In Conversation with Wedding Planner Sonal J Shah

Sonal Jay ShahSonal J. Shah is the owner and operator of New York based Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants, LLC (SJS Events). She has organised 100’s of weddings in USA and in other countries too and she recently released her book ‘The Complete Guide to Planning the Perfect South Asian Wedding’.  Says Sonal Shah: “In the wedding industry, it is no secret that planning a South Asian wedding is no easy task. The seemingly endless list of details and traditions can seem overwhelming without someone guiding you through it. Realizing this challenge, my book takes one through an illustrated, step-by-step process that includes everything they will need to know about planning each wedding event by infusing the luxury and modern touches while also respecting the sacred traditions of the South Asian union.”

Here, Sonal Shah tells us more about her book and her wedding planning journey in the US.

How did you get into wedding planning?
I noticed there was a real lack of wedding planners in the tri-state area, specifically those that specialized in Indian and South Asian weddings. I had been to too many Indian weddings in the past and this fueled me with a real desire to help brides, to be there for them to release family pressures while upholding traditions and executing their weddings as seamlessly as possible. It is so easy to get lost with all the small details that by the time the big day rolls around it’s no longer the enjoyable event it should be. With my help, all our brides not only get to enjoy the planning process, but the end result is even more satisfying.

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How have Indian weddings in US changed over the recent years?
Nowadays, the modern bride is far more in control of her own wedding than, say, ten years ago. While tradition and family values are still very much a prominent part of Indian culture, the to-be-weds increasingly take the reins on decision-making. Weddings have become far more sophisticated and elaborate, with lots of personal touches incorporated into the events, for example, personalized welcome bags, unique first entrances or fun baraat processions. Also, weddings have generally increased in size and grandeur as opposed to the more intimate affairs that they once used to be. By the same token, destination weddings have also become much more popular in recent years. Couples favor the option of getting married in exotic cities around the world and hosting their events in fun resorts where guests can make a vacation out of the celebrations.

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What are the top concerns and priorities for US couples planning an Indian wedding?
The main concerns we encounter on a daily basis is sticking to a budget and knowing how to contain guest counts. Indian weddings are known for being large in number, therefore it becomes increasingly difficult to stick to budgets when taking into account extended family, friends of extended family and the family of the extended family. It can be difficult to shave down a guest list without causing offence but we offer our couples the best possible support to do so while sticking to a realistic budget for their events.

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What stirred the interest and made you decide to write and release your first book?
I have been asked hundreds of times throughout my career for tips and advice on how to plan the perfect wedding. The book started off as a collection of notes and thoughts, but soon developed into something much more important. About two years ago, I realized how my knowledge and expertise could help hundreds of brides in the future. I soon embarked on the journey of writing this book, hoping it would not only compliment my business and clients, but also assist those who could not afford to hire us perhaps due to budget or location restrictions.

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Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants- www.sjsevents.com

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