Marriages are made in heaven and what better place to celebrate this relationship, but the Island of Gods – Bali. Bali is now THE wedding destination, especially for NRIs, to make a splash. An opportunity to live the Maharaja fantasy – if only for one royal week or just a day.
Replete with ‘mandaps’ right out of movie sets, Bollywood style entertainment featuring stars dependent on the pocket and exotic food and flowers. The traditional Indian wedding rituals have been jazzed up into scintillating variations dictated by event managers into exciting makeovers. Family members and guests dance to the tunes of professional dance teachers and songwriters at choreographed events.
A wedding we attended last year in Bali was a 7 day affair which kicked off with a golf tournament which offered a Mercedes Benz as a prize for a ‘hole in one’. Each day featured one main function with color coordinated decoration, flowers from across the globe and exotic giveaways for the guests. Family members and close friends of the host presented choreographed dances and livened up the atmosphere to a festive pitch. The food was a royal feast prepared by a troupe of 30 chefs flown in with containers of cooking ingredients. It was an endless gourmet parade from Indian breakfasts, lunch and dinner with unique menu each time and an array of sweets that I had never seen or tasted before. It was so much fun with all our friends in a fabulous resort, while being treated like royalty.
The entertainment was pure ‘Bollywood’ with an array of stars, dance troupes and popular singers driving the excitement to a fever pitch. Definitely not the place for the time tested ‘Kanjeevarums’ and brocade silk saris, but a showcase for designer fashion and a ‘who’s who’ on the guest list. Professional video-graphers and photographers record every detail and keepsakes are available to the guests as photographs, CDs and even print albums. All this and yet there is more to come in the form of choice gifts for the guests.
Weddings in Bali as the marriage couple, host or guest is a wonderful experience. Time slows down to a crawl the moment one steps off the airplane. The warm sea breeze, blue skies, breathtaking scenery and smiling faces make it the perfect getaway. The quality of hospitality on the island is amazing with each hotel trying to outdo the other in services. Wedding package deals can be customized to the requirements with functions at different venues at the same or different hotels or locales on Bali. Event organizers based in Bali provide support and logistics to the Indian event organizers that bring an army of chefs, ‘mehendi’ wallas, makeup artists, stylists, singers and priests along with the container loads of stuff used during the festivities. No detail is too small to be paid attention to; after all, God is in the details.
In India’s multi-religious, multicultural society, there’s no set agenda for a wedding. Some last a single day; others for many days with rounds of rituals, parties and entertainment. Each community has its own set of rites. But the weddings often share such traits as a big musical celebration that includes members of both families singing and dancing, along with professional entertainers.
For many, a wedding is a status symbol, and families often save for decades to host a big fat one. Indian weddings appear recession-proof, as wealthy families strive to host an unforgettable event. There is however a solid economic reasoning for destination weddings. High end hotels in Bali are 50% – 60% cheaper than in India and the guest list can be controlled. While in India due to social factors a 1000 people guest list is normal, a destination wedding can limit it to 200 close friends and relatives.
A destination wedding is also an opportunity for the entire extended family to bond and spend quality time together with no normal day distractions. It is networking at a whole new level and can strengthen family bonds and create and even business deals can be explored. For overseas Indians, close friends are often more important than the family in India.
The ‘once in a lifetime’ event which symbolizes the union of not merely the bride and groom, but the two families has now morphed into a no expense spared, grand and majestic event. I enjoy every invite and participate with gusto in the celebrations. Won’t you?