GT Special


GT talks to Pakistan’s best cake artists

Special occasions and events are steadily gaining popularity: Valentine’s Day, baby showers, mother’s and father’s days and many more. They bring us closer to our loved ones by making us make the time from our busy lifestyles. And cakes have carved out an exquisitely sweet place in this social framework. Novelty cakes, personalized with intimate symbolism, now make their appearance at a growing number of events. And so we bring to you the identities behind some of Pakistan’s best novelty cakes!


The Mad Chef



“Food has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was an incredible baker and chef, so the culinary arts have always been an integral part of my life. I believe that novelty cake bakers are not just cake decorators or cake designers, but artists. Our cakes are not your usual cakes, neither are they mass produced. The Mad Chef is run by my sister Naira and me. Naira is studying fine arts and is a little genius with her paintbrush. While I bake, frost, create sculptures, sugar-crafted figurines and flowers, my sister paints ridiculously mad portraits. The Mad Chef depicts our intense passion for food. Our energy comes from the way we create recipes, how we research, and the way we experiment with flavors, textures and techniques and, lastly, how we enjoy our food without a care in the world. The key to success is innovation and not to Google designs and copy them but to be fascinated and inspired by nature around you. It can be the smoke coming out of a hot teapot or a curled dry leaf crunching under your feet.”

— Saba Sharjeal

The Floofies


The-Floofies-(1)_resize“I remember my mother made a cake shaped like a cat for one of my birthdays when I was a kid. That stuck with me. I would ask her to make the same thing over and over on each birthday until I’d gotten too old to have cakes shaped like animals. I’ve always loved cartoons and that, at least, hasn’t changed over the years. At college, I majored in illustration, so one day, I saw my mother baking and told her I wanted to draw on one of the cakes. It started off as a joke, but then we started experimenting with materials and kept at it until we finally got it right. We never planned on starting a company, but we knew that we had something, her being the baker and me being the artist. That’s how it started and we never looked back.

“That’s the funny thing about doing something
you love: If you fail, you’ll find another way to make it wor

There have been loads of times when people would question if this career path was ideal for me, and what if I failed at it. That’s the funny thing about doing something that you love, that you’re passionate about: If you fail, you’ll find another way to make it work. You’ll keep trying until you get it right.”

— Reham Sani

Cakes Matter


moi_resizeCakes Matter was conceived as a home-based confectionery offering exquisitely crafted and uniquely-designed cakes and patisserie for an exclusive clientele. It happened more by coincidence than by design. Though I have always had a deep inclination towards baking and sculpting, I never imagined making a career out of it. I would make cakes for friends and family and received quite unexpected adulation. I once made a cake for a friend’s birthday and later, got my first ever order from her brother and his friends. Thereon started my love affair with cake art! The name “Cakes Matter” underscores the importance of making an occasion memorable with an artistically produced and symbolic cake.

“I was selected as one of four finalists to compete in the biggest cake show in Europe”

Of all the mediums I have worked with — acrylic paints, fabric paints, charcoal pencils, crayons, modelling clay — food colors and gum paste are what I find to be the most fascinating. Creating an edible teddy bear out of a ball of gum paste and enlivening a cupcake with it is an experience in itself. Cake decorating is a brilliant field. It’s innovative, it’s rewarding and unlike other jobs, it hardly ever gets monotonous!

My best memory relating to cake artistry was when I got selected as one of the four finalists globally to compete at the Live Cake Decoration competition at Cake International UK, the biggest cake show in Europe. I secured a second position in the PME Cupcake Challenge and was a Runner up in the PME Cake Decorator of the Year Challenge. I also participated in the International Category at Cake International and made a cake depicting Pakistan’s Rural Life. This event exposed me to the magical world of sugar craft. I brought back home not just a trophy but also tremendous inspiration for advancing my craft. Locally, I took part in the Cake Off at the DHA Food Festival this year and secured First position in the Best Cake Art Category. My cake represented Lahore and all that I love about this city.”

