When Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma's wedding took place at the Borgo Finocchieto luxury retreat near Tuscany in Italy, they set a new benchmark in ultra-luxury Indian weddings. The Borgo Finocchieto was named by Forbes as the second most-expensive holiday destination in the world, and as per news reports, a week's stay at the vintage retreat comes with a price tag of just under Rs 1 crore.
Virat-Anushka's wedding was exclusive in other ways as well: the fresh flowers — for the marquee and the bride — were flown in from Holland, the textiles used in the decor from India, the catering was by celeb chef Ritu Dalmia, and the couple wore Sabyasachi couture ensembles (and jewellery) for all the big days.
However, leading wedding planners say that the Virat-Anushka nuptials weren't 'big' in the way Indian weddings are understood to be — mainly in terms of the select guests present and 'at home' vibe that was prevalent through the ceremonies.
"The Virat-Anushka wedding didn't take us more than four months to plan," says team Shaadi Squad, which put together the event for the cricketer and actress. Devika Narain designed the wedding, while Stories by Joseph Radhik were the official photographers.
Most high-profile weddings can take anywhere between two months to a year to plan. Booking the venue is among the most time-sensitive of the requirements, but celebrity weddings tend not to be very different from regular ones, planners told us. The greatest requirement they then have from the teams conceptualising and planning their wedding ceremony, is secrecy.
"Celebrity couples prefer an intimate ceremony as their lives are usually too public and draw a lot of media attention. In such setting, we — as a wedding company — ensure the confidentiality of the event is maintained and no pictures or details are released without the client’s consent. Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s wedding is a classic representation of the same. They hosted a close-knit ceremony at an exclusive destination and made it public only after the ceremonies were completed," says Trishant Sidhwani of Dreamzkraft. Dreamzkrfat has planned the weddings of celebrities like Shilpa Shetty-Raj Kundra, Preity Zinta-Gene Goodenough, Lara Dutta-Mahesh Bhupathi, and the Roshan family in the past.
The Shaadi Squad team agrees: "The pressures differ from client to client," they said. "Some may want to go all out, be in the news, and have a larger-than-life wedding, some might be more concerned about the security, want it to be more intimate, and make it just a family affair and some might want it to be a smaller do with unique experiences. Each wedding, big or small, comes with its own set of pressures. Of course, in high profile weddings, there is definitely a lot more security and maybe more celebrities in attendance as either guests or vendors, or celebrity performances. Hence, you would need to even more meticulous while dealing with them, apart from the couple and their families."
As with any big wedding, a celebrity ceremony too — depending on its scale — requires liaising with a number of other vendors. "A big Indian wedding would take close to 3-4 main people and around 100 ancillary vendors around them to get it right," says Zuzer Lucknowala of Vivaah, the firm which put together Arpita Khan's wedding with Aayush Sharma. "Starting from a wedding management company to an ambiance styling company, caterers, invitations, packers, lights, trousseau and so on."
As with what they want they want their ceremony to look like, budgets for a celebrity/high profile wedding differ widely. "Budgets could be as low as Rs 20 lakhs and then go upwards," says Zuzer Lucknowala, while Trishant Sidhwani pegs it as "a combination of various aspects". "Each client has an inclination towards a particular aspect," Sidhwani explains. "For instance, if someone wants Coldplay to perform at their sangeet ceremony, the client would need to spend anywhere between $ 1-1.5 million to fly down the band and its crew in a private jet. On the other hand, a performance by a local artist could be wrapped up in as much as Rs 2 lakhs... (Then again) some people prefer spending money on the décor, or someone else on the food and beverages. So there is no one-size-fits-all kind of a scenario."
On the day of the wedding (and the main events leading to/after it), the planning team can expect to be kept on their toes throughout. "During the wedding days, we function on pure adrenaline!" says the Shaadi Squad team. "Sleep generally doesn't last longer than four hours. Apart from a minimum of three members of the core team at the venue, we usually have a logistics/hospitality team of 3-4 people — depending on the scale of the wedding. We dedicate one person to take complete responsibility of one part of the function — either the décor, or F&B/guest management/vendor management. Everyone is completely in sync with each other, and while we may be labeled as ‘micro-managers’, we ensure that we are aware of every single thing. Our background in film production has really helped us!" Zuzer Lucknowala estimates that a large-ish wedding would require as many as 100-250 members from the planning team, to be on ground to ensure everything goes off smoothly.
Of course, an exotic/unusual destination is a must, and those in the business have several tricks of the trade to ensure they deliver. Trishant Sidhwani tells us that Tbilisi in Georgia makes for a picturesque location — and is (somewhat) easy on the chequebook too. "There are vineyards that are apt for mehendi ceremonies; weddings can be hosted on table-top mountains accessible via cable car or helicopter; and there are spots offering breathtaking panoramas of the city that make for idea sun-downer events. And an intimate destination wedding in Tbilisi will cost you only 30 percent more than hosting a ceremony at a five-star hotel in Goa," Sidhwani points out.
For Shaadi Squad, the Italian countryside has proven to be a splendid location indeed. However, they count Oman ("We planned a wedding there two years before it became a 'hot' destination," the team says) and Khimsar as being among the most exciting destinations they've organised events in. Each location has its own sets of challenges too — the Khimsar wedding, for instance, saw some of the events set amid the sand dunes. "The functions were at night, and the logistics of transporting guests from the hotel to the venue was a task in itself, especially due to limited budgets, and lack of transportation options in Khimsar. Looking back now, we can say that was quite fun and we are proud to have pulled it off!" the team says.
In their time in the business every wedding planner — whether they cater to celebrity/regular clients — are bound to be faced with outre requests. Shaadi Squad says they've been fortunate in avoiding any unusual demands. They do bring up one hilarious anecdote though: "We were once asked to ensure it doesn't rain during an outdoor baraat for a wedding in Mumbai — at the end of June! But since it did not rain, we would like to take credit for even controlling the weather."
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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2017 18:10:25 IST