Countdown to the wedding...

Well countdown to my wedding has begun… a little less than 6 months to go. I can proudly say about 60% of my wedding preparations are done. Like always, there are still some little things left but I can say more or less done.

I am a Bhopal bride and it was really difficult to find things around as my parents have recently moved to Bhopal while I have been living in UK for last few years. So, none of us really knew our way around. I am starting this blog with the hope to help future Bhopal brides with some planning…and to create memories of my journey to the D-day

The details:

My groom is a Bengali from Kolkata. We are not Bengalis and the wedding will be a mix of both traditions. So while the Wedding will happen in Bhopal (mainly following our customs), there will be a Bengali style Reception (Bou Bhaat) in Kolkata.

Things to plan:
  1. Wedding venue and decorations
  2. Functions – Sangeet, Mehendi, Reception etc.
  3. Outfit for each of the functions
  4. Trousseau including accessories and footwear
  5. Make-up Artist and Mehendi artist
  6. Guest list
  7. Stay arrangements for Baraat as well as relatives & friends
  8. Invitations
  9. Photographer and videographer
  10. Food menu
  11. Transport
  12. Gifts for in-laws
  13. Vidaai gifts for guests
Not necessarily in that order though!
Keep checking this blog as I share my journey here.

Search for the Venue

Though Bhopal is full of venues, our requirements put a lot of constraints on the available venues. We are a large family and I being the youngest girl in both my father’s and my mother’s sides of the family, there is a lot of excitement attached to my wedding, which means stay arrangements for about 200 or more people and guest list of 600 or more people…

After a lot of ifs and buts, selections and rejections, we have finalised Vrindavan Garden as the wedding venue.

Before we finalised the venue, we checked out many others. Here are my views on them (click on the venue names to visit their website):

Vrindavan Garden
The two venues -Vrindavan Garden and Vrindavan Palace - are next to each other. While Vrindavan Garden has an ethnic look  while Vrindavan Palace in white marble (?) looks more modern. I like ethnic and so, Vrindavan Garden was the chosen one for me. It has a nice stage and a large lawn for seating arrangements. It also has a small indoor stage for ring ceremony or sangeet. The rooms are large and there is a dormitory as well… good enough to accommodate all the guests.

Update (27th March, 2014): I am really happy about having chosen this venue. Everything was so well arranged, the food was very tasty, mandap was beautiful and the management readily helped with everything we needed, be it milk for the children or mid-night tea for the elders. The jaimaala, reception and food was arranged in the lawn outside while the mandap was put up in the hall inside- a perfect arrangement as we did not want to freeze while the wedding ceremonies were going on. We had requested for a projector for the Sangeet, it was readily arranged and we did not experience any technical glitches in any electronic equipment. Thumbs up to this place.... though they do not claim to be wedding planners, they will happily provide you with a DJ, Shehnai person, Band, contacts for transport providers (cars/ charter buses for picking up and dropping guests)... anything and everything, you just need to ask! The arrangements at the wedding were praised by everyone who attended - the credit ofcourse goes to my family, my cousins who ran from one end of the city to the other just to pick up relatives and friends who provided support in case of last minute requirements; but I can not ignore the contribution of the management at Vrindavan Garden for their wonderful arrangement and service!

Hotel Amer Palace
Their largest banquet hall- Jhoomar- has a capacity for 400 people (though I would differ!). Did not find the banquet hall good enough as a wedding venue, though I thought it could be used for smaller functions like tilak, sangeet, etc. The rooms were well maintained but seemed closed and claustrophobic- a deluxe room we saw had no windows!

The Residency
The manager’s behaviour was irritating.  He behaved as if he had to run the show for the wedding and started telling my parents what to do and not to do! The banquet halls in the basement were a complete put off. These were across from each other with the swimming pool in between, the sizes were small and the ceiling is too low making them look like boxes. They have a roof-top restaurant which the manager said could be closed and converted into a wedding venue. That was a good option but again, for the number of guests I will have for the wedding, it seemed small. The rooms were very standard but very expensive. The only good thing was the roof-top that can be converted into a venue…it has an ethnic setting to it and would be good for holding function for up to 100-150 guests I think.

Rajhans Regency
This hotel is a little difficult to find at first, due to the various constructions going on around the hotel, I believe. The banquet hall is standard. However, they have another banquet hall on the terrace with the terrace attached to it. The room and the terrace combined would make a good venue for up to 200 guests, in my opinion. The rooms are quite nice…spacious and with large windows to allow ample sunlight into the rooms.

