While the core elements of Bangladeshi weddings shifts away from its norm, Nahid Tabassum gathers insight from chieftains in the industry and sheds light on each axis of their operation and their shortcomings in the season, 2020.
PLANNER IN PERIL
The creator, planner and administrator, Sausan Khan Moyeen, the CEO of ENCHANTED Events and Prints, is all geared up for this wedding season with her spick and span ideas and meticulously laid out plans in motion.
The director Sausan who orchestrates every inch of detail in her social events, lays an equally elaborate plan for weddings to be held during the COVID 19 pandemic. As a part of its promotion, she released videos on different platforms with comprehensive solutions for our clients and for her fellow event planners to follow and implement.
“The pandemic is here to stay, so the sooner we accept, evolve and move forward, we can start flattening the curves. Even after a tried and tested vaccine is out, we will have to live with these measures as the ‘new normal’. Should celebrations be at halt, too? The answer is no!” Sausan initiates.
Her plans came in motion with ‘Little-Big’ events in August that let her demonstrate the complete solutions in action. They may be intimate in size compared to our usual cultural norm- but visually elaborate and grand.
“At the entrance of the venue, the guests are checked with temperature detectors and offered hand sanitizers as standard procedure. We disinfect the entire venue before and after work, and the sitting arrangements are spaced 10 feet apart, with 4 to 5 guests on their designated tables with individual name cards,” Sausan expounds.
The planner goes as far as ‘family-wise’ seating arrangements for guests to remain in their own social bubble, just like they would in a grocery or at a social place. To further ensure social distancing, Sausan leaves enough room in the venue to walk around freely and avoid physical proximity.
“The decor requirements are still one of the main concerns even for the smallest events. It’s about planning the wedding of their dreams and being happy with their loved ones,” the planner explains.
“Arranging any event has become much more challenging due to the lack of resources,like flowers, and other raw materials that would land on cargo planes,” Sausan worries in the given situation. “Farming local flowers is not profitable to the farmers due to downfall this wedding season. So procurement within budget has become an issue at the moment,” she adds on.
During the initial turmoil, Sausan had to invest her personal savings to keep her team together. She also generated funds throughout the pandemic to help these families to sustain- even the ones who do not work for her.
“We know for sure that things will turn around. The celebrations in a community is a part of our culture. We hope to spread love through these celebrations to win over the vicious disease!” she denotes with.
DAWAT IN DILEMMA
With ambition as the secret ingredient in his recipe for success, Muhammad Asif Khan, the young entrepreneur is determined is make drastic additions to food affairs in weddings of Bangladesh.
For a culture that has rich historical roots in the art of culinary, derived from the Shahi Mughal delicacies, hosting a traditional feast is quintessential norm in weddings of Bangladesh.
Muhammad Asif Khan, the founder of Alpha Catering, an emerging young name in catering business is aiming to achieve global standards in food and catering, and upgrade the traditional food norms of Bangladeshi weddings.
Asif is eager to uplift the culinary experience in weddings of our country with elaborate full course menus, consisting of different cuisines, and live kitchen counters to amuse and involve the guests. “We want people to experience exotic food in weddings of Bangladesh and turn feasting into a lively affair,” the founder of Alpha Catering says.
Due to the pandemic, Asif’s regular sales dropped drastically in the first few months of this year. He started manufacturing package food items and turned his station into a 24/7 cloud kitchen, delivering food at all hours of the day around Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara, and Bashundhara while keeping his business afloat.
“From the last couple of months, people have started to order for home dawats, parties and corporate events. People are having small gatherings and dawats for around 50 people, keeping it all minimal and intimate,” he states. Undoubtedly, sustaining with only 20% of the regular sale was cumbersome to Asif’s business, however he feels the industry is going to catch up soon with couples’ desires of a dream wedding.
In the meantime, Asif too is dreaming large, catering 800 guests on wedding through home delivery services. “As per our clientele’s demand, we are willing to home deliver with pleasantly packaging served to different locations of the city on the wedding day. We have arranged third party logistics fulfil such demanding orders,” he plans out.
“It has been a constant struggle to keep the staff in check, the kitchen in order, the office sanitised and the waiters on check, but we are trying to ensure safety by taking all the precautionary measures in keeping the client priority in mind,” the CEO ensures.
DESIGNER IN DISTRESS
With her signature tabkas and zardousis, and her fully customisable outfits, Sahar Rahman is a locally celebrated brand entering the international waters with the launch of her website and her latest collection.
The founder Sahar Rahman and the co-owner with her sister, Amana Rahman, is a leading clothing counter with her fresh ideas and customer dedicated arrangements in the range of her festive clothes.
Having launched an international website at the time of the lockdown, worked out really great for the two sisters. Their clients could order without having to take the hassle of reaching outlets.
“At the initial stage of the pandemic during Eid-ul-Fitr, clients were not really willing to visit the boutique physically, so we launched an international website, shipping garments worldwide, and promoting Bangladeshi designers on a global scale,” Sahar shares.
