Introducing Plan & Wed!

Plan & Wed has now launched their online Asian wedding planning website to Brides and Grooms across the UK.   On Plan & Wed you will have free access to the tools to help you plan your wedding events.    We understand how daunting it can be to plan multiple events for hundreds of people!! This is where Plan & Wed wants to support you – by using Plan & Wed tools you can plan and manage your wedding preparations on multiple devices whilst on the go!

Plan & Wed also has an Asian vendor directory so that you can easily search for Asian wedding suppliers by category and location all in one place to make your dream wedding come true!

Keep viewing our Blog for more wedding tips and tricks.  We hope you enjoy using the site – and happy planning!!!

 

The Wedding Cake

Without a doubt the wedding cake is one of the stars at the reception.  SO the question is, do you choose cake or fake?  Some of you may be scratching your head right now wondering what I am on about.  There are three major issues when it comes to cakes at the reception:

Cost – To be fair this is a major issue for everything involved in a wedding

Cake Pieces – Someone needs to cut the large wedding cake into 200+ pieces and then dish them out.

Timing – By the time the cake is being served at the reception, most guests are more interested in dancing, partying and drinking than having cake.  In most receptions 50% of desserts normally go to waste and then if you have cakes on top of this, there is only going to be more wastage!Indian Wedding Cake Wedding Planning

SO here are two potential solutions:

  1. Get a fake cake – Many wedding cake companies will give you an option of having some tiers of real cake i.e. the bit that you cut into at your reception and the rest made of foam that is decorated to look like a cake – and normally it’s impossible to tell the difference!! This is a great option for those on a budget who want to lower the cost of their wedding cake but still want that 5-10 tiers for a dramatics and elegant look!
  1. Tiered Cupcakes – Consider having cupcakes on a tiered tray! This is what I had for my wedding.  No cutting was required, there was no mess or wastage, and people could easily take it home, it looked awesome (something different to the norm!) and it was cheaper than a conventional cake!
  1. Cupcakes to go – My sister had cupcake favours instead of a wedding cake. Dessert was included with dinner so a wedding cake would have been too much for the guests.  Guests were able to take the cake home to enjoy with their afternoon tea the next day! – lots of great feedback on this one!

The other thing to remember is that everyone has specific dietary requirements and a big one in the Indian community is ‘no eggs’!!  Consider eggless cakes at your wedding to cater for these people, who are often forgotten.  Maybe you can even do some eggless cupcakes and some not but in all honesty when I went to our cake tasting I thought the eggless ones tasted better!!  So make sure you do a tasting too…and gym after of course!

Discussing Wedding Finances

Money talks…

There is no doubting that Asian weddings are expensive.  That is why it is very important to plan and budget wisely.  This will be the beginning of your life with your partner and for many parent the last major financial outlay.  Even though these days will be special for you and your family, It would be silly to wipe out your bank account in the process.  Ultimately you will still need to live your life after your wedding!As Asians we love to compare. ‘That couple spent 100k on their wedding – how can we match that?’ The thing is – it’s all relative.  That couple may have been able to afford that wedding within their budget and so you should set your budget accordingly to what you and your family can afford.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a wedding; if it’s not fun and welcoming it won’t be memorable.  So whatever your budget is these are things that should stick at the back of your mind.

In reality budgets are a really sensitive topic of discussion.  For a lot of couples, and I must stress not all, the parents will be heavily involved in financing their wedding.  The question is how do you divide up who’s paying for what? Traditionally in India, back in the day, the girl’s family would pay for the wedding.  Nowadays, let’s be honest, it’s probably very different.  The trend is becoming a 50/50 split for the wedding and associated events e.g. Reception, engagement parties and so on.

So, again, ‘how are we going to decide who’s paying for what?’ I hear you asking. Well there are lots of different strategies when trying to approach this. I think the ultimate aim should be for everyone to stay on good terms.  You know your own parents very well and probably your partner for a long while before you got engaged but both sets of parents may not know each other terribly well.  So it makes sense that the common mediator is you (the couple)! So I would have a conversation about what you can afford with your own sets of parents individually first and what they are happy to cover.  Then discuss these findings with your other half and come to an informal arrangement.  Finally get parents to meet to formalise the budget and who’s paying for what!

Here are some other tips:

1 – Some families can afford more than others – it is a sin to expect your other halves family to fork out a specific amount.  People can only afford what they can afford and the last things you want to do is to put them in an awkward position or make them feel offended or bad to the point where they have to go into debt. Be empathetic to everyone’s situation – as I said before you can’t buy a great wedding!

2 – Use the Plan & Wed budget planning tool.  There are so many costs involved with a wedding, many of which you will overlook. Use the tool to capture as many costs as possible to form an overall budget.

3 – They say “when you marry someone, you marry their family”. Let’s make sure we all do this and all still be friends!

Selecting a Maharaj (Priest)

When you start planning your Indian wedding the first thing you will want to do is book a venue, select your wedding dress and decide which caterers to use.  Many brides and grooms will forget that there is one key person that will have huge impact on the enjoyment factor for your guests at the wedding ceremony.  The Maharaj (Priest) – this is the one person that should be at the top of your list to book.Although Indian wedding ceremonies are shorter these days, the ceremony still extends past most people’s attention span 🙂 and therefore having an inviting and well-spoken Maharaj will ensure your guests enjoy every moment of that special ceremony.   In areas such as London where there is a huge Asian community and during wedding seasons (May-Sept) you will be surprised how quickly the priests will get booked up…. especially the entertaining ones!!   Before you finalise the wedding date and confirm availability of your dream wedding venue, don’t forget to check if the priest you like is also available.

