updated 30 Jun 2009, 08:00
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It's all about standing out
by Sheela Narayanan

AMAHARAJA and Maharani theme... that’s what advertising executive Manisha Dhalani- Thevar wanted when she got married last year. And for the lavish ceremony that combined her Sindhi heritage and her husband’s south Indian background, she transformed the wedding hall of the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road to resemble a hotel ballroom.

She had crystal glass chandliers installed and even hired fire jugglers to keep the guests entertained.
The food, which was vegetarian, included various cuisines from around the world including Indian and Japanese. Come November, in the middle of the customary wedding season in Singapore, teacher Devi Shunmugam will have two very different wedding ceremonies...

a week apart.

The first will be a traditional, and what she describes as a “very typical”, south Indian wedding.

The second is a celebration of her union with her naval officer fiance in a five-star hotel ballroom with three outfit changes – her first will be a white Western-style bridal gown, followed by an evening dress and then a sari. The music that night will be a blend of Indian and Western while the photography will be done “photojournalism” style – where candid shots are the order of the day rather
than posed pictures.

The Indian wedding has morphed from a momentous event organised by parents and relatives, steeped in rituals and customs into a cocktail of traditional and contemporary mixed up by modern Indian couples who want something that reflects both their traditional roots and Western tastes.

Miss Devi, who is a trained classical dancer, says: “I think many brides today have very specific ideas about their wedding day. They try to mix tradition
and modern to make their parents happy and get their dream wedding too,” she said.

Adds Mrs Dahlani-Thevar: “The new generation of brides and grooms have their vision of how they want their weddings to be. You need to stand out from the crowd.”

It’s all about being different, says Mr Le Gill, creative director of the Anaarkali & Kuchh boutique at Selegie Centre: “Today’s couples want it modern but at the same time it has to be lavish for their weddings and receptions.”

Among the outfits he has designed for his clients’ wedding receptions is a black and white evening dress with a train, using a fabric he picked up in India that has hand-sewn sequins.

Mrs Kavita Thulasidas who runs Stylemart, which has made a name in Indian bridal wear in Singapore, says today’s Indian brides are forgoing the traditional woven Kanchipuram silks or pattu saris – used largely in south Indian weddings – and picking embroidered silk saris instead. They are also going for untraditional colours like lilacs, tea rose pinks, blues and peaches rather than the usual reds or maroons.

“Futhermore, south Indian brides are wearing lenghas for one of the ceremonies that lead to or after the wedding and the north Indian brides are looking to wear a sari for the sangeet or the reception. So, yes, there is a change – a little mixing up, a melange of various Indian cultures happening at one occasion,” says Mrs Thulasidas.

Bollywood is also exerting some influence when it comes to make-up and the overall look of the venue. Make-up artist Bubbly Jagpal has dolled up dozens of faces for weddings and she tells tabla! that brides always frame their desires based on their favourite movies.

“I get brides telling me ‘I want the look from Om Shanti Om, or can you make me a Devdas bride’. I recently had someone tell me ‘I want it very Jodhaa Akbar’ – basically what they are telling me is that they either want it retro, classical or royal but their reference points are these films,” she adds.

Mr Saravanan Thirunaukarasu, who runs wedding decor services company Pandora 2morrow, says that these days young Indian couples always have a theme for their nuptials – either from the movies or something involving a colour scheme.

“One couple I worked with wanted a movie theme, so we took bits and pieces out of Hum Tum (starring Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee) and had their pictures done up in movie poster style and placed around the reception room,” he recalls.

The times, they are a’changin’! -tabla!

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