By Ankita Jain
Weddings used to be all about traditions, rituals, family functions, shopping and feasts. Today the trend has changed and people are looking at distant shores, intimate settings and themed weddings. Also a majority of couples getting married are in for an all out extravagant bollywood style party and the many little events leading up to. From planning the trousseau, makeup artist and photographer to the menu, venue and the cards, every little detail is matched to the theme. Wedding planners, hotels, resorts and all those in the industry leave no stone unturned to make it a fairy tale gala and a lifetime memory for the bride and the groom. Expenses skyrocket but who cares… you only get married once if you get it right the first time!
B360 catches up with the wedding planners, hotels and resorts to know the buzz behind the wedding business.
“We not only plan weddings but also run a boutique where we cater for bridal as well as non-bridal outfits and jewellery.”
Mahima Uday Sunder and Prathana Uday Sundar Shrestha
Founders, MP Luxury Wedding
“With the aim to help people visualise their dream wedding and turn that dream into reality, we entered into the wedding market”
Shweta Pradhan Joshi and Nikita Pradhan
The Wedding Planners
There are professionals ensuring that special functions are conducted impeccably and everyone enjoys it without a trace of worry. One such dream weavers are the founders of MP Luxury Wedding, Mahima Uday Sunder and Prathana Uday Sundar Shrestha.
Mahima and Prathana ventured into the wedding business a little over a year ago and have already carved a niche in the market. “The turning point for us was the recent wedding of Miss Nepal Earth 2015 Dibyata Vaidya. The weddings we had previously organised were pretty low key and this wedding was able to generate more brand awareness for us,” recounts Mahima. “Seeing MP Luxury Wedding’s sister company MP Luxury Bridal’s work, I was confident about having them as my ultimate wedding planner. MP and I worked closely for almost a year planning my wedding. I saw my dream wedding turn into reality with their help. Most importantly they saved me from going Bridezilla,” states Dibyata Vaidya, Miss Nepal Earth 2015.
Also in the game are the founding duo Shweta Pradhan Joshi and Nikita Pradhan of Clover Events which initially started out in the floriculture business in 1998. “Planning for any event can be overwhelming. Between focusing on the elements such as venue, event logistics and everything in between, there remains not much to enjoy on the big day. We realised that a wedding is one of the most important days and it should be an unforgettable and special one. With the aim to help people visualise their dream wedding and turn that dream into reality, we entered into the wedding market in a full-fledged way,” Shweta says.
“Our wedding was a well-managed event by Shweta and her team. We are extremely happy with the outcome that was offered and highly recommend her for creative ideas and human touch,” shares Bimal Gurung, Executive Director at Sagarmatha Television.
Finding the Right Angle
The photographer brigade is in high demand during the wedding season. It’s no more capturing the event. It’s the art of story-telling in pictures. It comes with research, travelling, long hours, understanding the culture and not missing out on the little details.
Word-of-mouth reference plays a central role in recognising the country’s best wedding photographers. And when we are talking about wedding photographers, Shahnawaz Mohammad, the man behind Wedding Diary Nepal, tops the list. “It was an absolute delight to have Shahnawaz dai photograph our wedding, he made it so easy and fun. I must say, he did a wonderful job capturing the fun and emotions of our incredible day. He really did go out-of-the-box to make our day little bit more special ,” shares Aayusha Rana, Co-Founder & Creative Head of Dreamcatcher Sleepwear.
With the changing wedding trends, the demand for photography and videography are high. People now consider them as a significant part of their wedding. “We try to capture the candid moments without missing the ceremonies and when a client approaches us, they know what they can get in return. The clients want us to freeze their special moments and relive them when they flip through the images afterwards,” says Shahnawaz. As far as the trend is concerned, couple and family shoots have become a must. Customarily, clients also demand an entire package which includes couple, candid, ritual and family pictures. He further adds, “Of late, clients have started to show interest in knowing the photographer’s point-of-view and seek our suggestion in terms of the lighting and decorations which is quite amazing as these aspects help to bring out the best which is truly visible in the results.”
As far as the trend is concerned, couple and family shoots have become a must. Customarily, clients also demand an entire package which includes couple, candid, ritual and family pictures.”
Wedding Diary Nepal
“Besides local weddings, we host a number of destination weddings from India, Australia and the US. The local weddings are concentrated on auspicious dates whereas the foreign weddings are not bound by it.”
General Manager, Hotel Yak & Yeti
Since the wedding business isn’t the same all year round and is restricted to certain auspicious dates, we asked wedding planners what they do during the off-season.
The duo Mahima and Prathana prefer to call themselves wedding designers rather than wedding planners and they have a reason for it. “We not only plan weddings but also run a boutique where we cater for bridal as well as non-bridal outfits and jewellery. During off season, we focus on our boutique and it helps to get fresh ideas for the next wedding,” says Prathana. Till date, they have organised four weddings, the most prominent one being #DivyushKoBihay. “For the coming season, we are booked from December 2018 to February 2019. On a good note, a majority of them are inter-culture weddings,” informs Mahima.
