Top wedding choreographer Aksheeta shares her journey in the wedding industry and her recent foray into wedding planning
A trailblazer who’s had more than a decade of experience in the dynamic world of Indian weddings, Aksheeta Doshi has taken her passion for weddings a step ahead by taking up the colossal role of a wedding planner and stylist with her latest venture Saffron and Sage Weddings. Creative, insightful, and flexible, she has witnessed the Indian wedding industry thrive even through the toughest of times. Today, she shares her thoughts on the near future of Indian weddings while giving us a glimpse into her journey and her creative process.
Spanning over a decade, your experience in the wedding industry is vast. Could you describe your journey for us?
My journey in the wedding industry started right from the time when the idea of a ‘Sangeet’ came into existence for Indian weddings. I remember it all started around the year 2007-2008 when inspired by Marwari mahila geet functions, the Sangeet became an event of its own in weddings. Fortunately, I started my career around the same time! I was actually, one of the first full-time wedding choreographers in Mumbai as my journey began with the trend of Sangeet. Moving forward, the last 13 or 14 years of my life have mainly revolved around weddings. Over the years, I’ve seen the wedding industry in India grow manifold, and I can proudly say that I’ve been part of that growth. Honestly, it’s been a great journey for me, and while we all have witnessed our share of ups and downs, luckily for me I’ve always been on the upside. But from what I’ve learnt, I believe passion is the key to success in the dynamic world of Indian weddings.
How do you conceptualize your performances? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Before the season starts, my team and I brainstorm on all the new ideas or trends that we can include. Once the ideation is done, choreography sequences are planned and these are labeled as ‘company choreographies’. Apart from these sequences, we literally, just go with the flow as per our clients’ personalities and likes. My source of inspiration is my client. Based on them, we tweak our ideas. For example, if it’s a love marriage, my song selection will be inclined towards more romantic and dreamy numbers. Whereas, for an arranged marriage the choice of songs will be completely different. In fact, over the years I’ve also noticed that many clans have a different approach towards a Sangeet function. While Gujaratis and Marwaris prefer to keep it traditional and Bollywood-centric, the Sindhis and Punjabis are unhesitant about embracing contemporary tracks that set the mood for a boisterous party! Each dance sequence or Sangeet orchestrated by me is a personalized affair and hence, my clients remain the main source of my inspiration.
As a choreographer what are the biggest hurdles you’ve faced and how do you overcome them?
For us, negotiation remains one of our biggest hurdles as we provide a service and not a product. Apart from that, it’s the temperaments and the moods of people. Since we are usually working with a lot of people from both the groom and bride’s respective families, managing them and bringing them to a mutual comfort zone is a difficult task. Keeping this in mind, my team and I concentrate on keeping them motivated to ace the performance. Sometimes, urging the bride and groom to do the final rehearsal is also tough since both of them are busy with other errands.
You’ve seamlessly transitioned from being a choreographer to a wedding planner. What spurred you to take the dive into wedding planning?
At the risk of sounding clichéd, I live and breathe weddings! My love and passion for weddings has been constant throughout my life, long before I started my journey as a professional choreographer. Even though it’s been a decade into choreographing, the ambition to be a wedding planner has always burned bright within me. In fact, a lot of credit goes to my clients who’ve trusted my recommendations, believed in my abilities, and given me a free reign to make their vision come to life. I’ve always been waiting to start my journey as a wedding planner, and finally, my passion for the craft and the loyalty of my clients has enabled me to do so!
How do you think the Indian wedding industry has evolved keeping the pandemic in mind?
I think with the pandemic, the couple and their family’s priorities have changed. But what I’ve come to realize is that irrespective of the pandemic, Indian weddings will continue to be lavish affairs even if the guest list is shortened. In fact, this season throughout November to January, I witnessed many luxurious weddings that consisted of A-list wedding vendors who orchestrated an elaborate affair despite the limited number of guests. Yes, weddings have become smaller but only in number not so much on grandeur.
Most wedding planners have their own signature style when it comes to executing weddings. Tell us about yours.
I approach weddings the same way I approach choreography. I like to concentrate more on the details and personalization. The focus should always be on the bride and the groom with nothing else to steal the spotlight away from them. In my opinion, using larger-than-life elements makes the guests remember less about the couple and more about the event. But of course, at the end of the day, it’s the couple’s choice!
Furthermore, I believe that wedding planning is not just about vendor coordination but also about executing a wedding that is in sync with the couple and their family’s tastes. My team and I at Saffron and Sage Weddings guide all our clients through every step of the way be it trousseau organizing or technical styling. As a planner and a wedding stylist, the entire responsibility of the wedding falls on my shoulders, so it’s essential that the planning team makes the correct recommendations at every step of the way.
Do you have any creative process when it comes to conceptualizing a wedding?
Wedding planning is a very client-oriented job and hence my creative process changes as per the client. Only when I meet the client and comprehend their tastes, do I begin creating mood boards. Sometimes the bride, the groom, and their parents have completely different tastes. In such cases, the key is to find a midway path which in turn, challenges our creativity. Today, every couple is social media savvy and has no doubt created numerous boards on Pinterest and Instagram which reflects the vision they have for the wedding. Hence, my priority as a planner is to channelize and streamline my clients’ thoughts.
If there were one piece of expert advice you’d have to give to a couple tying the knot in 2021, what would it be?
I think intimate weddings are the best route to take right now. To make your wedding all-inclusive you can segregate your guests according to events. For example, invite your friends and cousins for the Cocktail or Sangeet; keep the wedding ceremony more limited to close family members, and the reception for your peers. This way, you make sure that almost everyone is a part of your celebration. Also, to ensure that there are no rough edges, send a token of love expressing your regret to people who couldn’t be on your guest list due to the restrictions.
As a budding wedding planner, what kind of wedding trends do you foresee in the year 2021?
Intimate weddings are here to stay for now. Destination weddings at unique off-beat locations have also picked up speed. Moreover, I’ve seen Indian couples embrace sustainable eco-friendly weddings. The going is still slow and to be honest, making a wedding completely sustainable is a challenge. But you can still work around it with better planning. Keeping the current situation in mind, many couples are also going low on budget but high on experience.
To bring out your best moves at your Sangeet celebration with Aksheeta, click here.