In the Internet Age, social media apps and websites are revolutionising the wedding-planning industry.
The second week of February kicked off with the celebratory sounds of shehnai and dhol for the Bollywood’s Kapoor family, as their blue-eyed boy, Armaan Jain tied a knot with his long-time girlfriend Anissa Malhotra. With his cousin Kareena Kapoor Khan performing in sangeet, to Ranbir Kapoor attending the reception with his lady love Alia Bhatt — the inside peek in the big fat wedding had led to a media frenzy. And like always, a rather glaring peek for the ever-so-curious arrived via Instagram, where the doting husband posted an image from their nuptial ceremony to post a lovely message for his wife.
In what is perhaps a modern-day love letter, Jain wrote: “Finally #anissamaangayi! Welcome Mrs. Jain!! We both are so excited to begin our life together as husband and wife and want to thank everyone for all their love and blessings...”The who’s who of Bollywood also didn’t shy away from celebrating the duo’s love, as they too posted elaborate captions with the playful hashtag #anissamaangayi.
In the current wave of Information Age, Instagram along with other social media platforms have become one with our lives. While an event takes place on-ground, a celebration, as evident by the aforementioned, follows on the social-media universe. The hashtag #anissamaangayi united the attendees of the grand affair to take the party online, whether it was to sharing glimpses from the wedding or to just congratulate the couple.
In fact, social media has become so central in our lives and businesses that an important life-event such as a wedding can now be conceptualised, designed, and put into action just by few taps and clicks on these apps. Proving the postulate true is the 23-year old Sneha Sharma, who married the love of her life Aadit Shah in December last year.
At a time when an otherwise intransigent Indian society is in the process of reconfiguring its conventions to adapt to the rapidly changing times, Sharma, along with her mother and friends, took charge of the wedding with gusto. And lending her helping hand throughout the entire tedious process was her smartphone with various social media apps — her very own wedding planner. “It’s very difficult to plan a wedding without a wedding planner because of the entire burden of managing the wedding falls on your shoulder. If I didn’t have the social media websites to help me, it would have been very difficult,” says the Mumbai resident.
Whether one is planning a wedding independently or with the help of a wedding planner, Rekha Rangaraj from Sumyog Wedding Planners, sums it the best when she announces: “Social media has revolutionised wedding planning, it’s the most amazing gift to the people who are planning the wedding.”
The visual-centric social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, where pictures take precedence over text, the first step of finding inspiration for the décor, venue, attire, and photoshoot among other multifarious aspects take place. “I was constantly on social media looking for references for my wedding. From my attire to the venue’s décor, my entire Instagram feed was filled with clothes, pieces of jewelry, and shoes from various designers, and make-up tutorials,” reveals Sharma who’d then download the images in her phone’s gallery and compartmentalize them in different albums.
With Pinterest, dog-earing pages from magazines and creating scarp books have been pushed into posterity, as it’s board-like design enables its users to create mood boards. Creating personalized mood boards by pinning images right from the floral decorations to the cutlery arrangement, people’s aesthetic and stylistic vision gets an ideal platform.
“Pinterest has changed the way the wedding-planning market works today. Earlier, people would ask us for a theme and we would then have to do research and come up with ideas. But now with the number of boards available on Pinterest, there is not a single bride who comes to us without a Pinterest board,” says Rangaraj who along with co-founder Vidya Singh opened the first wedding planning company offering end-to end wedding solution in Chennai 15 years ago. These mood boards not only help the wedding planners to understand the aesthetic vision of their customers, but also is a starting point for budget allocations. Moreover, messaging apps such as WhatsApp is where the planning happens. “You have so many WhatsApp groups with vendors. The key people of the families also become part of the group with our team who are running the show. Wedding is very personalized, everybody likes to participate, and so discussions on these chats help you arrive at the end of the point where everybody is happy,” reveals Mumbai-based wedding planner Achint Nag of Krayonz Entertainment.
AWARENESS LEAD TO ASPIRATIONS
In December 2017, when the pictures of actress Anushka Sharma’s Tuscan nuptial with Indian cricket team skipper Virat Kohli began to make rounds on the social media, the blush pink, muted colors, and pastel palette became a preferred choice for the bridal attire in 2018. Later in the year, when actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh tied a knot at the scenic Lake Como, Indian couples were rushing to Italy to have their dream weddings. Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas’ two-day palace wedding fiesta at Jodhpur created a buzz for its extravagance, and stellar cinematic videography.
“If it wasn’t for social media, we would have not known what Kohli and Anushka did in Tuscany. With so many high-profile couples getting married in foreign destinations, there is a whole section of people getting married abroad now. This trend has infiltrated the wedding industry,” says Rangaraj.
