NRI Bride’s Diary- Simmi Singh blogs from Sydney

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Simmi and Chika from Sydney, Australia are getting married in Melbourne later this year. After her engagement Simmi started looking for ideas and inspiration for her wedding, when she found that the market in Australia has little understanding of the unique requirements of an Indian wedding. This motivated her to launch The Crimson Bride to help more brides-to-be like her who are getting married in Australia. Here she shares her story and writes about her wedding planning so far.

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“I started my wedding preparations with doing a lot of research on the internet whenever I got the chance- whether it was a spare moment at work or on my phone during my commute to work. My main areas of research were venues, wedding events, decor and fashion. With venues I was trying to look for non-ballroom style event spaces but catered for Indian wedding requirements – such as food and ability to have a fire for the ceremony etc. This was particularly challenging in Melbourne as many non-traditional function centres are quite rigid with their policies around catering etc. I was also disappointed to find that there were hardly any venues with a water view that could comfortably hold over 100 people. Melbourne and Victorian coastline is one of the most beautiful in Australia and I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to have a resort or a venue that could cater for a big Indian wedding! When I inquired about holding an outdoor marquee style wedding in any location, I found that there were a number of council requirements that had to met or otherwise would cost an arm and a leg to pull off.

These restrictions forced us to think about what was more important to us- did we absolutely need to have Indian food at the wedding? Did we care more about the venue? Was accessibility to the venue for the majority of the guests critical? How many people did we absolutely need to invite? Luckily visiting a beautiful vineyard estate just outside of Melbourne, made the decision a little easier. As soon as we arrived at Stones of the Yarra Valley, we knew it was the one. It’s simply breathtaking! The venue had never held a Hindu wedding on its grounds before, but we knew we just had to make it work somehow. The staff there have been wonderful so far- patiently listening and working with our needs!

Once we locked in the venues, we focused on wedding on events and themes. I researched a lot on the internet again and WeddingSutra was one of my main sources of inspiration here. It was great to read through articles on trends and ideas and I really enjoyed going through the real weddings posts to see how real brides were doing it. But when it came to executing on the ideas we liked, we found there were hardly if any Indian wedding planners or event coordinators who would be able to assist in sourcing the supplies, provide advice and just get things done for us.

The Australian market for Indian weddings is currently underdeveloped. This is maybe because my generation of Indians are the first to get married here, so there have been no services dedicated to the unique celebrations of Indian weddings. The props such as mandaps or decorative items for instance are provided by only a handful of Indian suppliers around Australia. Their range is extremely limited and often not of the best quality. If I wanted anything non-standard or custom built, I was forced to look to non-Indian vendors very few of whom understood what a mandap was. Some even quoted me $10k just to have one built!

When I spoke to friends who got married in Australia, they all told me that they, with the help of their parents had to do everything. They researched and sourced their own suppliers, organised every detail for every event which inevitably left them stressed out during their celebrations. Some even made their own centerpieces because the ones available by local Australian vendors were mostly white or clear to cater for Christian weddings. This was disappointing to hear and I wished we had some of the services and suppliers available in India!

Bridal fashion was another area where there are very limited options available in Australia. There are no dedicated stores for Indian designer wear so it is not uncommon for brides and their families to travel to India to do their wedding shopping. There is also a general lack of awareness of latest trends and fashion designers among the Indian community here. So even when brides go shopping to India, very few actually understood the best ways to shop for their wedding outfits. Many would understandably get overwhelmed with choices when they would ask for a ‘red lehenga’ at a store. From my own experience, I realized one of the most productive ways to shop for bridal wear is to actually do the research on the bridal designers upfront, find the ones you like and go shopping asking for those. Very few people know or understand that there are also some really great online stores now that cater to bridal wear. Many Indian designers now offer fantastic customer service so it may not be necessary to go to India.

Some of these challenges are what led me to develop my own website/blog- The Crimson Bride– Wedding Inspiration for the Modern Indian bride based in Australia and abroad. My mission is to provide a central and reliable resource for other Indian brides who wish to organize beautiful and unique Indian weddings here in Australia. I want to feature real brides and their weddings, take inspiration from the Indian fashion world and raise the bar on what is possible in terms of an Indian wedding here in Australia. A key area of focus is therefore building a credible hand picked collection of vendors who are the best at what they do and have outstanding experience with Indian weddings!”

About Chika and I
“My fiancé, Chika and I met briefly at our university in Melbourne but did not get to know each other until he moved up to Sydney for work. We were both in investment banking at the time and although we were working long hours, it was easy to catchup for coffees or lunches since we worked in the same building. Over time we became really good friends which eventually turned into something more and now we’re about to get married in a few months! We currently live and work in Sydney. Organising a wedding in Melbourne with family living in 4 different cities has meant a lot of emails, long phone calls and Skype sessions. But it’s been great fun! We are so excited about getting married later this year in Melbourne and can’t wait to celebrate with our family and closest friends.

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NRI Brides (already-wed or to-be-wed) we’d love to feature your experiences here– what was it like (or what is it like) to plan an Indian wedding abroad- the fun, the travails and the big challenges. Write to us at weddingsutra@gmail.com with your name, date (and venue) of wedding, a few photos (from the engagement ceremony or the wedding) and we’ll get in touch with you!

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