Divya Gurwara and Bridal Asia have given the wedding a whole new twist

She wanted to be an architect but fate had a different design for her. Meet Divya Gurwara, the effervescent lady often credited with turning the warp and weft of a wedding ritual into an organised sector with Bridal Asia, the one-stop solution for wedding paraphernalia. From designer outfits to chocolates to wedding planners, everything is fixed under one roof.

“The industry is still not completely organised, but our estimates show that it is a Rs.1,25,000 crore industry growing at a rate of 20 per cent every year,” says Divya, giving final touches to the 11th edition of the annual event starting September 19.

Beginnings

When she started in 1999, the word designer trends had not yet touched the tradition. “Today the middle class is hooked to brands. We get an amazing response not only from Ludhiana and Chandigarh but also from Chennai and Hyderabad. Similarly, when we started, designers were apprehensive about the concept. Over the years the number of participants has increased from 15 to 45. We designed it as a fashion event and not a wedding show. Not everyone who has money can put up a stall. One has to go through a rigorous process, where the quality and aesthetics are checked.”

She has got some big names. “Sabyasachi Mukherjee has been with us from the beginning and he says this is the only event where he has shown consistently.” She has been able to hook the interest of the likes of Rina Dhaka, who is not known for traditional wedding wear.

“Well, designers are realising that if they want to reach out to larger numbers they need to be flexible with the image. And when the business model works, they are ready to come out of the confines of the stores. Rina will be showcasing lehengas this year.”

Interestingly, wedding is one industry, which has largely remained recession proof. “It has something to do with our culture. We spend a lot on weddings. In fact, when the market dipped significantly last year, the wedding industry was not adversely hit because people save for weddings for years. I admit we were a little cautious last year with our buying but the flamboyance is back this year.”

Talking of flamboyance, Divya says the sky is the limit. “Flamenco dancers, ballet dancers, Lebanese cuisine, wine chocolates, beach weddings like in Bali… Indians are trying everything. Then destination weddings are in great demand and Udaipur is a favourite spot. We call it no parameter wedding. All this has led to an increase in demand for wedding services providers.”

Creative ideas

New concepts like hen parties and stag parties have given designers the freedom to play with their creativity. “Interestingly, Indians are trying different outfits. Brides are no longer wary of white and grooms are experimenting with vibrant shades. They are as comfortable in traditional stuff as they are in international brands. A wedding is, in fact, a great opportunity for brands to have a new consumer base.”

Divya reasons the extravagance has something to do with our culture. “For us, particularly our parents, marriage is still a once in a lifetime event. We want to give it all. The minimum budget for a wedding ceremony nowadays is around Rs.13, 60,000, say wedding planners, while the upper-middle and rich classes are known to spend upward of Rs.8 crore.”

Reaching out

Another interesting feature of the event is that Divya has been able to give the event a sub-continental colour with designers from Pakistan and Bangladesh making their presence felt. “The angarkhas and block prints from Pakistan are unique. Similarly the saris from Bangladesh can’t be found anywhere else. As we share similar sensibilities, it is always prudent if we make use of each other’s specialities.”

Tips for the Bride

Brides today add their own mix of tradition and modernity to the ensemble.

Tapered lehangas, which look more like skirts, are structured, figure-enhancing and put a bride at ease.

Blouses like corsets and backless cholis, puff sleeves, experimental necklines, Sharara, gharara and anarkali-kalidar kurtas are the rage. The Moghul influence is very visible

For the modern twist Swarovskis, pearls, chantilly lace and French nets can be incorporated into the look.

Embroidery is still in focus but in a fine and detailed look.

Colours are in topaz yellow, tiffany blue, emerald green, fuchsia, pearl white, charcoal black, amethyst, etc. Predominantly jewel tones that complement the Indian skin beautifully.

For the Groom

Grooms today are bolder. They take care of themselves and do not shy away from colours and cuts.

Sherwanis, bandhgalas and kurtas add an imperial look.

It’s best to keep embroidery minimalistic.

The silhouette is more traditional though the treatment can be with Swarovski and zardozi.

The colours that still make a trend statement are beige, off-white, and blacks although grooms today are experimenting with colour and no longer shy of wearing vibrant shades.

Churidar is an easy bet, but dhotis are fast picking up in popularity.

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Sunday MagazineJune 28, 2012