Saneesh Sukumaran met a prospective bride in a hospital. Her mother was hospitalised so it made sense to have the chaperoned formality there. He doesn’t remember much of the event except the incongruity of the situation; needless to say that proposal didn’t work out. “My friends have many such crazy stories about ‘seeing girls’ in the arranged marriage scenario. These are an unavoidable part of arranged marriages; this way there is rarely scope for compatibility and expression of individuality,” he says.
An idea of ‘self-arranged marriages,’ took root and over time grew into Wedeterna ( www.wedeterna.in ). The do-it-yourself (DIY) matrimonial network was launched in February this year. The principle is simple – you register and create your profile complete with likes and dislikes, expectations, hobbies and interests – you get access to a list of profiles and you are on your way to the altar. There are the obvious advantages of the self-created profile – informality, freshness and, hopefully, an honest expression of personality and expectations.
In the traditional matrimonial website scene, a person posting their own profile would be met with a certain degree of scepticism. “Such people would be judged and it’s especially tough for women; the question would be isn’t there anybody else to do it for them,” says the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur-photographer who belongs to Thrisssur. There would also be the cheat profiles to look out for.
“What Indhuja Pillai needed was Wedeterna,” Saneesh says. A few months back Bengaluru-based Indhuja Pillai, in response to a matrimonial posted by her parents, created a webpage pronouncing that she wasn’t marriage material, listing why not and what she wanted in a spouse. That went viral. “I messaged Indhuja and told there was already Wedeterna,” Saneesh says. She is now a social media consultant for him.
For a four-month-old matrimonial website, it is gaining quite a following. Of how the website works, Saneesh says, it makes suggestions about likely ‘matches’ but “the algorithm just offers suggestions, it is up to the person. There are options such as the tag-based search which throws up suited profiles. For instance if you hash tag hiking or movies, you’d find someone with similar interests.”
There is a question-answer section which might, Saneesh hopes, give an insight into a person’s mind. “These are 29 fun questions that go with each profile; questions such as ‘what is the song playing in my head?’ and ‘what is my favourite season and why?’” A tie-up with a detective agency affords the option of a matrimonial background check. He is encouraged by the response and the feedback from the target audience which is urban.
It is not just a partner that the site offers. There is something for afterwards - the DIY Shoot. A photo shoot of what happens afterward, possibly the wedding too. The website also offers an ‘album full of memories’ for those who didn’t get the wedding of their dreams – for instance if someone wanted a beach wedding but instead got a ‘hall wedding’, a photo shoot would be arranged at a beach. And the chances are Saneesh would be the photographer.
Wedding photography happened to him first. An engineer, he was working with Monster.com at Prague when the first wedding shoot came his way. His Turkish colleague asked him to shoot his wedding. “It was a huge responsibility, one which I didn’t want to take on. Then he gave me complete freedom and I was in.” That led him to Ukraine, Slovakia, Russia, the Philippines, the Czech Republic, Germany, Singapore, United States and of course, India. In 2013 he returned to India, settled down in Bengaluru and started out on his own.
All this talk of weddings and marriages leads to…how did he get married? “It was as conventional as it gets. Only that I refused to do the online chat thing with my wife. Just once on Skype where I could barely see her. I went to her house and saw her.” He is now happily married.
An android app of Wedeterna will be launched later this month; the IOS version still later.