Kwality Motel Shiraz
There are two lawns opposite each other. A good location and if both lawns are used- one for reception and the other for food- this is an ideal location. Their package also includes a cottage for the bride when you book the lawns. The cottage however, is dated and the furniture is old. The rooms (both deluxe and standard) are even worse. The rooms smelled musty, the bathroom stank and there were some broken windows (with make-shift wooden planks to cover the broken part). When we went to visit, the new manager had just taken over. There was an business event going on at the time and the manager came to see us only after a wait of about half an hour. My father had attended another wedding at this venue a few days back and began his conversation with the manager by praising the venue. The Manager did not even hear my father out completely and said that he was not interested in knowing what happened there before he took over! If you do not need stay arrangements, the lawns make a good venue. Good luck with the manager though!

Hindi Bhavan
A very good wedding venue. Lots of space; both outdoors and indoors. However, you will need to arrange for your own decorator as well as caterer. They do have some rooms as well as halls. The stairway to the halls was very dirty. The rooms are ok but dated and obviously very basic. If you only need a venue and are confident of getting good decorators, this is a good venue for a large guest list.

Hotel Imperial Sabre
Did not see the rooms here. The venue is very attractive. There was a wedding there when we went to visit and the place was beautifully decorated. The stage is high up with water flowing down from the middle and stairs on each side to go up to the stage. A beautiful setting with the view of the lake. However, with many elderly people in the guest list, the climbing up and down the stairs for the pictures would be very difficult and hence we rejected the venue despite it being very beautiful.

Hotel Ashoka Lake View
The banquet hall here was like most others and small for our requirements. Some of the rooms have lake view and they were awesome. When we walked into one, it felt like the lake started right at the window. However, the corridors smelled musty and were dirty.

We did not check out Noor-us-Sabah and Jehan Numa Palace, though they are the popular venues. If you want a lake-side wedding, these would be the best places. People planning your weddings in the winter, please remember that the lake-side will be quite cold. 

Update (June 24, 2015):
Surendra Vilas Palace
We used the their banquet hall for my brother's wedding reception in May and the rooms for a few guests. The rooms are nice and spacious. Since we had about 300 guests, they combined their 3 banquet halls (two were used for food). The halls are at the basement but there is an elevator for elderly and for people with disability. The decorations and flower arrangements were good and so was the food. 

Another location that we considered was Courtyard Marriott. Would have been good for a larger guest list. 

Tips on a comprehensive 'Guest List'

Everyone with experience of having planned a wedding will vouch for the fact that a creating a comprehensive guest list was a difficult task. You do not want to be embarrassed when someone mentions that they did not get an invitation card.

The best way to make a comprehensive guest list is to create one on cloud.  You can access it anywhere, at any time. My mother had made a list of guests the traditional way- pen and paper while my brother and I created another one in our favourite 'MS excel'. We then added all of these lists and saved it on dropbox. There are many other options google drive, box etc. etc. I created one list for family and another for friends and shared the friends list with my fiancé to be able to ‘cross-invite’ each other’s friends.

It has been 3-4 months since I created the first draft of guest list and I still keep adding to it. Its easy as I don’t have to keep reminding myself to add the names when I get home, neither do I have to carry a wedding diary with me all the time. I just open the dropbox app and update my list! 

Goodbye to UK – this is one is dedicated to my wonderful friends – Rahul, Moitree, Sinchan, Sneha, Sukrut!!

Yes, I finally said a ‘goodbye to UK’ on 14th September 2013… with just about 2 months left for the wedding, it gives me enough time to relax, spend time with family, and prepare for the wedding! A goodbye to UK also meant a goodbye to my friends (of course we remain friends but we will not see each other very often now). No weekend plans, no gossips, no late night talks, no dumb charades and no 29 (the newest addition to our ‘things to do’ list)! – well, all this will continue but without me… :(

The last weekend together

Moitree and I, the 2 with craziest ideas!
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” – might be cheesy but perfect for me now!

Saying goodbye to these friends was the most difficult part (or probably the only difficult part) of leaving the country… The fact that I will not see them makes me feel strange even after 5 days of the final waves at Heathrow airport where we kept waving at each other till I reached the security gates after which I could not see them.

I have lived away from home for years and the years of practice has made me perfect at not shedding tears while saying goodbyes and it worked this time around as well. It was only when I sat on my seat in the aircraft it struck me… I had just said goodbye to the best of my friends…. Friends who I know are my lifelong friends… and tears rolled down. I am just not going to be the same without them.

Just before the final goodbye
Happy that I am leaving? Or just keeping his promise of the last dance before I leave?

“It is one of the blessings of friends that you can afford to be stupid with them” – I have been stupid, I have been happy, I have been angry, I have been judgemental, I have been stubborn, I have been all these and more with them and I cherish each and every moment spent with them.

