13.12.14

The Wedding Planner's Guide to Choosing The Perfect Venue

As a wedding planner, you have a hundred things to oversee. People don't give planners enough credit. Your job is hard. For most people, their wedding day is the most important day of their life. You have ultimate control over people's weddings, and so you need to make sure that you get things right. When you are choosing a wedding venue, you have to ensure that it suits the bride and groom. Different couples favor different things in their venue. Before you start looking for a venue, sit down with the couple and ask them to make a list of three things their venue needs to be. You can use the list to find the perfect venue within their budget.











Decide on a budget
Nobody likes talking about money, but when you are working with a couple, honesty is key. You need to find out exactly how much money they can afford to spend on their venue. There is no point showing couples venues that are out of their price range. Talk to the bride and groom, and see what suits them. You can suggest a budget, but make sure that they can afford it.

Get a rough guest list
Guest lists can be an absolute nightmare. If your bride and groom are taking too long when it comes to deciding on guests, you need to give them a little push in the right direction. If you don't know how many people you're catering for, you can't choose a venue. Ask for a rough number so that you can start planning for the big day. Allow for a few extra people so that if there are any changes, you don't need to panic.



Find something quirky
Getting to know the bride and groom is the key to your success. If you know their personalities and interests, you can find a venue that will suit them perfectly. For example, if the bride adores history, a historic castle might be perfect. Take a look at some of the eclectic wedding venues at dream wedding so that you get inspiration. There was a time when choosing a wedding venue was simple, but that time is over. Now, there are all kinds of venues available to couples.

Make sure the couple sees the venue
When you have chosen the right venue, you need to show it to your couple. Sometimes people don't like venues, which on paper would be perfect for them. Show your couple around the venue and let them get a feel for the place. As a wedding planner, you need to be flexible. If they don't like the venue, you need a backup plan.
It is your job to get the best deal for the wedding couple. When you are hiring a venue, make sure that you haggle on pricing. If you have worked with the same venue for a while, you might find that they will offer you a special deal for your loyalty. Settling for the first price a venue gives you is a mistake. Be bold and ask for a discount.



Get a full-service venue
One of the worst mistakes you can make is opting for a standard venue package. With a standard package, you get the venue hire and nothing more. If you opt to get a full-service venue package, you could make your job easy for yourself. With a full-service package, you get everything from furniture to decorations. That way, you don't have to work with too many different companies. As you know, planning a wedding is tricky. If you can get someone to take on some of your work, you are doing yourself a huge favor.



10.12.14

Travel | NDTV Dettol Banega Swachh India (Maharshtra Edition)

