Meet Shaadi Squad, the brains behind Virat-Anushka’s wedding and Priyanka-Nick’s engagement
From non-disclosure agreements to barricading venues, it was more than an adventure for Shaadi Squad
Two of the most high-profile events of 2018 were planned and organised by a group that’s just three years old. Mumbai-based wedding planners Shaadi Squad may be relatively new in the business, but it seems to have had no bearing on their clientele, having convinced four of the biggest stars in the world to trust them with managing the most important day of their lives. Here’s a sneak peek into whall all went behind organising these ceremonies of such high magnitude.
Tell us the story of Shaadi Squad.
Shaadi Squad is a young, fun and approachable team led by Tina Tharwani, Manoj Mittra, and Saurabh Malhotra. We started our careers in film production where we managed the set design, transport and everything else to do with some of the biggest films in Bollywood.
Did you always have the intention of working with popular personalities from the beginning?
Well, honestly, we believe it is the dream of all wedding planners to work with popular personalities at some point. So it was definitely a goal.
How did you get in touch with Virat-Anushka and Priyanka-Nick?
We hail from a film production background and because of that we had worked with Anushka on various projects. The actress first approached us in early July but we didn’t take it seriously. It is only after a few days when she followed up, then we realised it was really happening.
Regarding Priyanka and Nick, we are still not aware of how this happened. We just happened to get a call from her team. But we are definitely thankful for the recommendation!
Describe the experience of working with each pair.
Both Virat and Anushka didn’t load us with a lot of briefs. They just wanted it to be an intimate affair with a cozy and comfy atmosphere with greenery and an open ground location.
Priyanka was a thorough professional. She just knew what she was looking for and what she did not want, and gave us a very clear brief of how she wanted everything to be. It was a breeze to work with her, as she understood we did not have too much of turnaround time and was quick with her responses and approvals.
What are the challenges in handling projects like these?
Keeping the media at bay for a secretive wedding and handling the fans are the main task. With social media, even a small leak of information becomes a news flash. Another major challenge is getting closure and approvals. With their busy schedules, it gets little difficult to close on concepts, decor detailing, finalisation of various aspects important for a wedding.
What all went into preparing for both the wedding and the engagement?
The few weeks leading up to the ‘Virushka’ wedding were absolutely surreal. Four months of keeping a secret, hiding even from our own team, the secret recces, midnight meetings, vague conversations, and sleepless nights culminated in the beautiful wedding. After receiving the brief, Shaadi Squad shortlisted a few properties based on suitable weather - not too hot or not snowing either and a place that has direct flights and where the travel is not really hectic.
A location that did not have a lot of tourist traction during that period was also one really important factor so that the privacy was maintained. After a lot of brainstorming, we shortlisted on five properties in various locations, on the basis of weather, rooms, availability, and connectivity. As reported earlier, Anushka always wanted to marry in a Tuscan vineyard. Borgo Finnochieto perfectly fit the bill as it was a private village with a limited number of rooms and quite spacious to hold all the outdoor functions.
Could you also share some interesting anecdotes from each?
Anecdotes from Virat-Anushka wedding
During the days we were there, the weather unexpectedly got really bad, and we had to immediately move things around and have the wedding ceremony indoors instead of at an outdoor venue that we had originally planned. At that point, we were all really stressed, as the decor had all been planned to keep in mind the location and a lot of it had to be improvised there and then. We really had great teams and partners with us, as none of the guests realised that the decor was last minute, and nor does it show in any of the images.
As you know, the wedding was an extremely hush affair with no one really knowing that its happening. However, a media house did find out about it at the airport and had followed a guest to the venue and suddenly it was being splashed across media. Of course, at that time all of us were in Italy and couldn’t really do too much from there. But we were quite adamant that no one would be able to see inside the venue. We contacted the Indian embassy there who barricaded the road leading up to the venue in absolutely no time. And in case such a scenario did take place, in one of our previous trips, we had contacted the owner of the lands around the venue. He also immediately ensured that no one could get inside.
Anecdotes from Priyanka-Nick engagement.
With Priyanka, again, we were contacted just a few days prior to the engagement. Everyting from the menu, décor and all the other arrangements were done in a span of five days! Once more, everything had to be done in secrecy, a style we were quite used to. The ‘NP’ logo was actually decided on the last day, and we literally did not sleep a wink while having managed to get it designed and produced overnight.
Were there any particular requirements and common queries by each pair?
We always knew that Virat-Anushka’s wedding was a high profile case, and for them, client confidentiality was always a priority. Apart from Shaadi Squad, it was just the two families that knew about the wedding. Everyone who they worked with was made to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), and even though every vendor had signed the agreement, no one knew who the client was.
It was only in October that Devika Narain, who did the decor for the wedding, was told about who the clients were, and that also because we wanted the decor to have personal touches of the couple. The rest of the crew were told about the couple directly at the venue in Tuscany. For PC, the only requirement was the NP logo as mentioned above.
Who are your dream clients?
We’ve honestly had the pleasure of working with a diverse set of clients – from industrialists, Bollywood celebrities, younger clients who have financed their weddings on their own, traditional families, inter-cultural weddings, etc. We definitely do not work with only popular clients but prefer working with people whose ‘vibe’ we get. As far as dream clients go, a royal wedding is something we would definitely love to plan! Let’s hope by the time Prince George is of marriageable age we would be known globally!