“The highest happiness on earth is the happiness of marriage” – — William Lyon Phelps, American Author
Vows of being with each other until the end of time, traditions and rituals, celebration and ceremonies, countless emotions, joy and laughter on everyone’s faces, uniting friends and families; these are the few elements that make a wedding so special and an affair of a lifetime. It’s unlike any other event that happens. Everyone has their own dreams about their wedding…some go for a big fat one with all kinds of lavishness and extravagance, some choose to have a simple civil ceremony with just friends and family around, some choose to have it at a beautiful destination while some prefer to tie the knot in the presence of the Almighty. Whatever we choose, we ensure to leave no stones unturned to make our wedding a memorable one.
They say in India every girl’s father starts saving money for her big day since the day she is born. Thank God, the times are changing!!! Thank god people and their mindsets are changing. Weddings are not just about pomp and show but more about the bride and groom’s comfort and happiness, they are no more about pleasing everyone at the ceremony but about ensuring the couple have an unforgettable beginning to their new journey no matter they are spending an awful lot of their savings in a once in a lifetime extravaganza or being content with a small an intimate ceremony.
Our journey to the wedding day wasn’t all bed of roses. We decided on having a destination wedding against everyone’s wishes, which meant we were all on our own planning and executing it. Though we had a few hiccups, we did manage to do a fairly good job though and pull it off.
Here are a few steps that will help you plan your big day!
Step 1– Make a budget
It’s critical. Think of everything required in a wedding, make a list and add some monetary value to it, depending on how much you are willing to spend on each one. This way you can keep a track if you are going over budget. Some things on the top of my mind are, the Venue, Decorations, Travel, Stay, Food, Wedding coordinator, Event manager, Hair and makeup, Outfits, Jewellery, Photographer and gifts. Ensure to set aside some budget for Miscellaneous expenses. Now it is also necessary to take off all the items or choose an alternative one from your list which you can do without. It can be expensive outfits, venue decorations, shortening the guest list and what not.
Step 2– The destination
Discuss your preferences. Want it in a nice hotel, on the beach, in a jungle, hilltop, a palace or a desert. We decided to go for a beach wedding; hence we chose Goa. There are some other beautiful locations for a wedding in India like Rajasthan, Kerala, Pondicherry; the list goes on. If you want to expand your horizons, international destinations are a rage. Bali, Phuket, Seychelles, Italy…etc. Also, keep in mind the price differs depending on whether it is a peak season or not. You can also choose some offbeat destinations to avoid the crowd and make your wedding a one of its kind in not so sought after places. To save some bucks off-season weddings are also not a bad idea, but ensure its not rainy season for obvious reasons.
Step 3– The guest list
Start writing the names of the ones who you really need to be by your side on your big day. The list might change several times during your planning stage and even in the final stages. It’s advisable not to go overboard as the hotels have a very less margin to cater to extra guests. We started with 30 and finalized 45, with nil no-shows.
Step 4- The venue
We booked the Prainha Resorts by the sea in Goa. The view from the garden where the wedding would be was breathtaking. Look out as a lot of hotels and resorts have a minimum guest requirement which can be as low as 150. Some venues come free of cost when you book a certain number of rooms in the same place. This works out very well for big groups. There are endless venue options available, but if it is a popular destination and peak season, most of the hotels and resorts get booked out up to a year in advance.
Step 5- Stay
We stayed in Goa for two nights, and the resort was working out quite expensive for 45 guests. Hence we booked another hotel nearby, Palacio de Goa. It was easily accessible, and we did not have to shell out a lot. The best way to book rooms is by dividing the guests into groups. E.g., my five friends were put up in a room for 4 with an extra bed. You can do a range of permutations and combinations to arrive at the best possible solution. Ensure to book flexible rates only as the guest list is dynamic, there might be some last minute additions or cancellations. There is nothing better than booking bed and breakfast as it takes away the stress of arranging the same from elsewhere. We also had two separate rooms booked in the resort on our wedding day. This was for the guests and us to get ready, or relax while the ceremonies are in full swing.
