The Big Fat Gujju Wedding

Team Touchstone recently crossed a milestone by conceptualising an end to end large scale wedding event for a client of ours. The intense learning and experience gained coupled with the exposure received has only humbled us. The journey has been nothing less than a Bollywood fairy tale and we could not help but share this amazing journey and learning with all our well wishers.

Although we are a Bangalore based wedding planning company, we still managed all the events that were to be held outside this city, in Mumbai & Delhi. In the past, we have had opportunities to manage large wedding events, but this one had a string of events for 10 consecutive days. We have worked with some celebrities earlier, but this time we raised the bar very high by involving some really big celebrities. The 10 different themes we worked with this time, had no repetitions with any of the past ones we have showcased. With catering arrangements for more than 3800 guests, we surpassed our previous feat of 1000 guests by a huge margin.

All these challenges did apprehend us initially and kept us on our toes, but the confidence which our client had on us, helped us turn these challenges to opportunities and we finally succeeded in pulling off one of the most memorable and cherished wedding event we or the guests of this event had ever experienced.

Yes, we are proud of ourselves but are also humbled by the compliments and affection we received through these celebrations. Please find below the Event Flow to give you an idea of the wedding celebrations.

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Wedding Checklist

This checklist will enable you to plan your perfect wedding. It will assist you through the busy months ahead. Please remember that not all aspects of this checklist may apply to the style of your wedding.

Select a wedding date and time.
Gather information from bridal books and other resources.
Discuss a budget and how expenses will be shared. Open a separate bank account for the wedding fund.
Discuss the formality, size and location of the ceremony and reception with both families.
Call clergyman/officiator to confirm date and schedule appointment to discuss ceremony.
Select location for the ceremony and reception. Remember to pay deposits in order to secure your booking.
Start drafting your guest list. Inform bride and groom’s family of the number they can invite and by which date you need their list.
Select colour scheme and theme of your wedding.
Start looking for and order the bridal gown & accessories – schedule the fittings and delivery date.
Select dresses for bridesmaids’ – schedule the fittings and delivery date.
Select and book a wedding consultant, photographer, videographer, florists and musicians, DJ & MC.
Organise your engagement announcement in the newspaper.
Begin planning a honeymoon destination.
Select and order wedding rings and arrange for engraving.
Choose wedding attendants for both bride and groom. Find out their sizes.
Schedule appointment for bridal portrait.
Choose a caterer and plan the menu.
Plan the music for the ceremony and reception.
Order attendant’s gowns and schedule the fittings and delivery date.
Book wedding cars for bridal party.
Order invitations, napkins and personal stationary, monogrammed favours for reception & thank-you notes.
Plan wedding decorations.
Finalize the guest list.
Pay all deposits for any services reserved and get all contracts signed.
Order & Reserve all rental equipment needed for reception and wedding. Example: marquee or tents, tables, chairs, etc.
Meet the caterers, florists, photographers & videographers, etc.
Select and order the wedding cake as per your theme & colour.
Sign up for your bridal registry and select gift options.
Buy or hire the formal wear for the groom and his attendants.
Check on marriage license; sometimes there are requirements.
Inform attendants of fitting schedules and of any accessories they may need to buy.
Shop for trousseau.
Make transportation and accommodation arrangements for out of town guests and the wedding party.
Begin personal shopping for clothes needed for pre-wedding parties or honeymoon.
Make any necessary personal appointments – bank, solicitor, health check-up, beauty, hairdresser, etc.
Confirm details with all wedding suppliers that all arrangements are proceeding smoothly, i.e. caterer, florist, photographer, videographer, musicians, car hire specialists, hotel/reception manager, etc.
Arrange a marriage registrar and execute all legal formalities for the marriage registration process, like pre marital notice etc.
Plan the ceremony rehearsal & the rehearsal dinner & notify everyone involved.
Ensure all official wedding documentation is in order. Organise & make necessary changes on all personal documentation the bride be taking the groom’s name (Ex: PAN Card, Passport, Bank Accounts etc).
Confirm final fitting and delivery date for dresses and gown.
Select hair and makeup stylist.
Select going-away outfit.
Schedule a wedding portrait.
Arrange transportation for the wedding day.
Send thank-you notes for any gifts received early and/or bridal showers.
Finish personal shopping.
Finalise honeymoon plans.
Plan bridesmaids’ luncheon.
Arrange for final fitting and delivery of all wedding attire.
Arrange a trial hair and make-up day. Be sure to try your hair style with your veil.
Confirm final guest count and inform caterer, reception venue.
Have final consultation with florist, photographer, musicians, etc.
Finalise transportation and accommodation arrangements for out of town guests and wedding party.
Pack an “emergency kit” for the wedding day which may include: safety pins, tissues, cosmetics, hairspray, needle and cotton, extra lingerie, eye drops, headache pills and Band-Aids.
Finalise seating arrangements for the reception.
Confirm honeymoon bookings and have ready all necessary documentation: tickets, passports, traveller’s cheques, etc.
Pack for honeymoon.
If you choose to speak at your reception start deciding on what you want to say.
Arrange with your reception to have a table available for last minute gifts. Ask family members to move gifts home after wedding.
If you are having an envelope box request a table for it with the gift table. Ask a close family member to be responsible for it.
Place payments for DJ, florist, caterer, etc.
Lay out everything you will need on the wedding day, right down to the smallest detail. Place everything in a convenient place so that it is easily accessible on the big day.
If a hairdresser and/or make-up artist is to attend to you on the day, confirm appointment.
Prepare going-away outfit.
Confirm that all members of the wedding party are organised and well prepared.
Prepare what you will have as a good healthy breakfast on your wedding day. This is important and often overlooked. A good breakfast will provide you with the energy you will need to get through the day.
Have a massage, manicure and pedicure and relax.
Before going to bed take a warm (not hot) fragrant bath.
Complete your evening skin routine so that your skin is moist for your wedding day make-up.
Get to bed early.
Relax and pamper yourself.
Be at the ceremony at least five minutes early.
Smile and enjoy – this is your special day!
Good Luck & Congratulations!
Team Touchstone

