WEDDING PACKAGES
TAKE A VOW:Tie the knot in style this season with wedding packages taking the stress out of the game, say Deepesh Das --

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                            A KNOTTY AFFAIR

The wedding season is back in all its finery. But it’s time to think out of the box – or even out of town. Wouldn’t you like a wedding without the hassles? So, if you have a few months in hand before you say, "I do," all you need to do is zero in on the destination of your choice, and pick a customized wedding package to suit your budgets and requirements.

From heritage forts and cruises to five-star hotels in the city of your dreams, you’ll have your wedding planned and executed down to the last detail with minimum fuss. And adding spice to the proceedings will be caparisoned elephants, vintage cars, chartered aircraft and even perhaps private cruises.

Most wedding packages come with in-house wedding planners and a battery of specialists who take care of creating the right ambience, dishing out delicacies and stirring some great beverages. So there are no last-minute panic stories from the family.

Says Richa Goyal Sikri, director, group business development, STIC Travel Group which books luxury weddings for Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts: "Opting for a wedding package gives the family an opportunity to be a part of the celebrations minus the stress of making all the arrangements".

Sample a few packages that are as lavish they are spectacular:

Most wedding packages come with in-house wedding planners and a battery of specialists who take care of every detail and fancy.

HERITAGE BONANZA PALACE OF DREAMS Devigarh, Udaipur

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The deal:

A wedding at Devigarh, near Udaipur, may cost a fortune, but what else do you expect if you choose to tie the knot in a palace? For an elaborate affair, you can book the entire palace with its 39 suites. In peak season (October to April), this will cost Rs.12lakh per day (plus taxes) while the off-season rate (May to September) is Rs.10lakh per day. These packages include accommodation though not the meals. A package with meals for 120 guests starts at about Rs.25lakh a day.

What to expect:

Think Rajasthani folk musicians and dancers performing at all lunches and dinners, a band for the wedding procession, fireworks, an exotic floral mandap and even a priest to perform the ceremony. The different functions are held in the courtyards, the durbar hall, terraces and the poolside.

For more:

check outwww.deviresorts.com.

ROYAL TOUCH Jagmandir Island Palace, Udaipur

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The deal:

Your regal wedding package at this HRH hotel, that sits prettily in Lake Pichola, can be customized to the last detail Space wont be a constraint and you can invite up to 700 guests for the wedding functions. The packages take care of the flower decorations, mood lighting, fireworks displays and even the folk dance performances.

What to expect:

A customized package (prices vary) can include accommodation for the guests at HRHs Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace. The wedding party is ferried to the Island Palace from here. The venues for the different parties include the exotic Kunwapada Chowk and the Kunwapada Lawns on the western side of the island.

For more:

Mail the Regal Experiences Expert atevents@hrhhotels.com.

CRUISE CONTROL DROPPING ANCHOR Royal Caribbean Cruises

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The deal:

You can plan your wedding as well as honeymoon aboard a Royal Caribbean ship and avail of the Royal Caribbean International Royal Romance Programme, which sounds appealing."The wedding ceremony cannot be performed while at sea, so it is solemnized at any of the ports of call," says Gautam Chandha, chief executive, Tirun Travel Marketing. So you can combine a cruise holiday with getting married – in Italy, Greece, Spain, US or even Canada. The prices vary by the port, ship and season.

If you opt for Miami, then there are three packages to choose from. The prices of these packages are per couple and in addition to the cost of the cruise. Packages are priced starting $1395 (Rs.70475) and go to $1795 (Rs.90669). The cost of the marriage license and processing fee is $193 (Rs.9771) while an additional surcharge of $100 (Rs.5048) is applicable on weddings in May, June, September and October.

What to expect:The Miami packages promise a romantic wedding ceremony at the port, includes a personal wedding coordinator in attendance during the ceremony, recorded ceremony music, profess-ional shipboard photography and a keepsake Royal Romance marriage certificate. That apart, couples can say cheers with chocolate covered toasting strawberries and sparkling wine (on the house).

For more: Go towww.royalcaribbean.com.

STAR TREK Star Cruises

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The deal: Star Cruises operates from Singapore and you could charter an entire ship (and invite up to 2000 guests) or make group bookings. Ceremonies with fire have to be solemnized ashore at a port of call. Stars wedding packages (from one to five nights) can be customized and prices depend on whether airfare and land travel is included as well as the number of people in the wedding party. But the package price usually includes meals, entertainment and on-board facilities.

What to expect: You can request for Indian or Western cuisine for the banquets. Special on-board entertainment with shows by international performers, dancers and acrobats can be organized on request. Star Cruises can arrange for raised platforms for the bridal couple and flower decorations.

For more: Mail rcarunava@starcruises.com.

RESORTING TO EXCLUSIVITY BALINESE DELIGHT Amandari Resort, Bali

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The deal:This retreat is set above the lush Ayung River Valley and is a stones throw from Ubud, Balis cultural and artistic epicenter. A package (customized to requirement) includes accommodation meals and decorations/entertainment. A 50% deposit is mandatory and is refundable up to three months prior to the wedding. If you book the entire resort, you can invite about 120 guests. The resort can arrange for the legal and religious aspects of the ceremony. At least one room needs to be booked for a minimum of two nights.

