We spoke to wedding planners to get tips on how to organise a small wedding that won’t leave you wanting for more. This article is a part of the Muhurat At Home Series, brought to you by Kalyan Jewellers. Planning a wedding? Book a Live Session here for an exclusive jewellery shopping experience with Kalyan Jewellers.

After several months of only home-weddings being possible, the government has finally opened up restrictions to allow bigger gatherings. However, the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ is not going to happen for a while – weddings are going to be scaled-down and intimate, held at small venues, with just close friends and family in attendance.

So, how do you make a small wedding feel like a ‘dream wedding’? We asked wedding planners for some pro-tips for you. It’s the same as any other wedding – the look and the experience. This breaks down to décor, jewellery, clothes, food and vibe – but all of these just need to be planned and executed keeping in mind the scale and intimacy of a celebration with just 50-100 guests. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for you in case you are planning one.

Don’t miss out on the joy of dressing up
Jewellery and clothes are among the very few things that the lockdown hasn’t forced brides to scale down on. So what if you aren’t on a huge stage facing hundreds of people? You can still look like a queen.

Soumya Raghu, co-founder of Bengaluru-based Taarini Weddings, says that with many other aspects of the wedding now scaled back, brides are focussing all the more on make-up and jewellery. “They’re going full-on with their looks. They don’t want to make any compromises on this aspect, and are continuing to deck themselves up,” she says. Here are a couple of things you might want to keep in mind.

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Go to outlets with pre-booked appointments: Buying jewellery is all about wearing it on yourself and seeing how you look – and that can be done only when you visit the store. But given the situation now, it is best that you fix an appointment for your store visit. You can visit your nearest Kalyan Jewellers, click here to call and fix an appointment.

Online shopping with live sessions: However, these are also unprecedented times, so we don’t blame you for being a little worried about stepping out of home for shopping just before one of the most important days of your life. There’s a solution – Live Sessions! Kalyan Jewellers offers an exclusive interactive online experience where you can check the jewellery on a video call and choose what you want.

Since jewellery selection is a lengthy process – and we suggest that you do take your time to enjoy it – you could do the first line of selection on the Live Session, and then visit the store for a quick session to finalise what you want to buy.

Blast from the past: While new jewellery and clothes give us unique happiness, many brides have been doing something cool of late – repurposing family heirlooms to wear on their big day. There is something about the sarees and jewellery of our elders which makes us look and feel regal and majestic. “A couple of brides we worked with had turned their mom’s or grandma’s old wedding saree into a skirt using cancan fabric and wore it as a half-saree, and it looked fantastic!” Soumya says.

Do up the venue strategically
“You must understand your venue before doing the wedding decor. The decor has to enhance and not cover up the space too much,” says Nilma Dileepan, who runs Yellow Umbrella Productions and With Love, Nilma.

Go traditional: Recounting two weddings and an engagement ceremony she did recently, Nilma says that if the venue is a traditional house with tons of wood work and antique furniture, then the decor should match that aesthetic. If you have a slightly modern house with darker elements, a concrete wall or an exposed brick wall, then go for modern decor – an acrylic signage and an open, airy wedding dais. “The key is to complement the decor with the aesthetic of the house,” she adds.

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Pick a rustic South Indian vibe: Be it home or a small venue, pickle jars, earthen pots and local flowers such as lotus or marigold work best as décor, Nilma says. Flowers can also be used in interesting ways, depending on the aesthetic of the wedding. “You can use flowers on staircase railings or inside jars. You can have the scallop or U-shaped flower decor if it is a traditional wedding; for a modern feel, you can fix bouquets or flower bunches,” she says.

Lighting is important: Soumya adds that lighting plays a big role in setting the wedding vibe, especially since the venues and crowds are going to be small. “You need warm mood lighting for weddings in order to enhance the space. It is better to use yellow lights over white light,” she adds. Using candles and hanging fairy lights also easily transforms any venue, she points out.

Don’t forget spacing and physical distancing
While planning the wedding ceremony at a small venue, it is better to split the function between two spaces. “Generally, the outdoors are better for a wedding mandap. But then there’s the weather. It could get too sunny or rain suddenly. So you’d have to add a canopy to the wedding area,” Soumya notes.

Making small spaces work: If the wedding is happening indoors, the lunch or dinner counter can be set up in the garden or the terrace. This is an effective way to reduce space constraints. Inside houses, one of the bedrooms can also be converted to a lounge area for those who want to sit and talk after the meal or the ceremony.

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“You can pull the sofa or couch and set it up inside the bedroom so that the elderly people can sit there post the ceremony. For the wedding hall, use light props such as tiffany chairs and thinner pole structures to make it roomy,” Soumya says. A pro-tip is to pick up light props for your mandapam in order to ensure that the decor is classy and not heavy or loud, she adds.

Nilma suggests opting for lighter and brighter colours, as dark colours make the space look small. For smaller ceremonies, she also adds that the floor can be used instead of an elaborate platform or stage.

Prioritise the wedding meal experience
Even a small wedding can be one that has the kind of meal guests reminisce about even days later. You just have to focus on taste and experience as opposed to traditional service.

Go for more restaurant-style service: A buffet or traditional ‘yelai saapadu’ where food is kept open or served en masse is not advisable. But there are still great options available. “You can set out dining tables and have your guests seated. And employ a silver service so that sterilised plates of food are brought to them. Since you have fewer guests, this won’t be too much of an undertaking,” says Soumya.

Include live counters: Any concerns about food safety can be dispelled with live counters, where people can see their dosas and appams or tandoor dishes being made hot and fresh. “The visual drama of a steaming, sizzling hot counter is also a nice touch. Even desserts and chaat can be made live with a halwa or tawa sweet counter,” Soumya adds.

Just focus on serving fresh, delicious food that is easy to keep hot and safe, and you’ll have a wedding meal worth remembering!

(This article was produced in association with Kalyan Jewellers.)