Dulhan Expo: Fascinating Wedding Industry Revolution
Planning a fairytale wedding is a very elaborate affair. It's very expensive, time-consuming and requires a lot of planning. Often parents and the couples are not familiar with all that goes into organizing a wedding. They are not familiar with the places and people who provide various services and materials nor are they aware of the various needs that need to be addressed, while planning a wedding.
Sumit & Shikha Arya
Brides and grooms do not want to designate the various tasks that go with planning their weddings to companies or groups. Today's couples want to be completely involved with every aspect of planning and organizing their weddings including wedding shopping and decision-making. At the same time they want to be able to keep the dollar and time consumption to the minimum possible level. In order for them to be able to do that they are looking for time-efficient ways to shop around.
That's where Dulhan Expo plays a vital role. "With bridal expos, months' worth of research is condensed into a day," says Sumit Arya, the CEO and the visionary behind Dulhan Expo. "Bridal Expos are worth taking a day off from work, worth flying back from school or work in a different state, worth rescheduling a trip to India or Pakistan or worth skipping a cousin's wedding," he says. DULHAN EXPO is a brand of Bridal Exhibitions designed to help and support the Modern South Asian Brides & Grooms-to-be. DulhanExpo is providing the Desi Brides in USA with advanced wedding planning tools, saving them months worth of legwork by bringing 200+ Wedding Service Providers from 40+ categories under one roof.
'Gurdiya Couture' at DulhanExpo
Bridal Expositions offer a variety of booths/stalls/stands with vendor presentations for the brides to evaluate and consider. Participating vendors include caterers, photographers, videographers, mandap designers, florists, party rentals, party favors, invitation card printers, make-up artists, hair stylists, mehndi-artists, skin-care specialists, live entertainers, disc jockeys, drummers, horse and carriage rentals, limousines, priests, event planners, bridal consultants, fashion designers, jewelers, bakeries, bridal registries, honeymoon travel, insurance, dove releases, ice-sculptures and wedding supplies.
Vendors participating in a bridal show provide a very detailed idea of their talent, the quality of their services or products via visual aids, portfolios, video footage, live demo or sample giveaways. One can expect deejays to perform, live entertainers to do their bit, dove release demonstrations, free photo shoots, free mehndi applications, free make-up and hair-styling trials and of course food tasting. One of the highlights of an expo could be the fashion show that showcases fashion designers, jewelers and beauticians all at the same time. Sumit, the young entrepreneur behind Bridal Shows says, "All over the world, Bridal Expos are as old a concept as any other category of trade shows. South Asian Community has only been exposed to it since last 20 years. What we call bridal shows in India today, existed 20 years ago with a different name 'Exhibition & Sale'.
Today, the concept of South Asian Bridal Shows has gotten so huge that it is even leaving the Western Bridal Shows behind… especially when it comes to scale, detail, glamour and entertainment value." Desi Bridal shows today can be found in Dubai, Australia, Ireland, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Pakistan & Bangladesh. If India has a few bridal shows like 'Vivaha', 'Bridal Asia' and 'Bride and Groom', then England can also boast off 'Asian Wedding Exhibition' and 'Asiana'. Canada has 'Suhaag' and 'Kismet' as its two leading Desi Bridal Expos in Toronto. United States has a few small bridal exhibitions in Atlanta, Virginia, Chicago and California but clearly the leader of the pack is 'Dulhan Expo' based out of New Jersey.
'Belly Twins' Live at DulhanExpo
The South Asian Bridal Show concept first came to the East Coast of USA in 1995. Chand Palace hosted one in their banquet hall in Parsippany two years in a row. The third bridal show in the area was organized by ChaiTime.com in 1997 at the Woodbine Inn in Pennsauken, NJ. Thereafter, somehow the bridal expos disappeared from the area for the next five years. Rose Events revived the concept on Monday, April 22, 2002 at Chutney Manor, South Brunswick, NJ. The months of June and August of the same year saw two more such events at Crossroads Restaurant, NJ & Madison Square Garden, NY organized by South Asian Events and Shaadi Organizers respectively. This high frequency of such shows was an indication that the concept had finally arrived to USA's Desi Community. Dulhan Expo's Launch in January 2003 further confirmed and solidified this new genre of Desi Events. For the next three years 'Rose Events' and 'Dulhan Expo' were the only two leading Bridal Show companies in the NY/NJ/PA tri-state area. September 2002 marked the beginning of a new era in the South Asian Wedding Industry worldwide. Sumit & Shikha Arya founded an International Organization called 'Association of South Asian Wedding Professionals' (ASAWP), which was followed by four Bridal Shows in four months across the New York region. This annual phenomenon called 'Grand Dulhan Expo' now repeats itself on first Sunday of every December. And the hotel scale shows still coexist three times a year. The next Grand DulhanExpo is scheduled for December 7th of this year at Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, NJ. Sumit says proudly, "Dulhan Expo has been by far the most attended, most popular, most comprehensive, most prolific, most detailed bridal shows with most free amenities and the largest variety of brand name vendors."
'Kalash Decor' at DulhanExpo
The British and Canadian counterparts of Dulhan Expo have been around for a lot longer, 20 and 10 years respectively but Dulhan Expo is already bypassing them on many fronts, even though it is hardly 6 years old, Sumit adds.
When compared to other similar Shows, DulhanExpo can proudly make these claims, Sumit says. "We have the largest venue in the world for similar shows with about 80,000 sq. ft having the largest turnout than any other Bridal Show in USA with an average of 7000-8000 people, and the Bridal Show with the most number of Booths/Stalls/Spaces in the world."
