An Affair to Remember

Weddings have always been big business in India. However, the pandemic has changed the rules of the game, with the focus being on smaller, more close-knit gatherings. We speak to Shivan Gupta, who has reinvented the intimate wedding concept with his Delhi-based venue and company that offers all the grandeur of a large-scale wedding, minus the stress.

The happy couple - Weddings by Abhinav Bhagat at Amaara Farms

When did you launch Intimate Weddings by Amaara?

As the government declared a nationwide lockdown, there were lots of weddings postponed, with couples trying to find a way to tie the knot. Once the government permitted wedding functions with a guest limit of 50 and now 100, I thought of a possible solution to offer to stressed couples, further faced with the daunting prospect of meeting multiple vendors at different places. This is how the concept of Intimate Weddings by Amaara came into being.

We have the space and access to the right partners. Brides and grooms were confused as to how one could put everything together, and still celebrate the way weddings are done in India. Hence, we collaborated with industry stalwarts and curated customized packages for our guests.

Al fresco seating at Varun and Devika's wedding at Amaara Farms

Why is your farmhouse at Chhatarpur such an amazing place to hold weddings?

The farmhouse is located in one of the greenest corners of Chhatarpur, and magically sculpted across six acres. Farmhouses with large open areas, beautifully landscaped have always been a preferred location for Indian weddings. In current times, an open space allows one to practice social distancing as well. From traditional elegant to modern sophisticated architecture, Amaara Farms is the first harbour landmark, which has been copiously restored to offer custom-made packages to clients for all wedding styles and events. Even providing a team of décor business, Amaara is known for its unique curation of blending all event collaborations under one roof. From opulent, intimate weddings to captivating fashion shows and magical musical concerts, Amaara offers a contemporary pre-function assembly point, well-equipped with bridal or makeup suites and well-furnished restrooms for all guests. Handcrafting magical experiences for each and every unique client, Amaara curates stunning events capes with electrifying musical extravaganza from the house of renowned artists, scrumptious menus from renowned caterers and ethereal event décor.

Nitya and Karambir's wedding at Amaara Farms

What was the farmhouse before it became a venue, is it a family property?

Amaara Farm is a property that belongs to my family. We hosted our private events there before opening it up for our patrons and their events. With a background in finance and economics, I was introduced to my 100-year-old family business in copper. However, I was always inclined towards curating events. Curating weddings came naturally to me. I was drawn towards all that is involved in hosting an event – the vibrant colours, fun, lights, dance, drama, the flood of emotions, happy tears, and nostalgia. And that's how Amaara was born – from my eternal love for weddings/events and the concept behind it.

Ceremony area at Nitya and Karambir's wedding at Amaara Farms

What have you seen during the Covid crisis – what do couples want in terms of a celebration?

Once lavish affairs, Indian weddings have now become intimate events with a focus on quality over quantity. The idea of a celebration in India has always been fun, lights, and dance, and couples have nothing different in mind. Now, the safety of guests, social distancing, sanitization, greater attention to detail, following all protocols, and a trimmed and intimate guest list to make the process smoother, are new additions to the list of priorities.

Abhinav Mishra Show at Amaara Farms with Sonam Kapoor as the showstopper

I have personally attended the Abhinav Mishra show held at Amaara, which was incredible. What has changed now for the wedding and event scenario – in terms of scaling things down – by how much?

Over the years, wedding celebrations have evolved far more than just being a vow of togetherness between two individuals and their families. Weddings today are about soulful experiences and meaningful memories that take you through a lifetime. Each generation has its own unique way of celebrating this intimate milestone and every bride and groom dreams of a spectacular wedding celebration like no other. This year we foresee a trend of more personalized, sophisticated and more closely knit events taking the front seat for young patrons. Love and intimate connections will be the flavour of the season. Weddings will have an even deeper meaning; an extra layer to the day where there is a moment to stop and reflect on the events of the past few months and be grateful for good health and safety, to honour the opportunity of finally being able to celebrate with loved ones.

Walkways lit up with diyas at Amaara Farms

What are the precautions you take for the weddings?

At Amaara, it begins right at the point of entry with temperature checks, bridal suites, assembly points, rest rooms, seating areas, the dining area, the bar tables, and around the self parking area as well. In addition, we have a team of sanitization professionals present at the premises through the course of the event as well.

There is a conscious attempt to spread out seating in general as well as the dining area. On a regular round table that could seat 6-8, we now prefer seating four. Sanitization of all furniture is mandatory pre- and post-event. There is an attempt to restrict team strengths with all checks in place. With guest lists being provided, entry and exit from the venue becomes easier to manage. Masks and sanitizers right from the entrance are mandatory and continue at most areas guests visit, even the parking area. To avoid contact while eating food, we have devised live stations where food is cooked and presented individually to guests. We have incorporated gentle reminders of social distancing along with the couples messages or hash tags, in an attempt to keep the joy, humour, and safety intact!

