“Do you eat flowers?”- Memoirs of a Wedding Planner

The way the world looks at us changed dramatically the day Dubey ji, the Marigold Chewing Decorator in the film Monsoon Wedding made his confession “Main Event Management Main Uttar Raha Hoon”! For many a young event manager, that was the rug being pulled from under his feet, the halo vanishing, and parents, uncles and aunts coming and asking us if that is what he did too!! Most of us tried a weak comeback by saying he was a Wedding Planner and not an Event Manager – trying to rescue the suave and sophisticated garb the industry had led us to believe we had about ourselves!

I had spent a considerable part of my working career being an Event Manager. Ensuring backdrops split and products were revealed, artists took stage on cue, people did not fall asleep at daylong conferences and the right awards reached the right recipients etc. Life was good, fulfilling and very “Corporate“ indeed. Presentations were in large plush glass buildings and the person at the other end was always someone important. Business Luncheons and late evening meetings almost always ended with a drink at a nearby pub. This was the life – one would have imagined. Or was it?

In early 2009, i set out on a journey of re-discovering oneself. This was no nirvana moment, but an inner voice that had been nagging me for a while. I decided to give up the corner office and take the plunge as an entrepreneur. What i would do thereafter had to be different, challenging, creative and as satisfying as what i had done in the past. I decided to break the mental barriers that defined and separated the worlds of Event Management and Wedding Planning, and am i glad i did.

We often live in a world of pre-conceived notions. Of what is good and what is bad. For years I chased creative satisfaction – in a ballroom with a 20×12 Ft stage and a backdrop as a canvas. Today when i walk into a 3 acre farm house that needs to be styled for a wedding, I think back and smile to myself.

These past 5 years have thrown up many pleasant surprises, breaking the myth and stereotypes of what the Wedding Industry is all about. Being extensions of Event Management per se, you really do require the same skill sets in organizing a wedding – however with a heightened sense of responsibility, consciousness and understanding of every element you are introducing. I often tell my team, its the one day the client has planned for in their heads for years on end – they have expectations coupled with limitations – be it of space, of the weather, of budgets or sometimes even understanding. It is how you bridge this gap and deliver to their satisfaction that will make the experience of the wedding a happy one for all.

Everything is your responsibility. A Wedding is not only about beautiful decor, flowers, lights and artists. The caterers, the menu selected, the service staff, how long you wait at the bar for a drink or how far you need to walk to put your plate down – all matter. Rest rooms need to be restrooms and sometimes you don’t want to walk into a 2×2 cubicle with your most expensive outfit, or wait for the valet to bring your car – after you have danced all evening and your legs are ready to disown you. The other challenge is – the client is never one. There are always two families involved and multiple uncles, aunts and consultants – some self professed and some who will always believe they know more than you!! So if its a challenge you seek, then every wedding comes with its set of challenges – some during the build up and some during the days of the wedding.

But at the end, after the artists have enthralled, people have swooned over the food and drink, taken selfies with the decor installations and the happy but tearful bride has driven away with her knight in a designer sherwani, when you have the family line up to say a big Thank You, every aching muscle tends to heal itself, and you get your mojo for the next one – very often just a day or two away.

There really is no other ride like an Indian Wedding – even if it is not your own!