a vertical dedicated to creating original wedding compositions
Shooting wedding films is one thing, and creating original music for a wedding is another. Vishal Punjabi, founder of The Wedding Filmer, became the first videographer to release his original compositions and a music vertical dedicated to shaadis. "Just as spices influence food and colour influences decor, Indian weddings get their flavour from music. From the chants and dhols to the wedding band, the occasion is filled with melodies that are meant to invoke emotions," says Punjabi, who launched the project in December. A decade ago, there was no market for wedding films, or music, he admits. "At the cost of sounding pompous, we created the market." The tracks he has composed also includes Peer vi tu for cricketer Virat Kolhi and actor Anushka Sharma. His upcoming album, Vekheya, is an amalgamation of his favourite love stories and eight original compositions. "After helming 320 weddings, I have 640 perspectives on love," he jokes. "In these times, we tend to lose hope and give up on the idea of finding true love. The new video talks about how two strangers make it easier to live in today's world."
Love On Your Lehenga
In 2017, Kresha Bajaj created a flutter on social media when she got her love story woven on to her wedding lehenga. "I woke up to 800 DMs the next morning," she laughs. Her Instagram followers were eager to know how they could turn their own wedding outfits into "pieces of art". Bajaj's luxe lehenga was a crisp summation of her romantic saga, from the proposal to vacation memories with husband Vanraj Zaveri of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri and Sons. The leaping dolphins embroidered along the hem were an ode to the first time they worked on a project against dolphin captivity. "The idea came to me after watching an episode of Real Housewives, where Adrienne Maloof frames her wedding dress as a piece of art. For me, it had to be edgy and one-of-a-kind in order to frame it." The idea has been replicated a dozen times since. Bajaj says it could take anywhere between five months to a year. Naturally, it comes with a hefty price tag—R4,50,000 onwards. The love story concept extends to other occasions too. "We had designed a dress for a baby shower, where the family tree was woven into fabric. It was peppered with messages from everyone in the family." Bajaj says her focus usually is on accommodating client requests while ensuring the end result isn't outlandish. "There's a fine line between something looking comical and beautiful."
Kresha Bajaj’s lehenga design photos went viral in 2017 when she got her love story woven into textile
Bajaj designs wedding trousseau wear that costs R4,50,000 upwards
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