Fresh flowers take centre stage in the great Indian wedding

A floral arrangement set against a palace backdrop by Interflora
A floral arrangement set against a palace backdrop by Interflora


Inspired by celebrity weddings, Indian couples are opting for opulent floral sets and arrangement to make their D-day special and Instagrammable

In the age of living for the ’gram, everyone wants a wedding to remember and couples are willing to go the extra mile to make their special day go viral. It's not just about creating a photo booth or planning a buffet for the relatives anymore. Take the two brothers in Uttar Pradesh who were fined this March for modifying a Wagon R to look like a helicopter to rent it out for weddings.

Whether it’s the $59 million Paris wedding of an American heiress last November, or Indian businessman Anant Ambani’s pre-wedding do in Jamnagar, Gujarat — using flowers to create an otherworldly experience has become a mainstay for weddings this season.

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At the Ambani bash, guests were welcomed via a landscaped driveway to a glass house adorned with exotic fresh flowers. Designed from Jeff Leatham’s ethereal ideas in collaboration with designer Manish Malhotra, Indian floral design company Interflora executed an experience of a cozy living room filled with vases and curios in addition to thousands of floral sculptures. A big fat Indian wedding or an intimate one, for a 2024 wedding, floral installations and experiences set against a picturesque backdrop have many takers, according to experts.

A Vivid Maximalist Dream

Weddings have gotten bigger post the pandemic and flowers are playing a crucial role in the scene. “People have circled back to more fresh arrangements and the obsession with dry flowers and arrangements is slowly dying. Floral arrangements so far have been pretty, stemmed flowers arranged in a vase, but we are now seeing sculptural art pieces made using flowers and other materials. The world is circling back to a maximalist theme, where we see floral arrangements filled with an assortment of things to cluster," says Devika Narain, founder at Devika Narain and Company. She has worked on several weddings including Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli, and Rajkummar Rao-Patralekhaa Paul.


She adds that people prefer stylized sculptural flowers such as gloriosas, amaryllis or calla lilies as opposed to typical English garden flowers which were seen in the last decade. “These sculptural flowers are then styled to create unique arrangements. Even in Indian flowers, while the marigold will always be there, there's a lot of movement towards the south Indian flowers such as kaner or kanakambaram. The stringing technique in the South is very different from the North. So people are mixing techniques and flowers and even including fabrics, gota and ghungru," says Narain. Other elements to make the décor maximal include antique pieces, fruits, potted orchids and other plants, candles, interesting vases and even different leaves such as palms or eucalyptus.

“Flowers are not just for filling up spaces anymore but an integral part of a couple’s personalization journey. This is done by combining floral arrangements with elements like fabric, origami, art and props to look at it from an art perspective. People are now using flowers to tell a story and create an experience. For example, designers Arpita Mehta and Kunal Rawal’s wedding was at Taj, Colaba (Mumbai), a venue for several weddings. But we created an experience as if you were walking through green meadows," says Anuja Joshi, founder, Interflora.

All weddings also have Instagramable spots today, so the pressure is to create opulent floral installations for fresh content. “Like you layer an outfit to make it grander, we use a three-by-three technique where we layer (installations) with three different varieties of flowers and different materials to give it a twist and warmth," says Joshi about creating larger-than-life pieces. The sky is the limit for maximal setups that are often influenced by international flowers for a pastel palette. The results look opulent yet international, says Joshi.

Even with Indian flowers, Joshi has seen a surge in demand for more karigari. “It’s not like if you choose Indian flowers it is cheaper, there is a rise in demand for intricacy in karigari with Indian flowers," adds Joshi. And not just flowers, Narain has also seen entire wedding spaces just being done up with green leaves or potted plants, such as different varieties of ferns, and monstera.

A mandap drenched with flowers designed by Devika Narain and Company.
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A mandap drenched with flowers designed by Devika Narain and Company.

Mandap Maverick

While traditional four-column mandaps are still common, people are now experimenting with different shapes that can be made with flowers. Be it a bamboo exterior filled with flowers, or one shaped like a palanquin or an orb done with flowers. “People are now choosing to do the typical four-pillar differently. We are experimenting with concave, convex and oval (shapes) for the mandap," says Narain.

Joshi says that even though four-column mandaps are common, whether its using intricate Indian floral arrangements or flowers from around the world, people now want to create mandaps against picturesque settings. “It’s not just the mandap, but whether it’s set against a beach or a palace, and a gorgeous walkway completes the mandap. It’s all designed around what the couple’s wearing to create that perfect shot. Rakul (Preet Singh) and Jackky Bhagnani’s wedding had an opulent floral mandap set against a beach," says Joshi about the décor they designed for the star couple last month. Elaborate walkways (remember the one from the movie Crazy Rich Asians?) allow experimentation around the mandap and are equally grand.

Narain says that extra focus on the wedding malas and the floral chadar held above the bride is thanks to celebrity weddings today. Even designers are keen on jaimalas to complete the outfits.

The Big Fat Question of Sustainability

A high volume of flowers needs cold rooms at the venue so that they stay fresh and well-bloomed. And the price of the flower isn’t just about where it comes from, but if it is in season. “The question of sustainability is limited to a handful of couples, but they do want to talk about it. Many don’t want to pay that extra price for it. But people do try to reduce the footprint, often encouraging guests to carry home the flowers. Also, several international flowers such as hydrangeas and tulips are now being grown in India, which makes sourcing more sustainable," says Joshi.

Narain says that flowers are compostable and there are services available today to take care of your compostable wedding waste. “Sunflowers, snapdragons, agapanthus, and different leaves are now being grown within India making them cheaper and readily available. The quality differs but couples are increasingly happy to source from farmers locally and support them," says Narain. The floral foam is non-biodegradable and couples who want greener weddings now request the minimal use of foam in decorations.

Dhara Vora Sabhnani is a Mumbai-based writer.

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