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Vandana Mohan: The real master of wedding planning

Anshu Khanna

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Wedding planner Vandana Mohan.

Vandana Mohan is a genius who can unequivocally be given the credit for bringing the “wedding design” industry alive in India just over a decade ago. And while the industry itself might have gone astray, turned into an assembly line, this purist has ensured that neither does she get sucked into predictability nor does she ever cease to be a romantic gypsy, flittering from one creative bastion to the other.

Spot her at one of her uber lux, VVIP wedding sets and you will possibly be beguiled by her calm demeanor, her composure, and her smile. Maybe you mistake her for the bride’s aunt as she blends into the crowd as much as the crowd blends into her design. Seamless perfection, an aura of minimal elegance and the a sense of design belonging that only emerges once everything is “in place” will tell you this is a Wedding Design Company set and she is the “maestro of this manor”!

 It was in the early 1980s that she and the ‘with it’ crowd burst into the still doddering world of glamour. Sidharth Basu, Rosa (Anita Basu), Lilette Dubey, Vidyun Singh, Rohit Bal, Asha Kochher, Vandana Mohan were storming the scene with their Theatre Action Group (TAG). Ramp shows, designer boutiques, launch events, fashion shows; rock concerts were words being added to the vocabulary of design in India.

Vandana was making a mark as a model right through her years in LSR. To be discovered by Siddhartha Basu, the quizmaster then, who decided to take her on as hisco-anchor and hence she emerged on the telly each week, making her debut into the world of entertainment.

From appearing before the camera to working behind the scenes came naturally to this hard working soul who was hand-picked by DNA to handle the much publicised Michael Jackson Tour and then the Bryan Adams Tour. These two pulsating assignments gave her such an adrenaline high that she realised that this was her world.

 “I launched my own company, Backstage Productions, and began working in the world of fashion which even then, as it does now, had the strongest voice.” Her foray into events coincided with the emergence of a brand savvy corporate world that was also awakening to the digital realm. Events, launches, promotions were discovered as a ‘jargon’ of brand creation and outreach. And soon Vandana was working with them all. “BMW, Mercedes Benz, Digital Talkies, Harvest Gold, all these became my clients.”

Working with brands gave her the threshold to work with luxury. LVMH, Gucci, Bvlgari, Tods all turned towards India and all wanted to work with someone who ‘understood’ their need for finesse. Vandana was the chosen one. “When you work with luxury brands they want you to imbibe their design philosophy. They want their brand ethos to reflect in their events. They want the right crowd to witness their aura. “ And hence Vandana saw herself spending time in the LVMH head offices in Paris, inviting just the ‘right’ crowd for the Dom Perignon black tie, sit down dinners, launching Gucci’s first boutique. “These events gave you an insight into how luxury works globally. The richness of restraint. The art of crafting a perfect ambience.”

It is with this eye for perfection that Mohan also approached the world of weddings. She was reluctant at first. “I wanted to do corporate events. My joke was ‘Ferns and Petals does weddings’. I am not a florist.” It was a good client Surinder Kapoor who foxed her into designing his daughter’s sangeet and Vandana realised she enjoyed it. “Abu-Sandeep (The boys) were working closely with the family and they really supported me with the process.” The boys felt so good working with Vandana that they convinced her to also handle the next wedding “It was Dimple Kapadia’s younger daughter Rinkie’s wedding and I handled it end to end.” And hence was born Wedding Design Company.

 “The first thing I did was start creating a system in this anarchic industry that had no set standards. And no concept of professional fees. And no transparency too. The same set the vendors would create for someone at Rs 100, for another at Rs 200 and for a friend at Rs 50!” Vandana created the SOPs; she structured the functioning, she discovered craft masters as her vendors and then decided to treat each wedding as if it were her first project! “You have to be in love with every project you do.”

