Design a wedding…


Swati Pandya Sood on how she helps wedding dreams come true.

When you are ready to tie the knot, preparing yourself to enter the next important phase of your life, there is an entire industry that gears up to make that transition smooth and memorable; not just for you but the invitees too.

Like everything else in India, weddings are big, colourful, crowded and expensive. It’s a time when families show off their affluence and couples make a style-statement. And if you thought only the upper-urbanised class was keen on it, then you’re wrong. “It’s a myth,” says Swati Pandya Sood, décor stylist and wedding decorator.

Magical work

Her company Bollywood Secrets, started six years ago, has made many dream weddings come true. Swati has worked her magic in high-profile weddings and events including that of Sahara India, Shah Rukh Khan, Unitech and the royal family of Nabha. “It’s not always about spending a million dollars to make your wedding day memorable,” she says, adding “it is important that your style shows.”

Weddings in India, she rightly points out, are lifestyle-oriented. Everything needs to be designer and contemporary. “It’s about making a statement,” she observes with authority of someone who has worked on a variety of themes (see box). The themes that people choose are as varied as their experiences that are a result of extensive travel that exposes them to newer lifestyles and ideas. Inspired by a group of fiddlers playing at the corner Parisian café in France? Perhaps it could be tweaked a bit to fit into your mehendi party. Income shifts are also major instigators of designer weddings.

And speaking about another popular myth, she explains, “It’s not all about flowers, as people seem to think about Indian wedding decors. At Bollywood Secrets we believe in bringing out the urban yet traditional appeal by fusing a lot of contemporary and traditional elements.”

A look at her work shows a fusion of contemporary furniture, bright celebratory colours, smart lighting that add to the effect and exquisite flower arrangements that run along the chains of a serene white swing or along the pillars of a softly lit mandap and decorate the table in the company of champagne bottles at a sangeet-cum-cocktail party. She even adds waiting lounges, spas, saloons that are a big hit with the guests.

Paying attention to even the minute detail is what Swati is particularly proud of citing examples of event dates printed on ribbons, welcome and thank you notes, menu printed at the food table. “I believe that the first impression is the last impression. When guests come to the wedding or the party ‘class’ is what should stand out — not overly flamboyant or artificial.”

Doesn’t that spell a clash of ideas between the clients and Swati’s sense of style and aesthetics? Quoting Shakespeare on great men keeping company with great men, Swati believes in working with like-minded clients.

“My style is very understated; for me, less is more. I just like to go with the flow. I try to understand the style and sentiments of the client and work on it. But when the client wants something that would definitely stand out for all the wrong reasons, then I try to make them understand. For instance, one client wanted replicas of the Seven Wonders of the World behind the stage and I was completely against it because it would definitely not work. That’s when I say ‘No’,” is Swati’s stand.

Good options

When you are running low on funds and still want to make your D-day special, a temple or an old haveli is a good option, suggests Swati who works with a team of 42 and takes charge of everything right from card designing, valet services, bartenders, entertainment, catering, designer trousseau packing, jewellery, make up, mehendiwalas, photography to choreography. White conch shells with strands of jasmine flowers flowing out of them add a hint of festive style to the place, she whips up the design suggestion in a second wedding suggestion. “You could also add ‘your’ touch to your wedding by keeping something that you were very fond of as a child like a chest of drawers on the stage beside you and accentuating it,” hints Swati who has handled projects that take one to two months’ time to execute like a palace theme and has even set up the ballroom in Taj in an hour for the cocktail party, right after a conference concluded at the same venue.

Now when you are thinking of taking the big step of marrying, you know the things you have to consider. But in a country that’s got one of the biggest marriage markets, wedding planners like Swati help make your dream wedding come true whether in a palace in Rajasthan, a shack by the beach in Goa or your ancestral home in Kerala.

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Top wedding destinations

Backwaters of Kerala

Foothills of Khandala

Beaches of Goa

Jaisalmer and Jaipur Forts

Palaces of Rajasthan

Heritage Property in Gujarat

South East Asia

Kuala Laumpur