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Shaadi Squad on Virat-Anushka and the Making of Celeb Weddings

In conversation with Tina Tharwani of Shaadi Squad, the team behind Virat-Anushka’s Tuscany wedding.

Once upon a time, Tina Tharwani and her business partners Saurabh Malhotra and Manoj Mittra used to develop concepts to convert into film production sets, source the best hair and makeup artists, organise transport and stay for 200 film crew members, fulfil erratic filmmaking demands and fix last-minute hiccups.

Today, the former film production experts do the same – except now it’s for weddings.

The star cast is the real-life bride and groom; the film crew is now replaced with wedding guests; and their knowledge and skill in set production is now being put to good use for glamorous nuptials sought-after by the high-and-mighty of Indian society.

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Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma

Their four-year-old wedding firm Shaadi Squad has a simple motto: “You enjoy your wedding; we take care of the rest.” The team says it is equipped to handle “both surges of peak-enthusiasm as well as super-emotional breakdowns” – it’s all part of the package of a big fat Indian wedding, isn’t it?

Within a short period, the firm has already managed high-profile weddings such as the intimate Tuscany wedding of Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli to Bollywood star Anushka Sharma.

We ask Tina Tharwani about their work and India’s wedding trends.

Shaadi Squad co-founder Tina Tharwani
Tina Tharwani, Shaadi Squad

What are the biggest wedding trends this year for Indian millennials?

With Indian millennials becoming more and more aware of the consequences of all their actions on an environmental level, the tendency towards adopting eco-friendly practices has been steadily gaining traction. When it comes to their wedding, modern-day couples now have a sustainable approach towards it, from personalised digital invites to upcycled décor and other such measures that ensure minimum wastage.

So I’d say eco-friendly and sustainable weddings are definitely trending and becoming more common amongst Indian millennials, and deservedly so!

Shaadi Squad team (Tina Tharwani and Saurabh Malhotra) with Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas on their engagement
Tina Tharwani and Saurabh Malhotra with Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas on their engagement

Do you think couples designing their own weddings these days are more interested in the experience rather than the extravagance?

With social media assuming more importance in everyone’s lives, a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding calls for a greater experience throughout those platforms.

We’ve observed that most couples these days come up with creative wedding hashtags, or even create social-media accounts solely for the wedding journey.

With such avenues available, everyone now demands something unique for their own wedding. So, while extravagance may not be a prospect or a demand for everyone, there is always scope for including creativity to produce a unique and memorable wedding experience.

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How has the bride’s outlook changed over the years that you have been in the business? What do they seek?

Brides nowadays know what they want, or at least what they do not prefer, when it comes to the details like décor, invites, food, and so on.

While such specific preferences might make brides seem more demanding, this change in outlook has actually helped make things smoother for wedding planners.

Most brides’ expectations are pretty feasible and they are considerate enough to understand ground realities as well.

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What do you advise couples who are looking to keep costs low but still have a satisfying experience of a ‘proper’ Indian wedding?

The key towards having a well-budgeted yet wonderful wedding is to keep the guest list as minimal as possible, and to avoid costly and unfeasible floral décor.

Also, couples can opt for DIY décor as it not only adds a more personal touch to the wedding but also helps save costs. Moreover, if a friend or a relative has a knack for skills like hairdressing, makeup, photography, or any other ‘talent’ that one may seek for a wedding, the couple can have them do that task instead of spending money and efforts on hiring a vendor.

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Many cross-cultural weddings take place these days. Please share one of your favourite weddings, and how you brought in elements of both their cultures?

Recently, we planned and organised a wedding where the bride was Swedish and the groom was an Indian Muslim. With such an interesting cross-cultural prospect in hand, we did not only have a white wedding but also a nikah ceremony.

Moreover, we organised a sangeet ceremony in which both the families performed to Bollywood numbers. A mehendi ceremony was also held for all the family and friends of the couple.

Such weddings are really interesting, as these allow us to introduce both sides to the other’s cultures, weaving it all together into a memorable experience.

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Event management is all about being prepared for unforeseen circumstances. Do you sometimes have any last-minute fire-fighting to do?

Recently at a wedding that we planned in Goa, one of the events was supposed to take place at a venue located one hour away from where the guests were staying.

On the day of that event, the transport vendors went on a sudden strike. This was totally uncalled for, and we had no way to provide transportation for over 200 wedding guests.

In such a scenario, having considerate clients also goes a long way, and we were lucky to have clients who understood the situation and were very accommodating as well.

Eventually, we had to push the event by three or four hours but we managed to arrange coaches for the guests. The event turned out to be successful, with the guests taking home a fun experience with them!

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What was the most touching moment you witnessed during a wedding?

There are certain moments in each wedding that are extremely touching, every single time. For instance, when the groom sees the bride enter the wedding venue, the sentiments that he undergoes are well-expressed on his face, making everyone emotional.

And of course, the intimate moments that the bride shares with her parents when they bid adieu renders all those around teary-eyed. Even the littlest moments and gestures of camaraderie between the couple during the ring exchange or the wedding ceremony are all so touching!

First published in eShe’s August 2019 issue

Syndicated to CNBCTV18

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