Groom with a view: Indian marriages are no longer just about women

Written by Namrata Rao | Updated: Aug 10 2014, 07:41am hrs
GroomA sherwani with embroidered buttons by Anita Dongre
At the Vogue Wedding Show in New Delhi last week, designer Anita Dongre encountered an unusual request from a visitor. A bride-to-be walked into Dongres stall and requested a lehenga that would match the colour palette of her bridegrooms outfit. Apparently, the groom had already selected what he would wear for the big day in December.

Its surprising, considering that in India, more often than not, its the poor groom who remains at the mercy of the bride and whose clothing choices are seen as a mere reflection of her attire or get-up.

Its true that Indian bridegrooms are totally neglected in the run-up to the wedding. All the focus is on the bride and her clothing and jewellery, etc. This bride was a welcome surprise. She showed me what her groom is going to wear, as he had already selected his outfit, and wanted to pick an outfit to match his. Things are definitely changing and we are trying to pay as much attention as possible to it, says Dongre.

Clearly, the Indian groom is no longer interested in playing second fiddle to the bride. He is breaking cliches and his choices are becoming sartorial. He knows what he wants and he has no qualms in asking for it. Gone are the days when the bride used to be the centre of attention during weddings, with the bridegroom basking in her reflected glory.

Todays groom has come a long way from the traditional three-piece suit and has become extremely experimental in terms of colours, silhouettes and embellishments, among other things. He has warmed up to and embraced the various aspects of clothing, accessories and styling. He now not only compliments the bride on D-Day but, at times, surpasses her to become the talking point of the wedding. He is still dressed impeccably, but now you can clearly identify a dash of extravagance and adventure in his choices with the use of gold, embroidery, colours like fuchsia, pink and aqua, jewelled tones and tone-on-tone fabric.

The urban male is as involved, as interested in looking good and as interested in glowing as the bride. Agrees designer Raghavendra Rathore, The groom is more independent now. Earlier, it always used to be the elder people in the family who would advise what colours, etc, to wear. The groom today is much more adventurous. The classic colours will always be trendy, but there is now a lot of pink, fuchsia, etc.

Designer Sabyasachi has an interesting observation. Calling the Indian grooms transformation schizophrenic, he identifies two kinds. The first type is getting bolder and more exuberant in terms of fashion. They are wearing embroidery and even florals. The other type is getting more and more subdued, organic and quieter.

Terming the makeover of the groom into a flamboyant character an encouraging development, designer JJ Vallaya says, We have a very experimental and evolved male today. The bottomline to remember is that men are the true peacocks. If I go back to when I started, and it was when fashion started in this country, every man used to get married in a three-piece suit. Today, no man gets married in a three-piece suit. Women then were getting married in a lehenga, they are still getting married in lehengas. Tell me, who has evolved Its the groom.

And evolved he has. While sherwanis and bandhgalas have always been popular choices, dhotis are catching on in a big way now. In fact, designer Anju Modis collection at the recently-concluded India Couture Week included dhotis paired quirkily enough with a tie and shirt and Rathore in his latest collection has included 11 styles of dhotis. Says designer Tarun Tahiliani, The last time I wore a dhoti was about 15-18 years ago and it came off. Now, I am wearing it again because, thanks to the draping expertise, one can wear pre-draped dhotis and keep the elegance of another time, but in a contemporary way. Our structured draping for menswear is, thus, enabling them to wear silhouettes like never before.

Not just dhotis, designers now are not shying away from using plenty of colours for male wedding wear, another indication that the groom is now looking beyond the customary blues, blacks and greys. Although the all-time favourites of men are light gold or the softer colours, there is now a newer drift with men going for reds, turquoise, glitter and embroidery, though in a sophisticated way, says Vallaya, adding, Flared kurtas, full-bodied styles and layering are all in.

The colour palette of Tahilianis collection, The Modern Mughals, which was showcased at the recent Tarun Tahiliani Bridal Couture Exposition in New Delhi, ranges from moody black and white to moss green and rust. The collection draws inspiration from the splendour of the Mughal eraimpressions from the arts, jewellery, architecture and literature of the time. It has its roots in Indian history and yet resonates with contemporary lightness. Recognising that men are often doomed to the black, blue and grey category, Tahilianis collection rescues them from their colourless fate. My menswear collection uses plentiful of gold, unconventional pistachio, deep oranges and an even wilder, punk palette, says Tahiliani.

In his collection, a crepe dhoti has been paired with a black satin bundi with textured velvet flap and metal chain detail. The standout is the ostentatious cummerbund: a bejewelled fastener with a cowl at the back and a half-skirt that extends to add grace. It lends a sense of drama and flair to the traditional understated sherwani. The collection also pairs a royal blue bundi with detailed gold threadwork with a grey kurta and jodhpurs in light fabric. Another ensemble is where three layers of kurta, dhoti and bundi are held together with a zardozi hand-embroidered belt and a pleated stole. There is also a lower-carat version for those who dont like bling. The buttons used on the traditional ensembles are jadau or vintage.

