In our second installment, GT asked some of Pakistan’s leading event managers the A-B-C of the business
Q1) How important is it to dress for the event?
Frieha Altaf: I’m in fashion and I do believe it’s extremely important. You can’t wear black tie to a white tie event. Glamour and comfort go hand-in-hand.
Zahra Aslam: I think it’s very important to dress for the event. For all kinds of people â€” young, old, middle aged â€”Â if you’re not dressed up, you may lack the confidence you otherwise would have had. Dressing up is very much a part of the subcontinent.
Aamir Mazhar: Dressing up for an event is very important. With the ongoing trend of red carpets and style-spotting by different magazines, I make sure that I have dressed up as per the occasion. You feel good when you have dressed up right and people at events give you compliments too.
Jalal Salahuddin: An event is an empty shell made by the people that fill it. The way people are dressed and how smart and beautiful they look of course adds to the life and energy of the event and sets the mood. So yes, it is very important.
In Punjab as well as in North India, the events are always grander
and more showy
I think clients in Pakistan should now start concentrating on the dining area, like they do in the West, and perhaps concentrate on controlling the number of guests invited
Q2) There is an increasing trend of having bigger and bigger haan and nikkah functions. How does this make you feel?
FA: Personally, I don’t believe in big meal weddings. It should be about close friends and family.
ZA: In Islam, the most important events are the haan and the valima. The other things we have added are not necessarily what our religion demands. This is why I always encourage my clients to have a very nice nikkah or to have it with one of their important days. Because the number of people who’re doing the dua for the nikkah is what really matters.
AM: Bigger and better is the mantra people want to follow when it comes to any wedding event, especially nikkah and haan functions. Gone are the days when it used to be for close family and friends. Now a lot of nikkahs happen in Wazir Khan Mosque or Badshahi Mosque followed by a grand dinner at home where everyone is invited and general decor is done in white and dress code is ethnic. For haan events, a lot of people are opting for dinners with a musical performance by a well-known singer.
JS: It makes me feel like there is more business. But on a serious note, there is more competition and people want to make each function as beautiful as possible, so yes, I think this trend will grow.
You can’t wear black tie to a white tie event
A Peshawar event really can’t be modeled on a Karachi event unless it’s a private one. When in Rome do as the Romans do!
Q3) How mainly does hiring an event manager benefit the host?
FA: Weddings are stressful and one is so worried about arrangements and entertainment and guests that one does not have a good time. Hire us! We will look after it all for you!
ZA: I think it’s very important to have a mature and organized event manager, someone who knows what he or she is doing. The newer people in the business are using the senior people’s pictures and saying this is our work. We are doing thousands of events and we know exactly what, when,and how things happen. With my events for example, I always cordon off a certain area for the baratis and it’s not just ribbon, it’s big net rolls so that people don’t jump across and sit. These little things only really experienced event managers understand. And I make sure that my guests come as my guests. Whatever time they come, the garlands are sitting on the stand, the rose petals and mehndi thaals are ready, the candles are ready to be lit. So either you drive yourself crazy before the wedding or you hire a reliable event planner and relax and enjoy the wedding. In Europe and America, all weddings â€” big or small â€” are done by event planners. Over here, people are realising that it’s important.
AM: An event manager knows the job and guides the host in a proper way and takes away all the headache or hassle from the task. In the first meeting I always tell my clients what to do and where to spend their money. The client has to put all his faith in the event manager and just show up at the venue at the required time.
JS: First, I think it entirely the changes the host’s mood. For example, J&S is a 360 degree company. We handle card designs, destination management of any guests coming in from abroad; we handle food, creative and anything in between, so it gives the family more time to enjoy their wedding rather than concentrating on planning things. A level of professionalism comes to the table that a layman cannot bring.
For example, at J&S we have an entire creative team that only works on floral design and table layouts, which are customized to each event and the client’s requirements.
Q4) For product launches, what’s the recommended way? Is there such a thing as too much hype? Is a soft launch advised?
FA: There is no such thing as a soft launch! If it isn’t blasted in adverts, the launch is not visible. Soft launches happen when clients are not ready or have poor planning.
ZA: This totally depends on what the product is. If it is a big restaurant or a new food chain launch then obviously they need a big launch. Launches have now become extremely important. If it’s a soft launch, it only touches very few people.
AM: I don’t recommend soft launches. It’s always better to be operational a few days before the launch so that the staff is trained to handle the rush and you can remove any operational bottlenecks. A minimum of two weeks are required for a launch to get the invites designed and work on media and social media and invite all your guests and send reminders. Two weeks gives you an ample time frame to work on event logistics and production. Too much hype is always good because it generates better footfall at the launch.
