Shaadi Squad was founded in late 2015 by Saurabh Malhotra, Tina Tharwani and Manoj Mittra and has planned successful weddings and other celebrations for celebrities in a short time. After Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma’s dream wedding in Tuscany, they organized Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s engagement in Mumbai and have recently been on the news for the planning actor Varun Dhawan’s much discussed wedding with long-time friend Natasha Dalal in Alibaug.
“Since the three of us are from production, we’ve found that there are a lot of similarities between movies and weddings, be it in the larger-than-life scenarios, the hospitality and logistics, the skills of human resource management. Sets and decor, eating and drinking or exploring different destinations, ”they said.
In an email interaction with indianexpress.com, the Shaadi Squad trio talks about what’s behind planning Varun’s wedding, working with celebrity clients, and wedding trends for 2021.
From Varun-Natasha, Anushka-Virat to Priyanka-Nick, you have various celebrity ceremonies planned. How was your journey?
Getting into the Shaadi business seemed more or less the same except that our customers here would be “real” and not on “roll”! The trip so far has been fantastic, with a lot of learning. After our very first wedding in Oman, we received numerous compliments and a number of people who came up to us and said they definitely wanted us for their own wedding or their child’s wedding! In retrospect, we were young and naive and took people’s words very seriously. We actually went almost a year without landing our next customer! In hindsight, this was actually the best thing that could ever have happened to us – we grew up, learned how to read people, and this has allowed us to have the nicest customers and even better partners and suppliers. However, there has been no review since then.
Many celebrity weddings are kept secret until the last minute – what’s it like to work under lock and key?
When it comes to keeping details private it’s difficult as we work with numerous vendors and sometimes have to disclose details. We just make sure that those we work with are professionals themselves and understand and respect our customers’ privacy.
Thank you for making this possible @shaadisquad pic.twitter.com/odyyRF0B95
– VarunDhawan (@Varun_dvn) January 27, 2021
Can you take a look at what’s behind the planning of Varun’s wedding?
The wedding was honestly planned in two weeks. Both Varun and Natasha were pretty clear that this was an intimate affair with only closest friends and family members. While they were flexible about the appearance of the features, they felt confident that it was a leisurely affair. We listened to them and wanted to deliver the same thing. Given the time frame, most decisions were made virtually or in real time. Both were sure what they liked and what they didn’t like when presented with choices. This made it a lot easier to get things moving quickly. Of course, we also had to schedule the tests of all guests and salespeople before they came to the wedding, as well as have a disinfection protocol on site.
Which celebrity couple was most involved in the planning process and in what way?
At every celebrity wedding, you have to forget about their profiles. You are literally the bride and groom like any other customer. Participation varies from customer to customer. Some like to be involved in everything, others are interested in some aspects like decor or safety, and some may leave the planning to their family or trusted friends.
The pandemic has changed the way weddings now take place. Has it affected your business / work model?
Shaadi Squad is a boutique wedding planning company known for planning intimate weddings. Due to various protocols from government agencies and even most hotels, guest lists are restricted and weddings are being downsized. For us we now have more requests for intimate weddings. In terms of processes, we now also have hygiene and disinfection logs for each event. In terms of spending, purchasing power remains high although the size of weddings has decreased. Couples now want to learn more about detailing and curating experiences for their guests.
What are the biggest wedding trends to expect in 2021?
Minimalist and Intimate Weddings: Aside from the pandemic, Indian weddings were mostly larger than life with hordes of relatives and lots of decor. A shift towards minimalism has been observed over the past few years. In the current situation, weddings are becoming even more intimate. In terms of decor, too, couples do without the often rigid color palette of red and yellow tones and strive for a more natural and rustic look with fewer colors. A minimalist wedding is one of the latest trends that is rapidly gaining momentum in the Indian Shaadi scenario.
A Sustainable Approach: As people around the world became more aware of environmental issues, they have started to apply environmentally friendly practices in everything they do. Even at weddings, couples have started to emphasize a sustainable approach. For example, couples are becoming increasingly aware of how their eating habits affect a broader sociological context. With a large proportion of people going vegan these days, the need for a menu that is only plant-based is felt. Couples are now becoming more and more considerate of the amount of waste generated and are also looking for sustainable solutions for their menu. From eco-friendly or digital wedding cards to upcycling decor and menu options, the trend for an impactful and sustainable approach to weddings is all the rage for 2021!
Weddings are often about last minute changes / plans. How do you deal with such scenarios?
Even with the best of planning, last minute changes are part of weddings. We anticipate these during our planning process and we usually have a backup plan or resources to manage them. The only way to deal with scenarios like this is to have a keen presence of mind to manage last minute requests. We haven’t received anything to look for yet, but we have received a number of requests that made us upset. For example, we were in Goa for a wedding when a transport strike suddenly broke out. We had to coordinate between three different venues with guests and vendors at different locations without transportation. It was an experience of a lifetime.
What tips would you give someone planning a pocket-friendly wedding?
Definitely limit your guest list, go for upcycling decor, and choose local vendors. These will greatly help control the budget.