—Zara Abbas

Le Reve


Le-Reve-(4)_resize“My interest in designing cakes was honed and supported by the confectionary classes I took in the Middle East. My penchant for cooking as well as my background in arts and crafts took care of the aesthetics side. There’s much to say about the art and inner workings of designer confectioners. As any dedicated craftsman would, we must maintain a degree of beauty and elegance in the designs we make. Personally speaking, it’s a dedication to perfection which has allowed me to be able to make my novelty cakes. I take out hours every day for months on end to test and refine flavors, colours and overall designs. And that’s something that never really ends! I still look at past designs and think to myself: a different shade of red would look so much better on that rose cake, and then I begin working on creating that new shade. It would be a disservice to my customers as well as to what I’ve built, if there was any one day in my professional life where I settled for something less than the best.

“I still look at past designs and think to myself: a different shade of red would look so much better on that rose cake”

Another thing I pride myself on is understand what people want. Every single cake of mine is the result of my own personal passion for the craft intertwined with the specifics put forth by my customers. And on that note, I’ve been very fortunate to have an amazing fan base. 2015 is gearing up to be a busy year. I’ll be starting my own version of culinary classes!”

— Leena Waseem


Absolutely Caked


“Absolutely Caked ? my sister’s play on absolutely baked, is exactly that: mad, creative, and high on beautiful cakes. It began from a need to bake a greater variety of creative flavor combinations, and to learn how to handle fondant for my son’s 6th birthday cake. I was battling a Captain America carved cake but was frustrated by the limitations of fondant — too much carving and sculpting — plus, everyone was doing it. Then it all came together, my Fine Arts degree and my love for baking and all things beautiful: I would paint on fondant. It was the perfect white canvas. I could paint anything. Thats how Absolutely Caked’s signature hand-painted cakes began. Painting a cake turned it into a work of art. What I love about each cake is the collaboration with the client. Their cake tells a story, be it about the first flowers a husband gave his wife, or a porcelain collection originating from Russia that made its way to Pakistan with Afghan refugees after the Russian Revolution. Even the flavors are inspired by memories, Old School Twist plays with the memory of the traditional caramel fudge sold in our school canteen; The Gardens of Qurtuba cake has layers of orange cake covered with a rich chocolate ganache in memory of a walk through the gardens of the old mosque in Cordoba.

Similarly, Absolutely Caked also specializes in gum paste flowers. Gum paste defies the sensible. It needs obsession and time, lots of it. It needs patience and a gentle hand. It needs you to want beauty. It hides in tissues and boxes, fragile and delicate, only to grace a cake for a few hours. I know that within minutes perhaps it will perish. But I find something poetic in that. The flower brought beauty to someone’s celebration. It exists in memory and in photos. My motto: make the world beautiful one cake at a time.”

—Zairah Maher

PepperLime & SugarPlum


IMG_3013_resize“This is my art, my mode of expression, and how I channel my creativity. I am happiest when I am given carte blanche with the design, and my clients and I are on the same page. I like to work with color, scale and balance. I am addicted to the instant gratification that this kind of work can bring, and that is what keeps me going despite the crazy hours and back breaking labor that goes into making customized cakes. One of the best things about being in this field is that one constantly evolves. There are so many new things to learn and ways to experiment. There is no time to get bored.

I see new bakers in this field whose work is truly inspired, and you can see their hard work in their creations. I think any time your work is driven by passion, it is apparent in what you create. At least, that is what keeps me going.”

—Saira Faruqi


Funky Bake


Funky-Bake-(12)_resize“It all started in 2009 when I saw a picture of a nicely decorated cupcake online. None of what happened next was easy by any stretch, but it pays off now every day. Passion is a force that unleashes boundless creativity, and if you’re passionate about something, you’re more willing to take risks and that is exactly what my passion for baking has enabled me to do.

“My husband helps with the mixes and frostings while my elder son is an amazing 3D artist”

My husband has been my greatest support and mentor. It’s now a family-run show as my husband helps with the mixes and frostings while my elder son is an amazing 3D artist. My little one loves to create miniature versions of everything I create.

I also train women ranging from ages 12 to 60 who have a desire to learn the skill of baking and decorating. Having been baking since the age of 9 and loving it still has helped tremendously to stay focused. Nothing is more satisfying than a smile on a toddler’s face when he rushes into my little heaven and gets the cupcake of his choice.”

—Amber Qazi

We asked some of your favourite celebrities: What are your views on valentine’s day?

Juggun Kazim - Secondary PR Images (1)

Juggun Kazim, Actress

Valentine’s Day is a great occasion to celebrate the love you have with your significant other. Yes, I do celebrate it but I try to celebrate it every day because every day should be special in your relationship. The best part of romance, be it on this day or any other day of the year, is being with your family and loved ones!


