By Ruchira Hoon
Image courtesy: Yogesh Chiplunkar
6 months to go
The venue is almost always the top priority. It’s what sets a wedding apart, it’s what makes it special. Depending on your budget, you can either create an entire set or go in for a pre-set venue, where you have to merely think about the flowers, food and soft furnishings. For best results, make sure you have done all your bookings at least six months in advance. “It’s very important to give vendors a token amount,” says wedding planner Mehr Sarid. “This way you can work with them without keeping them in suspense, and make sure you have access to the best options.” In India, certain auspicious days will see almost 200 weddings taking place at the same time, so it’s a good idea to touch base with the vendors three months later as well. Once the venue is sorted, planners work on the decor. And since the day is all about the bride — not so much about the man standing next to her in the pictures — planners often design the decor to show off the bride in the most flattering light. “Depending on the bride’s complexion and ensemble, we like to play with pastel shades during the day and go completely bright in the evening,” says Mehr.
Why you need a planner:
When you have a wedding planner on board, you can outsource the stress. Plus, they’ll get you better deals from vendors like florists and caterers. And while they don’t come cheap, once they’re on board, they will help you stick to your budget. In metros, planners charge 10 to 12 per cent of the total wedding cost, and 6 to 8 per cent in smaller cities. But if you pick a celebrity planner, expect to pay between 15 and 18 per cent. The total wedding cost includes everything but the outfits, trousseau and shopping — the caterers, venue, decor, cards, soft furnishings, music, DJ and valets.
The 365-day run-up:
A quick run-through of your tasks leading up to the day.
12 to 10 months
- Work out a budget and expect to go higher as the days go by.
- Choose your venue and pay a token amount to block it.
- If you’re going to hire a planner, now is the time.
- Sit down with both sets of parents and start making a guest list.
- Send out save-the-date cards.
- Start your fitness and diet regimen now for best results.
- Think of where you’d like to go for your honeymoon.
- Taste food at weddings to zero in on your caterer.
2. CLOTHES: 4 months to go
Designer Pankaj Ahuja of Pankaj & Nidhi suggests that if you’re looking for a custom-made outfit for your functions, you’ll need four months’ notice. “But if you’re picking something off the shelf, then two months before the wedding will also work,” he adds. But final alterations and delivery must be completed at least 20 days before the wedding. While dual tones and antique accents are the flavours of the season, choose your outfit depending on the time of the ceremony: lighter colours for the day and brighter ones for night, is the rule to go by. And it’s a smart move to pick an ensemble that’s simple to put on and doesn’t involve elaborate drapes.
3. Make up and hair: ASAP
Well-known make-up artists like Vidya Tikari and Ambika Pillai are booked almost a year in advance. “But you must see the artist of your choice at work. You need to know what she can do and get comfortable with her style,” says Ambika.
Even today, the most common challenge that make-up artists face is being asked to make the brides look fairer. But if your demands are more reasonable, these artists can work magic. For prep, Ambika suggests you follow a sensible diet and fitness routine, rather than signing up for various bridal packages. “Drink lots of water, get lots of sleep. Use body scrubs and book hair spas, which will help get your circulation going. And leave the glow to us.”
Ambika suggests doing up nails and lips in bright colours and going light on the eyes. “While subtle eye make-up enhances the features, false eyelashes are a total no-no for your wedding day because they come off when they’re wet.”
4. Jewellery: 3 months to go
Weddings and family heirlooms go hand in hand. But if you’re looking to add to your collection, start shopping as soon as you know what your outfits are like. “Choose jewellery to go with your skin tone. Rose gold or antique finish pieces are flattering on Indian brides,” says jewellery designer Sumit Sawhney of Apala. He also recommends a colour contrast between the ensemble and the gemstones, so each piece stands out.
The 365-day run-up:
9 to 7 months
- Look at wedding stationery. Select the designer and send it out for proofing.
- Book your DJ.
- Start looking at outfits —whether you’d like made-to-order or off the rack. Leave time for alterations.
- Book your make-up artist.
- Make sure all vendors —florists, tent services and caterers — have been paid a booking amount.
5. The wed-site: 3 months to go
Wedding websites became hot a few years ago and now, these sites are also planned to serve as keepsakes for after the wedding. A dedicated wedding space will let all your friends and family participate in the preparations, no matter where in the world they are. With professionals entering the arena, these sites now have lots of interactive elements like quizzes and polls, apart from albums and blogs. “In the last three months, I’ve designed websites for 60 couples and these include online invitations and save-the-date notices,” says designer Kunal Sharma. “It takes three to five days to do the initial design and more pages can be added as the date nears.” Most wed-site designers are blocked three months before the wedding and the content includes music, albums with voiceovers and space for friends and family to share stories.