RB (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser) partnered with NDTV and Facebook to launch “Dettol – Banega Swachh India” – a 5 year program to address the rising need of hygiene and sanitation in India. NDTV Dettol - Banega Swachh India bus (Swachh Express) was flagged off in October, & aims to cover around 400 villages across 8 states - Haryana, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, MP and Maharashtra. The objective of the bus will be to create awareness around hygiene and sanitation through interactive videos, flyer distributions, posters, hand-washing sessions and street plays.
I was offered the opportunity through Indiblogger to join the Swachh Express for a few days during it's trail in Maharshtra. I thought it would be a wonderful experience to visit the rural areas of Maharshtra that I haven't seen before, & also to see the work at the Banega Swachh India team was doing, so I booked my tickets & waited for the day to come.
Our first stop was Kolvad, which is a village near Buldhana. Even though most of the villagers are very daily wage workers, I was happy to see quite a nice turnout with a decent amount of women too., this may be because the Sarpanch of the village is a woman too. They were quite attentive & had a lot of questions too.Though the campaign focusses on all area of basic cleanliness such as handwashing & regular bathing, the main issue was addressing the problem of open defecation, there are no public toilets there & very few people have one in their homes, either. The Villagers all expect the government to build facilities for them, but that is not always possible. The sense of apathy, passing the buck & expecting the government to do everything for them is something that I found common in all three villages that I visited. The talks were conducted by Mr Vinod Kumar Pathak, MSW and health awareness worker from the knowledge partners called Feedback Foundation. The residents of Kolvad were briefed on how to build  an efficient toilet in their homes for just ₹5000 & were also told how they could claim that money back from the government.Flyers on Cleanliness were distributed, the Kids were very excited to paste them on the walls.The next day we visited another village on the outskirts of Maharshtra. Although the village didn't look like much, it had a population of about 5,000. A resident proudly told us that they have Hindus, Muslims & Buddhists all living in harmony amongst eachother.
The talks centered around the same things but Mr Vinod took a novel approach to educating the residents about open defecation. He marked a rough outline of the village on the ground in chalk, then placed bits of paper to denote the Sarpanch's Office, the Temple etc. When that was done he asked those who didn't have a toilet at home to come mark in yellow powder where they relieve themseleves each morning. After about twenty people came forward, we could see the reality of the situation on the map, the village which was otherwise quite clean & beautiful had now gotten contaminated due to the open defecation. And of course flies that sit on faeces can them contaminate food & make people sick. They too were shown how to build toilets in an economical fashion & for now, they should cover their faeces with dirt as soon as they're done, which will at least prevent the further contamination of the place. The villagers were very receptive & thankful & insisted that we stay for tea, but we couldn't as we had a long journey that day, we had to move to Akola.From Akola the next morning we set out to the village of Dahi Handi, which was quite removed from Akola. This was in the Vidarbha region of Maharshtra, famous for it's cotton farming & infamous for the droughts that occur frequently & the farmer suicides that follow. While the first two villages had been a good experience, this was in stark contrast. The Villagers were rude & antagonistic, kept talking during the demo & not a single woman was present until almost the end.However Mr Vinod knew how to get the crowd to listen & soon they too were interacting. Turns out they had given some money to the local small government to build toilets but a few years had passed & they never heard of the money or the toilets again. They are a community that prize both modesty & honor yet them let their women go out to relieve themselves by the sides of the road alone which is neither safe nor right. That was the end of my journey & I left for Mumbai that evening. It was quite an enriching experience to travel with the Banega Swachh Team, especially Mr Manoj & Chandramohan from NDTV. I thought their interactive sessions with the villagers were educational & I'd love to follow up with the villagers a year later & see if anything has changed for them.

You can follow their progress on the Banega Swachh India Campaign Website.



8.12.14

A meeting with old friends that could’ve been a lot less embarrassing

I recently met up with a couple of old friends from school. Since we started college all of us had kind of drifted apart & met sporadically, & I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I hadn't seen them in over three years. While social media is wonderful in many ways, it can make us take our friends for granted. We know what's happening in each other's lives, but in the end there's very little face to face communication. I was kind of nervous about how our lunch date would go & whether we would have anything substantial to talk about. But within five minutes of being reunited, it was pretty much like we were back in school again... we spent the next few hours chatting, catching up & reminiscing, all over a steamer after steamer of delicious dim sum!
When the bill comes & it's time to split, I realised that I've didn't have enough money to pay my share & I stupidly left my debit card at home too (blame it on late night online shoe shopping!) I awkwardly promised to pay later. Of course, by this time I felt terribly embarrassed because I never borrow money, but I'm in a tight spot, what else do I do? I'm putting my friend on the spot too. She knows I'm good for it, but when will I meet her next to pay her back?

That's just one of the reasons I was so glad to hear about KayPay, a new initiative by Kotak Mahindra bank.

So what is KayPay? It's a service where you can transfer money to your facebook friends with a few clicks. Either person need not have a Kotak Bank account to transfer however, all they need is to be registered on www.Kaypay.com.

And did I mention it's quick? Well KayPay allows you to transfer money instantly with a few taps of your phone. I've been testing it for a while now & while the website could look better, the functionality itself is really smooth! Earlier bank transfers used to be a huge pain in the butt, especially when you have to transfer between two different banks.
KayPay asks you for your facebook password each time you transact & you need to authorise your transactions with an OTP (one time password), which is the perfect amount of security without making you feel like you're running an obstacle course, in my opinion.



Now lets rewind back to that scenario I talked about earlier. I paid my friend back a couple of weeks later as that's when we got the chance to meet. But if I had KayPay then the whole thing would've been so much easier & quicker - no awkwardness, no excuses! Oh well, that's in the past, I'm glad that I have KayPay in my life now.

The last month has been all about discovering new services & facilities that make life easier & KayPay is at the top of my list (along with the Mumbai Metro!). You can read about the service in more detail, & check out which bank accounts are compatible with it by checking out their website & also check out the Kotak Mahindra bank facebook page for regular updates!

Have you ever been in a sticky situation like mine? Do share it with me in the comments section below!