|Q: Keeping the NRI's concerns in mind what is the international bridery look for someone who lives does not live here?. Are they looking for Bollywood kind of wedding, Monsoon wedding etc
A: I would say lot of them look for plenty of colour but then comfort and the ethnic feel is also important. The whole idea is to carry it off with a certain sense of style than just be a typical Indian bride in order that they are comfortable with their group of friends in the U.S or London. Who would like to look like a mannequin who's just come out of nowhere wearing a strange outfit.
Q: Do you think that the NRI's in today's age of internet really know what they really or do you still need to help them through?
A: Oh! definitely because it's a new concept. They are always stuck, either they wear a western outfit or they wear an Indian outfit. Now here is one collection or may be there are lot of designers who are catering to their concerns that they have to wear it later also and they have to wear it in a different environment they don't really have to wear it in India. So they have to look good appealing, different, but at the same time stick to the Indian roots. So it's a completely different concept and you have to cater to their concerns.
Q: And what about theme wedding, destination weddings, or sort of you know weddings with the particular appeals like having a star or having some sort of other performance-oriented wedding?
A: Of course all that is definitely there. When you talk about Bollywood there's always been an appealing factor. So they usually have an actor or an actress perform at the weddings and some of them have various themes. For instance a Sholay or a Khal-Nayak theme and then the wedding outfits are supposed to be based on those themes.
Q: Do you think there are a lot of NRI's also looking for traditional outfits because they have seen the sort of a beauty of traditional Indian wedding and they want to recreate themselves yes, fusion is good but what about the traditional aspects?
A. They definitely want that because Bollywood has done all the homework and marketing. They see Ashwarya Rai or Madhuri Dixit in the movies and how they light up the screen. So that's the inspiration when it's come to our NRI client. But apart from that their concerns are about what the designers are here for.
Q How is this exhibition different from Vivaha or from Bridal Asia. Why is it that not many people know about it?
A: I think it's different in a sense because it been catering to a different audience. Apart from that they are buying houses, buying agencies that are coming. The people from different stores, multi designer outlets that are coming. There are people coming from different outlets or around the world who are visiting Masala Wedding. So we are getting lot of various aspects, not just direct customers but we are getting bulk clients as well.
Q: What about bridal predictions for the coming year. What do you predict is going to really end for international bride?
A: I would say lot of colors that's what you associate India with and lot of style. We have seen what some of the Indian designers have to offer. We have seen some of the jewelers, the gifts and accessories that you can stock up for your wedding and the best thing is it is ranged here to suite every kind of need and want.
Q: Anchor: Now first thing first, tell us a bit more about a Wedding Art, your company which is Delhi and London based I believe and so you worked with both NRI audiences and local audiences.
A: Yes, we have worked with both audiences. We have a lot of NRI clients. Actually, most of our clients come to us through our website, and we undertake the entire wedding. We help them in trousseau shopping, jewelery shopping, styling their wedding cards etc. So we are really a one stop shop where one gets everything that's required prior to a wedding. And then during the wedding time we do the decor of the entire venue, accommodation for the guest etc. So all these things are taken care of by us. At times NRI's come to us and say that they have a couple of days free. So then we take them to shopping sprees, we organize site seeing may be Agra to see the Taj-Mahal or we take them to Jaipur and put them up at a palace, we organize like a Jaipuri night for them. So there are lots of activity that we do with our NRI clients.
Q. How does an NRI go about choosing or picking the right wedding planner?
A: An NRI has to see the client list of any wedding planner to decide on what they want, whether the style of the wedding planner matches with their style, whether the wedding planner is competent enough to take care of all the needs etc. At times NRI's comes to us and the guest list is around 1000 to 2000. In that case the wedding planner should be in a position to handle the entire flow of people. This includes picking up people from the airport, getting them to the Hotel, making sure they are comfortable in the Hotel, transporting them to the venue where the function is going to take place happen, at the same time she is going to organize the function. So the wedding planner should be competent enough to do all that.
Q: What about the cost aspects, the package?
A: No, of course we can that most of the clients do come to us from outside. I mean if you do compare the revenues that they would be charged for doing a function abroad it would be 3 folds as compared to what we would charge them. So we are definitely 3 fold cheaper, if you come to India to get married. But yes, transporting so many people, accommodating so many people is an expense. So for different people we have different categories of accommodations available, like we do have guest houses, we have nice decent 3 star properties, where we can put up people when they have a budget constraint. Otherwise most of the clients they do generally come to me, the kind of clients come to me are mostly put up in 5 star hotels.