6. FOOD: ASAP
While most caterers are booked months in advance, some can also fit you in three days before the wedding — it all depends on the scale of things you’re planning. “For early weddings, we are happy to book six months in advance as well, but that usually happens when people have already eaten our food and have an idea of what we have to offer,” says Puneet Sikand of Kitchen Art.
While you’re making up your mind, drop in at as many weddings as you can to pick a menu and a service you like. And most caterers are happy to do samplings. Wedding cakes are a hot trend right now. A cupcake tower or a five-tier cake with the couple’s favourite flavours provides a pretty centerpiece, more photo-ops, and one more dessert!
The 365-day run-up: 6 to 4 months
If you’re going to colour coordinate outfits, keep both sets of parents in the loop.
- If you’d like to take a personal loan, now is the time to make up your mind.
- Choose your wedding rings.
- Start shopping for jewellery.
- Make sure you have a valid passport, in case you’re having a civil ceremony or travelling abroad for your honeymoon.
- Book hotel rooms.
- Book your photographers.
- Finalise the decor. Let the planner handle it from there.
- Start organising your trousseau.
- Set your menu for the various events.
7. Gfits: 6 months to go
Personal shopper Priyanka Gupta knows that once themes and colours are decided, it’s only a matter of time before she’s roped in for help. “My job is to take the bride and her family to the right place for the right thing and not waste any time,” she says. “Once I understand what they want and what their budget is, I draw out a list of places according to their locations and necessities and arrange the shopping expeditions.” This way, they save on time and are more organised about things they need. Whether it’s picking up gifts for the in-laws or a little something for the guests, the decisions are no longer left to the last minute. Twenty-eight-year-old Juhi Tuteja, who is getting married in January, believes that doing this well in time ensures her wedding will have a warm, personalised touch. “It is very important to acknowledge how much work everyone has done for my wedding, so I’ve put a lot of thought into my gifts for them.” Ideally, you should get your shopping done six to three months before the wedding. “You get better deals if you’re not impulsive and have a plan,” says Priyanka.
The 365-day run-up: 3 to 1 month to go
- If you’re having many functions, try out different looks with your make-up expert.
- Send out invites and insist on RSVP so you know how many people to expect.
- Get heirloom jewellery polished.
- Have a friend organise choreography for the sangeet.
- Choose your wedding cake.
- Buy your accessories.
- Discuss the rituals. See if both sides are on the same page.
- Ensure all accommodation for out-of-town guests has been booked.
- Do your final outfit fittings.
- Gift-wrap presents for your family and in-laws.
8. Beauty & fitness: 3 months to go
Even if you’re not particularly vain, there’s something about the prospect of being in hundreds of photographs that will arouse the dormant diva in you. We’re here to tell you that it’s perfectly all right to care excessively about your appearance at your wedding. At the gym, get your instructor to give you private sessions for at least three months, so that you can get your metabolism revved up. If you’re not the gymming type, then just buy a pedometer, grab a pair of your favourite sneakers and head to the nearest park.
Little changes in your diet will also ensure you’re glowing. Delhi-based nutritionist Sangeeta Khanna believes that giving up wheat or going gluten-free closer towards the wedding is a great idea to keep the skin from breaking out. Sangeeta suggests you munch on food that prevents bloating and keeps skin clear, like radish, pineapple, celery, ginger and citrus fruits, and herbs like coriander and mint. “You’ll be wearing makeup continuously for almost a month, so your skin has to be in top condition. So avoid refined oil in your food, and switch to cold pressed oils, ghee and butter — all natural sources of good fats.” She promises you’ll see the difference in your skin within a week of making these changes, and in your hair, within the month.
9. Photographers: 3 months to go
Most brides today want two kinds of albums: one, the traditional kind with staged shots, ready for their silver frames, and two, a collection of candid moments that capture the happy chaos of the day. For this reason, most weddings have at least two kinds of photographers.
Start researching options by browsing portfolios online. Once you know who you want, pay a token amount to book. Wedding photographer Gayatri Nair says you should do it at least three months in advance. “Those who take conventional pictures can be booked even a month or two in advance. But the photographers for candid shots will need more notice.” Gayatri also suggests you inform photographers that they will have to work in tandem. “This way nobody gets in the other’s way,” says Gayatri.
The final leg: 3 to 1 month to go
- Have your bachelorette party. Recoup.
- Pack for your honeymoon and for your new house.
- Make sure you have a support-system running to keep you sane.
- Don’t starve yourself. You want to look gorgeous not deprived.
- Get a massage and a relaxing pedicure.
- Try and sleep as much as you can and whenever you can.