What to expect:Depending on the number of guests, the ceremonies are organized at the special out-door Balinese gazebos, alcoves in the garden or in private villas. You can also opt for a fully inclusive event, which means that the resort will take on the wedding ceremony, the reception and dinner.

For more: Email amandari@amanresorts.com. Or go to www.baliweddingsinternational.com.

CHILLING OUT Banyan Tree, Phuket

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The deal: How about getting married in what has been dubbed the Worlds Best Spa Resort by reader of Code Nast Traveler? Banyan Tree Phuket is located on the northwestern coast of Phuket Island in southern Thailand and is a 20-minute drive from the international airport. It has 150 luxurious villas in its kitty. The resort offers a Wedding Chapel Package besides which packages can be customized depending on requirements and budgets. Prices are on request and accommodation is not included in the price.

What to expect: The Wedding Chapel Package includes the use of the chapel and seating for 50 guests, roundtrip airport transfers, beauty treatments for the bride and a 20% discount on a la carte spa treatments at the spa. The package also includes the wedding cake, a bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial champagne, a photographer for the chapel wedding, a three-hour spa package for the couple and a romantic in-villa breakfast and dinner for them.

For more: Go to www.stictravel.com or call 033-22294464.

BY THE RIVER The Fort, Raichak

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The deal:Closer home, The Fort, a 90-minut drive from Calcutta, needs four to six months advance intimation of the wedding. While a deposit of 25% of the estimated cost of the wedding will have to be made at the time of booking, youll have to pay another 25% three months prior to the event. Another 25% must be paid a month ahead of the wedding. Packages are customized to suit individual preferences and the prices are available on request. The cuisine and the add-ons (like decorations) are the deciders.

What to expect: The Fort is built like an old British fort and sprawls over 60 acres on the banks of the Hooghly. The specious grounds and the rooms offer a spectacular view of the river. All you need to do is spell out your budget and requirements and The Fort team will take it from there.

For a smaller exclusive reception, you could also check out Ganga Kutir, Ambuja Realtys 16-room premium boutique hotel right next door.

For more: Contact Anupam Jaiswal at anupam.jaiswal@fort.com or go to www.gangakutir.com.

THE BONG CONNECTION GOLD STANDARD ITC, The Sonar

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The deal: The ITC has tailor-made packages and the prices (available on request) vary according to the scale of the event. For a residential wedding (when the hosts and guests stay at the hotel), bookings need to be made least a year in advance. But a one-day affair can be booked six months ahead. You need to deposit 50% at the time of booking.

What to expect: ITC has a panel of decorators, florists, electricians and audio-visual experts, DJs, musicians and event mangers you can count on. You can expect specialty cuisine, world-class decorations and importantly, creative suggestions from the team in charge of your event’. From a pre-wedding pampering session at The Kaya Kalp Spa to a fancy spread on the big day, it can all be included in the package.

For more: Call ITC, The Sonar at 033-23454545 and an events executive will call back within 12 hours.

THEME NIGHTS The Hyatt, Calcutta

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The deal: The hotels Convention Services team handles the event and right from drawing up a thematic concept to banquets, they will take you through each step. You need to book at least three to four months in advance and the hotel takes full payment upon confirmation. The packages are customized to requirement.

What to expect: A team of Convention Services Executives work for each planned wedding, in tandem with the clients. There are in-house decorators and florists too and the hotel also provides DJs and event managers. The hotel’s fitness center and parlour also offer special bridal packages (available at an extra charge).

For more: Contact Sutopa Ganguly at

sutopa.ganguly@hyatt.com/kolkata.regency@hyatt.com.

HIGH FLIER Taj Bengal, Calcutta

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The deal: A wedding package at The Taj generally costs about Rs.1600 to Rs.7000 per person (prices may exceed this range depending on the scale of the event). The packages are customized to your specifications. You need to book at least four to six months ahead of the big day. All payments to be made by cheque or credit card.

What to expect: From live entertainment and related arrangements for accommodation, banquet, the reception as well as the decoration, you just need to voice your request and it shall be fulfilled. You can fly in Taj chefs or even charter aircraft from the Taj Air fleet.

For more: Contact Gayatri Kapoor at 66123280/3266/3267/3269 or

www.tajhotels.com.

 

All that jazz

So its a complete package that youre eyeing. And these hotspots offer various thrills to add an extra edge to your dream wedding. Check out what you get and where:

1. Caparisoned elephants, vintage cars – Devigarh, Udaipur

2.

Chartered aircraft – The Taj Bengal, Calcutta

3.

Chartered ship – Star Cruises

4.

River cruise – The Fort, Raichak

5.

DJs and live music – All hotels

6.

Folk music and folk dance – Devigarh and Jagmandir Palace in Udaipur

7.

Pre-wedding spa treatment – ITC, The Hyatt, Taj Bengal, The Fort, Jagmandir, Banyan Tree Phuket

8.

Wedding Chapel Banyan Tree Phuket

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