The wedding season is in full swing in Kerala. Traditional has given way to trendy. It’s now the age of opulence, understated glamour, drama and even the unusual


It’s all about candid shots. Apparently, many new-age couples bring in additional photographers who are specialised in ‘people photography’ to click photos that capture candid expressions of guests and the bridal party. “Of late, there is a move towards Western concepts with regards to wedding photography, where candid pictures play a huge role in official wedding albums. In our weddings, where often, upwards of 1,000 people turn up for the event, to capture impromptu expressions is a bit of a task and a challenge. You’ve got to have a keen eye to spot these instant reactions and be quick on the trigger too,” says Kozhikode-based photographer S.L. Anand. He adds that post and/or pre-wedding photo shoots in casual wear, often set in beaches, parks, and even underwater, are also mandatory these days.


In bridal wear, designers observe an experimental blending of cultures. They say that brides nowadays shed traditional notions about bridal colours such as reds and maroons and are open to wearing more vibrant hues such as fuschia and tangerine. Explains designer Shalini James: “Chantilly lace and crystals lend a French couture look to Christian bridal sarees. We also have the Mughal princess look with elaborate embroidery such as aari work and zardozi spread extensively on ghagras and anarkalis for occasions such as the engagement, the wedding eve and the reception.” Boutique owner and designer Shanthi Ramasubbu says Kanjeevarams are her choice for weddings. “Some youngsters are in a dilemma whether to buy Kancheevarams or materials like georgette with embroidery and so on. But I always advise them to choose Kancheevarams. It looks richer, colourful and better than any other material in the photographs too. Such snaps are for keeps and one should choose carefully.” Her colours for brides are shades of red, pink, orange and maroon. “Blues and greens are for receptions, engagements and parties but for weddings, it is the brighter shades that look winsome.”


The trend in wedding makeup seems to be looking ‘au naturale’ – foundation in nude shades to give a subtle look, with bright lipstick (preferably red) to add that touch of drama. Eyes are in focus, says Kochi-based Shoba Kunjan, one of Kerala’s top beauticians. “Brides tend to go for bold eye make-up – finely etched kohl offset with colours that suit their costumes, and perhaps a hint of gold shimmer to highlight,” she says. “Brides are very particular about the quality of make-up. A lot of them now insist on international brands that suit Indian skin such as MAC and Bobbi Brown,” she adds. As for hairstyles, Shobha says, that many prefer to leave their hair loose, especially for receptions, or at least, do something playful with their hair. Bouffant and plaits are quite popular on the wedding day but buns are a no. There’s also a trend among the women in the bridal party, to have the same make-up as the bride. “I insist on it. It makes the entire party look picture perfect,” says Shoba.


Themes are in: from concepts based on Bollywood, Arabian Nights, greeting cards, Koothambalams, peacocks and Hampi to weaving in themes around materials such as jute, the more extraordinary the theme for stage décor the better, it seems. The idea is to look modern and classy yet traditional, and all without being ostentatious. As such wedding décor has acquired “depth”, according to city-based set designer Sabu Sivan. “It has to be as realistic as possible. 3D is the name of the game and even 4D that involves playing with perfumes and athars to add a sensory dimension to the whole event. In the Hampi theme, for example, each ‘stone’ that makes up the mandapam has to have the textured and weathered look of the original,” he explains. It’s also the era of high-tech décor, augmented by video walls that depict moving elements – from picturesque scenery and soothing classical dance performances to wispy clouds and even a slide show of childhood photos of the couple, to name a few. Dining halls too get the same makeover. The stage is nowadays also a play of light. Where earlier lighting of a venue depended on available electric connections and photography lamps, nowadays “LED lights, spotlights, sky-trackers (high intensity beams that move overhead the venue) in complementary colours, add to the drama of the theme,” says Shyam S., a city-based stage decorator.

Flowers are still a major part of wedding décor, though decorating with just strings of traditional flowers such as jasmines, tube rose, orange and yellow marigolds, roses and so on has become passé. Anthuriums are on their way out but gerberas of variety shades still find many takers. “Strings of crystals are the current favourite,” says Shyam. Elaborate flower arrangements brimming with exotic flowers such as orchids, chrysanthemums, tulips, and lilies, in statement vases, complement the crystal strings.