From unparalleled secrecy to exquisite themes and exclusive destinations, check out the multi-layered stages of hosting a wow wedding by India’s elite families
WeddingSutra’s eye in the sky takes you inside the world of Billionaire Weddings (The B-Club) to reveal all that goes on behind the scenes at gorgeous palace venues like India’s Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur or the Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, or at exclusive beachside resorts in the Middle East, South East Asia, and Europe. We are also shining a spotlight on those who influence what happens at these magnificent, timeless weddings – friends with the finest tastes, globally savvy relatives, and A-list wedding professionals.
Before the wedding
Yes, you heard it right! Prominent business families hosting a very grand wedding often set up committees for each important aspect of the festivities, be it the decor, entertainment, catering, hospitality and guests welcome.
As soon as the hosts decide on the tentative dates and venues, they form committees to decide on the first shortlist of vendors.
If the family is keen on a destination wedding, presentations are made by the Mumbai or Delhi-based offices of hotel chains offering the slickest venues and finest hospitality, such as the Taj, Shangri-La Group and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Their detailed presentations, supported with films from real weddings, feature indoor and outdoor venues for celebrations, their flexibility to accommodate external caterers (yes, even if they love the Indian or regional food at the hotel, the B-Club insists on bringing their favorite caterers from Mumbai or Delhi), the hotel’s inventory of rooms and the formalities for a buy-out (the B-Club would typically prefer a buy-out and not even want 10% of the rooms to be occupied by outsiders). While leading Mumbai hotels like the Taj Mahal Palace or Taj Lands End are not in a position to offer a complete buy-out, luxury hotels with an inventory of 60 to 200 rooms like Jaipur’s Rambagh Palace and Umaid Bhawan in Rajasthan, Grand Hyatt in Goa and the Taj Bekal Resort & Spa in Kerala, welcome a buy-out subject to room availability in the peak occupancy months from November to January.
The committees will typically consist of at least two members each from the bride and groom’s families, two to three close friends of the couple and/or their families, and some trusted confidantes on all matters related to wedding cuisine, celebrations, function themes and travel. These could be the General Manager of their favorite hotel, a top chef, a couture designer or noted stylist, as well as a travel consultant.
Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
Closer to the wedding
A Big Web of Planners, Decorators, and Talent Managers
If you think there is only one wedding planner who plans and coordinates with all vendors at all lavish Indian weddings, you’ve got it wrong! If the wedding is a small affair (with less than 100 or 200 guests), chances are only one or two wedding planning or event companies are involved. But if the guest list numbers around 400-1,000, with celebrations at multiple locations, chances are close to 10 (or even more) A-list entertainment and talent management, wedding planning, travel and hospitality companies are involved in the mega affair.
Here are some A-list names for your reference:
Top luxury wedding planners like Aditya Motwane of MEW, Kainaz Sethna of Seven Steps, Samit Garg of E Factor, Aarti Manocha of Milestones to Memories, and Farid Khan and Bhavnesh Sawhney of FB Celebrations could be the wedding planners for one side of the family (typically there are separate wedding planners from each side).
The designers for each of the different venues could be names like Vandana Mohan, Sumant Jayakrishnan, Punit Jasuja, Gurleen M Puri, Larly Bahl and Dinaz Noria or couturiers like Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra, Varun Bahl and Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla.
DNA Networks, Kickstart Entertainment or Wizcraft could be managing contracts with international artists and overseeing all technical set-ups and production.
Mumbai’s Foodlink and Popular Caterers are the top picks for vegetarian food while Delhi’s Varun Tuli of Food Inc. by Yum Yum Tree, Marut Sikka, and Puneet Sikand are the go-to names for the B-Club. And whether it is an intimate at-home celebration or an elegant dinner at any of the Taj properties, ace food stylists like Harsha Kilachand or Aditi Dugar of Masque restaurant are roped in to design the food presentations or dessert tables to match the theme of the function.
The photographers on the speed dial of luxury wedding planners include Reels and Frames, Stories by Joseph Radhik, WeddingNama, and Cupcake Productions, while celebrity makeup artists such as Mickey Contractor, Namrata Soni, Bianca Louzado, and Natasha Moor are the first to receive a call from the bride, as soon as her engagement date is fixed.
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
The Role of Couturiers
India’s top bridal couturiers are not just involved in creating bespoke ensembles for couples, they also advise fashion-forward brides on the creative talent they should keep an eye on – from jewellery and accessories designers, makeup artists and photographers, alongside invitation cards and wedding themes designers. A few leading fashion designers in India are actively involved in producing or designing social events such as Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, Tarun Tahiliani, Manish Malhotra, Raghavendra Rathore, Varun Bahl, Rohit Bal, Abhinav Mishra, and Shivan & Narresh.
Some big names like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Anamika Khanna, Shantanu & Nikhil and Falguni & Shane Peacock have not ventured into wedding design or event production and may only advise their B-Club clients on themes, celebration ideas, and more.
Penny Wise, Pound Wiser
With a big, fat bank balance and huge assets, we may assume that ultra HNIs (High Net-worth Individuals) give their event managers a free hand on wedding expenditure. However, top vendors reveal how ultra HNIs take every decision after a thorough study and lots of consultations with trusted aides, family members, and friends.
Wardrobe & Styling
With 100-500 guests arriving from overseas, and with many of them being foreigners owning limited Indian wear, the hosts make special efforts to arrange for Indian wear like bandi jackets and sarees to be gifted to them. While top Bollywood stylists like Tanya Ghavri, Eshaa Amin, Aastha Sharma, and Shaleena Nathani are roped in to help the bride with the shopping, their teams are briefed to be stationed at the hotels to help guests get ready or recommend last-minute shopping. From steam-ironing services to tailors for urgent alterations, dry cleaners, hairstylists and saree-drapers, all preparations are made for guests who are unprepared or who need help with their ensembles.
On the wedding day
Thanks to the presence of several Bollywood stars and top politicians, the venues are often swarming with security personnel and paparazzi waiting to click the celebrities walking into the venue. While Nishita Patwardhan and Rajjo Chandiramani of On Cue Productions are the go-to team for shadowing the hosts and Stage Management, the entrance is managed by Event Security specialists, and the PR team interfacing with media photographers.
While NDA’s (non-disclosure agreements) are signed off with all the companies involved with the wedding, before the start of the event, all their teams are given instructions and a reminder not to upload any photos.
There was a time when guests were requested not to post photos on Facebook, but thanks to our lives revolving around social media, the hosts find it awkward to curtail any guest’s excitement. There are few exceptions though – when a top South-based industrialist’s daughter tied the knot at a palace wedding in Jodhpur, all the 200+ guests were given a written request, not to even check-in to the venue on Facebook. While they were permitted to bring their phones to the venue, they were politely requested not to click a single photograph. As a guest quipped, “This was a timeless wedding, with no new-age social media buzz. And that made it the most exclusive wedding the world has ever seen because apart from the hosts and 200 guests, no one could catch a glimpse of what the bride or groom wore or what the celebrations looked like.”