THERE USED to be a time when the Indian wedding used to be a relatively simple and homespun affair involving trips to the local cloth market and the neighbourhood darzi (tailor). But not any more. These days, the Indian bride and groom will settle for nothing but the very best for their wedding trousseau, as they get more and more imaginative with their sartorial choices. They want to dress up, but also have fun on the most important day of their lives. From embracing unconventional colours like brown and grey to mixing and matching outfits, Indian brides and grooms are leaving no stone unturned to look uber chic and cool. A big change being noticed by designers today, for instance, is that brides and grooms want to reuse their wedding attire, something unheard of before. “It’s a big trend. They don’t want to invest big time in a bridal outfit and then have it sitting in a trunk for the rest of their lives,” says designer Anju Modi. And it’s not just the bride who is experimenting. The groom, too, doesn’t want to be conservatively dressed any more, with people not being able to tell the difference between him and the guests.
We met the country’s top fashion designers at the recent Vogue Wedding Show in the capital to ask them who’s more experimental this year, the bride or the groom, and the latest trends dominating the Indian wedding wardrobe…
More experimental: The bride always. We have done a lot of western silhouettes with Indian crafts and the response has been phenomenal. Brides want to wear it for their cocktail and sangeet. They are quite experimental.
Top trends this wedding season: Globally, all the couturers have done lots of volume and trails. So I have introduced a little bit of trail in my lehengas as well and the brides are fully for it. Also, brides are now enthusiastically picking up the colour brown, which we have used in our collection, for their sangeet and reception. Clearly, they are wanting to experiment with colours. The colour palette this season ranges from metallic silver and antique gold to rich burgundy, old rose pink, pearl grey, deep green and coffee brown. For men, it’s more minimalistic. So my collection is replete with structured jackets, trench coats and waistcoats in hues of blue and black with a touch of intricate embroidery.
Quick tips: Men shouldn’t go for too much shine. All the shine and glitz is for women.
The constant: Red for the bride, ivory and dull gold for the groom.
Must-have this wedding season: For the guy, a really nice watch. For the woman, a beautiful quaint clutch.
More experimental: Both. While brides have always been willing to experiment, grooms have only now started to look at dressing differently, wearing something, for instance, with not too much embroidery. This season, I have created different Persian prints on the groom’s outfit, which isn’t heavily embroidered, and they are loving it.
Top trends this wedding season: Couples are looking at different kinds of colour combinations. They want the usual colours—red, gold, pink—but paired with other colours like yellow, mint green, turquoise blue and pink. For grooms, colours like rust orange, gold and red are in. I have also created beautiful turbans for grooms worn in an Afghani manner—a different take from the Rajasthani turbans—which I think gives them more power. Another interesting trend I have noticed is that people want to reuse their wedding attire. So they want two-three layers to the garment, which can be worn separately, creating a new look.
Quick tips: Two fitting sessions with the designer are a must. Also, brides and grooms should first decide what they are going to wear and then finalise the decor so that they don’t get lost in it all.
The constant: The red lehenga. To give it a different take, a blush dupatta or a printed mint green or navy blue contrast blouse can be worn. For men, bandhgalas and sherwanis.
Must-have this wedding season: Comfortable footwear!
More experimental: I am actually seeing a lot of experimental grooms. And the reason is that they have been let out of the cage suddenly. They have been so boring for so long, but now the young Indian groom is very cool, confident and fit, and wants to have as much fun dressing up as the bride.
Top trends this wedding season: Brides and grooms want to be comfortable and cool, increasingly choosing to go the subtle way. And our collection reflects this. For example, we have done a cobalt and jade gown with just a whiff of raised flowers on the hemline teamed with a crystal-encrusted corset. In menswear, the pre-draped Kanjeevaram dhotis will be quite the showstoppers. Also, we have combined western tailoring with Indian draping, so you have looks like a grey mohair sleeveless sherwani with a satin-pleated collar and silver buttons. The colour palette this year is quite varied and includes renditions of gold, ivory, beige, jade, red, cobalt, soft blush, powder blue and black.
