Percept in the News

Khushi Singh shares the trade secrets of organizing millennial weddings worth crores in an exclusive with BlackBook
21 November, 2018

In the background of the mighty Alps, at the lavish Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, in a mandap decorated with pink roses and set in-between two life-size pink flower elephants, Tanya Ganwani and Rajiv Varma vowed to spend their lives together. London and Dubai based bride, the founder and CEO of Burn Activewear, and daughter of real estate giants Monica and Jayant Ganwani, and the groom, the scion of the Veetee Foods, a rice company in the UK, hosted 400 guests over 4 days of Indian rituals in a contemporary setting. There was a blockbuster every day. A black and gold welcome dinner, a performance by London’s party band The Fellas, another one by Europe’s largest live band Paris Select, and another by Sukhbir, Badshah and TEAM DIPS, a carnival themed Mehendi, DJ night by Dubai based DJs Sameer and Czar and much, much more. 

If you find the list exhaustive, imagine the efforts put behind orchestrating weddings and events of this scale. Cue Khushi Singh, Head – Luxury & Weddings, Percept ICE. She has 30 such events under her belt since she joined the 1 year old division in 2014, and Percept ICE has over 100 weddings to its credit. Singh and her team of 25 have catered to a 1,200 people marriage party, for which the groom entered on a camel cart, and swimmers performed an artistic swimming choreography.
A student of luxury from Instituto Marangoni, Milan, Singh has witnessed a  20% - 30% Year-on-Year Growth in their wedding business and that of the market in the country. A study says that an Indian family spends almost one-fifth of its accumulated wealth on a wedding. The figure can help one estimate the budget of weddings across classes. Conservatively, an Indian wedding’s total budget can range from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 5 crore. “This is the figure that is circulating around, but these days we are even talking about a Rs. 50 crore wedding,” says Singh. “In the nest 5 years, the wedding market’s value and size will double, and that will lead to that much more creativity, more jobs and opening up of new wedding destinations,” she adds.
Weddings Today – However, the amount spent per guest varies, “Rs. 5 crore could be spent on 50 guests or 500 guests, making for different experiences,” says Singh, asserting that the marriages today focus on unique guest experiences and personalization. That’s what millennials prefer. “The wedding trend is shifting. It’s not about a big set or a bigger singer. The young want a personal and memorable wedding. They will invite guests they know, and want them to have a good time.” For instance, at the Montreux wedding Tanya’s favourite colour soft pink became the décor theme. And UK basedmobile bar company LiquidChefs created signature drinks based on the couple’s likes and dislikes. “Millennials are fun to work with. They are relaxed and laid back and know exactly what they want,” adds Singh. While Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Manish Malhotra outfits are still in vogue, many brides are also opting for new designers from India and UAE to dress in unique lehengas, the one that portrays a couple’s love story or the one that borrows from a different culture.
Food is King – Guest’s preference takes precedence here. The curated menu includes vegan, gluten free and organic fare, and also local dishes from the destination. Even here, not just the spread but even styling, presentation, and the service are well thought out. “At the Ambani (Akash Ambani and Shloka Mehta) engagement party in their Mumbai residence, the appetizer trays were flown down from tiny hot air balloons. The food and décor merged together,” says Khushi Singh. These small theatrical experiences are what people walk away with. Then, of course, there are signature cocktails, flair bartending and live cooking stations.
For high profile weddings, a stunning location is paramount. Malta, Vietnam, Montreal are becoming quite popular. Even the Middle East is opening up, as it’s very accessible for Indian families – Doha, Kazakhastan and Bahrain are upping their game to cater to Indian weddings. “Bahrain’s tourism board offers a lot of support, making it easier for us to do a big event,” says Singh.

Relationship status – Married – “With the advent of Instagram stories and posts, social media has given a whole new life to weddings. Social Media planning through the wedding and even post it is massive. Gone are the days of couple monograms and logos. People are now branding their events with a hashtag. When I got married in 2016, the hashtag was very important,” says Singh. “At your wedding you can’t be everywhere and see everything. All your memories are then stored in one place.” Singh had sent out a beautiful message to all her guests that said, ‘I can’t wait to see my wedding through your eyes’. 
So where do the challenges lie? “One of the biggest challenges is the lack of good, international performance acts in India, Every time a client wants something different we have to source these acts from abroad, which is not always conducive.” 
Indians v/s Americans – The Americans, however, the people who run the biggest wedding market in the world, are big on entertainment and set-up. Players of the second largest market, we Indians, are more focused on guest experience and hospitality. It’s one of the most critical factors in the planning process. The family gets wholly involved in the process six months before the event, and extends personal invitations to all the guests. “That, I feel, is left out in the US,” says Singh. “We are also big on gifts. In fact, we have dedicated rituals on gifting.”
This warmth and hospitality make for several pluses for people in the wedding industry. “No two weddings are the same. Hence, our job profile never gets boring or monotonous,” says Singh. Moreover, working with families is lovely. “It’s not a corporate structure, but at the same time it’s our responsibility to bring the discipline to the project. We also have the opportunity to work and explore the loveliest destinations across the world. So, travel is an incentive for the entire team,” adds Singh. As a boss, she is all for the open-door policy and takes pride in the fact that she is a very approachable senior.
Happily ever after – But as a leader, and that too in a demanding and emotionally charged segment like weddings, Singh has to work around the clock. “The hours are insane, and there is no repeat business. The process of business development in this industry is different too.” But at the end, when a family can’t stop thanking you or share heartfelt gratitude messages on social media, it’s all worth it.