Despite the multitude of talented British Asian designers who have opened up ethnic boutiques in the UK, flying out to India for Asian wedding shopping is still the preference of many British Asian Brides & Grooms, not least because of the unbeatable choice of Asian bridal Wear designs and styles available in the sub continent, all at great prices.
In our first of three guides to Asian wedding shopping in India, we start with Mumbai, undoubtedly India's most glamorous, lively and chic city, and a great destination for the fashion conscious shopper.
To make the most of your shopping experience, take note of the following:
Certain areas of Mumbai, notably Juhu, Bandra, Warden Road, Pedder Road & Nepean Sea Road are melting pots for NRI (Non Resident Indian) shoppers. These areas are home to some of Mumbai's finest boutiques, with fine prices to match!
If price is no object and only the best will do for you, these are definitely the areas to shop in. If however you are a more budget conscious shopper, do visit these shops to get an idea of the latest styles and designs and then try and find similar items (which certainly are available) in the more affordable shops located in Andheri, Dadar, Malad, Santa Cruz, Marine Lines and Crawford Market.
Do some research before your trip, to get an idea of the colours, styles and designs of Asian bridal wear that appeal to you. Browse through the shops in London, flick through wedding magazines, surf the web and ask your friends and family for their input. You will save yourself a great deal of time if you can tell a sales man exactly what you are looking for rather than him showing you every piece in the shop (which he certainly will want to do!)
Do rounds of as many shops as possible before you start buying, this will give you an idea of local prices and the variety that is available.
Always ask about refund and exchange policies before settling your purchase. You may think you have found your dream outfit till you go to the next shop, where you find something even better. Try and make sure that your purchases are exchangeable if not refundable.
Whilst Asian wedding shopping in India, it is very easy to get overwhelmed and confused by the sheer number of items that are available. If you don't like something, communicate clearly what you don't like about the product, so the sales people do not waste your time showing you similar items. Unless you are an impulse buyer, make a list of what you like in each shop so that you can make an overall comparison and shortlist what you finally want to buy.
Many shops now claim to be "fixed price" but if you are buying a number of outfits you are well within your rights to ask for a discount. Feel free to bargain in smaller shops and start bargaining at 40% less than what they are asking for. You should ultimately aim to knock off at least 25% of the asking price.
Most stores now have an in house tailor to ensure your outfit fits you perfectly. Make sure that all the adjustments have been done properly. Examine the insides of any garment for signs of bad stitching and finishing and if need be, ask for the stitching to be redone. The last thing you want is seams splitting on your big day!
When buying Sarees check the WHOLE length of the material on both sides for any factory soils, "Patching" or defects. Shops are experts in making sure these remain concealed until you have made the purchase.
Many visitors are duped while shopping with a credit card. Make sure the credit card is swiped right in front of your eyes. Visitors are known to have been cheated by unscrupulous shopkeepers who will charge some more items to the card and forge your signature on the slips later.