While many things change at weddings, some always stay the same. Like flowers on the mandap . “Florals never go out of style, but today people are doing so much more with them. This year, the silhouettes are flowy; it’s more like art, with cascades and unstructured creations using a lot of greens,” says Gurleen M Puri, the name behind the wedding designs of celebrities like Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan.
What is changing, however, is how décor is being approached. Minimalism isn’t as popular. Reflecting the global shift towards maximalism — be it in fashion or interiors — Puri says “everything needs to have an impact now”, adding that bold wedding design, “where the décor makes a statement”, is the newest trend. At a recent wedding in Surat, they converted an entire cricket stadium to resemble a palace. “We usually don’t do huge sets, so it was a challenge,” says Puri. “We used fibregalss, but softened it with a lot of mirrors and fabric work. We took inspiration from the pillars, motifs, colours and textures of Rajasthani palaces, and used them in a contemporary fashion, designed to a massive scale.”
Experience is everything
One of the biggest challenges designers face is to be forever ‘different’. A wedding on a pontoon out at sea? Check. A stage built over a lagoon, with an LED dance floor? Check. As Punit Jasuja, wedding planner and interior designer, puts it, the next step is to look for innovative ways to connect décor with the experience. For a November wedding that he is putting together, the theme will be an enchanted garden. “We will have acrobatic dancers coming in from the garden, looking like flowers themselves, flying above the guests and performing for them. It’s how the décor interacts with the entertainment and the food that really distinguishes it today,” he says.
Technology is also adding to this recall value. While 3D mapping has been around for a while, Puri shares that things like LED screens are being used differently to create an immersive experience. “To create a 3D live beachy feel, we clad walls with huge screens and played videos of the beach, with the tables and décor reflecting the theme. So, when the guests were ensconced there, it looked very real. We had something live and moving, that gave a simulated experience.” A Positano-themed wedding had large wallpapers, with scenes from the Amalfi coast, juxtaposed with real bougainvillea cascading down the walls.
Let there be light
Pre-wedding functions and cocktail events are evolving, too. If the last few years were about fresh flowers everywhere, not just the mandap , in 2019 people are ‘seeing the light’. “They’ve begun to realise that once the event is over, the flowers go to waste. Lights, however, create magic,” says Kunal Rai, VP of Tamarind Global Weddings, explaining that instead of florists, “light designers are in demand today”.
Everything from bulbs and candles to LED lights and lanterns are in vogue. For a recent wedding, Nitya Bagri of Mumbai’s A New Knot brought in chandeliers — where the lights moved with the beat of the music — while neon strobe lights, large signages, naked bulbs and light installations in different shapes created stunning visuals. “As events become more intimate, with smaller guest lists, we are able to up the quality of the décor, providing a lot of variety with it and the entertainment,” she concludes.
Less is more
“People are moving away from bulky designs — think a replica of the Taj or a Bollywood set — to more realistic ones now,” feels Jasuja. “Less is definitely more, with the focus being on quality. So if someone is planning a French-themed event, they want to know if they are drinking their wine out of French crystal, and if the food and even the napkins tie in with the theme.”
Bagri agrees, adding how things are more detailed oriented now. “Clients want to work with the surroundings. Instead of covering everything up, we use the immediate environment as part of the décor, giving a more natural feel.” A recent Jaipur wedding had her utilising the wide open lawns, and bringing in potted plants, terrariums and benches to give a breezy, picnic vibe.
Minimalism isn’t completely out of the picture. The ripple effect of the Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma 2017 wedding can still be felt, says Tina Tharwani, co-founder of Shaadi Squad. “The décor was subtle and made maximum use of Tuscany’s natural beauty.” She believes that going forward, weddings will also be highly sustainable. “With people becoming more aware of their ecological footprint, trends like upcycled décor are gaining momentum. Indian weddings are gradually becoming subtle, thoughtful, sustainable, and impactful.”