“People needed to rejuvenate the essence of celebrations even at home during the pandemic, and appease themselves with retail therapy,” Sahar further adds. Even though her sales on the Eids are incomparable to the usuals, she feels blessed to have received a warm response from her clientele on both occasions.
“Initially, we were unsure about this wedding season. However, we came across a lot of home events taking place this year, so we decided to release our new collection, on both our website and at stores, dedicated to brides and families and customisable in all aspects,” Sahar states.
The couturier admits that the contemporary festive outfits in the market are heavily influenced by Indian designers and brands. As the trip to India for the wedding shopping is not feasible at the moment, brides are now leaning towards local brands and entrusting them with this grave responsibility.
“It really depends on the bride and how she pictures herself on her wedding day. The trendsetters may order an over the top lehenga or an extravagant gown, while elegant brides may seek minimal yet classy outfits suitable for intimate gathering and homely events. We want our brides to know that we are prepared to accommodate their preferences of colours, cuts or designs to get their dream outfits delivered,” the designer explains.
True to her style, Sahar’s new collection is based on pastels and lighter palettes, and breezy fabrics, comforting to the eyes. “Cholis and lehengas with maslin dupattas are the favourites to this year’s bride-to-bes. The heavily embellished blouses with cocktail sarees on monochromes are also on the charts,” Sahar wraps up with.
MUA ON TRIAL
Gloried for her artistry in wedding makeover, Navin Ahmed, the founder of Gala Makeover Studio and Salon, is sailing steadily keeping the brides content on their big day.
Navin’s venture outlasted the first five months of complete lockdown and opened just one branch, to check the waters. They started to work with 20% of the capacity, dedicated to a handful of clients on an appointment basis and a very few walk-ins.
“Gala took a hard hit in the first few months of the pandemic, however, we have managed to pull through the loss with our clients’ continued faith in us,” the owner asserts.
Sensitive to the current circumstances, Gala Makeover Studio and Salon is providing offers and discounts on services to its clientele. “We currently offer wide ranging spa packages at revised rates, 20-25% off on hair colour/treatments, and needless to say, 25% off on all bridal makeovers,” says Navin, laying her arrangements.
“As weddings are more intimate and homely in recent days, brides are opting for more natural and minimal looks, especially those who are planning for a grand celebration afterwards. And surely there are other brides who wish to go all glam on their big day to capture their dreamlike weddings,” she shares.
In this dire state, Navin’s crew has to religiously practice all hygiene protocols, after they have learned it themselves. Using the same set of products for different clients sounds daunting at the moment. However, Navin trained her crew to handle the cleaning procedure thoroughly for the sake of her safety.
“At Gala, we ensure the highest standards of hygiene, just so our brides feel safe. It’s not just about getting a makeover for a bride! It’s the whole experience that counts – we want them to make wonderful memories of their big day!” she lights up as she shares.
In comparison to the usual wedding seasons, Navin is unable to meet the usual target in sales to be able to maintain social distancing and follow safety precautions. She feels Gala has to work at her full capacity to overcome this loss that the lockdown has caused.
At the end, the expert foresees better days and she assures by saying, “As a lot of brides had to postpone their weddings, I am looking forward to an eventful wedding season next year!”
FRAMING FROM THE FAR
Since the inception of Wedding Diary, Muhammed Zahid Reza aka Prito Reza has modernized wedding photography in Bangladesh, and been leading the market ever since with his fresh contents, firm leadership skills and pertinent business acumen.
The entrepreneur, journalist, celebrity talk-show host, director and renowned photographer, Prito, has grave concerns for the photographers and their survival during the pandemic.
“In the 7th month of the epidemic, our priorities are now caught between the two; life and livelihood. As we have lived through the first blow of the pandemic, now the battle is to sustain until things start to get back to its usual state,” the thinker and the public speaker starts with.
Prito deems that the pandemic has taken a great toll on photographers and ventures with liabilities of employees at stake. “The pandemic has made us consider different aspects of a venture as an entrepreneur, especially when we lie at a vacuum state in the society, unable to reap the privileges of prominent industries and capitalistic investments, or avail relief for the underprivileged,” he explains.
“The pandemic has made us rethink our approaches towards the business to explore new wings of our operations. Studio Photoshoots for groups, couples or family photography, or processing raw contents can be optional off-season employment solutions for the photographers. We’re planning to create a variety of engagements that outstretches further from wedding photography and create new engagements for the photographers,” he further adds.
The one who initiated the first wedding photography exhibitions in Bangladesh, feels weddings are still more of a social meet and greet event done extravagantly for the society. “Nowadays, the young couples value their candid moments being captured in their weddings, and for that the weddings in Bangladesh have to change into a spontaneous affair as it is around the world in other cultures,” the traveller photographer says.
With the wedding season here, Prito is concerned as the government has not yet provided any specific guidelines while arranging social events. “We are trying to follow the standard cautionary procedures and working around limited attendees in an event,” he further states.
With a variety of perspectives, Prito doesn’t believe in any hard and fast guidelines to sustain and succeed in the market. He also preaches ingenuity and knowledge as prized possessions for photographers, and leaves with a parting note to the young photographers asking them to acquire institutional knowledge on photography rather than spending exorbitantly on gears.