When Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh were planning their destination wedding at Villa Del Balbianello in Lake Como, Italy in 2018, there was only one thing they wanted – it had to be a totally private affair. They didn’t want the media to keep speculating about their wedding plans and they knew that would only be possible if they could appoint a wedding planner who would understand their need for privacy. They appointed Vandana Mohan, the founder of The Wedding Design Company (WDC), and her team to organise their wedding.
One of the first women to join the events industry way back in 1989, Vandana started off by launching her events company Backstage Productions. Since then Vandana has been handling weddings both in India and abroad. “Doing a Bollywood wedding is no different from any other wedding because the detailing, organisation and special moments are the same. The joy and the happiness that the families of the bride and the groom share are the same. The only difference is celebrity weddings get a lot of media attention, but our regular clients shy away from it,” says Vandana, in an interview with Friday Bride in Delhi.
Vandana has ensured that each and every member of her team understands the discretion that is needed when they are handling a celebrity wedding. “When you are taking on a celebrity wedding, you have to ensure that they are comfortable with you; you understand their rules of DND (Do Not Disturb) and you establish that trust. They have to be sure that you are not that person who might give away the nitty-gritty of the wedding. Also, you sit for meetings with them for hours and you get to know them much more than an average fan would, so I think a lot of discretion, sensitivity and time management is required when you are working with stars.”
From booking the hotel rooms and managing the guests to the decor and its execution, The Wedding Design Company handled everything at Lake Como, all the while ensuring that everything remained a closely-guarded secret as their clients Deepika and Ranveer wanted it to be.
“If a celebrity wedding is taking place abroad and the guest list is not that big, it is easier to keep it away from the media glare. The security is also tighter abroad. But the paps are everywhere and Bollywood celebs are of interest to people all over the world, so you have to work harder to ensure that there is no information leak or security breach,” says Vandana, adding her company provides complete solution for a wedding including design, execution, hospitality, planning, entertainment and rituals.
So, once the contract is signed with WDC, do both families just sit back and chill?
Vandana says they ensure that the family, bride and groom are involved in the entire process. “We ensure that we engage with the family in the early stages so that we understand them and they understand our processes. It is not just about the bride and groom and their immediate families; we get to know the extended family as well. When we are a few months away from the wedding, they don’t have to be involved in every decision-making because we have already spent enough time knowing each other.We integrate with them and make sure that we make the process a happy memory. The idea is from saying the first ‘hello’ to the last ‘goodbye’ we are there to hold your hand.”
She believes in creating signature weddings that are glamorous, timeless, classic and iconic and does not fight shy of innovating with technology, art and craft, music, flowers, fabric or food.
Successful wedding management all boils down to organisation being prepared, she believes. “The toughest part is actually matching expectations to budgets. The most difficult part is to tell clients that we are working within the budget given by them. Sometimes, their expectations surpass the budget and that’s when we have to get them back on track.”
Her firm on average does two weddings in a month. “There have been times when in a year there have been a lot of destination weddings. In such times we have kept the number of wedding per year to 15 because ensuring quality is top priority,” said Vandana.
Although she has staged a wedding in almost all major locales in the world, some locations like Dubai are her favourites. “My experience of working in Dubai is just fabulous. In our industry, the kind of professionalism, dedication and precision I see there, it’s amazing. There are now so many choices in Dubai.You get technical support, best venues, flowers, artists and production houses. The support from the Government is unbelievable. And the place is a safe haven, so handling a wedding there is always such a pleasurable experience.”
When it comes to destination weddings, Spain, she says, is one of the emerging favourites. “We have done a destination wedding in Ibiza but this year we plan to discover other locales in Spain.” Among Vandana’s other favourites are locales in Italy especially Florence and Lake Como and Salzburg in Austria.
“Doing the Florence wedding was an experience in itself because the 200 guest list soon reached 700. On top of that, the marquee vendor did not speak English and after I struggled to explain for some time, some Italian-speaking friends came to my rescue. We were working at heritage sites, so there were time regulations and restrictions. But it was a wonderful experience that made us aware of the things we are capable of.”
Vandana and her team go to any extent to lend authenticity to a theme or add that personal touch to the wedding. From doing customized in-flight menus, going to the bazaars of Benaras to buy rolls of fabric, to getting special cushions made or embroidery done on table napkins, she says they have done it all.
“For a Benaras-themed wedding, we actually created the ambience of the Ghats where the pundits were chanting mantras and welcoming the guests,” she says.
She has also used pop art and traditional Indian flowers, drawn inspiration from South Indian temples and Alice In Wonderland, recreated themes from Hindi and Hollywood movies...
If given a blank slate and told to create any theme of her choice for a wedding, what would it be?
“I would love to bring back the concept of a traditional Indian wedding where the mandap will be decorated with beautiful Indian flowers, the seating arrangement would have the step-well concept and the venue would be lit by a thousand diyas (oil lamps). I would bring back all those fun games that the bride and groom were made to play after the wedding rituals were complete,” she says.
Now, that’s some food for thought for anyone planning their wedding soon.