So what defines a WDC wedding? “It’s really strange how even if I have worked with a hundred themes, people will still tell me that they knew it was my show. I guess it emerges from always working the scale out, being contextual with your theme, researching and keeping it as authentic to your source of inspiration as possible.” And she smiles as she says, “One thing I ensure that nothing is out of place, no realm of design is compromised and no extra ounce is added for the sake of histrionics.” To her classicism is originality. As is remaining authentic at all times. “The one thing we added was working with all the five senses. The moment you walk into a wedding you should identify with the fragrance that fills the air. If it’s an Indian theme, then attar should titillate your senses.”

To Vandana it is like recreating the bride’s home. “A client’s house is a reflection of his taste and I try to create it as close to his world. I like to layer my design, give it many levels, create a central piece that catches your eye with its sheer drama.” Add to that the penchant for new and original linen. “I design fresh linen for every wedding. I even travel up to Banaras to get the right zari silk for my cushions. If you have paid for luxury you should be able to bask in it.”

Flowers too are approached with a child-like freshness. “They are never anything more than props and I don’t try and fill every space with a zillion flowers. It is how you treat them that matters, the vase that goes with it, the settings.” And hence Vandana will never bring in flowers for the heck of it. “My backdrops needn’t be only floral. If I am creating a club theme I will not insist on adding flowers.” If given a chance Vandana will always go for Indian flowers: “The rajnigandhas, desi gulabs, the mogras… all used for stringing which we have mastered the design of by creating our own set of beaten brass urns, candelabras, diyas and thaalis to fill them in.”

 The woman behind many a destination weddings including the nuptial of all the Jindal scions, the Bharti Mittal wedding, the DeepikaRanbir wedding, Vandana has become synonymous with weddings in the exotic locales of Monaco, Florence, France, etc. “I fell in love with Florence when I visited it with the family. I mentioned in a magazine interview that I would love to design a wedding there. A client read it and there I was: In Florence, designing a wedding!” And thence there was no looking back.

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He issued a statement in which he shared that he would like to dedicate the award to his late mother Shobha Nigam. “January 25 was a rather special day for me and my family. I’m very thankful to the Government of India for thinking of me as a deserving candidate and bestowing me the Padma Shri. My heartfelt thanks to all those who selected me and suggested my name for this prestigious honour. I would also like to thank my mother, Shobha Nigam, and my father, Agam Kumar Nigam. In fact, I want to dedicate this award to my mother. Had she been here today, she would have cried a lot,” Sonu said. The ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’ singer also thanked his gurus for teaching him the valuable lessons of music. “I would also take this opportunity to fold my hands before my gurus who have taught me so much. Whatever I know today is because of them and their blessings. Watching and listening to them has been a learning experience for me. My sincere gratitude to my friends and colleagues who have been a part of my journey, and my family who is my pillar of support,” the statement concluded

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Megastar Amitabh Bachchan shared a slew of photographs, a few of which show him dressed up in white and holding the Indian flag.

Taapsee Pannu shared an excerpt of the Indian Consitution that came into force in 1950. “OF the people FOR the people BY the people” Happy Republic Day to the PEOPLE of India #RepublicDay,” she wrote on Twitter.

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Actor Varun Dhawan sent out wishes on Republic Day by painting his cheeks in tricolour. He also posted a video of him unfurling the flag. “Had the absolute honour of unfurling the flag. #proudindian,” he wrote.

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NEW DELHI: As India celebrates 73 years of becoming a republic on Wednesday, the Covid-19 pandemic has once again confined us to a subdued celebration. So while you celebrate Republic Day at home, we bring you a list of 5 web series you can binge-watch with your friends and family that is sure to arouse the feeling of patriotism in you.

‘Family Man’ Season 1 and 2: One of the most talked-about web series of 2019 and 2021, is the Manoj Bajpayee-starrer ‘The Family Man’. Manoj, as Shrikant Tiwari is a middle-class man secretly working as a senior officer in the Threat Analysis and Surveillance Cell (TASK) and does everything in his strength and might to save his country. Both the seasons are edge-of-the-seat thrillers with drama and comedy sprinkled in it, in just the right amount.

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