Memorable wedding celebrations and how! Hyderabadis are choosing between palaces and thematic presentations. SANGEETHA DEVI. K explores...

The Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodphur is being decked up for Arun Nayar and Elizabeth Hurley's post-wedding celebrations. The wedding scheduled to be take place today at Sudeley Castle, England, and the planned revelry that follow are being talked about as a lavish affair that would cost a million pounds! The couple will arrive at the Umaid Bhawan Palace with 200 guests, flanked by family members on camels and elephants, like a medieval spectacle. Liz and Arun have taken a cue from high-profile weddings that have taken place in Indian palaces over the last few years. Not just them, well-heeled Hyderabadis are also opting for celebrations with a dash of regal splendour. Not everyone packs their bags to Rajasthan, so venues like the Chowmahalla and the Falaknuma Palaces, the Ramoji Film City and resorts that dot the city's outskirts are in demand."The grandeur of the palaces make the occasion memorable. The lawns of the Chowmahalla are gorgeous for reception and sangeet ceremonies in summers and winters but not during monsoons," says wedding planner Priyanka Allahabadi. With the Falaknuma Palace undergoing renovation and the access to Chowmahalla being limited to the lawns, the flexibility of conducting different functions at different halls in the same venue is curtailed. "Having to manoeuvre through crowded bylanes to reach the palace is a deterrent. We have a few palaces and the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad, but there are restrictions. This is where palaces in Jaipur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer score," says Dinaz Noria, who has done the décor for many elitist weddings.If you want some thematic fun, then Hyderabad doesn't disappoint. The Ramoji Film City is an option for what event managers call `destination weddings'. Explains Dinaz, "A lot of out-of-towners conduct weddings at the film city. Once, we did a sangeet on the railway platform set. Annu Kapoor hosted the evening on the platform and the guests took over the tracks. The bearers were dressed as coolies and posters of the bride and the groom's families in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham format decorated the walls. The Mughal Gardens too are beautiful and there's room for experimentation. We once put up a set that resembled the TV serial Khichdi and conducted a mehndi at the Japanese Gardens for another group."

As big as it gets

Resorts like Aalankrita, Leo Meridien and Dhola Ri Dhani also target luxury weddings. "If the families of the bride and the groom want undivided attention from their guests, they choose a resort. The resorts have package deals that include escorting your guests from the airport to the venue," says Priyanka.Facilities for parking and spacious interiors are the main criteria while choosing the venue for high-profile receptions. The Hyderabad International Convention Centre, for instance, hosted more than 8,000 guests for actor Mohan Babu's daughter's reception. "The smallest gathering we've catered to was 2,500 guests," says Rajani Nair Deb, associate director, sales and marketing, HICC. "For large scale celebrations, event managers are allotted to coordinate the arrangements. The venue can suit different requirements - from sit down lunches for Christian weddings to Sajjan Ghots for the Marwaris where the dishes are served on silver plates," adds Rajani. The prices are premium too. For a wedding reception at the Chowmahalla Palace or the HICC, you'll be shelling out Rs. 1200 to 2000 per plate. At the resorts, the charges vary according to the number of rooms required, transportation facilities, décor and cuisine.

Destination weddings

Actress Raveena Tandon married Anil Thadani at the Jagmandir Hotel, Udaipur. Jagmandir is said to have been the inspiration for the creation of Taj Mahal.Actor Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao chose Panchgani for the post wedding celebrations.Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai are reportedly considering one of the palaces in Rajasthan for their wedding.