*Everyone* tells you how stressful wedding planning can be, but does it really need to be? You only get to plan your big day once, so it’s important to make it fun rather than stressful, am I right? I got married this past December and pretty much suffered from insomnia from the very beginning of November. Planning my intercaste marriage that was a mix of familiar and foreign traditions was no easy feat but when I look back, there’s nothing about the wedding that I would have done differently. So my lovelies, I’ve penned down some real pieces of advice that I learnt throughout the process that I hope will make the experience a little easier for you. From one bride to another, here are some lessons that I learned while planning a week-long affair of poojas and parties, otherwise known as a big fat Indian wedding. Take a deep breath, read on and good luck!
A super fun sangeet performance is pretty much a must, we know! If you’re hiring a choreographer to teach your friends and family, make sure to book him/her in advance. Practices should start about a month before your sangeet and should be held once or twice a week. Now planning practice sessions can be harder than you thought. What with everyone’s busy schedules, not everyone will be free at the same day and time. Try not to get too stressed, because coordinating can get tricky when you have to consider the schedules of multiple people. With my large family and group of friends, there was never a day when every single person was able to make it, but that’s okay. Everything turned out fine, people managed to catch up on their steps at the next practice and I realised that stressing over it is pointless. No one's expecting a Filmfare Awards performance and as long as everyone’s enjoying themselves on stage, it’ll be a success.
The easiest way to keep your guests happy is with fantastic food and drinks. Trust me, it’s what they’ll remember and appreciate the most. So you don’t want to take your menu planning lightly, dear bride-to-be. Be sure to take a few people with you - from both sides of the family if you like, to help finalise the food and drinks for each function. This will help you decide on a varied menu where there’s something for everyone. Also, you don’t want a menu that is too repetitive across functions, so try not to repeat dishes/cuisines at every event. You may also want to offer Jain options, depending on your guestlist.
For the booze, one way to save some money, ‘coz we all know that daaru is what makes the bill skyrocket, is to choose a venue that allows you to bring your own alcohol. You’ll be surprised that so many places allow it, even if it’s just for hard liquor but not for wine and beer. This way, you can keep whatever brands you like and ensure the drinks are flowing without being charged an insanely hefty bill.
You don’t want to leave deciding your mehendi favours for the last minute. Chuddis and bangles are pretty done with, we’ve all received them in the past whenever we’ve attended a mehendi, haven’t we? Colourful dupattas with cute pom-poms or pretty haath phools are some cute ideas that are so on-trend. You want to give your guests something that they would like to use and would also serve as a nice memory of your wedding festivities. Scour exhibitions and markets (you’re already doing this for your wedding shopping) to find unique pieces that you can place a bulk order for with pretty packaging, while also receiving a discount. A nice idea would also be to add a tag with your wedding hashtag on it, the date and a ‘Thank you for a being part of our celebrations’. Super cute!
Make a list of all the professionals you will need to book for your wedding. The mehendi wallas, dhol wallas, DJs for each event, caterers, a live band, sangeet choreographers, etc. You may need to speak to a few to see if their budget suits you and also if you like their work. Get cracking on this list as soon as you can, because you don’t want to decide on someone only to find out that they’re already booked on your dates. Keep in mind the requirements, like how many mehendi walis you will need at the venue, whether you want guests to do arabic style or full mehendi, since the cost differs for both. For DJs and bands, you may need them to bring equipments like speakers, lights and microphones since a lot of venues don’t provide for these things. The easiest way to stay on top of everything is to create checklists and stay organized.
One of the first things I did as soon my wedding dates were fixed, aside from booking my venue of course, was to find a fabulous make-up and hair artist. I spent a lot of time online and on Instagram before I had shortlisted a few of my favourites. I then got in touch with them to check their availability as well as costings for each look. Then, I set up trials with a couple. A lot of people will tell you that you don’t need to do this, considering that most MUAs charge for a trial session as well, but I didn’t want to take any risks for my big day. I was super skeptical about being too heavily made up, I wanted my make-up to be radiant, light and super natural-looking, so seeing how well they did my base was important for me. That’s how I chose Shraddha from Doll You By S, she totally got what I wanted and she made my skin look dewy and bright, I loved it!
By April, I had booked and blocked her dates for my wedding which was at the end of December. Over the next few months, we sent each other references as well as pictures of my outfits so she could think of looks to compliment each of them. Three weeks before the wedding, we met and discussed in detail what my hairstyle, eye make-up and lip colour would be for each function. We also decided on which flowers would look best with each outfit and hairstyle so I could arrange for them in advance. In the end, I was incredibly happy with each of my looks, and people still gush about how great my hair and make-up looked. That’s always a happy feeling.
This may seem obvious, but a lot of girls take over the planning process and want to control it all. It’s his wedding too, so be sure to maintain good communication with your soon-to-be hubby. Keep him in the loop, ask his opinion and share your thoughts about the planning process. It isn’t fair to him to just assume that he wouldn’t be interested or that he won’t be helpful enough. You can be surprised by how much he may want to be involved, plus it’s also a great way for the two of you to bond.
What bride hasn’t got a million screenshots of gorgeous floral arrangements, dreamy lights and quirky knick knacks for the Pinterest wedding of her dreams? Well, once you meet with your decorator, be prepared for a bit of a reality check. Flowers and lighting are far from cheap and will make up for your main expenditure when it comes to decor. In fact, generator vans need to be hired for all the lighting, which will really add to the expenses. I was stunned by the exorbitant quotes I was hearing when I showed the professionals what I had in mind. Of course, I was forced to alter my expectations majorly but a little bit of research and discussions with the pros will help you figure out decor options that do fit your budget. Mixing fake flowers with real ones, using cute but cheaper props like dream catchers and bright tassels and swapping lights for romantic candles wherever you can, can help cut the costs while also creating a really pretty ambience.
You can’t wait to jetset off with your new hubby as soon as you’re married, can you? Well, to ensure it’s an amazing experience, you both need to take some time off wedding planning and focus on your honeymoon as well. Zeroing on a destination that you both agree on can take awhile. Maldives, Vietnam and Australia were a few places we considered, argued about and researched on before settling on a few cities in Europe. You both need to have a conversation about the type of holiday you want, whether a beach, city or the mountains. You’ll then need to shortlist places based on that, keeping your budget in mind. Once you’ve checked out airfare and visa requirements, finalising on your stay is equally important. You can choose a hotel, resort or even an AirBnb, just make sure to pick something where you both will be comfortable and cozy. The best piece of advice I can give you is to book your trip at least a week or so after the wedding and not leave immediately. We went on our honeymoon 15 days after the wedding, which gave us plenty of time to recover from the hectic celebrations, catch up on sleep and also settle into my new home. It really helped make for a more relaxed and fun trip.
Remember my lovelies, this is actually such a special time in your life and as hard as it may sound, you really do need to stay relaxed and enjoy it. Delegation is key, you can’t handle everything on your own! Take advantage of having a large family and awesome friends who you can delegate tasks to, they’ll be more than happy to help. If you’re weary about handing over responsibilities, make notes and checklists for each person to ensure things get done. You should be basking in the moments and spending as much time as you can with your family before your shaadi. You’ll be so glad you did, those are the moments you’ll remember after the wedding, not all the time you spent trying to do it all. Go on and enjoy this phase, it’ll never come back.