A couple on their special day – Weddings by Abhinav Bhagat at Amaara Farms

How do you offer a one-stop solution – partnering with event management, catering, and photography companies?

With the shift in the current times, I felt there was a need to evolve and adhere to the rules of the new normal. With reduced travel from one place to another and staying home, my vision was to bring together industry stalwarts and offer all services to our guests under one roof. A wedding planner always has a number of partners which can be arranged under one roof. This saves one the effort of travelling to several vendors in different areas, helps practice social distancing, and reduces human contact as well.

‘Intimate Weddings by Amaara’ offers four special packages: namely, Magnolia, Anvaya, Camellia, and Iris. Imagine a lush green natural landscape, majestic architecture, spellbinding décor, scrumptious cuisine, the best wedding experts, and your nearest and dearest coming together as a picture-perfect backdrop for your special day. Operating as per the mandatory Covid-19 safety, health, and hygiene protocols issued by the Government of India, these packages are designed in collaboration with some of the industry’s leading names like The Wedding Design Company by Vandana Mohan, Kitchen Art by Puneet Sikand, Abhinav Bhagat, Artfoto Studios, Shutterdown Photography, and others. The various packages are offered at a fraction of the earlier cost in a series of first of its kind collaborations with industry veterans.

Ayesha and Katja's wedding at Amaara Farms

Can you give me some examples of some of the stunning weddings you have curated recently during the pandemic?

Until now we have only hosted one wedding. We have received bookings starting October 2020 and have bookings until February 2021.

How large are these weddings – and how minimal is the crew?

The government has allowed a guest list of up to a 100 people now. Every function of an Indian wedding has contributed to the title of ‘A Big Fat Indian Wedding’. With the concept of ‘Intimate Weddings by Amaara’ we keep the energy alive. We offer the best possible décor, food, and entertainment. With a limited guest list, the team size has also reduced. To reduce human contact, live kitchens have replaced pass around (as per the preference of the client), resulting in a reduced team size.

Bright marigolds from Weddings by Abhinav Bhagat at Amaara Farms

Can you give us some examples of food and décor at these weddings?

The décor is done keeping in mind the taste of the bride and the groom. Going sustainable and vocal for local, our partners use Indian flowers and textiles to decorate the beautifully landscaped farm. We play with drapes, potted plants, Indian textiles, lots of flowers. For an intimate wedding, we suggest beautiful locally available flowers like tuberoses (rajnigandha), marigold, roses, lilies. Fragrant flowers are always amazing and add a natural aroma to the space.

We dont believe in an endless array of a food buffet which made sense for large gatherings maybe, previously. Menus now are specialized, live, exotic and in line with the family’s palate. A limited guest list allows us to curate personalized menus with attention to the finest detail which is not possible in large gatherings. We have introduced experiential live counters like pot stickers sizzling out of the pan, ramen with exotic garnishes, and grilled/pan seared meats. For desserts, flambé of kunada wrapped pista halwa with pistachio ice cream to finish are all possible in a comparatively affordable budget in current times.

White flowers at the Sachar wedding at Amaara Farms

Will you take Intimate Weddings my Amaara out of the farms and on location – keeping the small size in mind?

Keeping in mind health checks and safety protocols in every area is essential to be mapped for every event; the concept ‘Intimate Weddings by Amaara’ is currently limited to our venue only.

Dinner decor at Nitya and Karambir's wedding at Amaara Farms

Can you tell me – are weddings still as fun as before even though they are smaller?

A wedding affair in our country is always a time for happiness. An Indian wedding can never be anything but true joy, connections, lots of love, energy, warmth, and memories. To top it all, we help the wedding couple to get access to the best that’s available in the country via our partners, in terms of a beautifully landscaped venue, stunning décor, delicious food, and the best photographers to capture their special memories.

The bride and her friends at Varun and Devika's wedding at Amaara Farms

What do you like best about curating Intimate Weddings by Amaara?

I have always loved weddings, and especially curating them. The warmth, memories, energy and flood of emotions make me the happiest. The smile and glow on the bride’s face, happy tears of the mother and father, the high energy of cousins and friends and endless lights and music feed my soul. The ease we offer our clients to organize their most special day is apparent. We understand their needs and curate everything as per their style and choice. We are organizing live streaming of the wedding ceremony for guests not in attendance because of restrictions. We have managed to curate weddings from arranging the décor to catering and also photography. All meetings are hosted at Amaara farms under one roof. As weddings become smaller it is important to pay attention to every small detail. We work in tandem with our clients and maintain an RSVP list which can be shared in advance with your wedding planner or the person in charge.

A beautiful corner by Weddings by WDC at Amaara Farm

Weddings today are about soulful experiences and meaningful memories that take you through a lifetime. Each generation has its own unique way of celebrating this intimate milestone, and every bride and groom dreams of a spectacular wedding celebration like no other.

Floral and lighting decor from Weddings by WDC at Amaara Farms


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

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