When Poonam Gururajan was planning her wedding, she struggled to find vendors and suppliers who could cater to or understood the needs that come with hosting an Indian wedding. Now, she has turned this 'gap' into a business and is helping Indian brides fulfil their dreams of having a beautiful Indian wedding in Australia.
Eight years ago when Poonam Gururajan was working in the pharmaceutical industry in Melbourne, little did she know, one day she would quit her career as a scientist and become a wedding consultant.
“I grew up in a household where my father ran a business in the pharmaceutical sector so I was always inclined and interested in science. But I was also very creatively inclined. I went onto become a scientist but soon realised this is not what I wanted. So I quit my job and enrolled myself in a course on hospitality and event management,” she says.
Poonam worked with some of Melbourne’s finest wedding and event planners and on the side, volunteered at prestigious events.
But life had other plans. A job opportunity for her husband took them to Ireland.
“I wasn’t ready to give up so I started blogging online about how to plan a perfect wedding,” says Poonam.
She says there was no one who could help her transform her dream wedding vision into reality when she was getting married eight years ago.
“All I saw was images of Christian weddings. There were beautiful but I wanted an Indian wedding and Indian weddings are colourful, have many rituals and have a lot of people. I had this vision in my mind but there was no one to guide me to how to transform it into reality.
“Now there is Instagram and Pinterest and so many ideas floating around. In Australia, it still remains a challenge to plan a beautiful South-Asian wedding. So I recognised this gap and took it up as an opportunity to bring all the resources together and put it together for brides who are planning their wedding,” she says.
That is how her online portal, The Maharani Diaries was created in 2016.
“From theme-weddings to designer trousseau, from table layouts to wedding invitation cards, from henna artists to sourcing flowers, I built a portal with a directory of these suppliers and a blog to provide brides with one-stop resource and ideas,” she says.
Her venture has grown with the help of social media and she today consults wedding suppliers like venues, décor, designers, photographers in Australia and India to cater to the Indian wedding market in Australia.
She attributes the good response to her venture to the utter lack of representation of the needs of the South Asian population in the wedding space.
“When people are planning their wedding, they want to see images of how it will look. When I was getting married, the Australian venues and vendors had no images or photos of how an Indian wedding would look and feel. I am trying to change that now,” she says.
With more and more Indian and South-Asian weddings taking place in Australia, Ms Gururajan says venues and vendors have come a long way.
“There is more awareness about the requirements of South-Asian weddings now. It is important for suppliers to understand the importance of having a small fire (havan) during the wedding ceremony and how to accommodate arrangements for our numerous and sometimes long rituals.
“My job is to prepare the wedding suppliers and work with them to cater to multicultural clients and connect brides with these suppliers,” she says.
Ms Gururajan says the market of Indian weddings is growing in Australia as migrants are choosing to get married in Australia instead of going to India to get married.
“And they are spending a lot. I have seen families spend $100,000-$400,000 on weddings here. So the market is big and thriving,” she says.
In the coming months, Ms Gururajan hopes to extend her consultancy services to brides and connect with more women entrepreneurs and collaborate with them for projects.
“Running your own business can be very isolating. I hope to connect and collaborate with other migrant women working in this space and provide a platform to share our success stories and learning,” she says.