Too much hype is always good because it generatesÂ better
footfall at the launch
Now a lot of nikkahsÂ happen in Wazir Khan Mosque or Badshahi Mosque followed by a grand dinner at home where everyoneÂ is invited and general decor is done in white and dress code is ethnic
JS: To have a soft launch or not depends on the product. Perhaps if you are launching a new service, restaurant or a salon a soft launch is recommended but any desirable product should be brought in with a complete marketing strategy, entertainment, launch, and guest list.
Q5) Any guidelines for wedding dÃ©cor?
FA: Do not get odd! I love elegant functions and destination weddings. Lots of parties & aÂ mehndi where everyone dances including the bride & groom.
ZA: I’m a fine artist as well so I see my event as a big painting. I first find out what my bride is wearing and then I make a painting around that. If the bride is in bright colours, I keep the stage very muted and as I move further away from the bride on stage, I start to add hints of colour. A wedding I did recently featured red heliconias hanging from huge white trees ending in a console full of accessories, candles and candelabras, and tea lights all in red, the busier it got the further the eyes moved away from the bride and the stage. My teacher Anna Molka would always say that a stroke of colour here and there completes the painting. Lighting is also crucial. If the flowers are white, they get washed out by too much light. The event will last two or three hours but the memories are for life. The photography should be perfect.
AM: First and foremost you need to see your budget. You can do a lot even with smaller budgets as long as you know what you want. White is my favourite color to play with on weddings. The entrance is the focal point at a wedding and it is imperative that all important corners are highlighted in the hall and the stage must be the center of attention.
JS: Wedding dÃ©cor should always be exuberant, elegant but also have an element of surprise. I feel clients in Pakistan should now start concentrating on the dining area, like they do in the West and perhaps concentrate on controlling the number of guests invited, which of course is usually not possible but with a smaller guest list one can concentrate on the finer details more effectively.
In a larger setting, you need large statement pieces added in the dÃ©cor to make an impact amongst the 1000 or 1500 guests. Nonetheless, an enchanting and successful wedding must be a thing of beauty to transport the guests and make them feel like they are in a magical place.
I always cordon off aÂ certain area for the baratis and it’s not just ribbon, it’s big net rolls so that people don’t jump across and sit
I see my event as a big painting. I first find out what the bride is wearing and then I make a painting around that
Q6) Fashion weeks or solo shows?
FA: Both! All big designers need to do solo shows. Fashion weeks are fine for the new crop.
ZA: Totally depends on the designer and what they are aiming for. If it’s someone like Bunto Kazmi or Nasreen Humayun, she can just go on the ramp for a minute and create a real impact. With fashion weeks, there’s more hype and media and it’s a consortium. Even for artists, solo shows are done by those who are well-established. The newer artist will probably go into a show with a bunch of other artists.
AM: Solo shows definitely as you can work on the ambience as per the collection. You also control the guest list and can avoid the unnecessary delays that you see at fashion weeks. Fashion weeks need to work on punctuality, the designers showcasing should be properly selected and the guest list has to be screened properly.
JS: Both, because fashion weeks promote the business of fashion whereas solo shows are a real expression of a designer’s aesthetic and creativity and can often be more intimate and personal.
Whatever time the baraat comes, the garlands are on the stand, the rose petals and mehndi thaals are readyÂ
Q7) How different are events from city to city?
FA: Very different. A Peshawar event really can’t be modeled on a Karachi event unless it’s a private one. When in Rome do as the Romans do!
ZA: Very very different. I am a member of WAFA (World Association of Flower Arrangers) and our members coming from Karachi to Lahore are always amazed by how much Lahoris spend on their events. Islamabad for the most part features events of a smaller scale. Lahoris, they love food and they love spending money on good events. From local workers, florists, carpenters, and lighting teams, the success of event managers has helped open up the flow of money. When I got married, it was just some garlands and Shaadi Mubarak on red velvet!
AM: Events vary from city to city. Karachi events are bigger, classier and grander as compared to Lahore events. Isloo events have a dose of diplomats and are not as loud as Lahore events. Having said that, I would also like to add that PR is relative from city to city. For example, an event manager from Lahore cannot necessarily manage the event to the same standard in Isloo.
JS: In Pakistan, especially in Punjab as well as in North India, the events are always grander and more showy: Punjabis like to spend as much as they can and that’s great for an event manager!
In Karachi, for example, the taste is more western and due to limited spaces the events are more contemporary and toned down. It’s always interesting to see the difference between north and south Pakistan. At J&S we love both aesthetics.