Nazneen Fida, a 24-year-old Dubai-based designer, is all set to marry a boy from Jeddah next month. Though both of them stay in different countries and her maternal relatives live in India, the distance doesn't deter her ?from making the most of these eventful days.
Thanks to a wedding software which she logs on to every day, she can easily keep a tab on merchandise, maintain her guest list and can even share pictures with her fiance and friends/family online through the software.
"My extended family from India and other places who are not able to attend my wedding will be able to see the wedding pictures and videos online from India," said Fida.
She is among dozens of Dubai-based Indians who have registered with Shaadi-e-Khas for the techno-driven wedding management. No wonder then that the New Delhi-based IT firm, which runs the software, has plans to set up an office in Dubai by 2013 to tap the huge wedding market here.
Another to-be bride Parul Anand, 27, loves being online everyday to prepare for her wedding. She has a portal dedicated to her wedding on which she posts pictures of her lehnga, jewellery and that of her "boy" in the picture perfect poses.
She likes the countdown watch ticking on the portal (45 days to go..) as much as she likes the adrenaline she feels while waiting for the D-day.
The new generation weddings in big cities are going the Facebook way with the advent of wedding softwares in the market where would-be couples can share pictures, comment and add zing to the wedding preparations.
The software not only offers social networking to the would-be-bride and groom but also helps the parents keep a track of vendors and send reminder messages.
Niharika Anand who logged on to the software for her elder sister Parul is proud of this virtual space where she manages her huge guest list which initially seemed unmanageable. "I have even sent pre-wedding invites. Though we will send them the hard copies of invitations as well, the pre-wedding invites are meant for net-savvy cousins and friends," said Niharika.
The software has been conceptualised by Bharat Kanodia, a Silicon Valley returned engineer-turned banker-turned finance professional. He rolled out the software to help organise Indian weddings in a more systematic and fun-filled way.
The idea of this portal struck Kanodia after he had a brush with an unforgettable experience of managing his younger brother's wedding two years ago. "Even if you are good at managing things, you need daily reminders and an easy-to-use tool to manage invites and handle logistics. After this, I started Shaadi-e-Khas," said Kanodia, who left his well-paying job at a bank in Silicon Valley to kickstart this venture.
For hundreds of thousands of people who get married every year, planning a wedding is a chaotic affair and enough to engage the entire kinship of the bride/ groom. Though there are dime-a-dozen wedding planners, you need to cough up an exorbitant fee, which ranges between 10-15 per cent of the wedding cost. Kanodia's software helps one manage vendors, guest lists, decoration, shopping and more for less than a fraction of the price.
The portal claims to have drawn more than 6,000 couples in the last one year, since its inception. In India itself, around 10 million weddings happen every year - and Kanodia wants to stake just one per cent of the total share in the huge wedding bazaar.
"The solutions cater to weddings planners as well," says Kanodia. "Recently when I asked a famous wedding planner about what software he used to organise a mega-budget wedding (which was covered by the media), he proudly said that it was MS Excel! Our solutions at least offer much better services than the plain Excel sheet."
If you don't want to forget to call your favourite florist and sometimes fret about forgetting your Dubai aunty, it's better to seek online help which "vows" to remind you through SMSes and emails about everything you tend to forget - from calling up the decorator to purchasing your favourite fragrance.
Complete reliance on any software for a wedding might appear overrated but the shift is happening, albeit gradually. "I don't say that my sister wouldn't have got married without any software's help but our entire wedding experience was certainly accentuated. I plan to spend a lot of time on the personalised portal of my sister next month - as much as I currently do on Facebook," said Niharika.
Sadly, there are only a few brides and grooms who have taken a virtual jump in the grand world of Indian weddings. Others find the concept of wedding software bizarre. One Mumbai-based wedding planner said: "I have never heard of any wedding planner who uses a software." Another Rajasthan-based planner who deals with international clients only for destination weddings never felt the need for a wedding software. "For the last nine years, we have allocated different people for different jobs. So there's no need for any software or online solution," said Vishw Vijae Singh from Regal Weddings which deals mainly with NRI clients.
But the software creator is optimistic about its fate. "Its ascent will duplicate the success of matrimonial websites in India and elsewhere. If we look back 20 years ago, could we ever imagine a conservative father of a middle class family to upload personal details of his daughter including her photo, details of her complexion, job, and qualifications on Internet to solicit a groom for her? But these days, matrimonial websites have matched countless matches and have now become household names. The same fate will happen to the wedding management software," opines Kanodia.
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