HSY, Designer

I personally think love shouldn’t be confined to one V-Day. The best thing about Valentine’s Day is that it brings back the fondest memories from my childhood and later growing up as a teenager. I think contrary to common perception, V–Day should not be confined to a girlfriend/ boyfriend or husband/wife relationship. It’s a day for appreciating relationships in any form. Apart from that you also get gifts from loved ones on this particular day so V–Day is something I always look forward to!

Adnan Pardesy - Profile Image [F]

Adnan Pardesy, Designer

I absolutely love the idea of celebrating Valentine’s day. I think there is nothing wrong in couples celebrating this day unlike a lot of people who think the idea of Valentine’s day is overrated, and one must celebrate love every day. You can’t celebrate your birthday every day. So let’s not hesitate in celebrating and acknowledging the love and joy! Happy Valentine’s day!


Ammara Khan, Designer

In my personal view, Valentine’s Day has become a bit over-glorified in today’s world. To be honest, I see it targeting teenage/high school love. Love is something that should be celebrated every single day with your loved ones.


Layla Chatoor, Designer

Without getting into the roots of the day, any day which celebrates love and inspires people to appreciate and cherish their loved ones is the need of today’s world. I celebrate Valentine’s Day with the same spirit every year but if you truly love someone, every day is Valentine’s Day.

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MARIA.B, Designer

Valentine’s Day is a good reminder for us to do something special for the loved ones in our lives. We often tend to take our loved ones and relationships for granted! I’m not big on the consumerism associated with it though.


Frieha Altaf, Event manager 

Valentine’s Day is about love and affection towards the people we love. I wish all my friends family colleagues happiness and love. I also wish love to those refugees who are displaced by war, the families who lost their children in Peshawar and our armed forces that are working to eradicate terrorism from Pakistan. Last but not least to the Pakistani cricket team at the World Cup!


Saba Sharjeal, Chef 

Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for me. I’m drowning in sugar hearts and teddy bears, roses, assorted baskets, chocolate covered strawberries and so much more! I make a lot of couples happy with all that sugar rush. Personally, I believe you dont need a particular day to celebrate your love for the other person. I’m such a stupid romantic at heart, though, and maybe a dozen roses and a really good home cooked meal is all that I want on this day.


Mohammed Ahmed, Writer

Whenever and wherever there is an occasion to be happy about, I want to celebrate it. Especially in these times that we live in, if there is any thing to be happy about, I don’t want to miss it. Whether its a small or a big occasion, I don’t ask where it’s coming from or why, I just want to celebrate it and be happy.


Shaniera Akram, HomeMaker & wife of wasim Akram

Valentine’s Day reminds you to believe in love and that fairytales really do happen. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.


Ayesha Omer, Singer and Actor 

Love can be expressed or spread any day of the year but it’s cute to do it with rest of the world on one special day. But I think Valentine’s Day has become far too commercial and less personal. It should be about doing something special for your loved ones and taking out time to tell them you love them—not just spending lots of money buying expensive presents. Maybe make something yourself, like cards or a scrapbook, or cook a loving meal or bake something yummy. Also it shouldn’t only be about expression of romantic love. Platonic, family, sibling and general love for special people in your life can also be expressed if you don’t have a partner or special person in your life. You shouldn’t feel left out.

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 — young, old, middle aged —  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 — big or small — 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 generates better
footfall at the launch






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

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 décor?

FA: Do not get odd! I love elegant functions and destination weddings. Lots of parties & a  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 décor 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 décor 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 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





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 ready 

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.

Who did you choose as your designer? And why?

Rema Qureshi: I was in India and chose my outfit there, and I am yet to order my mehndi outfit!

Fatin Gondal: I am generally a very picky person, and in this case I was very clear about the kind of look I wanted to go for. I didn’t go on a jora hunt from one designer to the other. For me it was always going to be Khadija Shah of Élan. I love her work, the choice of color palates that she works with, and most importantly I trust her.

Mishaal Anwar: I’ve always wanted an element of traditional red in my shadi outfit, without it being overwhelming. After speaking with Dr. Haroon, he totally won me over with his enthusiastic idea of that perfect red dupatta in an overall pink color scheme. For my valima I wanted a completely different look. Shehla Chatoor with her modern cuts and contemporary style promised just that.

