Someone wrote in an article in E! Online on celebrity Hollywood weddings: "If Hollywood is a business, then getting married in Hollywood is a Fortune 500 company." Because while a wedding is a union of two people, in Hollywood it's a merger of two people — given their individual net worth served with a side of glamour. A reason why the recent nuptials of (arguably) India's most successful cricket captain Virat Kohli and Bollywood actor Anushka Sharma had everyone excited the moment the first of their lot left for Italy.
Paparazzi — that scourge of celebrity culture — were stationed at the airport, media houses had started digging out sources and people were stationed with their cellphone cameras to break the news. Yet, the duo managed to pull a coup of sorts when they broke the internet with their post-shaadi post on Twitter. It was a move well-played and the least you expected from Captain Kohli.
But what went behind the scenes is captured by an Instagram post by their wedding planners Shaadi Squad. It said: "The past few weeks have been absolutely surreal and as we sit typing this out, it's sort of settling in! Four months of keeping a secret, hiding even from our own team, the secret recces, midnight meetings, vague conversations, and sleepless nights have finally manifested into this grand moment."
When Celebrities Wed
A-list stars beget A-list celebrations and A-list celebrations beget A-list event planners — the key word being "event" and not necessarily wedding planners. "Celebrities are not known to work beyond their known circle and people whom they know intimately. More often than not, their wedding planning will also go to those whom they can trust," says Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO of WeddingSutra. com, a wedding media company. It could be their talent manager or close associate too.
While in Hollywood, celebrity wedding planning has big Google-worthy names like Yifat Oren, Mindy Weiss, Colin Cowie, the A-list wedding planners in India still operate on word-of-mouth and behind the scenes. Social media presence, though, is changing that. Tina Tharwani of Shaadi Squad says, "Celebrity weddings may be a small piece of the wedding industry in India but it's a prestigious slice because they garner huge media coverage, which helps in being recognised as a serious player in the industry. The word-of-mouth that one receives through a celebrity wedding is phenomenal."
The wedding market still stays highly unorganised and A-list wedding planners are few and far between. As Tharwani says, "There are only a handful of players catering to the big weddings, and in most cases, they stick to doing only these prominent ones. There is a clear demarcation in the market for the big/celebrity weddings and smaller weddings."
But Thyagarajan is quick to note, "While celebrity weddings are a big deal, they may not always be big. A small, intimate wedding like Virat-Anushka's is the norm." But it's not the rule because when Harbhajan Singh and Geeta Basra tied the knot, they took the big fat Punjabi wedding route.
What makes the scale seem larger than life are the personalities involved — not to mention the no-expensesspared tabs.
For instance, some news reports claimed that the wedding venue for the Virat-Anushka nuptials — super-exclusive Borgo Finocchieto in Tuscany, Italy — charges somewhere around Rs13 lakh a room for a night. Pressures of Fame When famous people marry, money is not the issue, logistics are.
One of the first few A-list wedding planners and stylists in India Meher Sarid of Sound of Music mentions how celebrities want a discreet affair and yet be completely involved. So, Sarid accompanied Preity Zinta wearing a burkha for her shopping trips when she was organising her brother's wedding years ago.
"All charges/queries are routed through the planner but it's when we have to start booking venue, we have to be extra careful because there you have to reveal identities," she mentions. Secrecy and security are the cornerstones of a celebrity wedding, so much so that sometimes they opt out of sending cards to avoid leaks.
Thyagarajan mentions how avoiding leaks has become difficult now in the age of social media. At cricketer Gautam Gambhir's wedding, the mandap area was a cellphone-free zone, but that was 2011. Flash forward to 2017 and everyone with a phone is a potential leak waiting to happen.
Neha Seth Arora, partner and CEO of Var Vadhu that organised the weddings of both the Deol sisters — Esha and Ahana — says that celebrity weddings come with their own set of challenges. "Keeping the media at bay for a secretive wedding and handling the fans are the main task. With social media, even a small leak of information becomes a news flash. Another major challenge is getting closure and approvals.
With their busy schedules, it gets little difficult to close on concepts, decor detailing, finalisation of various aspects important for a wedding," says Arora. Most weddings come with non-disclosure clauses where they never use a client's real name on a contract or rental agreement. Decoy venues, like in the case of Vidya Balan's wedding with Siddharth Roy Kapur, are not unheard of. Some contracts have a non-disclosure clause for even 15-20 years after the wedding is done — especially in the case of HNIs.
Saurabh Malhotra of Shaadi Squad says, "In celebrity weddings, you have to be more flexible in your schedules — like meetings at the last minute or at odd hours, which may last for quite a few hours. You need to be more mindful of the client's time and schedule because they may not be available frequently."
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