I will see all of them at my wedding (except Moitree, who I will see at her wedding next year!) but I will (probably) forever miss the times spent with them… teasing Sukrut, fighting with Baba (Sinchan), gossiping (PNPC ;)) with Rahul, late-night chats and crazy idea sharing with Moitree, hair care and skin care discussions with Sneha....Guys…. I will really really really miss you!! See you all soon… 

Trousseau shopping

Alright… probably the most interesting part of the wedding preparations… trousseau shopping! List- wedding outfits, sarees, salwar-kameez, footwear, makeup...


Well, to be fair, I did not want truckloads of sarees… not that I do not like wearing sarees, I love them (when all I need to do is wear them and sit like a doll). I am not used to running around and doing chores in sarees(dancing in a ‘Baraat’ excluded). Well, like most Indian girls, I was excited at the prospect of buying new sarees for myself! Not knowing much about Bhopal, we opted to go to Vadodara for saree shopping. Why Vadodara of all places in India??? The reason is that my brother is a fashion designer (he designs under his brand... Abstract) and lives in Vadodara…nothing better than having a fashion designer by your side when you do your bridal shopping!

I picked up 5 sarees from Vadodara from Sia Sarees. I chose safe colour options that I can wear even later- Fuschia, Red, Beige, Persian Green and a cream & pink combination and materials were pure chiffon, bhagalpuri silk and pure crepe. I later bought a maroon kanjivaram from Radhika Sarees in Bhopal and also picked up a yellow with olive thread work and a blue with gold thread work cotton-silk banarasi from the Silk Fab in Bhopal. I also bought a few sarees from Jashn in Mumbai. So, these along with my existing collection was enough for my saree quota! I did not like the collection at Kala Niketan or any other saree stores in Bhopal. I have earlier purchased sarees from Kala Niketan in Mumbai. I do not know if the Bhopal store is a franchisee of the same store, but I found the collection in Bhopal quite old fashioned yet expensive. Mrignayani in New Market has an excellent collection; I especially loved their Kota Check and Chanderi sarees. However, I had already purchased my quota of sarees by the time I visited this store. Mrignayani has a website too but the collection on the website is not even 1% of what you can find in store!

Salwar Kameez

You can find the latest fashion in Salwar Kameez in New Market. So, this was an easy bet. If not new market, DB city has many stores that you can go to. I picked up a few sets from Fida as well as Shoppers Stop & Pantaloon. For bargain deals, some of the stores in Bairagarhmarket (wholesale stores of the retailers in Bhopal) stock the latest fashion at a much cheaper price.

Wedding Outfits

We had a bit of difficulty finding the lehenga for me. After losing hope in many stores in Vadodara and Bhopal, I visited some stores in Bairagarh taking someone’s suggestion. And surprise surprise….I got both my lehengas from this market and at really low prices. I picked up a wine colour velvet lehenga with stone work in kalis from Maya Sarees. I know net has been in fashion for a while in bridal lehengasbut I did not want net for my wedding. The sales boy almost gave up on me when I kept rejecting everything he brought out to show me. However, considering the wedding was in winters, velvet proved to be the perfect choice and it definitely looked very good.
For the reception I chose a red shimmer crepe lehenga with embroidery and glass work all over that I bought from Dulhan Sarees again in Bairagarh. This was a perfect fit for the reception as all of the groom’s side was there to see the bride for the first time, a traditional colour there suited the occasion perfectly.

I wore a yellow and orange front open anarkali with cigarette pants for the Sangeet. This was specially designed for the occasion by my designer brother… yes, that’s how he came to be known among my friends when they saw his creations. He also designed a matching kurta for my younger brother for the same occasion. I feel proud to say that this design has also been published in the Femina magazine!! ;)


I bought most of my footwear from the bridal collection of BHS in UK. However, Inc 5 at DB Mall has good collection for regular footwear while Metro has a good party wear collection.


L’Oreal Paris is a trusted makeup brand for me. I stuck to it for the bridal makeup kit. I picked up the Lumi range for foundation and the true match range for the concealer and face powder. In my opinion, the true match range actually creates magic! I also picked up 2 blush shades and the metallic eye shadow palette. For eyeliners, I picked up 2 from the super liner range – there are 3 options depending on how thick you want your liner to be. Mascara is the most important part of the eye makeup – I picked 2, false lash flutter (gives density to lashes) and volume million lashes (for length). I got a few lip shades from L’Oreal as well however; MAC is the go-to brand for lipsticks. MAC shades that I would recommend not to miss are – impassioned (suits all skin tones), Ruby Woo (a red is a must to have in your makeup palette) and Vegas Volt (for fair skin). I got these three shades and they are perfect with all attires… Indian or western.


MakeUp Artist

I had a difficult time trying to find a MakeUp Artist (MUA) for the wedding. The most famous beauty parlours in Bhopal are probably Rose and Nicky Bawa. Both offer bridal makeup services and I have heard accolades about Rose from a few. I enquired about bridal services at these but did not have a detailed interaction with any of them as I was not convinced that my skin was the priority for them.

