I got married 6 years ago and off me and my mum went to do my wedding shopping. My mum's born in Mumbai, India and we're born and bought up in UK. From a young age we have visited Mumbai and always done our shopping there.We mainly shopped in Santa Cruz in Mumbai and found everything there that we needed. Generally I'm quite a decisive person. When I try something on, I know straight away whether I like it or not. Kind of similar to Marie Kondo's concept of 'spark joy'.
My wedding shopping took one day in total where I picked my wedding lehnga, Reception Saree and Sanjhi outfit. I'm still so happy with the choices I made. We actually had 3 weeks in India as we thought shopping would take a very long time but we surprised ourselves. We managed to choose my jewellery the next day and then buy gifts the day after. A few months later we went back to Mumbai for 3 days to buy my father, mother and two sisters wedding outfits. We managed to get everything done in time.
So where did I buy my outfits from? I bought them all in Season's from Santa Cruz Mumbai. Now for those who haven't been to India to shop before, all the mainstream shops have their outfits price-tagged, therefore you wont get ripped off as a client and there is also no room for haggling. I have to say I prefer it this way. In Season's I had my own Personal Shopper who let me walk around the space to pick out all the outfits I liked. He then lined them all up so I could see them next to each other and I eliminated some more. This carried on till I ended up with four outfits. I actually never wanted to wear red on my wedding day. I've never thought red looks good on me and I wanted to be 'different' just like every other bride does. I loved the fringing on the bottom on the lehnga skirt which is why it stayed in my LOVE pile. I tried them on one by one including the red one and found I had that 'feeling' when I tried the red one on and not the others. I looked for the same feeling when shopping for my other outfits and tell my Bride's to do the same. Go for what feels right not what others think look good on you. Wedding shopping was easy and fun.
6 years later we returned to India to shop for my sisters wedding, she's getting married this year (summer of 2019). As we had previously had such a brilliant experience at Season's we knew we would go back there and purchase pretty much everything from there as we were on a tight schedule of 4 days to purchase the Bridal Outfits and jewellery, plus me and my sisters outfit, mum and dad's outfit and also my husband. We managed it all! The first day the Bride bought her wedding lehnga, reception lehnga and sanjhi outfit and then we started ours. I find shopping like this is better, once the bride and groom are sorted, everyone else can buy suitable items which won't look more or less dressy than the Bride and Groom. I also find shopping four days straight means you buy every thing and its a huge part of the list ticked off. Our first stop was Season's. We lasted about 2 hours, it resulted in us walking out with no purchases made. Season's was very different to how we experienced it 6 years ago. It was extremely busy, they had more occasion wear than Bridal Outfits. Even though we were paired with the same personal shopper who helped me 6 years ago, the service felt very different. Save yourself some time and avoid this shop. However if you do go there be sure to try out the filter coffee, its gorgeous!
So, where Season's is there are many other Bridal shops on the same block, Friendship, Raas, Bawree, Aishwariya Design Studio and many more. Our go to's this time have been Raas and Aishwariya Design Studio. As we were on a short time limit we didn't have the luxury of time to go from shop to shop.
We had a look at a few pieces in Bawree and then went into Raas where we met Sanjaybhai. He sat us down and showed my sister wedding lehnga's according to her choice. I find nothing is ever too much in India. They will take out every single piece they have till you find what you're after. Around 3pm my sister had tried on all the outfits she liked and made her choices for outfits for her three main wedding events! Masterji (generic name for a tailor in India) came to measure her up and asked how she would like to have her blouse designed and then me and my sister began looking for outfits for us. We were in the shop from around 11am till 7pm. During that time we had been offered tea, coffee, toasted sandwiches, and sev puri. All of it was delicious (and safe for our sensitive NRI stomachs) and made our shopping experience easy and enjoyable. I have never been offered a drink or food in an asian shop in UK and haven't heard of it either (maybe designer shops offer this facility). That evening we popped into Aishwariya Design Studio and chose our Sanjhi Outfits. They kept the shops open for us an extra hour so we could make our choices and Masterji measured us up so the tailoring team could start work. I found that the Masterji in Aishwariya Design Studio was the best and the pieces he measured me for fit me at the first fitting perfectly! (I've taken a selfie with him below.)
Day one finished and we had done all the bride's shopping and picked out outfits for me and my sister to wear to the Sanjhi (pre-wedding event) and the reception. The tailors were working to our time as they knew we were leaving Mumbai in a week. After a few days we went back for our fittings and most of the outfits fitted us perfectly, some needed tweaking which the team were happy to do.
If you would like to buy some simple sarees have a look in Aishwariya Design Studio and Raas. (Raas has a separate saree shop attached to the main shop dedicated to simple and cheaper sarees.) The one on the right is from Aishwariya Design Studios for under £25. I'm also wearing the Saree Silhouette from Tia Bhuva in Small Black under this saree - Every saree wearer needs one of these!
Ok, so next stop is Kalbadevi. This one's not for the faint hearted. Its busy, crowded, smells, not the cleanest but this is where you'll find the amazing stuff at a great price. This is the hub for wholesalers and also where alot of the outfits are made before going into the larger shops. I picked up some more sarees from here and we then moved on to Bhuleshwar for Jewellery. If you plan to go to Kalbadevi do visit Aishwariya Design Studio, Indrani, and Manushi Designer Studio. Also cabs won't drive you all the way in so you'll have to do part of it on foot. If you're planning to venture this way, be sure to head over to Shree Thaker Bhojanalay, they do the best Gujrati Thaali's for 500 rupees! Check out the image below. For jewellery we had 2 hours to get what we needed so we stopped at Songari Arts in Bhuleshwar, they had some stunning pieces.
If you know where to go in India you'll find exactly what you need. If you're in Mumbai order Uber's to take you around. The traffic is crazy in Mumbai so try and do an area per day. The customer service is brilliant in India and the snacks whilst shopping are a massive plus. We had an airbnb this time round and we found the extra space was useful when it came to packing our suitcases. Our airbnb also came with a lovely cleaner so it felt like being in a hotel minus being able to get room service!
The main question I get is, is it really worth paying for flights to go to India when we have options here? I definitely think so. I feel we have more choice there, the staff are happy to make changes which will be done in days rather than weeks or months. I would say pricing is only a fraction cheaper but we have always shopped there for the experience and choice available. If you have the time to go even if it is a few days make sure you do, and you can always visit another part of India whilst you're there!
I know there's a thriving shopping scene for Indian brides in Gujarat however we haven't ventured that way.
We couldn't have done a 4 day shopping trip without the amazing workers, tailors, uber drivers, and the people who kept us fed and watered. An experience we will never forget and we look forward to our next one!
If you have any other questions pop them in the comments section!
Follow me on @jaineesha.wife.life and @jaineesha_mua
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