In June this year, designer Masaba Gupta and film producer Madhu Mantena had the quietest of civil ceremonies. It was only when she took to Twitter the next day to talk about the court registry that most people heard of it. It was a move most unorthodox, for a leading fashion designer, especially one who counts several Bollywood actors among her close friends.
At the time, she also announced “a Caribbean wedding in November”.
The destination wedding isn’t happening. But that’s not to deprive us of a grand, four-day affair, the sort that has the most coveted guest list, and is followed with the keenest interest. It will start on November 19, with the bridal showers, will continue with the mehendi on November 20, the sangeet on November 21 and a gala reception on Sunday, (November 22). Expect the works, and guest lists that boast of Bollywood A-listers (Shahid and Mira Kapoor, and Sonam Kapoor are close friends, just so you know).
In short, it sounds like any other grand Indian celebrity wedding. Except, this is Masaba Gupta we’re talking about. As we catch up with her, we get the sense that she’s approached the whole thing with the same minimalism and quirkiness with which she approaches fashion. “A lot of people are invited,” she tells us, “But I’m not going around and talking about my wedding designer or my lipstick, so on and so forth.”
Unlike most Indian brides, she’s not even fretting over the big day, or days, as it were. “When I was growing up, I always saw brides around me under tremendous stress. The pressure to dress a certain way, wear a certain amount of jewellery and make-up... I saw how uncomfortable it was. So I decided that, if I do get married, I’ll be someone who puts comfort first, and then looks at her options for cut, colour, embroidery or jewellery,” says Gupta.
So, in case you do find yourself invited (otherwise, there’s always Instagram), don’t be surprised to see the most relaxed bride, dressed so comfortably that she’d be the envy of any married Indian woman. The idea, she says, is that a bride should “dress in a way that she can interact with people and have a good time herself.”
She’s also taken charge of the whole thing, and planned a non-fussy, non-extravagant celebration. “For me, three vacations is more value-for-money than a mandap with diamonds on it.”
True to her word, for her sangeet and reception, Gupta is ditching the norm of heavily designed lehengas and saris. “I didn’t go into that heavy, couture, bridal space. And I’m the kind of designer who wears works of other designers,” she says. So, her trousseau will have outfits by several other leading designers. “There are a few people who are great at doing certain things. Anamika [Khanna] is great at reception outfits. I can do a cool, quirky mehendi outfit. For a sangeet, somebody more in the Manish Arora or Shivan and Narresh kind of space,” she says.
The designer who’s always stood apart also seems keen to set an example. By not conforming to rules, Gupta wants to make a point. “I do want it to be about comfort, but I also want to change things up a bit. I want to set an example and say that you don’t need to wear a certain colour, a certain type of maang tika; your hair doesn’t have to look a particular way,” says the young designer.
Ask her if this is the (unconventional) dream wedding come true, and she laughs. “I never had a dream wedding. I’ve never visualised anything except clothes. Certainly not an elaborate wedding setup. See, I just don’t want to starve at my wedding. So, my dream wedding is one where I get to eat a meal while everyone else enjoys themselves as well.”
Masaba’s five-point guide to a chilled-out wedding
1) Get people to help out. If you try and look at every detail, you’re going to have a hard time. You may have a great input, but get people to do it for you.
2)People think you should shop for jewellery and clothes much in advance, but I think it should be done as close to the wedding as possible. You’ll have the latest stuff, and your taste might change over time. It’s best done around the wedding, so you don’t regret what you’ve bought.
3) Shoes are important. Make sure you’re in comfortable heels or flats, so you can survive the night.
4) Always test the make-up artist. Don’t just do a demo and leave it; test it through the day. See how the make-up behaves over a few hours, then you’ll know what it will actually be like, because it takes a couple of hours for make-up to set.
5) Receptions should start becoming more informal. You shouldn’t have to have the couple on stage smiling through the evening. I’ve heard of brides getting locked jaws. It’s absolute torture.
How to be the unconventional groom
• Fusion looks work well. If you’re wearing a Jodhpuri or a bandhgala, team it up with Jodhpuri pants. For men who are slimmer, suits do wonders.
• If you wish to be quirky and know you can carry it off, team dhoti pants and a shirt with a really formal blazer and a brooch.
• I love the cropped, ankle-length formal pants men are wearing now. It’s great for a reception.
• You don’t need to wear laced up shoes. Wear a nice slip-on in patent leather or a printed pair of shoes that stand out. So, you can make the whole look black and white, and have a nice pop shoe and make that the focus.
• Don’t be afraid of colours at your wedding. Get over navy blue, black or maroon. On a darker man, a haldi yellow kurta will look fantastic when teamed with an off-white or cream churidar. Even a soft pink in raw silk — it has a silver-pink shine — looks lovely.
How to be the ‘in vogue’ bride
• We’re seeing a lot of shapewear backs. Instead of the flared lehenga, women are opting for the fishtail cuts. Girls are also wearing shararas with big flares that almost look like a lehenga.
• Brides are going minimal. Go for less embellishment, and lighter lehengas.
• The dupatta is being ditched. Either that, or it’s attached. Much easier to handle.
• The choli is becoming more modest. People are wearing longer lengths, which are more fitted; the ‘60s style kurtas with shararas are also in. There’s more focus on the body and shape.
• I’m hoping the anarkali has died. It’s the worst of the lot. And it’s not very flattering. If you’re very skinny and tall, it works for you. If you’re short, you look like you’re lost in your outfit.
• Ditch the trail. At the end of the night, it’s a rag. It’s been stepped on and is dirty.