Sameen Khan: My mother, Kauser Humayun, is a fashion and jewelry designer and is making my jewelry, formals, nikkah and mehndi outfits. I would trust her blindly with it actually. For the wedding itself, I decided to go to Rizwan Beyg: he made my sister’s wedding jora and my mother, sister, and I all consider him to be one of the most-if not the most-talented designers here.



Who did you choose as your makeup artist? And why?

Rema: Have not decided yet, but will go for someone who can complement the traditional look I have in mind.

Fatin: Ather Shahzad for my valima and Leena Ghani for my wedding. Leena is one of the few who gives you a very natural non-caked up look, which is exactly what I needed for my day-time wedding event.

Mishaal: Honestly, I’m waiting to take that decision. Lets see how the December and January brides do. Better to learn from other people’s mistakes!

Sameen: I wear very little makeup on a daily basis, and I wanted to go to a makeup artist who knows her stuff but will not a) change me, b) go overboard, or c) make me look like a creampuff. I chose Leena Ghani, because she doesn’t change faces and she uses bronzer liberally (something that very few Pakistani makeup artists are willing to do)!

Mishaal & Shahwaiz


Are you planning on going sans makeup on the mehndi?

Rema: No makeup, just lots of color and flowers!

Fatin: No. Everyone attending looks their best on mehndi, why shouldn’t the bride!

Mishaal: What’s the point of the out-of-bed look before the big day?No one should look less than perfect when lights and eyes shine bright on you. Natural doesn’t mean literally. It also doesn’t mean party makeup.

Sameen: I won’t lie: I’m planning on wearing a touch of cover-up under the eyes but mehndis are meant to be makeup-free so I wouldn’t do more than that. I like the idea of flowers as adornment instead of makeup and jewellery.

Rema & Shehryar


Are you involved in doing up the house you’ll be moving into? What will you miss most about your own home?

Rema: Yes that’s work in progress! I’ll be missing my bedroom, and most of all coming home to my parents.

Fatin: Not really. I didn’t want to do it up in a rush. Shezy, my fiancé, is extremely busy with work right now and I have been caught up with all the other wedding preps. I’m really looking forward to doing it up together with him, in ease, once the craziness is over. There’s so much I will miss about my home. But I think most of all my room, I love my room, it’s always been my happy space, being able to walk around in my pajamas and eating midnight snacks and chilling with my mom.

Mishaal: I’ll be setting up my home in Los Angeles once I get there. Better in person than online. Thankfully my mother-in-law has taken up the stress to do up my place here. I can totally rely on her to do something amazing.

Hollywood aside, I’ll definitely miss being served tea in bed, like a boss!

Sameen: I am indeed involved in doing up the house and it’s the most stressful part of the entire experience! I’m very particular about having an inspiring yet livable space that reflects one’s personality. My fiancé loves the minimalistic look and I love moody, dark (sometimes shabby chic) spaces so we are trying to find a balance. What I will miss most about my own home is alone time: the ability to lock myself in my room for hours and make time for my self and my creative ventures i.e. reading, writing, painting, etc. That is very precious to me.

Sameen & Shehryar


Weddings in Pakistan have become such big blockbuster events. People are hiring choreographers from India, flying in flowers from Holland. Do you agree with this approach or does it bother you?

Rema: It doesn’t bother me but I feel that the hosts, friends, and family should enjoy the wedding. Sometimes I find wedding events become more about showiness and ostentation rather than about the couple, and all the fun involved!

Fatin: I don’t believe in too much or too many functions. It’s hectic for everybody including the bride. I think what’s important is the intention behind it. Some brides may want the perfect outfit, others may want the perfect dreamy wedding with beautiful exotic flowers. To each their own. What’s important is that no one should stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone to prove anything to anyone.

Mishaal: “Grand” has a positive correlation with stress! I don’t care for such drama and so much khowaari. My friends have choreographed some dances nothing short of Bollywood productions. I try not to judge people who spend exorbitant amounts on their weddings, because it’s quite entertaining to witness:

Sameen: I don’t believe in spending so much time, energy, and money on a single day. An event manager can relieve the burden of organizing a wedding yourself, and I am using one for that reason. However, one must draw a line between a wedding and a show. Just ask yourself: Am I doing what I’m doing for the right reasons? And always lean away from the latter, because that’s never a good way to live. What bothers me about blockbuster events is how they are used to make statements.