So how do you select a good Maharaj??

Although I can give a few pointers on what to look out for, the Maharaj for your wedding really depends on the wedding style, family and location.

1 – Look for priests that are easy to communicate with and will respond efficiently to any questions you may have either by phone or email.

2 – If you are able to, meet with your Priest in advance to discuss your wedding day plans and to also understand what will happen during your wedding ceremony. Being prepared before entering the Mandap will definitely make the wedding ceremony more enjoyable.

3 – If you would like to have a wedding where guests quietly watch the ceremony, make sure you select a Maharaj who is able to talk through the ceremony confidently and respectfully.  If you have guests who do not understand Gujarati or Hindi, then you will want to have a Maharaj that is able to speak English clearly.    Always let the Maharaj know of this beforehand so that he can also prepare.

Wedding styles will differ from family to family.  A good Maharaj will listen to your family’s requirements and will advise clearly on how best to carry out the ceremony with your requirements in mind!

Mehndi for Your Guests 

The Mehndi night is a great way to start the wedding weekend. It’s an event where everyone relaxes, socializes and has lots of fun. I have been to many of these parties and because I love having mehndi on my hands, I’m usually scouting for the nearest artist as soon as I arrive. However, a lack of planning can sometimes cause this to go down two paths:

  1. Relatively few Mehndi artists are hired for a large crowd of women and so I end up debating on whether to stand in a queue to get the Mehndi or to chat with friends and family. I have to say that waiting in queue at party is really not fun!!
  1. Sometimes it is difficult to locate the Mehndi artist and once I do, there is no one else there which makes me think maybe the artist isn’t that good! I would prefer not to take the risk of getting bad Mehndi since it will be on me for the next 2-3 weeks!

 

So what can you do to improve this process for your guests?

1 – After finding the Mehndi artists you like, ask them how long it will take to do one strip or full hand. Some artists do 3/4 of the hand which is extremely cost effective and can be done on close family members.

2 – Make a list of all women attending your Mehndi night and next to each name write down how much Mehndi you would like them to get. For my wedding only me and my mum had full hands of Mehndi. Close family members had 3/4 hands and everyone else had strips on the front of both hands.

3 – Once you have the above, calculate the time it will take to get everyone’s mehndi i.e. if two strips per person take 10 minutes then multiple 10 by the number of guests having the strips of mehndi on them. This will then help you understand how many artists you will need.

4 – Most Mehndi artists charge by the hour. One artist told me that a lot of time is wasted because there are large gaps between one guest having their Mehndi finished and starting on the next guest. Essentially the bride’s family are paying the artist for doing nothing during this time. Here is how you can tackle this issue to get the most of out of your Mehndi artist. Assign a person at your mehndi party to coordinate when each person gets their mehndi. Give that person your list of names and what each person will be getting done (you can even list the names in order of when you would like them to have mehndi). The coordinator will then let guests know when they are up next so they can sit back, relax and enjoy the party!

I used the 4 points above to plan my guest’s mehndi and it worked extremely well. I had three artists and managed to have all 80 women done in 3 hours. Not only did this approach save me money, but all the guests were enjoying the party and cocktails instead of waiting to have Mehndi put on. Most importantly all the women left the party with gorgeous mehndi for the upcoming wedding 🙂

To Ask or Not to Ask

You maybe thinking this blog is about asking your other half to marry you…but it’s not! This is all about asking the girl’s parents for their daughters hand in marriage and whether to do this at all.  Traditionally a lot of weddings were arranged and so the concept of asking for a daughters hand in marriage was non-existent.

This western formality is becoming more common amongst Asians as now more are finding their own partners.  But the question is – is asking a must?  Well that’s a personal question and everyone has their own opinion.  Personally, I asked both my father-in-law and mother-in-law purely because they had spent a big chunk of their lives raising and sculpting the girl that I fell in love with and I was, in a way, taking her away from them.  Luckily I did ask them because the first thing my wife said when I got down on to one knee and popped the question was “did you ask my parents??” I could fortunately confirm and so she said yes otherwise that trip back from France may have been a bit awkward!

So tips for for asking parents for hand in marriage:

1 – Get to know the future in laws first.  I had known my wife’s parents very well for a couple of years leading up to our engagement.  Although I was certain that they were going to say yes I was still ready to pee my pants when I asked.

2 – Set a date for when to meet them – perhaps a day when your wife to be and siblings are not around.  The in-laws are likely to know what this will be in regards to!

3 – Make sure you rehearse in your head what to say.  Sometimes it’s nicer if you start by describing why you love their daughter so much and how you would look after her and then asking permission rather than permission straight out!  You will be a ball of nerves before you ask and so by rehearsing it might help the words come out better than if you try and freestyle

4 – Take some tissues.  Lets put it this way….someone will be crying – either your future in-laws with tears of happiness or you because they said no! Let’s hope, and to be fair I’m sure it will be the former!