Stand-up comedy, mujra, fashion shows: Pre-wedding functions get a kitschy makeover

Move over predictable sangeet and mehendi ceremonies. Pre-wedding festivities are now a grand affair with unconventional themes.

more lifestyle Updated: Jul 22, 2017 13:42 IST
Etti Bali
Etti Bali
Hindustan Times
Wedding,Big Fat Indian Wedding,Mehendi
Now you can be invited to a hasya kavi sammelan, bhangra night or even a mujra as part of pre-wedding celebrations.(Badal Raja Company)

Gone are the days when pre-wedding ceremonies were restricted to traditional mehendi nights, where ladies of the house gathered and indulged in singing and dancing around a dholak. Events like Sufi nights, hasya kavi sammelans, mujara nights and fashion shows have become pre-dominant themes. To add to this, couples are recreating themes from their favourite television series to make these affairs more personal. “These are no longer events, but experiences. Every pre-wedding event is a story in itself. Moroccan, Sufi, vintage, English hi-tea, retro, modern and club are the common themes now,” says wedding organiser Kaveri Vij.

She adds that customers come prepared with an idea of what they want. “They have their mood boards in place before meeting wedding designers,” she says. Photographer Anand Rathi says that events like these are shot like films, with avant garde equipments and sometimes, even crew from Bollywood.

Mukta Kapoor, a wedding organiser, shares that the cost of the pre-wedding events is almost at par with the actual wedding. She attributes the demand to people becoming more aware of trends and the availability of options. “Money was never a factor as far as weddings are concerned in India. People save for years and years for their wedding,” says Kapoor. Another reason behind these demands is that people are getting married in their late 20s, so there’s a level of maturity that makes them take their own decisions.

How much do these events cost, and how are people bearing this cost? “The cost depends on the designing and the personalisation of each event. But they can start from somewhere around INR 5 lakh and there is no upper limit to this as guests can even ask for an jet plane entry to their wedding. We have done pre-wedding events ranging from 5 lakh - 70 lakh,” says Vij.

Choreographer Terence Lewis performing at a wedding event. (Badal Raja Company)

“For about 100 odd people, including food and decor, you are looking at anywhere upwards of INR 10 lakh. The cost of pre-wedding events is on par with the cost of the wedding. Most couples are sharing the cost now ,” says Kapoor. The guest list for these events is also smaller for these events.

Photography, an indispensible part of wedding events, also adds to this cost. Couples are now planning destination pre-wedding shoots with their friends. People also want exclusive performances by celebrities. “Over the recent years, we have seen lots of international pop stars being flown in to perform at pre-wedding events. Singers such as Jennifer Lopez, Ellie Goulding, Shakira, Bruno Mars, Akon have enthralled wedding guests with their live performances. So literally sky is the limit and Indian weddings are changing the world dynamics of entertainment at private events,” says photographer Badal Jain.

Sharing some events that people have demanded, Kapoor says, “We are doing one NRI wedding that has a lot of American guests coming over. They wanted to do Holi, but instead of colours, we decided to do it with flowers. We have artists coming from Mathura to play Phoolon ki Holi and play out the Radha-Krishna theme.”

Any other pre-wedding events that are on the rise? “Sufi nights are very popular; people are going back to qawwalis. Karaoke is also very popular. And while hookah nights have been there for a while, mujra is something that is coming back. Rock and jazz music nights have always been there. We are also doing a hasya kavi sammelan,” says Kapoor.

From having exclusive dhol nights to grand installations, couples are going all out for pre-wedding events. (The Story Weavers)

What has been the most lavish pre-wedding event they have organised? “We organised a 4-day long big fat Indian wedding at Jaipur. The wedding started with a welcome dinner night with a Moroccan theme and singers from Mumbai at Fairmont Jaipur. Mehendi was in the evening and had a Buddha Bar themed sangeet with a 10-foot Buddha installation. There were celebrity DJs and singers for all the days of the wedding,” says Vij.

For Kapoor, it has to be a destination wedding in Jodhpur. “We did a function in Hari Mahal last year which was very elaborate. Just for the wedding, we had spent close to INR 80 lakh, including the decor. For the mehendi, we had a mela theme. Many Punjabi folk artists were called and there was the usual bhangra-gidda. The stage was in the shape of a truck. This cost came close to about INR 60 lac,” says Kapoor.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

First Published: Jul 22, 2017 13:41 IST