Quick tips: Don’t try to be a movie star and overdress.
The constant: The usual lehengas and sari-drapes.
Must-have this wedding season: We have done shoes in Kanjeevaram, cotton brocade, zardozi and embroidered velvet in designs reminiscent of typical juttis and the Turkish sabahs. Little surprise if they become the must-haves of the season!
More experimental: I think grooms are more experimental not for themselves, but for the brides. I see the bride and groom come together and when the bride is hesitant about buying something, the groom says, “It’s great, go for it.”
Top trends this wedding season: Mixing and matching different cultures, embroideries and fabrics of India. In fact, a lot of people are buying my separates. Just because I haven’t put two particular things together doesn’t mean you can’t either. It’s exactly how you style yourself every morning. You mix and match, and that’s coming into bridalwear as well. Keeping this in mind, we have constructed silhouettes that are easy to handle, as well as chic and trendy. There is no hassle of draping and pleating. The in colours are onyx, deep burgundy, teal green, blue, gold, white and red.
Quick tips: Sit down, use your mind, plan a look and then go for it.
The constant: The tendency of brides and grooms to go for matching outfits for some reason.
Must-have this wedding season: A good bra.
More experimental: Both. The brides have started to become experimental only in the last few years, while the grooms are very slowly becoming experimental with colour, the kind of artwork that goes in their clothes, etc.
Top trends this wedding season: In terms of colour, the brides want something lighter. Also, they don’t want their outfit to be very heavy. Layering is big for both men and women. They wear three-four pieces, very smartly made-to-order. Belts are also a huge trend accessory-wise. The in colours are ivory, pale pink, pale blue, old rose and bold hues like black, burgundy, deep maroon and gold.
Quick tips: Do something that brings out your personality.
The constant: The red lehenga. For guys, colours like ivory and black, and sherwanis, bandhgalas and bundis.
Must-have this wedding season: A nice belt and shoes for men.
More experimental: The bride. In India, men have just found their fashion voice, but they are still too scared to experiment on the wedding day. However, the brides have always been experimental, trying newer looks, silhouettes and textures.
Top trends this wedding season: The most important trend that is coming back is the return of monotone. Everything is going to be one colour. The other big trend is about pure glamour. While brides want to look traditional, they also want clothing that has very strong glamorous content.
For grooms, the trend is still ivory and gold—a long achkan or sherwani with a kurta, churidar and shawl. I think grooms are going to be quieter. Having said that, there is also a little bit of ‘dandy groom’ in trend. The biggest accessories for brides are the maatha-patti and nath, which are going to be really big. For grooms, it’s going to be an eight-line emerald stand. The colour palette is mostly intense red, burgundy, old rose pink, fuchsia and pale pink with hints of saffron and orange.
Quick tips: Drink a lot of water and do yoga. Brides get too pressured by society and try to look like someone they are not. They should guard against that. Tip for grooms? Never compete with the bride!
The constant: For the woman, it’s always been the odhna with which she covers her head and for men, it’s the saafa (turban).
Must-have this wedding season: For the man, a good watch. For the woman, a great handbag.
More experimental: Both. In fact, I met a couple from Hyderabad recently who’s going to be married soon and the guy wanted a dhoti and a nice draped kurta with it, so it’s great…
Top trends this wedding season: One of the major trends is the presence of all the classic old styles, but everything reinvented—for instance, gota patti shorts and a silk shrug for the mehendi. Flowing anarkalis, gota patti gowns, lehengas and long jackets are in for women. For the grooms, versatile bandhgalas and printed bundis are in fashion. Grooms could also wear a jadau brooch, nice cufflinks and kurta buttons in jadau. As far as colours are concerned, gold, red, blue and peach are in.
Quick tips: The brides going in for too much make-up is a no-no.
The constant: Bandhgalas for grooms, lehenga-cholis for brides.
Must-have this wedding season: An Anita Dongre outfit!