Also that now in the west we have noticed a trend where the people who come in they like to pay for their own rooms. So what we do with the Hotel is that we negotiate a really good room rates and then they can come and check-in. We send them a registration form and they can check in to the hotel and pay for their room bill directly. That way the load is not on the person who is having the wedding itself. This is a new trend which is in the West, though our Indian audiences are not very comfortable with it because they feel that it's an issue of Hospitality and they feel awkward asking anyone to pay up for their room bills. So mostly it's the Indian clients who lands up paying more as compare to that of NRI clients.
Q: Does Wedding Art have a tie-up with wedding planners abroad in the U.S or U.K?
A: We have tie-ups with florists in New York, some of them in Bangkok but not from the U.K.
Q. More in terms of logistics can a wedding planner be here as well as there in US or UK?
A: Yes, as a matter of fact we have just opened an office in London this year and I am looking an opening an office in Vancouver. By September we should be on-line with LA as well. But we definitely have an office in London run by the name of Wedding Art itself.
Q: Do NRI's, really know what they want in keeping with the latest trends, the designers etc?
A: Absolutely, since most of the NRI clients watch Indian T.V channels and are in touch with Bollywood too. So they want the best, they are aware, they are net savvy and do a lot of searching on the net. But yes, when it comes to culture and providing them something traditional that's where our inputs are stronger, wherein we tell them that they can even have a guy who can carve their name on a miniature carving on a rice grain and give it as a gift to all present at the function. This is how we make it more interesting. But trend wise yes, they are pretty much aware.
Q. But that's interesting considering, Monsoon Wedding and Bride and Prejudice. All these movies have really pushed the imagination of people living abroad further. Is it really true that they don't they want the glitz and the glamour and the singing and the dancing?
A: They definitely do. But then we like to keep that for the fun element of the evening. That's the Cocktail, the Sangeet or the Engagement where there is lot of dancing to be done. Indian weddings are traditionally very sombre. They are formal evenings where the brides' side wants to do a lot for the grooms' side and it's a more formal and a more elegant kind of evening. But the fun element is what all the NRI's die for and that is what we provide them when it comes to Sangeet and several other functions including Mehndi prior to the wedding.
Q: Could you just take us through the process that an NRI needs to go through. How much in advance should they start planning and what are the 2-3 steps that they should take to make the most of the planning process?
A: Most NRI's prefer destination weddings. Its either going to Jaipur to get married or to the backwaters of Kerala or Goa to get married. Now when they choose a destination they should at least plan 6 to 8 months before. But if they decide and want to come to Delhi or Bombay or in that case even a notice of 3 months is good enough for us to start working.
Q: What about wedding exhibitions and venues? Do you think they really help the NRI customers?
A: Well, it is a proven fact that exhibitions are a great help which is why exhibitions from India have started going to Pakistan, Los Angeles, San Francisco etc. Calgary itself has big Indian settlements with a majority of Gujaratis staying there. Definitely, there is a market for it and that is why there are so many shows mushrooming.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about your experience. Since you are based in New York what sort of clientele do you have?
A: Well, it's pretty much the second and the third generation that's coming in because the older generations believe in having family members organize and take care of the wedding contrary to the new generation which wants it to be more professional and well organized. And this is where the wedding planner fits in the bell.
Q: How does one go about planning a wedding?
A: The internet is an ocean to begin with. Most surf the net and decide on either a royal wedding in Rajasthan or on one of the beaches in Goa etc. Now that is a starting point for us and then our networking, affiliations come into play. We research according to priorities, budget and get back to our clients with our feed back to decide further. We do a trip when we all get together, meet all the vendor's concerns and then brainstorm for the big day to make sure everything moves as per plan.
Q: How do you really plan a wedding on a huge scale especially from America to India?
A: Good question. We have affiliations with Shadi online and our networking is strong. And we surf. Come to think of it, it's like any other wedding. Its just that the surrounding and the ambience is different. It is challenging because we are not used to the whole thought process and the working habits in India versus over there because there we are very precise and clear about what we want. While here it's a little unorganised. So it becomes a challenge Its not easy to come here and do weddings.
Q: So what's a typical package like? Can you give us a ball park figure?
A Everything is customized on need basis depending on time, energy and number of days etc. To give you a ball park and it would cost there, it could vary from a flat fee of 5000 to 10000.
Source: South Asia World