Celebrate the Birth – “Right” !!

Are Birthdays Over Rated? Are Birthday Celebrations Over Rated? – NO!!

There are individuals who do not believe in cutting the midnight cake or popping the evening champagne, they believe birthdays are over rated and is just another regular day on the calendar. But mostly everyone else thinks otherwise and do want to celebrate their birthdays, not necessarily a large scale celebration but could be something small and unique. I come from the third school of thought, where I believe, apart from your own, everyone else’s birthdays should be celebrated right! Not because I am philosophical or kind, but because celebrating someone else’s birthday is always more fun! It is a lot of fun to get each piece of the arrangement right. I do not say this because I am an event manager, but I say this because it genuinely is much more fun to kick the birthday ass rather than get yours kicked. (Apologies for the language)

Below are some pointers which I believe could help in organising the ‘Right’ Birthday Blast:

1. Guest List
Once decided that you would want to celebrate a birthday, ideally, the first thing to do is to finalise the guest list. This is critical because only once you know the number of people expected, you could plan your requirements, you could choose a theme which suits your guests and venue can be finalised depending on the space needed. A planned guest list also helps in reducing costs and fixing the budget for the event.

2. Theme
Before an invite is sent out with details, the theme for the event needs to be finalised. Themes could vary, could be cartoon characters, animals, birds, movies, actors, colours, etc, depending upon the birthday boy/girl’s preferences or age or the expected guests’ interests. There is a universe of options available in the markets today. Also, there are companies/individuals who can further customise the theme as per your choice and budgets. Once a theme is chosen, it becomes very easy for everything else to fall in place.

3. Venue
On finalising the guest list and the theme, you would be in a position where you could gauge the space needed for the event. The right venue which suits your economies and the theme for the number of guests is usually difficult to find, if you do find it, be flexible enough to change your dates in case you need to. Ensure that the venue is a place which would not discourage your guests’ attendance and is convenient to a majority of them.

4. Invite
Majority of the content for your invite is ready once you know the theme and the venue. Preferably choose colours which are more pleasant, font which does not need an effort to read, add directions to the place if difficult to find, bullet points for the details of the event, witty or humorous content is desirable, innovative invites are always welcome but do not compromise on the content for it, simple but elegant invites always attract appreciation. Invites design is vital since this is the first impression of your event you give to your guests.

5. Décor
One of the most critical aspect of your event is undoubtedly the Décor. My personal opinion is, for birthdays, décor should be loud and on your face. This opinion is because a loud décor would bring the right mood to the event and give it a larger-than-life image which would further add to the fun quotient. Minute detailing of the décor is also important, since every minute detail can connect to the theme of the day which further adds to the success of the event. There are loads of novel ideas available on décor today, do try something new than what you saw the last time.