NIKHIL OF SHANTANU & NIKHIL
More experimental: Grooms no doubt. Men are looking for departure and have realised the value of dressing up for
Top trends this wedding season: Vintage tones for brides is a huge trend. This helps the bride and groom be in the same colour, which again is going to be a strong trend. The gowns this season are voluminous at the bottom and very well and finely constructed at the top, with impeccable detailing. Other things are lots of drape, tonality and little masculine jackets that can be worn as short jackets by women over their lehengas. Men are also going for sashes and scarves. In terms of colours, all vintage tones like scarlet red, ash grey, beige, burnt beige and deep chocolate are in.
Quick tips: Less is more. Couples should stay away from too much embroidery and colour.
The constant: Indian textiles being done in a contemporary manner remains a big trend.
Must-have this wedding season: Printed pocket squares for men to go with their bandhgalas. For women, it’s the sari-gown.
Hot & happening
Invites: Cards are highly subject to customisation. “One of our clients was having a destination wedding in Dubai, so we designed a 3D card with the Dubai skyline on it,” says Ravish Kapoor, CEO, Ravish Kapoor Innovative Invitations. “For one card, we put sea shells inside a glass screen on the card, as the wedding was to take place in Goa,” he adds.
Location: Destination weddings continue to be big this year. “Many new interesting destinations are coming up,” says Vandana Mohan, the brain behind The Wedding Design Company. “We just did a wedding in Chantilly, France, and will be going to Mykonos, Greece, next. There’s Venice too. Also, Spain is a great place for Indians, as it has a similar culture. In terms of islands, Maldives is hot among youngsters.”
Decor: The biggest trend is going for bespoke these days. “Personalisation has become very important today,” says Vivek Ramabhadran, managing director, Swarovski Professionals India. “For one wedding, we designed a chandelier with cascading chains of Swarovski crystals intermingled with strands of LED, giving the effect of a waterfall.”
Food: Food has to look as good as it tastes. “There is a huge demand for food stylists these days,” says Bhavnesh Sawhney, director, Wedniksha, a wedding planner. “These stylists take care of the ‘design’ of the food: the presentation, the temperature it is served at, etc. For instance, for a wedding we did, we served individual portions of kebabs placed on miniature charpoys.” In terms of cuisines, Indian still remains a favourite, says Vandana Mohan. “In international cuisine, people no longer want Thai, Italian or Moroccan. They are going into specifics, like food from Puglia in Italy, as you get better olives and tomatoes there.”
Return gifts: Customisation is key. Special saris done by a designer, shawls inscribed with initials of the couple, special ties for men and exotic teas are in great demand.
‘Wedding concierges the trend to look out for’
How big are wedding budgets?
They could run into a few lakhs or a few crores. Even in terms of the charge per person, it could be a few thousand and go up to R25,000-30,000. It depends on what the guests’ expectations are, what kind of experiences they are looking at.
What sort of demands do you encounter?
Lately, there has been a demand for more exotic destinations and locales. Cuisine is getting more important. People are more discerning and specific in their demands. This includes health-consciousness as well. In terms of the whole event, utilising high-end fashion designers or developing unique experiences, so that everybody attending the wedding leaves with a memorable experience is important. Unlike before, weddings are now more of an event.
Any specific locations?
The theme of ‘timeless weddings’ at palaces is always evergreen, especially for NRIs. With many of our properties in actual palaces, there is great demand for these destinations. Off-the-beaten-path kind of weddings are on the rise. We have some destinations like Bekal (Kerala) or Coorg (Karnataka), which are popular. For people in tier-II and III cities, the fascination of holding a wedding in a metro still exists.
How important are weddings to a hospitality group?
Weddings and events are becoming bigger occasions and that’s where we see our double-digit growth. Our understanding of the market is that it’s about a R1,000-crore business. The wedding barometer acts like a pulse on the latest trends people are looking at. The wedding concierge is a concept that will expand in the coming years, with a one-stop-shop experience, where we can point clients in the right direction to fit the experience they are hoping for.