“I don’t design; I plan events and manage the timelines.” Listen in as Andy and his guest Sonal Shah discuss how she began her career, and why she chose to niche down to South Asian weddings. They also talk about her position with Marriott and how it helped her become the planner she is today and much more on this episode of The Wedding Biz.
Sonal is a premier South Asian event planner based in New York City, working all over the world. Sonal is known for planning the most elaborate over-the-top weddings. If her medium-sized wedding has four to five hundred guests, can you imagine what her large weddings are like? She works with both Hollywood and Bollywood stars, and has a book out called “The Complete Guide to Planning the Perfect South Asian Wedding.”
Sonal shares the process she has for putting together a team, how she handles the different personalities of each family, and how she keeps the focus on the bride when opinions make things difficult. Sonal speaks about the need to trust the creative partners she uses who also do something different so that nothing ever looks cookie-cutter. Sonal describes the challenges she faces when planning celebrity weddings, as well as interracial ones.
Sonal is young to have accomplished everything she has, and she has much more she is hoping to achieve. She speaks about what she would like to do in the future, how she finds a balance between work and family, and she gives some details about one of her favorite weddings. You will be on the edge of your seat because everything that she says has an energy to it that you don’t want to miss.
[02:26] Sonal, welcome to the show!
[02:45] Sonal shares where she grew up and a little about her background.
[04:11] Sonal graduated from Ohio State University with degrees in hospitality management, finance, and in Spanish.
[05:17] Where did you want to live once you graduated from college?
[07:45] Sonal shares why she went to Ohio State instead of going to college in New York, where her heart was.
[09:40] She moved to New York because it was a melting pot of nationalities and cultures.
[11:18] Sonal discusses working for Marriott before she opened her company.
[12:53] Can you share your journey from the corporate world to launching your own company?
[15:19] Sonal decided on the bus one day that she wanted to plan South Asian weddings because she saw a need, and no one was doing them well at the time.
[17:35] Sonal speaks about the way she advertised for her business because, at the time, social media was not around to help get the word out.
[19:48] How did you get your first client?
[20:20] Sonal says that she doesn’t design; she plans the events and manages the timeline.
[22:10] Sonal shares her process of putting a team together for each event.
[24:13] Sonal speaks about trusting her creative partners.
[26:18] She doesn’t want her events to be cookie-cutter; her creative partners need to do something people haven’t seen before.
[28:10] Sonal shares that she plans about 25 weddings a year and clients book weddings a year and a half to two years ahead of time.
[29:15] What are some of the unique aspects involved with producing a celebrity’s wedding?
[31:38] Sonal speaks about the number of interracial marriages she has seen, in the last few years, and how they have to prepare for the customs of both the bride and groom.
[33:19] Sonal tells us that she has a great team and a fantastic support system, which allows her to do so many multi-day and elaborate weddings a year.
[34:20] Andy speaks about a wedding Sonal did that cost over 2 million dollars and everything that was involved with it.
[36:22] Sonal describes how she planned one of her favorite weddings.
[39:39] They discuss Sonal’s book that she self-published in 2013.
[41:39] Sonal shares how she finds a balance between work and her family.
[42:53] What do you still want to accomplish in the wedding industry? What is your dream?
[45:27] Sonal, thank you so much for being on the show!
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