Fatin & Shahzad


For those brides without a host of female siblings and cousins, they have to host and organize dance practices themselves? How are you managing the dance practices?

Rema: For my sister’s wedding, I took on that role, so I’m hoping that’s her turf this time!

Fatin: Honestly, you don’t feel the lack of if it you have friends like sisters. Mine have completely taken over and been great sports about my dance practices from organizing to participating.

Mishaal: I don’t really have that problem, MashaAllah. I’ve got the siblings, the cousins and the friends. Not to forget I’m not at all averse to the idea of stealing a few dances from all the weddings I have to attend. Ladies beware!

Sameen: Actually, I am quite fortunate to have a whole host of female relatives (and some good, good friends)! Considering how very little I know of the latest Bollywood tunes and moves, I’ve delegated dance practices to my sister and cousins as well as those friends who are particularly talented at choreography and dancing. We’re only practicing a week to ten days; I believe in having fun with it and not taking things too seriously.

In an exclusive feature, we ask Pakistan’s leading event managers about the A-B-C of the business

How important is it to dress for an event?

QYT: If someone has invited you and it’s a formal event, for example, you should always dress formally. People who don’t dress accordingly and just attend as they please—without making an effort with their shoes or clothes — it’s a kind of disrespect to the host. I personally feel that wherever you go, you should dress according to the venue and type of event.

Alena Peerzada: It’s important to dress appropriately for all occasions. As far as weddings go, one should dress to enjoy the occasion. We are still lucky in the subcontinent to dress the way we do, but I miss seeing more people dressed according to their own individual styles. I think being fashion forward is fun as long as one is honest about what suits their personalities and bodies. You should dress to enjoy yourself, and wear what and who you are.

Shazreh Khalid: I think it is extremely important to dress according to the occasion. For mehndis, for example, I always suggest traditional, festival outfits. At the reception itself, you can play with different silhouettes and styles. We have such an amazing fashion industry so there is a lot to choose from.



I don’t believe in soft launches. If I’m doing a launch, it’s got to be with a big bang



In Faisalabad, people make a lot of comparisons: I want my event to be better than X’s event!


With the nikkah, I personally feel it shouldn’t be a separate event, it should be on the day when the maximum guests are attending

There is an increasing trend of having bigger and bigger haan and nikkah functions. How does this make you feel?

QYT: I don’t do haan and nikkah events and instead I do main events, be it a mehndi or a big musical evening or a baarat or valima or a joint reception. With the nikkah, I personally feel it shouldn’t be a separate event, it should be on the day when the maximum guests are attending. This is because the son or daughter who’s getting married will have that many hands raised in prayer for them. If you invite a 1000 people for the main events and only ten for the nikkah, then only ten people are praying for the couple. To all my clients, I suggest that a nikkah should be held on the night of the mehndi or the baarat because that’s when most people attend and everyone raises their hands in prayer for the couple.

Alena Peerzada: Weddings are such personal events; it’s just not normal for all to be the same. Some people like them extravagant, and some like them low-key. Currently the trends revolve around hosting more functions, but this is because Pakistani weddings are all about celebration, fun, colour. The more the merrier!

Shazreh Khalid: Some people prefer smaller, quieter events for a nikkah or haan and others like to go all out. Ultimately, it’s the client’s big day so they should do whatever makes them happy!

Now people want more from weddings; they want themes, concepts, beauty, and seamless execution


We are still lucky in the subcontinent to dress the way we do, but I miss seeing more people dressed according to their own individual styles


Lighting can affect the profile of an event from special to unforgettable

How, mainly, does hiring an event manager benefit the host?

QYT: For me, more important than the wedding itself are the bride and groom, especially the bride. For them, this day will only come once, well, for most of them! So the bride and groom and their respective families should be given proper respect. If I am being hired to do the event then all the pressure and tension of organizing the event should fall on me. I tell them to come as guests would, to be relaxed, to enjoy the occasion.

Alena Peerzada: Hiring an event manager definitely takes the stress off. I feel the benefit is huge because I can help in both practical and creative ways, providing resources and advice for your functions, and finally take complete charge of putting the event together. All along I keep in mind your personal requirements and taste along with incorporating aesthetically pleasing elements. I think it benefits the host by having one person responsible and deliver the above. The trends are changing rapidly! Now people want more from weddings; they want themes, concepts, beauty, and seamless execution. Moreover, today, many brides are working women, who don’t have as much time as women previously used to have. Therefore, they turn to event managers to translate their needs on-ground!

