Making a statement: Grand entrances at Indian weddings

Making a statement: Grand entrances at Indian weddings

By AKHIL SOOD | | 12 September, 2015
Just one way to make a grand entrance at your wedding.
Mares aren’t likely to go out of style, neither at night nor at weddings. But, steeped in tradition as the act of the groom entering the wedding procession on a mare may be, it’s not the only option anymore. Sometimes, style trumps ritual, and that’s a state of existence we’re okay with. The thought of it may seem a little jarring at first — like all truly innovative ideas — but, in many cases, the gentle grace of the mare is getting replaced by the might, the grandeur, the royalty of the elephant. It’s a tall plunge to the ground in case the groom loses his bearings atop the beast, but we’re sure wedding planners hire only the A-lister mahouts in the genre, so chances of that happening are minimal. 
 
Still, fear is often irrational. And not everyone wants to feed the elephants on the street stereotype. Or disturb any animal’s peace. For those forward-thinkers, there exist special car services that modernise the entrance of the groom, as you can hire just about any car for those few hours between the baraat setting off and reaching its destination via many bottles of whiskey, several close shaves with the oncoming traffic on the street, and the weight loss that accompanies frenzied wedding dancing. What we’re essentially getting to, in a roundabout way, is that entrances matter a hell of a lot, especially at a wedding, which is a once-a-lifetime thing for 98.7% of the people in India (the divorce rate in India apparently stands at 13 of every 1,000 cases). It’s important to always make a statement. And we genuinely believe that the flashier the statement, the truer your love for your spouse (even if it’s an arranged marriage). 
 
Those car services we mentioned rent out a wide range of vehicles. You have your generic luxury cars — an Audi A8, a Mercedes or a BMW 5 Series (for Rs 5,000 for four hours) — as well as, say, something a little cheaper, like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla Altis (the “economy” category). Economics be damned though — if there’s ever a right time to splurge, it’s for a wedding. You could get a Chrysler 300 Limousine for Rs 55,000 for four hours. It’s that swanky stretch limo that we’ve only seen in Hollywood films, usually accompanied by evil villains, their supposed arm-candy and ice-buckets filled with expensive champagne. Luxurylimo.in, which provides these services, also offers vintage cars, even if that’s temporarily on hold. Imagine driving in in a smashing 1948 Buick Series 70 Roadmaster — that’s real class. And if you’re really insecure, you could even get a Mercedes Luxury Bus at Rs 21,000 (although we suspect that’s probably targeted at a larger group of people). 
 
But those are just your regular entrances — ritzy and upmarket, sure, but nothing really extraordinary in terms of novelty. Like how, for example, there was a wedding recently that followed a theme inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, as one employee at a wedding agency who did not wish to be named tells us. There, the main stage was designed in a way that replicated the set design of the great musical. The bride and the groom entered from behind the curtain, from stage left and stage right respectively. On boats. As far as impact goes, that’s right up there. 
 
There was a wedding recently that followed a theme inspired by The Phantom of the Opera, as one event planner who did not wish to be named tells us. There, the main stage was designed in a way that replicated the set design of the great musical. The bride and the groom entered from behind the curtain, from stage left and stage right respectively. On boats. As far as impact goes, that’s right up there.
 
Companies such as the Wedding Design Company or Percept D’Mark, among others, offer plenty of such elaborate services. It’s a two-way thing these days, wherein the client provides the wedding planning company with a brief on the kind of ceremony and design and novelty they’re looking for, with suggestions tossed around to come with cool, unheard of ways to make your entrance. 
 
A recent wedding of an Indian couple held in Italy saw the bride enter behind a full-fledged army painted entirely in gold. There were elephants, there were chariots, the works. That’s the scale at which these mini-events function, taking on a larger-than-life identity of their own. We saw a minor celebrity sing a few songs at a wedding once, and we haven’t stopped gushing about that even though it’s been months. Imagine witnessing a whole army. 
 
In some cases, you have these chains and pulleys and a whole range of mechanisms that bring down a person from high up, for the grandest of all entries. Just as often, you’ll get a celebrity who’ll descend from the heavens and on to the stage, before launching into their most famous song or dance routine. The cost of the mechanisms, we’re told, could range from anywhere between Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh (with the cost of inviting the celebrity to perform additional, naturally).
 
A set designer at another event planning and design organisation tells us how it’s essential to draw attention to the bride (or groom) during these instances. It becomes harder to do that at ground level, since the line of sight can often get blocked because of the crowd. An alternative to that is the “Stairway to Heaven”, where the designers will often look for spaces a little outside the boundaries of the regular set of the wedding, and develop a staircase on which the bride makes her grand appearance. The traditional entry of the bride, cavorted by her brothers holding a chadar covered with flowers, is often accompanied by live music performances. There are ways to spice up the process, from celebrity bands playing an appropriate song to an entire Roman regiment with shields ushering the bride in, something which actually happens these days. Revolving stages with projections and visualisations are almost commonplace, and weddings also often have this thing where the couple reaches the stage and a massive four-layer cake is hoisted down from the ceiling through a trolley. A lot of forethought and planning goes into realising these entertaining and detailed entrances. Other ceremonies, such as the mehendi, will often see the bride and groom enter on an ancient, beat-up scooter that’s been done up with a vivid colour scheme for extra emphasis, or a redesigned cycle rickshaw with the groom driving and the bride seated at the back.  It’s the age of the kitsch, really, and as long as the budgets permit, pretty much any flight of imagination can become reality with the help of wedding planners around. 
 

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