Tahilianis collection, with its inclusion of buttons and jewelled cummerbunds for men, acknowledges another fast-growing trend: the increasing use of jewellery and accessories in mens wedding wear. Rathore even calls jewellery the new tattoo of Indian men. Whether its mother-of-pearl cufflinks, jewelled vintage buttons, emeralds, pearl-lined turbans, cummerbunds, brooches, or even the safas, which are no longer simple orange or red, but use beautiful brocade work, the groom is embracing jewellery like never before. Jewellery is coming in for men in a big waythe kalgi, necklaces or those strands of emeralds and pearls, they are all in. Also in are antique pieces. But control is a must. Remember you are not going to a coronation! says Vallaya, adding, In couture, which is where fashion really makes its money, 90% of the business is weddings. In our perspective, 40% of our turnover comes from menswear. Vallayas collection, The Nautch of Fez, which previewed at the Vogue Wedding Show, uses lots of layering and subdued texturing overlaid with exquisite embroideries and surface embellishments.

As they say, its all about looking dandy without looking wrong. After all, why should brides have all the fun

Knot know

The whole concept of a wedding is going places, with couples flirting with innovative ideas and making their day super special

Invitation cards

Previously, invitation cards would be distributed with chocolates or sweets, but now, people are preferring distributing them with honey, imported cookies, etc. For a wedding that we did in June, we distributed different types of almond cupcakes brought from Italy with the invites, says Ruchita Parelkar, founder and creative head, Elite Wedding Planners, adding, For a wedding in Jaipur, we had cookies with the wedding logo on them. These were given with the invites, which were in the shape of the City Palace as the wedding was to take place there. For another upcoming wedding, we will be distributing silver-coated mouth fresheners along with the invites. Customised 3D e-cards are becoming very popular, says Nihal Thomas, vice-president, Myshaadiwale Wedding Planners. Couples can email their love story to the wedding planners who make a film or an invitation card based on it. This can be shared with friends and relatives across the world. The film is also played on the wedding day on a large LED wall. Also in are invitations in the form of a magazine with a professional photo shoot of the couple, says Candice Pereira, creative head and co-founder, Marry Me Wedding Planners.

Entertainment

Acts today are being brought in from all over the world. The couples entrance at the reception is synchronised with these acts. Sufi singers are also being invited a lot today. For a wedding, we arranged a symphony of flamenco dancers from Spain with the langa dancers of Rajasthan, says Krishna Wattal, head, inbound tours, Cox & Kings. Theres also the option of a fashion show. We organised a bridal fashion show for a wedding in Hyderabad in which the bride and groom were the showstoppers, says Thomas. Some even go so far as to have fire artistes perform at their weddings. For one wedding, we hired an international fire artiste for the clients pool party. We also had a chandelier girl from Russia for another wedding. She hung upside down on a chandelier made of wood and served cocktails. The bottles were kept on the edge of the chandelier, says Parelkar. Its not just the engagement, wedding and reception any more, entertainment options today include hosting a black-tie dinner, Sufi night, dhol night, mujra night, etc, says Vikaas Gutgutia, founder and MD, Ferns N Petals. People now are also hiring luxury cars to pick up their guests from the airport. With the onset of the wedding season, we have seen a 20% increase in sedan booking compared to last year. We have seen the most demand for Audis, BMWs and Mercedes cars, says Gaurav Aggarwal, founder and CEO, Savaari Car Rentals.

Decor

Cox & Kings recently made a bar in the shape of a giant cobra for a wedding. Decor based on the Twilight (movie) theme is also very popular. A wedding help desk at the hotel, where guests can call for any information about the wedding, is another development, says Thomas of Myshaadiwale Wedding Planners. Other trends include branding all the wedding merchandise, including vehicles, with the bride and grooms logo. Relatives these days wear similar kind of clothes to depict that they belong to one family. For one of the weddings we did, we had a personal butler attached to the groom. So when he went to dance, the butler held his drink and food. So the groom could dance and drink and eat at the same time, says Deepa Misra Harris, senior vice-president, sales and marketing, Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces. We planned a big fat wedding in Jaipur for which we specially brought flowers from Thailand as there you can get many different types of roses, says Parelkar, adding, At another wedding, we did the decor on different themes based on countries like Dubai, Hong Kong, India and the UK as our clients represented all those countries in some way.

Food

The new trends are luxurious handmade marzipan delicacies, live sushi counters, crepe stations, individual portions and ice-cream carts, says Pereira. Celebrity chefs can also be seen at many weddings today. Food has become extremely specialised. For a wedding, says Harris, we had as many as 150 different varieties of halwa suspended from the roof. Getting cooks or specialists from different states of India and other countries for authentic food, like someone from Italy just to do chocolates, has become really huge, says Vandana Mohan of The Wedding Design Company. For one of our weddings, we brought Thai caterers who came to India just for the Thai counter at the reception, says Parelkar.

Return gifts

These can range from embroidered shawls and handwoven stoles to beautifully-designed silver picture frames, crystal vases, glassware, porcelain dinnerware and silver jewellery. Also in are authentic handcrafted brocade saris. Nowadays, people are opting to send return gifts to guests when they have arrived home after the wedding rather than expecting them to tug around heavy stuff, says Mohan of The Wedding Design Company.