Shazreh Khalid: Hiring an event manager means that you attend your function as a guest and your vision of the perfect wedding is turned into reality. One can relax and focus on the thousands of things that come with a wedding and leave the managing of the event in the hands of a professional.

For product launches, what’s the recommended way? Is there such a thing as too much hype? Is a soft launch advised?

QYT: At first, we start with a product but then I make it into a brand by creating tons of hype around it. The main purpose is for as many people to get to know the product. I don’t believe in soft launches and if I’m doing a launch, it’s got to be with a big bang. I tell the clients that either I do it all out or I don’t do it at all. If they tell me “we don’t have the budget for it,” then I tell them to hold off until they do have the budget to launch in a big way. I think it’s better for the product as I feel the whole point of a launch is to create hype for the product, otherwise just directly launch the product in the market. It helps to invite media people, models, artists, celebrities, and keep some giveaways.

For fashion events and launches, I style the models as well as the host: I tell them to wear this outfit and that shoe. Especially if the host is a bit simple, I style them too. If I’m launching a product, I feel the host should also be looking glamorous, it’s very important since he or she is going to mingle with all sorts of people, society and media.

Alena Peerzada: It depends on the product and its launch. If it’s a mass scale brand launching a project for the masses then there is no such thing as too much publicity. We at Peer Events have mainly done larger nationwide product launches where what you really want is maximum viewership, mileage and attendance. For products that are investing huge amounts of money to launch themselves I don’t think a soft launch can be advised.

Shazreh Khalid: I would always advise a soft launch, especially for a restaurant or cafe as it gives the staff an opportunity to deal with real customers and work out the kinks, if any.


In this business you have to frantically innovate




Any guidelines for wedding proprieties and decor?

QYT: The bride and groom should come at the right time, with a perfect song playing. As far as the stage is concerned, I always keep it in muted tones and subtle colours, basically in complete contrast to the bride so that she stands out. My stuff is classy and elegant and I generally use very subtle tones when it comes to receptions. Mehndis are the only exceptions, naturally!

Alena Peerzada: The décor is different for every event. Mehndi functions are always colourful and use traditional styles whereas baraat and valima functions use more sombre colours. A clustered stage and too many flowers is not the way to go. I feel it’s important to play with heights and ceiling décor. With all the people and hustle bustle at weddings, the only constant that can be truly impactful is the ceiling. Day-time weddings are lovely in good weather, especially if you want to decorate your wedding in lighter tones such as pearls and lace. Lighting, for me, is the most important part of my setup. Lighting can make or break an event. From the actual ceremony to the car parking area, lighting plays an essential role in setting the stage for your wedding. At Peer Events we have Pakistan’s foremost lighting designers who know how lighting can elevate the profile of an event from special to unforgettable. Whether you are getting married outside or bringing the outdoors in, lighting is the key to creating the perfect environment.

Shazreh Khalid: I love using fresh flowers! Every season, we have such beautiful flowers here. If used, they make the event extra special. I keep myself updated with international decor trends and implement them as much as possible. In this business you have to frantically innovate, in a sense, so you don’t repeat your ideas. My style is generally elegant and classic and you can never go wrong with that!





Fashion weeks or solo shows?

QYT: Before the trend began of having big fashion weeks, there used to be solo fashion shows. I recently organized a solo show for Faraz Manan and Ather Shehzad at Faletti’s Hotel in Lahore. The guests thoroughly enjoyed the show and it was all wrapped up within 35 minutes. Solo shows are coming back again and I have had a tremendous response from many designers after this recent solo show. I did a solo show for Damas in Marriott Islamabad a few months ago and some others are in the pipeline.

Alena Peerzada: I’m not really into attending fashion shows, but if I had to pick I guess I’d only take the time out to see a solo show of someone whose work I really appreciate.

Shazreh Khalid: Solo shows!

How different are events from city to city?

QYT: Every city has a different flavor. As of late, I’ve been doing many events in Sialkot, where I launched a Super Cinema recently. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the fashions there are not very far from the fashions of Lahore and Karachi. The girls were very nicely dressed with elegant and sublte make-up and the boys were also fashion forward. In Faisalabad, for example, people make a lot of comparisons, ‘I want my event to be better than x persons event.’

