By Jaspreet Soni
The air is mysterious and exciting. The leaves have turned from green to shades of pale gold and the foliage is a riot of colors. We are talking about a scene from a Wedding managed by Jakarta based Wedding Planner Innayat Khubchandani, where autumn’s excitement is recreated amidst the hot summer season. Innayat who ventured into Wedding Planning in 2007, is one of the most sought-after Wedding Planners today. The majority of his clients are NRIs from Indonesia, Hongkong, Manila and Dubai but in the last two years he has managed several Indonesian and Chinese weddings too. We talked to Innayat about the hottest trends and what keeps his creativity flowing.
How did you venture into Wedding Planning? Are any of your family members involved in your business?
No, none of my family members are crazy enough to get into this business. I trained in hospitality and I think it covers all the aspects of wedding planning. My internship in Mumbai with Gurleen M Puri and Sudha Khanna helped me get a background in décor and design. I take a lot of interest in learning about food, alcohol and I think I am good at logistics and people management. So wedding planning feels quite natural.
Tell us a little about your client profile– are the majority NRIs?
80% of my clients have been NRIs but more recently we are doing weddings of India-based families too. The market of South East Asia has just opened up for places like Macau, Bali, Singapore and many families from different parts of India are hosting their destination wedding overseas. We also manage a lot of Indonesian and Chinese weddings, where the scale is not ‘grand’ like an Indian wedding. Whatever be the scale, we like to work on celebrations where we can personalize the event, where it is about the bride, groom and their families, so guests can relate and say ‘Oh this is so him or her’.
What do your clients look for when choosing a locale- country or resort for a Destination Wedding?
Beaches and exotic locations because they lend a very romantic feel to the entire wedding ceremony. When it comes to the hotel, Indian weddings being very grand and having considerable number of guests, the first thing on the clients mind is whether the place has a big ballroom and enough rooms to accommodate everyone.
The outdoor venues also play an important role because there are number of functions and they all can be held at different places within the hotel. In locations like Bali and Thailand, people want their Mandap near the beach, timed with the sunset while the ceremony is going on.
Which themes or settings do you particularly enjoy executing?
Trends change every year. Three years ago, people were into neon effects and pop arts. This year, I am trying to play with colors and focus more on 4D than 3D. For e.g. if we are doing a winter theme, we want the guests to actually experience it with simple things like getting in more air conditioners and making it extra cold or for the autumn, we burn some special oils to create that aura of falling leaves. We are basically trying to work on all senses rather than just the eyes and ears. But among all these, pool parties have been my favorite because they have lot of scope for fun. We have a team that does the art works, organizes games, so the ice is broken between the girl’s and the boy’s side.
I like receptions as well where we take the traditional Indian sangeet and flip it over to create a very Western reception so the challenge of switching over is fun.
Thailand has been the biggest success when it comes to Destination Weddings. Which resorts in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau will be most sought-after in 2013 and 2014?
The Westin in Langkawi, The Galaxy in Macau, Ayana, Conrad and The Westin in Bali, Le Meridian in HuaHin are some great venues. They not only have ample rooms, outdoor venues and big ballrooms but they also understand the special requirements of an Indian wedding.
How do you seek Inspiration & Ideas for your wedding work?
A lot of ideas and inspiration come from my wife. She has a very keen eye. Whenever we travel or visit new places she mostly gets the nerve right. Also, I get a lot of inspiration from food as I am a trained chef as well. I relax and come back rejuvenated to work by travelling to Europe- there is so much creative air there!