I have very sensitive skin and I need to be extremely careful about the way I treat my skin. For my wedding day, I did not want layers of makeup on my skin, I wanted my skin to glow. During my desperate search on the internet to find something, I read something about Mrs. Sheela N. Kishore and came across her website. The website did not have many details so when I visited Bhopal, I called her. Within 5 minutes of meeting Mrs. Sheela (Aunty, as I fondly call her), I knew that she would be my MUA. She is an aesthetician to the core – absolutely passionate about what she does. She refused to come over to the venue to do the makeup- something I have seen even the best of MUAs do. However, she had a point- Aunty explained to me how the lights are different on the stage and in the room that I will have at the venue, she could create the stage environment in her studio while doing the makeup, something that is not possible in a small room at the venue. Satisfied with all her answers to my questions, I agreed to travel from one end of Bhopal to the other just for the makeup!

I took my pre-bridal services from Sheela’s Salon De Beautѐ as well. Her staff is well trained and friendly. I opted for bridal makeup by Sheela aunty herself. She dedicates herself completely to the bride, which means she takes only one bride at a time and the best is, she does not try using all the products and all the jewellery on you… only what suits your skin, your face and your personality.

Mrs. Kishore is on Facebook and has a page dedicated to her salon. Please do not hesitate to drop me a message if you need her contact numbers. 

Vidaaai gifts

Vidaai gift is the gift you give to your guests when they are leaving after attending the wedding. A teeka is applied on their forehead and the gift is given before bidding them a goodbye. The married ladies also get a godi, which is a pouch filled which rice, some money, a turmeric stick, a dry sweet (bataasha) and supari. When it comes to gifts, of course, a lot depends on your budget and who you are giving these gifts to. There are many gift shops in Bairagarh market where you can find items at wholesale rates. They will also gift wrap them for you. If you insist, they will deliver it at your doorstep too (provided you actually order in bulk!)

Like most marriages, we had 2 categories for gifts: Baraatisand Gharaatis. For the Gharaatis (guests from my side), we bought multipurpose boxes (the kinds with 4 compartments in which you can keep dry fruits or mouth fresheners) from RK Distributors in Bairagarh market. We chose not to get the boxes gift wrapped by them for fear that some boxes might have defects and we would not want our guests to receive defective items. This turned out to be a good decision despite the fact that we had to gift wrap 100 such boxes ourselves. About 10 boxes were defective and RK Distributors readily took them back and refunded the money. While buying the boxes, we had even negotiated that we would return any remaining boxes to them (since we were ordering in bulk). They agreed and even though they made the delivery about a week late, all other dealings with them was smooth.

For the Baraatis (guests from the groom’s side), we selected deity idol (murti). We chose murts packed in transparent hard plastic boxes (giving it a look of glass). It is considered auspicious in our family to gift a murti to someone and we could think of nothing better than that to gift to the Baraatis. We bought these from Chhabra Collection in New Market. For the kids, we bought various DIY kits, which I picked up before I left UK (these are also available at Hobby Ideas stores in India).

Memories...aka photographs

Wedding … one of the most important days of everyone’s life. There are beautiful expressions and emotions that you want to capture for the rest of your life. Finding a photographer who can take such shots is usually quite difficult. I am glad to have found such photographers.

Like most girls, I like getting pictures clicked but in a situation like a wedding, I felt I would get camera conscious and hence chose to have a candid photographer. I also wanted to have couple shots pre-wedding but the rules on my then would-be husbands side of the family did not allow us to see each other on the day of the wedding… not before the baaraat arrived. So, we had to drop the pre-wedding couple shoot. I saw some works by Amrit Vatsa from ShaadiGraPher and instantly liked his work. My brother handled all the communication with Amrit and Amrit flew in from Mumbai on the day of the wedding to capture the Tilakceremony followed by the Wedding. I have to admit here that some of the best photographs of my parents as well as mine are by Amrit. We also had a posed photographer and videographer. We had Anurag Photographers from M.P.Nagar for this purpose. They did a fabulous job as well. The albums they have made are very good plus they create a couple photographs album as a part of the package. 

We also checked with Patidar Photo Studio in M.P.Nagar before we hired Anurag but found them a bit unprofessional. One other photographer worth checking with are Safal Photolabs in No. 10 market. 

Good luck to all Bhopal brides

Hello readers, thanks for reading my posts.This is my last post on the topic and time to say goodbye here. I hope I have provided enough information for you to plan a wedding in Bhopal. However, if there is anything I have missed here or any further questions you have please send me an email or comment here. I will be happy to help.

All the best for your wedding. May the planning be easier for you than it was for me and may you find the same bliss in your married life that I did. Cheers!