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Expert Speak – Aarti Manocha of Milestones To Memories

Aarti Manocha is a well known and respected name in the travel and hospitality industry. After spending 17 years in the field, she switched gears to become the founder of her wedding planning company – < Milestones to Memories (MtoM).

Her company offers a range of services that encapsulate her vast experience and ideas, and in just two years, Milestones to Memories has made its mark in the HNI circuit of India. Aarti and her team leave no stone unturned to make their clients’ weddings or events a memorable one. The brand has a strong presence in India and UAE, amongst other places.

Aarti loves the adrenalin rush that comes with planning and executing grand events as well as overcoming challenges. She has created a team of like-minded individuals who she credits with having played important roles in the growth of the company.

In a candid conversation with WeddingSutra, Aarti shares her experiences and success insights and also shares what she would have done differently at her wedding.

What got you interested in wedding planning and if you weren’t planning nuptials, what would you be doing instead?

“Having been a part of the travel and tourism industry for over a decade, I had managed large conventions, conferences, and high-end destination retreats. When I had the opportunity to manage hospitality for my first large-scale wedding, it was a transformation of sorts for me. I stepped into this space with a focused approach and started truly enjoying what I did more than anything else that I had done so far. As it turned out, I had found my calling. In 2016, I embarked on the most challenging and exciting journey of my career. I created Milestones to Memories Pvt Ltd – a brand that would mirror my experience, passion, and vision. However, if I had not chanced upon this path, I guess, I would yet be pursuing my travel career.”

Bollywood actor Mohit Marwah ’s nuptials got everyone talking about Milestones To Memories. How long did it take for you to plan and put together such an elaborate affair?

“It might sound unbelievable, but we had only two months to work on this project. I remember that day in December 2017 so clearly when Mohit’s mother, Reena Marwah Ji, called me asking for hotel suggestions in the UAE. I must have asked her thrice in my first five minutes of conversation if we were talking about hosting a wedding in February 2018 or 2019! From that point to Mohit and Antara’s wedding day, I had each day marked on my task list. It was all too tight regarding the timeline versus the scale and expectations. I am honestly so proud of my team and myself for successfully pulling off such an outstanding and memorable wedding.”

Though the design at Mohit Marwah’s wedding at Ras al-Khaimah, UAE and that of Vihang Sarnaik’ wedding at Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad were vastly different, they still managed to exude a distinctive and refined vibe. Can you tell us about the influences on your sense of aesthetics that enables you to produce such sophisticated soirees?

“My aesthetic sense has developed over the years thanks to the various projects I undertook. I have been fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented designers in India and abroad. I must mention that my contributions to the designs that we create for a project come purely from a practical and functional perspective. The questions I am always asking, for example, are whether have we have planned the F&B layouts and spaces well and if the requirements of artists have been well incorporated? Secondly, as a planner, the clients expect us to help them achieve the best within their budgets. Decor production is one area which always takes away a substantial portion of the resources. Here my role remains to join forces with the designing team to procure the right elements from vendors and work on value engineering wherever needed.”

Would you say that with Celebrity Weddings there is an added pressure?

“Yes, there is always pressure when planning celebrity weddings. Regarding demands and expectations, it is very similar to our other UHNI and HNI clients. The added pressure is with NDA’s (Non-disclosure Agreements), security arrangements, too many last minute requirements as well as offering that ‘wow factor’ element which we have to conceptualize and create for them. However, I guess my team and I love the challenges. We have no complaints at all, and we have become pros at crisis and pressure management!”

What does the industry look like five years from now?

“Like any growing industry, the weddings industry also will go through a transformation in 5-10 years. It has already passed the nascent stage and now is gearing up to become one of the leading organized sectors providing employment and career opportunities to many. With the wedding planning schools and professional training academies coming up, we will have skilled personnel joining the industry which will bring innovation and a fresh approach. There will probably be trends of synergies and acquisitions since larger corporations are looking at luxury weddings as a flourishing and lucrative industry.”

Is there a dream venue at which you have always wanted to design and plan a wedding but haven’t gotten the opportunity yet?

“I am not a designer so I don’t dare to dream of designing – that could become a nightmare! Just kidding! From a destination wedding planner’s perspective, I would love to take weddings to exotic destinations within Europe and even to do an island buy out wedding where the island is the destination and home of the families for those three days.”

As an expert in the industry with years of experience behind you, would you have done anything differently at your wedding?

“I wish I knew during my wedding what wedding planning was. If you ask me today, it would be a never-ending list! However, to pick on one, I wish I had chosen a lighter dupatta to cover my head. Mine was so heavy that I thought I would collapse with the weight or my neck would break!”

What’s something most couples overlook when planning? Or the biggest mistake they make without knowing it?

“The biggest mistake which some couples make during the planning process is not enjoying the process and dealing with things with an open mind. I always tell our couples that since we are planning a celebration; it should be all fun and happiness and that they should enjoy the journey. This reminds me of one of our brides who was so chilled out because of which every recce used to be so enjoyable. She would shoot the meetings on her handy cam and eventually made a journey film for herself.”

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