How To Complete Your Lehenga Shopping In Limited Days If You’re A NRI Bride

by Namrata Nautiyal
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In the last few days, I have been in conversation with an NRI Bride, Gurpreet (@currentlystuckinaloop). She lives in Sydney and recently got married in Chandigarh, India early this year. I spoke to her at length to understand what was the wedding shopping process like for her.

For us who live in India, wedding shopping is still relatively easier. You can simply go and check out a number of wedding exhibitions, or simply walk into thousands of stores. At your free will. But when you’re living abroad, the scope of planning your shopping happens on a different level.

  1. You don’t have the luxury of time. i.e. Limited time for window shopping
  2. You can’t possibly visit every store on your wishlist.
  3. Your options are limited depending on where you shop and based on availability.

Wedding Photography by Beginnings For You By Simran

Knowing all this, I wanted to hear from Gurpreet on how she went about finalising her outfits. She had 2.5 days in Delhi to finalise the following outfits:

  • Wedding Lehenga
  • Sangeet Lehenga
  • Grooms Outfits (Wedding + Sangeet)
  • Plus, if time permits then Mehendi & Haldi Outfit

Gurpreet flew down to India a couple of months before her wedding. This was specifically to do all her wedding shopping, and do all the wedding bookings. She had 10 days time to finalise her outfits, location, venue, stay and all other major details.

Today we are going to look at how Gurpreet planned her wedding shopping for herself and her groom, and immediate family. She allocated just 2.5 days out of 10 for the actual shopping. Here’s how NRI Bride Gurpreet planned it all.

1. Do An Extensive Online Research On Bridal Markets

  • Mehrauli – For High End Designer Labels Like Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra
  • Shahpur Jat – For All Jewellery, Accessories & Pre-wedding Designer Labels
  • Chandni Chowk – For Budget To Mid-budget Bridal Wear, And High End Designer Replicas
  • Defence Colony – For Mid To High End Designer Labels

Gurpreet Wore This Beautiful Lehenga For Her Sangeet called Rosette Lehenga by Manish Malhotra. Her Groom, Shiv is also wearing Manish Malhotra

The first thing Gurpreet mentioned was that she had done a lot of prior research on bridal markets in Delhi. This she started almost close to a year before her wedding.

Gurpreet wanted to be a Sabyasachi Bride, so the first thing she did was figure out where Sabyasachi stores was in Delhi. Along with it, she also narrowed down her other favourite designer stores that she wanted to visit when in India.

Based on her research, shopping in Mehrauli made most sense. Mehrauli has some big designer names like Anita Dongre, Rimple & Harpreet, Tarun Tahiliani, Falguni Shane Peacock along with the usual Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra and so on. All the high-end designers you’d hope to see, all have their flagship stores here. Mehrauli also had multi-designer stores like Aza, Ogaan and Carma.

2. Stalk Instagram Pages Of All Bridal Labels & Designers

  • Start bookmarking looks that you like
  • Make a list of stores and designers whose work appeals to you the most

Gurpreet’s Bridal Lehenga is by Rimple and Harpreet Narula

If you’re an NRI Bride to be, this you cannot do without. Indian bridal fashion changes every season. So, to know what’s in trend, or the kind of style you might like, you need to follow different Instagram Accounts.

Not doing so is only going to add confusion when you land in India for your wedding shopping. The key to planning your bridal shopping sitting abroad is to do as much in depth research as possible.

Gurpreet mentioned, she not only stalked designer Instagram accounts for new collections, she also followed a bunch of multi designer e-commerce portals like Aza, Aashni, Carma and so on.

3. Simply Following Designer Or Bridal Store Accounts Is Not Enough, Finding Out Their Outfit Prices Is Most Important

Gurpreet wore this gorgeous red sharara by Sabyasachi for her mehendi ceremony. Makeup: @dollyouup_bys Hair: @arya.ruchii Necklace and Earrings: @purabpaschim Tikka: @curiocottagejewelry Mehendi: @pramodmehandiart

Every bride has a lehenga budget. Whether it is for the main wedding lehenga, or sangeet, or for whichever function outfit. We all work within a budget. So, if you simply follow some designer accounts without knowing what their outfit starting prices are, chances are you will be greatly disappointed.

Gurpreet mentioned a bunch of ways in which she successfully found out lehenga prices from designers and stores:

  • Check designer lehenga prices on Aashni, Carma, Aza, Ogaan
  • If designers don’t reply on Insta DM, try finding out prices by asking multi-designer brand stores. Replies from them are much more frequent.
  • Check designer’s official website for outfit prices
  • Email them, call them, WhatsApp them, whatever method works.

The Only List Of Online Websites You Should Shop Indian Wear From

Based on the above information, Gurpreet’s itinerary for her bridal shopping looked like this:

NRI Bride, Gurpreet’s Two Day Bridal Shopping Plan

Day 1: (2nd Half)

Visit Mehrauli
  • Visit Mehrauli and check out priority 1 designers like Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra, and Anita Dongre for her Wedding + Sangeet Lehenga

Gurpreet’s Haldi Outfit is by Sukriti & Aakriti. She bought it from Aza Fashions at an exhibition in New York. Her Juttis are by Needledust. Jewellery by Prune India

Day 2:

Visit Chandni Chowk (1st Half)
  • To see more Bridal Lehenga options in stores like Om Prakash, Asiana Couture etc. Asiana Couture has an appointment system, so make sure to get an appointment before visiting the store)
Second Half Of The Day
  • Go back to Mehrauli and finalise the wedding outfits 

Day 3:

Visit Mehrauli
  • Post finalising her wedding outfit, move on to look for Groom’s Wedding Outfits. First and only stop Sabyasachi.
  • Visit remaining must visit stores to select Sangeet Outfits (Gaurav Gupta, Tarun, Falguni and Shane etc)
  • Finalise Bride and Groom’s sangeet outfits

For Gurpreet, it was pretty straightforward. She had limited time and she had to move on to other important things like decor, venue, food, stay for her guests in Chandigarh. So she literally had these 2.5 days to work with.