Sumit takes pride in being the only neutral and multireligious event in the United States that equally belongs to the immigrants from the entire South East Asian Sub- Continent including… India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar & Afghanistan and blends the religious beliefs of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhists and all others.
Horse Carriage by Caliber Farms
The Grand Dulhan Expo promises a huge line-up of fashion shows by major local & international fashion designers & boutiques. "In the past two years we have represented the likes of Maria B. & Rizwan Moazzam from Pakistan; Ritu Kumar, Prriya & Chintans, Bennu Sehgal, Mohanlal Sons, Anju Modi, Rinaldi, Art Karat, Bholasons, Srimals and Payal Singhal from India; Mani Kohli from London; Dinesh Ramsay from Canada; Alia Khan, Anand Jon, Karamjit Bhinder, Geetanjali Singh, Kitty Jain, Madhu Ahuja, Julie Choudhry and many more from USA. At every Grand DulhanExpo we would feature at least 10- 12 fashion shows by local & international designers and boutiques," Sumit describes.
Grand Dulhan Expo showcases local wedding talents like Ritesh Rathod, Hina Trivedi, Bolly Arts Entertainment, Red Baraat, Indisax, Anand Patole, Roger Lipson, Dance Soul Company, and many others. In the recent past Dulhan Expo stage also presenting international celebrity performing artists, including Raghav, Jay Sean, Amir Jamal, Bikram Singh, Thara, RDB, Bikram Keith, Bela & Kundalini Shock Attack. Some other attractions have been Masala Bhangra Fitness Guru 'Sarina Jain', Javed Habib of Habib's Hair Salon Conglamorate of India and Miss Pakistan Worldwide 2007 'Kanwal Bashir.'
DulhanExpo Model Sugauri
According to Sumit, 'Grand DulhanExpo is by all means a complete 'Pamper Fest'. "If free admission, free parking, free raffles, free publications and free goody bags were not enough; there are other amenities… usually they have at least 3-4 caterers offering free food sampling, we just call it sampling but it really is a complete lunch/dinner consisting of a never-ending buffet of South Asian Delicacies," Sumit elaborates. Sumit Arya: The Person Behind Dulhan Expo: Sumit Arya, the founder of the 'Association of South Asian Wedding Professionals' and 'Dulhan Inc.' came to the United States in 1986 for higher education after completing his Bachelor's Degree in Biology from D. S. College, Karnal, Haryana, India. His second bachelor's is in Fine Arts from City College of New York with majors in Photography and Graphic Design. He worked as a photographer on the weekends while attending college from 1986 to 1991.
Mazhar in an 'Alia Khan' Creation
Under the umbrella of his wedding center 'Regency Weddings' he provided services like Photography, Videography, Mandaps, Flowers, Invitations, Party Favors, Wedding Music, Accessories & Supplies. This versatile background of having provided all major services single-handedly helped him knowing the needs of brides and vendors alike.
Today his Dulhan Inc. organizes Dulhan Expo Bridal Shows, publishes Bridal Magazine 'Dulhan', hosts Wedding Planning Radio Show, plans Picture Perfect Weddings and provides various other wedding related services. One multi-service company under the capable leadership of Sumit Arya, perhaps making it, 'The Most Comprehensive South Asian Bridal Company in the World'.
Describing himself a "pioneer of the Desi Wedding Industry in the United States, Sumit says, "There were a total of 12 total vendors in this area when I had started. Today there are more than 1,000 companies serving tri-state's wedding industry."
When we asked Sumit "What does it take to plan a Bridal Show at this scale?" This is what he had to say: "The ability to go without sleep for 96 hours straight should be the first qualification. With limited scope of income and financial rewards, the biggest driving forces have to be interest and passion. It does take a lot of commitment, dedication and hard work to organize an event of this scale."
When asked why he picked Event Planning as a career option, Sumit replies, "In Dayal Singh College, Karnal, I was the president of the Biology Society, the Physics Society, the Hindi Club and a Representative in the Student Union..and here at the City College of NY, I was the president of Indo-Pak Society, Yearbook Club and the Founder/President of City College Modeling Club. Back then who knew organizing fashion shows, modeling contests, cultural shows and dance parties would all culminate into a full-fledged career years down the road. I have always just followed the passions of my heart and God has always paved the way, I try to have goals and work hard towards them but things also lead to each-other."
"Passion for organizing events started even way earlier in childhood, with me celebrating festivals like Janamashtami, Dushahra, Diwali, Lohri, Christmas and more… all at a neighborhood level. Year after year, hundred plus relatives, friends and neighbors came to our backyard to check out the burning of a 10 feet tall, 10-headed Rawana, filled with fireworks, built by a 4.5 feet tall kid. For Janamashtami, there would be a professional 15'x15' tent erected on the vacant lot across the street, showcasing… highlights from the life of Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva's statue on Kailasha Mountain with a water-pump bringing Ganga out of his tresses, etc."
Shikha Arya: Co- Founder of Dulhan Expo:
Co-founder of the 'Association of South Asian Wedding Professionals' and 'Dulhan Inc.' Shikha received her bachelor's degree in Psychology from D.A.V. College, Karnal, Haryana, India. Shikha also has under her belt a certification program in Make-up Artistry from Il Makiage Academy in Manhattan, New York. She is a make-up artist and a wedding planner who has been planning beautiful dream weddings since 1998. Today she lives in New Delhi and plans destination weddings for NRI brides, runs the India office of DulhanExpo and is working on the pre-production of Dulhan Magazine.
BY YOGESH KARIKURVE