Interview

Arun Bablani: Sustainable weddings are here to stay

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May 11, 2020

Vivaah Weddings has been featured in various publications including Vogue, Hello, Harper’s Bazaar, Destination Weddings, Honeymoons Magazine and Maharani Weddings.

Having planned and executed numerous weddings, Arun’s love for creating something spectacular, helping clients take things to the next level and the personal touch and care implemented are what make Vivaah Weddings truly stand out.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m based out of Dubai and have over 10 years of experience as an internationally-recognised Luxury Wedding Planner.

I utilise my passion for travel and my appreciation of different cultures to produce events in locations all around the world.

I’m also the founder of Middle East Wedding Association (MEWA), which is a first-of-its-kind consortium of wedding professionals in the region. Our mission is to promote the wedding industry and its network of professionals across the Middle East and beyond.

Tell us a bit about your company

     

Vivaah Weddings is an award-winning Bespoke Wedding Planning & Management Company with offices strategically located in Dubai (UAE).

We’ve been in the business for over a decade and we have an experienced team of professional wedding planners that have conceptualised and managed numerous weddings in over 23 countries globally.

We’re best known for our new and creative destinations, unexpected décor concepts and exquisite attention to detail.

Our team is capable of planning everything from a small wedding of 100 to an extravaganza for thousands.

We were rated the Best Wedding Planning and Management Company in the Middle East by Bride Awards 2019 and recently won the Best Wedding Planner 2019 – Global Category at the International Wedding Awards.

We’re also responsible for organising the First Ever Indian Wedding at Disneyland Paris in September 2019.

Describe a typical working day for you.

This is such a difficult question, especially for a destination wedding planner, as no one day is the same for me.

Our schedules are very eclectic and are constantly changing. Some days are spent travelling to different destinations on wedding related events and some at the office planning the wedding with my team.

For a wedding planner, no two days are the same.

What new themes, trends or changes are you seeing in the luxury wedding industry?

Today’s bride is very well-travelled and inspired by international themes and concepts.

We see a growing trend amongst families, where they choose to host their wedding celebrations at new and exotic destinations that haven’t been commonly explored before.

Couples these days are forthcoming and open to the idea of offering their guests a unique and holistic experience, rather than just an event at a venue.

Fresher landscapes, innovative décor ideas and spectacular performances by artists and entertainers have all become a part of the destination wedding offering.

Sustainable weddings are also here to stay, and now eco-friendly couples ensure that the money they spend on their wedding is also contributing to social and environmental causes, amongst other things.

Vivaah Weddings

How have you adapted your offering to suit changing demands?

As they say, “Change is the only thing that’s constant”. It’s important to be proactive rather than reactive if you wish to stay ahead of the curve.

Offering a client what they are looking for is merely meeting their demands. We do things a bit differently, where we educate our clients on new offerings in the market and open their eyes to new possibilities and options that they may not have considered or thought of.

By doing this, we can keep our offerings constantly fresh, new and evolving with the changing times. We try to be a part of every travel conference or convention, so that we are abreast of all the latest offerings in the world of events and travel.

Knowing and understanding the client’s shopping patterns, we can then decide what would be the best fit for them.

What does luxury mean to you these days?

This is such a subjective question, as different people would respond very differently to it.  Luxury is something you enjoy and wouldn't normally have access to and that’s why it makes you feel exclusive.

The future is, however, going to be very different, as the focus will shift from materialistic things to more personal and experiential luxury.

This could relate to travel, food & beverage, adventure sports or even exclusive showcase events.

The affluent buyer always wants to set himself apart from the masses and is constantly in search of a unique possession or a customised experience that is not commonly on offer.

We see that the purchasing power in this sector of buyers is only getting stronger and no price tag is too much for them, if the luxury being offered is appreciated by them.

VIvaah Weddings

How have your clients’ needs changed in the last few years?

In today’s digital age, there are numerous sources of inspiration for our client to refer to. Over the years, social media and blogs on the web have highly influenced client’s preferences.

Advanced marketing tools and algorithms closely follow the buying patterns of the client and push them towards similar products and offerings. In a crowded world of sellers, the client more often knows what they’ve set out to purchase.

Having said that, we see that the client appreciates it if we differentiate ourselves from the rest and offer bespoke services versus off the shelf products. The ‘one size fits all’ approach does not work with affluent buyers.

How has technology changed your business?

Technology has played a large role in our wedding planning business, where our clients come to us seeking information on various international destinations, which we may or may not have visited ourselves personally.

With technology, it becomes easy for us to provide verifiable information about a certain destination or a venue while highlighting its key features.

With further support in the form of images, videos or virtual walkthroughs, it gives our client a much better interpretation of what to expect at a certain destination or venue before they travel there.

Vivaah Weddings

What has luxury travel taught you?

Adaptability is key when it comes to any form of travel. The whole purpose of venturing out into the unexplored is for adventure and seeking new experiences.

With this in mind, I’ve learned to be open to studying different cultures, ways of living and more importantly, the fact that the definition of luxury can change from one region to the other.

What may be a standard offering at one destination could be considered a luxury at another and vice versa.

Vivaah Weddings

What excites you about the travel industry?

New sights, new cultures and new experiences have always enticed people to leave the comfort of their homes and step out to experience something different.

With professional service providers at work, the travel industry has evolved, offering travellers a range of possibilities and options that they may not have known about otherwise. It’s literally like bringing the globe to your doorstep to choose from.

The travel industry is constantly evolving and growing, especially now that millennials are up for travel and expeditions, while the more sophisticated traveller is looking for luxurious experiences to pamper themselves.

What is one thing you want people to know about you?

I am a big believer in ‘Givers Gain’. I am always up to support and provide guidance and advice from my years of experience to peers and partners equally.

What do you value most when you travel?

Meeting new people and forging stronger connections across borders is something I cherish most. With constant travelling across different cities, it really feels comforting to know people around the world.

The world is shrinking and being social is key.

Understanding lifestyles and preferences of natives or residents in a particular city is quite fascinating, as you get a perspective into their lives and how dynamics change across borders.

How do you make sustainable choices in your work/life?

Small changes go a long way. Our office has gone down to nearly zero wastage, where we use ceramic cups instead of disposable glasses. In terms of stationery, our printing has gone down significantly, as we choose to work electronically as much as possible, unless absolutely required to use paper.

We have consciously tried to do the same with our weddings where we had completely stopped the usage of plastic straws for beverages.

We also advise our brides with unique ideas that add to the novelty and fun of a wedding while offsetting the carbon footprint, such as each guest plants a tree at the end of the wedding celebration ritual. Sustainable weddings are now also now in trend and much preferred by our brides.

What is your most unique offering?

We specialise in Destination Indian Weddings. We chose this for ourselves as we understand the cultures and traditions very well.

More importantly, planning an Indian wedding can be quite exhausting and time consuming, as we have to liaise and communicate with multiple family members who may not always be aligned with their expectations.

Having been in the business for over a decade, we have now mastered the art of managing client expectations, keeping families content, as well as introducing them to new destinations to hold their multiple-day celebrations.

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