Alena Peerzada: Regarding weddings, they have become very theme-oriented, which in my personal opinion is a trend that needs to be broken! I feel one needs to concentrate on wedding activities, ambiance and decor in a more feel-good manner rather than restricting oneself to a theme-specific event.

Shazreh Khalid: I’m inspired by every city’s charm and character and try to incorporate that into the decor and food.

What does it take to have a happy relationship?
Here are tips from some
of Pakistan’s most famous couples


Juggan Kazim, actor/model

Some people think that the most important thing in making a relationship work is love or mutual understanding. I would say the most important thing is respect. If you don’t respect each other, it’s not possible to have a long-term relationship. If there is one thing I could keep in my relationship with my husband, or son, or mother, it would be respect. If I had all the money in the world and didn’t have respect, I’d rather have none of it.


Shaniera Akram

“To all GT readers, we wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day in 2014.”


Aamina Sheikh, actor

Let’s dance some more, shall we? Love. Communication. Trust. Understanding. Compatibility: words beaten to death when asked about a relationship. These are generic terms more easily used than applied; whoever states them is probably just trying to get done with the interview. We’re not ‘perfect.’ What is this term anyway? If anything, we’re beyond perfection. One can’t have a word that limits the potential of a human being. In fact isn’t it the imperfections and uncertainties in our world that are most promising? This companionship has the most dynamic range. It’s like chewing gum. We stretch it. Chew it. Savor it. Get irritated by it. Blow bubbles with it. Pop it. Crave for it. Squirm at its redundancy. Wonder at its longevity. Giggle at its idiocy. It’s all of this and more. There are moments together when you feel there can be no one closer, then there are events that make you feel no one can be furthest. Dance the dance of silence, of resistance, of distance; dance the dance of acceptance, of letting go, of forgiveness, the dance of melancholy, the dance of unlearning, the dance of re-learning, the dance of harmony, of ecstasy, of hope, of love. This is who and what we are – two souls partnered for the dance of life – while we watch each other we step in sync when the rhythm of life commands. May this dance continue till the eternal show and beyond. Amen.


Khadijah Shah, designer

A healthy relationship is one in which you can be who you are, follow your dreams and do the things you love!


Wasim and Naila Akhtar, politician and homemaker

Don’t ever stop dating your husband and don’t ever stop flirting with your wife. Also understand clearly that you are both on the same side. Everyday then will be Valentine’s Day.


Shahroz Sabzwari, actor

My advice would be to give the right amount of space to each other. Loyalty and everything else is secondary. The first thing is to respect each others space and that means you respect everything about your other half.


Tehmina Durrani, writer and wife of Chief Minister of Punjab

You must love a person in the way they need to be loved, instead of loving the way you want to love. Only then will you touch his heart and soul. Soon he will reciprocate. The key is patience and generosity.


Anwar Maqsood, writer

The most important thing for a healthy relationship is trust. If one speaks the truth, one is not afraid of anyone. You have to be honest in every relationship, whether it is between a mother and a son, a brother and a sister, or a boyfriend and a girlfriend. Valentine’s Day is a recent phenomenon in our culture, but not the tradition of giving a rose to someone. There is a verse by Ghazala Aleem about being given a rose that leaves one pricked with thorns. Roses always have thorns, except the ones we exchange on Valentine’s Day. They are without thorns and wrapped in plastic. Plastic is the worst thing for a flower. Moreover, all of Faiz’s poetry, all of Faraz’s poetry and all of Iqbal’s poetry tells us that every day is Valentine’s Day. All 365 days of the year should be spent loving each other. And then there would be no terrorists and no children without education. Love these children, so that they can become educated. Love them by giving them a bag of books. Love them by lightening their burden so that they may continue to educate themselves. That is to me what Valentine’s Day stands for.


Sharmila Farooqi, politician

Respect and space are the most important. In other words, stay away when in a bad mood!


Meesha Shafi, actor/singer

For any healthy relationship, respect and space are pivotal. But to maintain loving, dynamic, communication and appreciation are key. Being compassionate and trying to understand each other’s point of view, making time for one another and adapting as life takes its own course, these are the things that help couples grow together.

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