Planning an Offbeat Sangeet on a Budget

A little over 250 of you voted in favor of this post, but I do think that the right follow-up to this would be the other option: how to let go after all that planning. There's more to gain if you're focused on having a blast, versus coordinating and executing your well-thought out event plan. On the day of our Holi sundowner, I lost my cool over something significant, but it took very little time for me to bounce back. So when the time is right, I'll blog about how not to let anything dull your wedding spirit. For now, here are some ideas and backstories to help you plan an economical but inventive Sangeet: 

(Photos by the man, the myth, the legend: Journeys by Ram

1. The overarching idea:

A TV show, a movie, a sport, or a specific idea like UV/ black light parties, carnivals, or an elaborate Oscars night. Brainstorm without holding back any ideas, we'll see about execution later.  Holi is Kiran's favorite festival, and in 2014 (we weren't dating yet) he had mentioned that his dream Sangeet would involve real Holi. I had no idea how that would translate into an actual pre-wedding event, but in hindsight, it all went well :)

Here's where you don't want to refer to anything anyone has done in the past, instead come up with something novel and yours. A Sangeet during the day? Why not. A Sangeet where you play board/ card games and totally skip the dancing, WHY NOT! You do you. 


2. Make a list of party ideas and props: 

A simple Google search can help you nail down exactly what you'll need to establish the theme of the event. A carnival theme needs tents, signs, food trucks, banners etc. I actually suggest that you put together an exclusive non-decor list because an event is not just about how you spruce up the venue. Our sundowner barely had any decor (just a stage, backdrop, and some drapes), but everyone in white outfits soaking sunset views was just...LIT! Here are a few to get your started: 

• Games to engage your guests, and/ or interesting ways for them to leave you a message (in keeping with your theme) 

• Dress codes are more fun during a Sangeet versus wedding in my opinion, also easier to implement because there are fewer guests (think cosplay, painted or printed outfits) 

• Surprise segments for your partner, dance flashmobs, karaoke performances. 

• Props - we had CO2 machines, smoke bombs, organic colors, shades for when we played Holi. Think beyond the usual tablescapes, drapes, and lanterns.

• Entry - I know this seems very showy and trivial, but planning an exclusive entry for the bride, groom, families, friends can energize your entire wedding party so much! 

• Dance props - its the little things that add up to something impactful, the rose petals, the Dhols, the coordinated scarves...


3. Plan a rough sequence of events:  

It might seem early, but walk through the day through a moodboard (Pinterest + Instagram) and use this schedule to help you decide all the other details. We had finalized Pier 33 by this time, and below is a brief schedule I had in mind. We then sat down to figure out what we could do to make each segment special. The choreography was done in a way that would use the entire space instead of just the stage (grooving down the steps, jumping off the stage onto a platform etc.) The timeline also helped us breakdown when we would execute our party ideas, and where we would use the props.  

6.30pm: Guest welcome + photo-booth 

7:00pm: Live music

7.30pm: Dance performances   

8:30pm: Holi colors entry and dance floor 

9:00pm: Dinner 

10:00pm: Dance floor part two and fireworks 


4. Coordinate and delegate:  

If what you're doing is out of the box, make sure you clearly discuss every aspect with those involved (choreographer, a family member, a few friends, venue manager, photo/ video team at the very least.) I don't have to tell you how distracting parties can be, and even the best of wedding coordinators cannot help you if you don't value teamwork and harmony above all else. 


5. Visit the venue and take videos: 

This is when you loop everyone in and think out loud on how the day will go. Ideally, you should discuss the breakdown and schedule, and go over how each segment will flow into the next (will an emcee announce? If its a flashmob, how will you usher people to clear the area?) Share the videos with anyone involved in the actual planning/ event. 


6. Perfection is overrated: 

We were delayed by 3 hours, which basically means most things didn't go as per our original plan. And you should know that Indian weddings = not as per schedule. Go out of your way to make a few things happen, but remind yourself that today is not about checking things off your list. Take suggestions from those who have tribal knowledge from previous weddings (events, photo/ video team), and do what you got to do to make the best of the time you have. 

Although you're hosting an evening for your friends and fam, and you may feel responsible for their fun, they're not going to have a good time if you or your partner are not happy and energetic. Repeat after me: I will not let anything upset us or get in the way of the fun/ madness.