Things To Know When Shopping Designer Labels

No lehenga shopping comes without its set of hiccups on the way. For Gurpreet, since she was so sorted from the beginning, she managed to complete her entire lehenga shopping + buy her groom’s outfits in the 2.5 days time. But here are some of the things she found out while on her shopping trip.

Not All Designers Customise

  • Sabyasachi does not customise
  • Manish Malhotra, Rimple & Harpreet are open to customisations

Gurpreet wanted to be a Sabyasachi Bride. She had a particular pink shade in mind for her wedding lehenga. However, when she went into the Sabyasachi store, she was told they do not customise at all!

Most Designer Stores Don’t Have Price Tags On The Outfits

Now some of you might ask, why is that important? But just imagine, if you’ve to simply go about asking another human every single outfit price at the store, only to know it’s beyond your budget? Breaks the heart, right?

Gurpreet mentioned when she walked into the Sabyasachi store, she fell in love with some of the creations. But because there was no price tag, every time the price was revealed, it was not the best feeling.

Instead, when she walked into Manish Malhotra’s store, all the tags were on the outfits. She could skim through the whole store without having to ask again and again.

Also important point to note. While checking prices, check if the outfit price mentioned is before tax or after tax! Makes a huge difference. Some designers mention before tax price, some give an all inclusive price tag. 

Some Designers Have Their Entire Collection Up On The Internet, Whereas Other Designers Have Brand New Never-Seen-Before Pieces In Their Store

You know when you see a bride in a designer lehenga, and you immediately know who she is wearing? Suppose you don’t want that feeling, and want to walk in a dress that’s never seen on the internet before?

For NRI Bride Gurpreet, the joy was walking into Rimple and Harpreet’s store and seeing a whole bunch of modern and traditional bridal wear. Something she utterly missed at Sabyasachi’s store, where every single piece she had was already up on Instagram.

That added to the element of joy and excitement of finding a ‘new’ piece to wear as her wedding lehenga. Couple of designers who have designs only available in store:

  • Rimple and Harpreet Narula
  • Anamika Khanna

Designers And Bridal Stores Also Give You An Idea About The Bridal Jewellery That’ll Match Best With Your Outfit

If you’re an NRI Bride, I know that you cannot have everything from jewellery to outfits to other accessories figured out on day 1. Luckily, Gurpreet mentioned that designers at their store also have jewellery to give you an idea of the whole look. They help out like they are your personal stylists which is a big bonus when you’re strapped of time and resources.

For Gurpreet, designers Rimple & Harpreet Narula suggested a bunch of jewellery labels that matched with her vision for her wedding day look.

Jewellery: @jagdishjewellerschandigarh Bride’s outfit: @Rimpleandharpeet Groom’s outfit: @sabyasachiofficial Makeup: @dollyouup_bys Hair: @arya.ruchii Chura and Kalira: @omsons_bridal_store Bridal entry umbrella: @Pataaree

Bonus: If You Shop Ethnic Wear Online Just A Month Or So Before Visiting India, You Can Opt For A Return Or Refund Policy At The Store

Gurpreet made a very good point during our conversation where she mentioned her Groom Shiv’s outfit was purchased online. She made the purchase within a month of her travel and the label they bought was Anita Dongre.

When the outfit arrived, there was some issue in fittings. So instead, on Day 1 when Gurpreet and her groom were doing their wedding shopping, they simply walked into the Anita Dongre store, and got it exchanged. It was all possible because they had purchased the outfit within the return policy dates. Isn’t that awesome?

The intention was not to exchange it initially obviously. But these things happen. But if you make expensive designer purchases online say couple of months before, you might just get stuck with a loose/ill-fitted outfit.

Try And Get Your Measurement Copy From Any Of The Bridal Stores/ Designers

Brides often make the mistake of not doing their measurements right. Happens unknowingly most of the time. It can lead to unnecessary last minute alterations, and stress. So instead, in case you are being measured in any of the bridal stores, ask them to share a copy of your measurements with you.

You can then also use this to order outfits online at ease, without worrying about doing the measurements wrong. 

Also, Another Point. Chandni Chowk Designer Lehengas Don’t Come Cheap!

Gurpreet on Day 2 did a tour of Chandni Chowk. She went to two different stores to see original designs. However, the stores only showed their designer replicas. In fact, she mentioned most of the good looking replicas started at around INR 2.5 Lakhs all the way to a whopping INR 4.5 Lakhs! Can you imagine?!

That plus the whole experience of Chandni Chowk is quite tiring. Not to mention, you need to have time to really explore Chandni Chowk. If you’re on a strict timeline, then coming here is probably not the best plan.

To Shop Or Not To Shop In Chandni Chowk

If you are an NRI Bride or NRI Bride to be planning your wedding in India, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you’re going about your wedding planning. Any inputs from you would be so useful for all the brides out there. So please feel free to reach out to me at frugal2fab@gmail.com

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