BUDGET SPEAK

Depending on your budget, wedding planners offer you a variety of services. We break these down in three categories

Less than R50 lakh: In terms of decor, for a wedding with a budget of, say, R10 lakh or so, you may have to opt for DIY decor, says Candice Pereira, creative head and co-founder, Marry Me Wedding Planners. Some people like to give their personal touches to the decor and this may suit them. The decor is usually basic, decorating the mandap, stage and the entrance arch with flowers and basic backdrop decoration. You could ask a friend to be the DJ or even have an iPod playlist. For a wedding with a budget closer to R50 lakh, a good professional DJ can be hired, one who is playing at most clubs in the city. Food could be a buffet spread which is not too large but a good buffet nonetheless. You can also have a destination wedding if your guests number 250-300, says Ruchita Parelkar of Elite Wedding Planner. In this price range, you can opt for a wedding in Kerala, Rajasthan and Goa. In fact, if you have just 100 guests, its possible to have a destination wedding in Thailand as well. Thailand is as reasonable as India when it comes to weddings. Its value for money, says Pereira.

Between R50 lakh-R1 crore: You could opt for a destination wedding in not only India but outside as well, including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Dubai, Italy, Macau, Singapore and South Africa. Malaysia is very cost-effective these days. People are also showing a lot of interest in Bali, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, says Pereira. You can have interesting acts like live music but not necessarily celebrity performers. Dance and aerial acts are also an option. For the food, you could opt for hotel catering with a good spread and a variety of options. You could even have two-three live stations with two-three cuisines. Food specialists are also a possibility.

There is also the option of having designer invitation cards. The decor includes lots and lots of flowers, including carnations, orchids, etc. The bride and grooms entry could be on a hot air balloon, says Parelkar.

More than R1 crore: For weddings with a budget of R1 crore and above, the sky is the limit, as they say. Your destination choices include Paris, Mauritius, Melbourne and New Zealand, among others. You can have international floral decor incorporating state-of-the-art engineering systems. We can get in a lot of exotic flowers and create anything you want. You can transform a space into absolutely anything you desire. It could be a ballroom or an open lawn. You can even transform it into another city if you so desire, says Pereira. Also available will be a well-known wedding expert and stylist should you need any sort of advice. Weddings of this scale also see celebrity chefs with their teams and international cuisines with ingredients sourced from all over the world, says Nihal Thomas, vice-president, Myshaadiwale Wedding Planners. And if the bride and groom want to make a smashing entry to make heads turn, they can opt to do so by a helicopter. You can also have celebrity and international performers. Just so your memories remain beautiful always, your wedding film will be handled by a well-known wedding film director with the help of internationally-trained technicians with state-of-the-art cameras. You can also entertain your guests with internationals performers, violinists, etc. Live sushi counters, crepe stations, etc, are all possible. You can have 15-20 international cuisines, with different chefs for different cuisines, for example, bringing a chef from Thailand just for Thai food, etc. You could also opt for a pre-wedding photo shoot in another city or even another country. Guests can arrive via chartered flights and the gifting can be based on gold and silver, says Parelkar.

MALE GROOM-ING

Dos

l Follow a simple, fixed skincare regime (cleanse, moisturise and use a lightening and brightening cream with vitamin C, arbutin, arginine and kojic)

l Use a good sunscreen

l Follow a healthy diet with adequate proteins and carbohydrates along with nuts, fruits, etc

l Drink at least two-three litres

of water a day

l Exercise three-four times a week

l Sleep adequately for an average of 7-8 hours a day. Try to sleep by 10 pm.

Donts

* Try new products or home remedies, etc, closer to the wedding date

* Rub/scrub face while exercising

* Overdo protein powders, etc, without supervision, as that can lead to breakouts

* Eat too much of refined, processed and sugary food

Malavika Kohli, skin expert

STYLE SHEET FOR GROOMS FROM THE EXPERTS

Carry a dry shampoo: If you have two functions on the same day and you have to go from one to the other, you can spray some dry shampoo if your hair gets oily. The dry shampoo will absorb all the grease.

Variations: If you are going to wear a kafni with a dhoti and you know your sangeet is long, make one more kafni. So if you are sweating, you can run inside, change and go back. Normally, many designers

give a lot of variations. So if you remove one piece of your outfit, it literally becomes another look.

Haircut: Dont experiment with a new haircut just before your wedding because it will not grow out nicely. If you are going to get a haircut, do it at least three weeks before your wedding as the hair will be at its comfortable best.

Footwear: Your shoes have to be perfect as a good pair makes a huge difference. You cant wear the wrong shoes with the

wrong outfit. For example, you cant wear black or brown sandals with a dhoti.

If you are doing a dhoti, wear mojris. Wear the Indian look completely.

Jewellery: Some bridegrooms like jewellery, some dont. If you are going to go for jewellery, choose between emeralds, pearls and rubies. Try and stay away from anything too heavy. You can opt for a single layer of pearls with emeralds or rubies. Just do one colour family.