Step 6- Travel
Few of our friends and family decided to travel by flight due to limited leaves available while the rest of us decided to travel by bus. The journey takes up to 12 hours! Nothing compares to the fun we had, all the singing and dancing, gossiping, taking short meal breaks, exchanging stories were just unparalleled.
Step 7- Venue decorations
We were provided with a few contacts from the resort which we met up in Goa and discussed the plans. Diakon events were our coordinators. We were told a beach wedding would require special permission from the government and Indian weddings are generally avoided on the beach due to the usage of fire and also the difficulty in cleaning up after the ceremonies. So we chose to have it in the garden overlooking the beach instead. We ran over the checklist adding and deleting items depending on our budget and finalized the details.
Step 8- Food
This was an easy one. The menu was provided to us by the resort, and we just had to choose from them. There are all veg and all non-veg options available; the price differs accordingly. Charges are taken per plate it is advisable to book for 10% more than the actual number of guests. We decided not to as, and we did not want to waste food.
Step 9- Photographer and Makeup Artists
This tends to take up a big part of the budget. Who doesn’t want to look stunning on their wedding day and have all the best moments captured for eternity? We also looked for many photographers, but one team Frameroots seemed to be the best. Their images told stories, and what exactly was what we were looking for. They were happy to shoot our pre-wedding in Hampi, wedding in Goa, Reception in Bangalore and also and a Post wedding shoot in Cochin which is were we finally fulfilled our desires of the Ice and Fire theme. Photography again comes with a lot of options, Candid, traditional, telling a short story via wedding cinematography, drone photos and videos, camera crane etc. Pick the best one that suits your budget. Booking a makeup artist is the next task. I had no idea there were several options to choose from like Natural makeup, Matte, HD, Airbrush, Mineral, Glossy, Smokey. I went through several catalogues and pictures of brides to decide what look, a hairstyle I wanted and then accordingly booked the one who could deliver the same. Glam up by Shruti Badami was one among the best MUA in town, and she didn’t let me down.
Step 10- Shopping
This is the best part of any wedding, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I browsed through every website there is looking for both our outfits, accessories, shoes, jewellery, makeup etc. A lot of my friends and family advised me against it as doing “wedding shopping” online was frowned upon. What if it turns out to be bad, what if the material is of poor quality, what if it is not like in the picture? Well, guess what, there is a provision of return and refund if that happens. A tip here- While you are shopping online, go through the description and reviews carefully. A lot of information is available right there. And if you are among the ones who would instead shop at a store, India has no shortage of bridal outlets. From designer studios in Mumbai to bridal couture in Delhi the choices are infinite. Though all my shopping was done online, Sourab had hard luck finding anything. Finding a Bengali wedding attire in Bangalore wasn’t easy, and we did not want to trust our relatives in Kolkata to find these for us. However, one visit to the commercial street we found everything we were looking for.
Step 11- Ad Hoc tasks
Wedding cards- We opted for an online one and created a website. It was so chic, and we also saved paper and printing charges. We did print a handful of cards for the ones who were not tech savvy. Arranging the materials required for the rituals was an even bigger task. A lot of this had to be brought in from Kolkata as they were not available anywhere else let alone Goa. Bengali wedding items like Shakha-Pola, Topor, Gangajal, Special wood for the fire, Seashells, Banana leaves, Garlands and the list goes on. These are some things we had to carry it ourselves as we did not want to risk not finding these in Goa. Arranging Mehendiwaalas, bandwaalas, Luxury car for the bride and groom, DJ and music systems, chaatwaalas, photobooth are some of the other tasks that can be organized by the event manager. We decided to do without a lot of the above stuff, and guess what? It didn’t matter.
Point of contact – The biggest mistake I did was being the sole contact person for all the vendors who never stopped calling me on my wedding day. Any questions, any requirement, anything going wrong they would call me, and I could not ask anyone’s help as I was the only one who knew the whole background. Learning from this I would suggest you have your better half or any of your friends deal with these on the day of your wedding. Even better to hire a wedding planner if budget allows. They would handle everything from start to finish, ensure everything is in order and take the stress off you on your big day.