The increasing spending power of people in Nepal has paved the path to grand celebrations. This has given ample opportunity to wedding planners like Clover Events to hop onto other celebrations like anniversaries, birthdays, birth ceremonies,etc. “We have been working as a full-time event planner for more than five years and have organised plenty of events during the non-wedding season. Just looking at the previous season, we had organised more than a hundred events in which weddings covered more than 75% of the share,” elaborates Nikita.
Thanks to social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, the growing awareness of wedding décor, photography, venue, attire are all taken into serious consideration. The platform also provides industry insiders to learn from their counterparts but ultimately originality helps sustain and grow the business. “Social media has completely changed the marketing landscape. Now, we have a wider reach including people who are abroad but who may be planning something special for their big day back home,” shares Shweta.
MP Nepal grew through social media. “Social media is the main factor which has allowed us to reach where we are now. Our advertisements are projected mostly via Instagram rather than print advertisements,” confirms Mahima.
Talking about the wedding scenario at Hotel Annapurna, Raju Bikram Shah, CEO, Annapurna Group of Hotels discloses, “Our biggest strength has always been our attention to detail in service and food as per the client’s requirements and also assisting the clients in planning for their event and ensuring that we cater to the client’s needs in the best possible ways. Our staff’s experience in handling big functions is a strength. Our location is also a key strength which pulls thousands towards our property.”
Claiming to host weddings since the very beginning of the establishment more than 50 years ago, Shah shares, “In a way, we could say we pioneered the trend of luxury weddings in Nepal.” The man behind the luxury tent concept of Jagatpur Lodge by Annapurna stresses on quality every time he talks about the luxury services in Nepal, be it a wedding, accommodation or an ordinary get together. “We have noticed that even our clients are now very much quality conscious in terms of venue, food and service. We have further noticed trends with heavy influence in terms of menu choice, décor from the West and a lot from India,” he quips.
Throwing insight into the number of weddings the premises hosts, he enumerates, “It is hard to put a number on it, as auspicious wedding dates differ every year. On average, we get 4- 5 functions for every auspicious date, be it engagement, sangeet or wedding reception. To give a rough idea, last year we hosted somewhere around 30 wedding functions.”
“Things in Gokarna are different. We are ready to handle anything the client wants us to — from coordinating with wedding planners TO travel and transport logistics AND menu and décor.”
Food & Beverage Manager, Gokarna Forest Resort
“Our biggest strength has always been our attention to detail in service and food as per THE client’s requirements. besides, we assist clients in planning for their event and ensuring that we cater to the client’s needs in the best possible ways. Our staff’s experience in handling big functions is a strength.”
Raju Bikram Shah
CEO, Annapurna Group of Hotels
Because of the palace feel that Hotel Yak & Yeti offers, it pulls a lot of foreign weddings as well. “Besides local wedding, we host a number of destination weddings from India, Australia and the US. The local weddings are concentrated on auspicious dates whereas the foreign weddings are not bound by it,” says Monika Scheiblauer, General Manager, Hotel Yak & Yeti.
It’s been a year Monika has been working for the hotel and she feels all hotels in Nepal are selling below value. “I think we in the hotel industry are fighting for the same business and this at times results in massive bargaining opportunities for clients. They compare different hotel offerings in a particular budget and therefore we have no other option except for lowering our rates to get the business,” she explains. In the initial days, she would simply say no to clients where huge bargaining was involved.
The solution she says, “If there was better coordination between the hotels, we could come to a point where we standardise the rates and tariffs. I believe this will save us from the bargaining scenario and set a standard par excellence for the clients. Similarly, there should be a minimum price for every genre of hotels, be it 5 stars, 4 stars or 3 stars. Currently, there’s just a hairline difference between the rates of different categories of hotels. As hoteliers, it’s our fault that we are lacking cooperation in fixing proper rate metrics in place.”
Nestled in the ancient Gokarna Forest, the resort is easily the ideal getaway for urban dweller and tourists alike. The luxury holiday sprawls across 470 acres of lush greenery, soul-stirring ambience and throws several options for wedding venues. However, the turning point for the resort for its wedding business was the wedding of Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala. “It is true that we offered a dream wedding for the actress and it is after that people in and out of the country came to know about the resort in bigger numbers,” shares Nurbu Sherpa, Food & Beverage Manager, Gokarna Forest Resort.
A relaxed wedding in a holiday resort can be a logistic nightmare. That’s where Sherpa chips in. “Things in Gokarna are different. We are ready to handle anything the client wants us to — from coordinating with wedding planners, to travel and transport logistics and menu and décor. For us, the challenge is to get everything perfect. But after visiting the property, it is difficult for any client to say no to our offerings,” Sherpa unwinds.
In A Nutshell
The wedding industry in Nepal is equipped with everything, whether it is venue, décor or extravagance. The only thing missing is continuous innovation and better channelisation of resources because as the time passes, people look for new elements. But with younger people getting into the business, there’s much hope for the industry to grow.