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Marry in Kerala

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Kochi-based wedding planners have the wherewithal for the fanciest of bespoke weddings

The bridegroom arrives on the back of an elephant, soon to be followed by the bride, whose entry is no less dramatic—she is in an elaborately decorated palanquin. The wedding would happen on a boat in the backwaters of Kerala with the emerald trees against a brilliant blue sky forming a picturesque backdrop. The stuff of dreams, one would have thought a couple of years ago. But such flamboyance is very much the order of the day, say planners who specialise in destination weddings.

The backwaters and beaches of Kerala are the top spots for brides and grooms from outside the State. “Most of our clients have had exposure to global trends and are clear about what they want,” says Shana Selvam, founder of Wedding Factory. The Kochi-based event management firm has done a number of weddings for clients from outside the State. “It is about providing them an experience of our place. We use props that are eco-friendly and those that will complement the Kerala backdrop, like bamboo lanterns we did for a wedding recently.”

Arabind C., managing director of Tamarind Event Management Solutions, a city-based event management company, which does weddings too, says it is cheaper to get married in Kerala than in Goa. The room rents, according to Arabind, are cheap and the economics work out better. Kumarakom is a popular destination. The backwaters are a huge draw and there are a number of properties in Kumarakom that make it a popular destination.

Angus Joe Davids, MD Fonix Events is a beach wedding specialist having conducted nearly a dozen weddings every month in Phuket, Thailand. He has been in the field for the past 25 years and feels that it is high time Kerala beaches got their due as perfect destinations. Angus feels that the entire State is picturesque and offers perfect backdrops for weddings. Sensing the demand for bespoke weddings in Kerala he is all set to open a one-stop store, B&G Wedding Boutique offering choices that range from customised clothes, jewellery, food, décor and invitations.

Heritage home weddings are increasingly preferred. Arabind’s company had done a couple of them. “Some NRIs who return for the weddings of their children would have left the State 30 or 40 years ago. Those were times before weddings moved into halls and convention centres. The parents, therefore, have a yearning for old times,” Arabind says. So, old houses ( tharavadus) are hired for that dose of nostalgia.

The immediate family can stay ‘on location’ and the extended family can stay at a nearby resort. The wedding is solemnised at the tharavadu. There are a couple of houses in the city and in Alappuzha that serve as the ‘venue’.

Shana, whose company planned actor Ann Augustine’s wedding at a heritage resort in Cherthala, says care was taken to design the theme and related things to merge with the spirit of the venue.

From beaches to backwaters and tharavadus, whims are getting wackier, observes Madhavi Nair, manager at Wedding Factory. “A client wants his wedding ‘in air, on ground and on water’.”

Arabind adds: “Youngsters travel and live abroad or outside the State and when they return for their weddings, they have definite ideas of what they want and how. Therefore there are Bollywood style events, ‘gown’ weddings and even demands to arrive at the venue on a snakeboat. Ideas such as the latter are not encouraged for safety reasons,” he says.

Themes are in. Whatever the theme, it dominates everything about the wedding. If it is colour-themed, then that colour, at least a hint of it, will be seen in everything right from the wedding invite to the reception, the bridesmaids and best men too. Themes can be colours, flowers such as orchids for Christian weddings and marigold and jasmine for Hindu weddings too.

The duration of the wedding has undergone changes too. Weddings used to be a one-day event, but today, they have extended to a 3-day affair. There are pre-wedding and post-wedding parties. A mehendi or sangeet has become mandatory – irrespective of it being a Hindu, Muslim or Christian wedding. “Families get together and even rehearse dances to perform at these functions,” Arabind says. A western wedding before the formal, official wedding, too, is now popular. The father gives away the bride and champagne is popped.

In terms of food, there is a preference for live counters. Live counters are popular - tawa fried fare for instance. “The thattukada, for instance. We might not imagine eating at a thattukada, but when it is on the lawns of a luxury hotel, it is different,” Arabind says. Arabian fare, specialised biriyanis and continental cuisine are the others.

From the venue to the colours, budget, design, décor, clothes, makeup, theme and return gifts, every thing is done in consultation with the planners. They meet with the bride and discuss what she has in mind and offer the best options available.

Madhavi says wedding planners have now become an integral part of the wedding. “We become part of the family. Brides look to us for suggestions, even things such as getting salon appointments and feedback on appearance,” she says. “Today, it is the couple who decides what they want. Of course, the parents are involved, but they have a fair idea.”

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 12:10:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/marry-in-kerala/article6578340.ece

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