Plan the big fat Indian wedding

A career in the Indian wedding industry can be rewarding. Become a wedding planner, suggests Sharmistha Ghosal 

  • Published 11.01.16
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Remember Bittoo Sharma and Shruti Kakkar from the superhit film Band Baaja Baaraat? The two youngsters made a fortune out of being wedding planners in the 2010 movie. It also inspired 26-year-old Reema Khandare to follow in the footsteps of Shruti Kakkar, the character played by Anushka Sharma. “I used to manage many inter college events and after I saw the movie I thought planning weddings might be the best career for me. But I didn’t have a clue how to go about it,” says Khandare, who has a postgraduate degree in commerce from Lala Lajpat College in Mumbai.

If you too are dreaming of becoming a wedding planner but are not confident that you will be able to manage big fat weddings, fret not. A certificate course in wedding planning will teach you all the necessary skills.

Khandare enrolled for the course at The Wedding Academy, a venture of EMDI Institute of Media & Communication. And she has been freelancing for the past three years. “It’s a booming market and I look after the hospitality and production parts of a wedding,” she says. Khandare initially contacted big wedding planners and now gets steady work, earning more than what she could have earned as an accountant.

The “hospitality” part of wedding planning involves travel logistics and hotel bookings for guests while “productions” include supervision of decorations and designing the venue for wedding functions such as mehndi, sangeet and so on. “It’s all about great details and care since a lot of emotion is involved in weddings and things should be just perfect,” says Khandare. She feels the best perk of being a planner is to get to travel across the country as well as abroad, since destination weddings are all the rage now. “I am learning the nuances of all other responsibilities during a wedding so that I can start my own wedding planning firm soon,” she smiles.

The stress of planning an elaborate wedding takes away the fun from it and is also a lot of hard work, keeping all members of the (usually nuclear) family on their toes. So wedding planners are increasingly becoming essential to coordinate a wedding, leaving the families free to enjoy the experience. “Wedding planning companies are now professionally run with people working on design, hospitality and the menu. It has become a lucrative career option. As the industry grows, the opportunities will continue to grow,” says Sonali Agnihotri, COO of The Wedding Academy, Mumbai, which was set up in 2013.

Indeed, if numbers are anything to go by, the wedding industry in India is entirely recession proof. There are over 10 million weddings in the country every year. According to reports, the Indian wedding industry is worth Rs 1,42,596 crore and is growing by 25-30 per cent a year. The money spent by on any particular wedding can range between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 5 crore. The bridal mehendi market alone is worth Rs 5,000 crore. 

“To make the students industry ready, we offer a comprehensive, intensive and well-planned curriculum with training on live events, workshops and site visits. It’s an experience-transfer approach to learning, with all modules taught by industry experts,” adds Agnihotri. 

Once the course is over, students are placed in wedding planning companies. A beginner can earn anywhere between Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 a month. After a few years of experience, one can go solo and then the sky is the limit.

If you don’t live in a metro, pick up your wedding planning skills online. Royale Institution, London, provides short, online courses on wedding planning. They also have a home-based wedding planner business start up guide called How to Start Making Money from Wedding Planning. This course gives you all the inside tips you need to run a profitable wedding planning business.

But experts in the industry warn that just completing a course at an institute won’t make you industry ready. “The most important path to becoming a wedding planner is to intern in the industry for a year or more to get the real feel,” feels Raj Jaiswal, director, Wedding Sutra in Calcutta. 

“Wedding planning is a rigorous job and you are always working, even on weekends and public holidays. Tons of patience, an ability to remain calm in all situations, creativity, superb organisational skills — almost to the level of obsessive compulsive disorder — and creative skills are of utmost importance,” says Shreya Dutta of Krafted-Weddings and Celebrations, Bangalore. She adds that you need to be able to look at this as a passion and not just a business — only then will you do your best work.

A wannabe planner needs to understand that a wedding is different from a corporate presentation — every moment is filled with emotions. “You have to deal emotionally and take care of the wedding as if it’s your own brother or sister’s big day. Every bit of detail starting from the décor to food, to the guests and logistics, has to be dealt with with great care,” explains Jaiswal.

To succeed as a wedding planner, you need to build a great network — known as a “hub” — and it happens through word of mouth. Your work is your showcase, so there has to be that “wow” factor in your portfolio.

“We take interns and pay them for on-job training between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 a month. They get to learn everything from scratch,” Jaiswal adds.

“It takes years to gain certain job skills and there are no shortcuts. If you want a cushy job, wedding planning is not for you,” says Dutta. Krafted-Weddings takes interns for anything between three and six months, sometimes more, depending on the value the intern brings to the table. A lot of times, internships change to full time positions if they do well.

So hey, gather your set of vendors, florists, decorators, lighting people and entertainment managers and hit the wedding planning market!

Where you learn

  •  The Wedding Academy, Mumbai
  •  College of Events and Media, Pune
  •  The Royale Institution, London
  •  Groomx Finishing Academy, Bangalore
  •  Impact Education Institute of Event Management, New Delhi

What you earn

Interns: Rs 8,000- Rs 10,000
Entry level: Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000
Mid/Senior level: Rs 1 lakh or above
* A month