6. Activities
Apart from food, activities organised is the only thing which would entertain your guest and will guarantee a longer stay at your event. Activities could be games, quizzes, fashion shows, dance programs, singers, circus, carnival, casino, anything, but it has to be something which can keep your guest occupied for the duration of your event at least till the cake is cut or the champagne popped or the meal served. The novelty and the fun at your event is usually measured with the activities organised. This also ensures that memories are created which are cherished for long.

7. Food & Beverage, also The Cake
Let us be frank about this, the maximum number of your guests do come to eat and hence getting this piece right is utmost important. Do have a trial meal much before an event to be assured of the quality served. During birthday events, choose a spread which is not a lavish three course meal, instead choose an offbeat spread which is minimal variety but filling. The birthday boy/girl could be of any age but cutting a cake is a tradition across the world. Ensure there is a cake slice for the last person as well. Exotic cakes of various shapes adds to the birthday excitement.

8. Re-work The Budget
By the time you have planned your event, it would most probably shoot above the budget you had in mind at the start. It is time to re-work on the entire plan and revise the requirement or the budget accordingly, the changes have to notified to the respective vendor for smooth functioning. Do not work on this aspect after the event, vendors do not like to negotiate after the event is completed.

9. Return Gifts
A birthday celebration’s tradition is also to give out Return Gifts to your guests at the end of the event. It does not have to be something expensive, it can be a merchandise which connects to your event (theme) and creates a remembrance of the good times at your event. It could also be a prize they won at an activity or a take away they received from an activity. Try choosing a gift which they could preserve for the future.

10. Memory for Birthday Boy/Girl
One of the most important piece of the birthday event which is usually ignored because of the focus laid on everything else, is the memories the event creates for the birthday boy/girl. As a host, maintain the focus on the birthday boy/girl as the centre of the event and not anything else. You could add in a couple of activities which are recorded and preserved by the birthday boy/girl which they could cherish on a later date. After all, it is their celebration.

The best way to Celebrate The Birth – ‘Right’, is to call upon a Professional !!

Gifting Shifts Gears

Corporate gifting has come a long way from those imported Chinese merchandise to specially manufactured theme based merchandise, from gifting which was done by companies alone to gifting done by even an individual in bulk. The word ‘corporate’ is no longer relevant and has now changed to ‘bulk’ gifting.

Gone are the days when pharmaceutical companies or their likes, would hunt the market for novel Chinese gifting ideas which are worth hardly anything,

Gone are the days when the best gifting idea for a corporate to their employees were gift vouchers which are easily accessible and do not need any brain storming,

Gone are the days when the gift revolved around just apparels or bags,

Gone are the days when you had to run from pillar to post to find a vendor who could supply the merchandise,

Gone are the days when the vendor who supplies to a particular corporate was one of the largest gifting company.

No offense to the Chinese made products, but we are to be blamed because the products chosen by us were meant to be sub standard and light to a client’s pocket with maximum revenue for the gifting company. China has given the Indian manufacturer a run for his money, for products which are at least 2X the price in India even though there are freight, import duties and other taxes applicable. Beware Indian manufacturers, you need to pull up your socks if you at the least want to compete when it comes to ideas which are an Indian Speciality. There is no denial that products which are a daily requirement like apparels or bags would at all times attract demand, but there will be a time when the manufacturers would have an army of salesmen who would visit the client directly and eliminate the middle man or reduce the gifting company’s revenue to negligible terms. Revenues on these products are any which ways the lowest since maximum of the so called gifting companies only deal with these.

Not only the future but the current trend too lies with gifting companies who are willing to work as per the client’s need or theme and not according to the stocks available at their own warehouse. Novelty does not always mean it has to be a brand new product but it could also be, how an idea changed the product. Clients today look for products which fit the theme of the event rather than what is available in the market. Events could vary from seminars, exhibitions, festivities, motivation, appreciation, etc. It is time that gifting companies do not ask the first question as, what is your budget, but asks what is the theme for your requirement.

Gifting companies priority should at all times remain to look for products which are innovative, can be connected to themes, can be customised, can be delivered within a shorter time line, can be presented or packaged well, can be transported across geographies and to top it all, if the product can be termed as “priceless”.

To be continued..