The onslaught of such wedding exposure on social media has become a treasure trove for couples, who then become aspirational, seeking larger-than-life ideas to create a bigger, brighter and unique experience out of their own special day.
“With an abundance of content on social media, people end up exploring a lot. Couples today want to try different things, and repetition has become quite a passé nowadays. They want a theme for each event, which should be nothing in line with anything else in other events,” elaborates Nag
Moreover, with the availability of widespread images of ceremonies from all across the world, wedding trends have begun to mirror each other with the help of social media. While the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ is registering itself as a theme for weddings abroad, Indian couples and wedding planners are also not shying away from adopting from their global counterparts. “One can do a Moroccan or Turkish themed mehandi ceremony. An evening gig can be more on the lines of Indo-Western or formal events like a Red Carpet theme. Even though weddings are largely traditional, a lot of Western events are also happening like black-tie events. One can make it Can-can, or maybe a Moulin Rouge among other international themes,” illustrates Nag.
Such myriad of options and inspirations surely keep the weddings planners on their toes in the creative industry known for it’s cutting-edge competition. However, in the arena of wedding photography and videography, too much of options and references on social media can turn out to be a rabbit-hole for the photographers.
“Wedding is an event-based work, so your design has to be very strong, and your decorator and your event coordinator has to be very strong to provide you with all kinds of design. Your wedding has to be in a palace for it to look similar to Priyanka’s wedding. If it’s not, then it’s not going to look like it. People do expect that photographers can do wonders but they can only reach up to a certain level. It’s up to you how much production goes into your pre-wedding planning,” says Mumbai-based wedding photographer Sameer Mangtani of The Wedding Pixels, who is known for his wedding portraitures.
For Ahmedabad-based wedding photographer Himani Malhotra, the social media-led inspirations have resulted in bizarre requests. “Once, I got a reference from this man who wanted to lip-sync to Shah Rukh Khan’s dialogue while running in the mountains in his pre-wedding video shoot,” she says. Additionally, she keeps on getting asked to change the color of the lipstick and nail polishes in post edit, and even to add fantastical elements.
Over the decade, wedding photography has also seen a change from formal portraits to staged candids. “It has become a staged reality for people who want to share their special day with people online. Sometimes, they want something wild, but the wedding is of course not that wild, and hence it becomes a task to explain them,” says Malhotra who is known for her stylistic documentation of weddings. “In reality, one should not compare themselves with somebody who is not them. The uniqueness of their shared-experience and the photographer’s style goes away with the concept of copying,” she adds.
A PIT STOP FOR BUSINESS
Apart from collecting the references for the wedding, social media apps, namely Instagram and Facebook, have also become a pit stop for brides and grooms to search for wedding planners, photographers and vendors.
Aanchal Bagaria, who runs Mumbai-based The Wedding Soul along with husband Sachin Bagaria, explains that in this Internet Age, business social media pages function as the service providers’ portfolios. “Supposedly, I already have a lead coming in from somewhere, but for us to give our recent work, our social media pages are our portfolios. In fact, for every vendor – an anchor, choreographer, decorator, or photographer – social media pages are their profile. Now, nobody goes to the vendor’s website or exchange business cards anymore,” she says before adding that social media has a better reach, plus options like uploading videos and going live can help them interact better with their followers and potential customers.
Echoing further, Mangtani too adds, “You cannot survive without Instagram. Apart from social media being your tool for portfolio, you are also connecting with people, you can meet new clients. It’s basically you are serving your life in a platter to the public. They can also know a little about you before hiring you.”
A SHOW FOR THE INTERNET
The advent of social media has led to individuals living a virtual life. Features such as Stories on Instagram, Whatsapp, and Facebook and options of going live on Instagram and Facebook provide a very intimate peek into our day-to-day lives. As boundaries between the virtual and real-life have begun to absolve, millenials are now curating snapshots from their real-life wedding on their social media accounts.
From uploading pictures from pre-wedding photoshoots, creating special pages dedicated to their wedding, announcing the wedding countdown, posting stories and videos from the ceremony, and even going live from the ceremony — the modern-day weddings are also celebrated online.
“I had a hashtag #snehaaditkishaadi for my wedding. Creating hashtags are very trendy and a cliche these days, but a witty hashtag could be very humorous as well. You ideally only get married once, why not make the most of it,” says Sharma.
There are also special packages offered by the wedding planners for a digital celebration. Giving an example of what entails in their service, Bagaria reveals, “We create social media pages with the hashtag as a name. Along with pre-wedding photoshoots, we also do a countdown. We do write messages to the couple from the family and give an introduction of the couple to people following the page. It's further made very personalized to make people aware of what the couple is like.”