‘Celebrities spark boom in destination weddings’

Tina Tharwani and Saurabh Malhotra with Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas; and with Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma
Tina Tharwani and Saurabh Malhotra with Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas; and with Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma


DESTINATION weddings are becoming  increasingly popular with couples who are inspired by the lavish nuptials of popular film stars and business personalities, India’s top wedding planners have said.

Bollywood actresses Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma all had intimate destination weddings that offered them the privacy to enjoy their special day away from the glare of paparazzi and the media.

While Anushka and her husband, the Indian cricket captain, Virat Kohli, tied the knot in a grand private ceremony in Tuscany, Italy, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas had a fairytale wedding at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India. Deepika and Ranveer Singh opted for Lake Como in Italy.

“Destination weddings are definitely the trend,” said Tina Tharwani, co-founder of
Shaadi Squad, a wedding planning firm based in Mumbai. “However, the locations and venues are as per the client’s preference; some may want a royal vibe; others may want a beach celebration or a more rustic setting with natural beauty,”  said Tharwani.

Besides Italy, Thailand, UAE and Turkey are other popular international destinations. In India, Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala top the charts, said Tharwani.

Tharwani and her team are the brains behind Anushka-Virat’s Italian wedding. Four months of secret recces, midnight meetings, hushed conversations, and sleepless nights culminated in the beautiful wedding held at a heritage property called Borgo Finocchieto in Tuscany.

While the wedding ceremony took place in Italy, the couple hosted receptions in New Delhi and Mumbai.

“A location that did not have a lot of tourist traction during that period was an important factor, so privacy is maintained,” said Tharwani, referring to Virat and Anushka’s Italian destination.

Neha Seth Arora of Var Vadhu also agreed that privacy was paramount for a celebrity wedding.

In recent times, most celebrity couples have opted for intimate wedding ceremonies with close family and friends in attendance. News of the nuptials is made public only after the ceremonies are completed, ensuring the couple enjoy their special day away from media interest.

Arora said: “Every wedding has a different set of challenges, whatever the scale of the ceremony or the client profile. However, high-profile weddings bring in different challenges. For example, non-disclosure clauses, including planners, associated vendors and ensuring no information or pictures of the events reach any media agencies.”

Security, too, is a top concern. A lot of time is invested in making sure all access areas at the venue have security personnel posted, with a clear briefing to them on who is allowed to enter a specific area and who isn’t. Special invites are also provided to attending guests so that security and safety are more smooth and flawless,” said Arora, responsible for pulling off actress Esha Deol and her businessman husband Bharat Takhtani’s
wedding in 2012.

Most high-profile weddings take around six to 18 months to plan, and wedding firms usually manage 10-12 weddings a year. However, there have been instances when they’ve had to pull off weddings in fewer than two months.

Aditya Motwane of Motwane Entertainment & Weddings had eight weeks  to organise Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas wedding at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur last December.

“Incredulous as it sounds, it’s actually true,” said Motwane. “The teams synced well together and the client shared a thoroughly professional approach. Work progressed around the clock as checklists got written and rewritten furiously to ensure picture perfect delivery.”

Depending on the scale of the wedding, the budget also varies greatly. It can be as low as `20 lakh (£22,000)and increase with clients’ requirements.

“Wedding budgets are a personal choice and vary from family to family,” said Arora. “Some families wish to spend lavishly on exclusive, unexplored venues; others would rather choose a simple venue and focus more on decorating it and making it as grand as possible.

“Indian weddings are incomplete without food and with current innovations in food trends, a good amount of the wedding budget goes into gastronomical experiences.”

The sky’s the limit when it comes to weddings, added Tharwani. But she sees the trend of sustainable weddings slowly picking up and people moving towards minimal or upcycled decor.

“While Indian weddings are known to be larger-than-life with hordes of relatives and loads of decor, there has been a recent shift towards minimalism. Modern-day couples desire an intimate and cozy affair and are opting for minimalistic and subtle décor.”

Also, with people becoming more aware about the environmental consequences that each of their actions lead to, adopting eco-friendly practices is be-coming popular. “Couples are now becoming all the more considerate about the amount of wastage produced and are
seeking sustainable solutions for every element of their wedding. From eco-friendly or digital wedding invites to upcycled décor and greener menu options, this trend of having a sustainable approach towards weddings is in vogue, and for all the good reasons,” said Tharwani.

Whether it’s a celebrity wedding or a regular one, the wedding planner has to be on top of their game, and should be prepared for unexpected challenges, Motwane said. “Planning a celebrity wedding is as simple, yet as complex as any other,” said Motwane.

“The difference lies in the perception and expectation levels fuelled by the image that the celebrity may enjoy. That’s beyond the control of the planner; however, that also makes it imperative that we stay aware and strategise well when it comes to privacy and security.”