Lush, colorful flowers. Vibrant tablescapes full of majestic trinkets. Whimsical displays of candles and silky fabrics cascading the walls. Peacock feathers and marigolds abound. Numerous jeweled antique gold lanterns everywhere because, why not? This look is what I loved about so many of the sangeets I had attended. I wanted the same— until I heard how much money it would cost to decorate a small hall for my sangeet. I remember gawking at my decorator asking, “you want us to pay how much for draping some saris on the wall and looking like a peacock projectile vomited on my dance floor?”
The truth is I wanted to have a blinged out desi sangeet and it bugged me that I wanted that to be honest! I wanted to be a minimalist, I did. But alas, all those damn Pinterest boards started hijacking my senses.
And though I wanted the look, I didn’t want to shell out the money to bring to life all those Pinterest boards I had been pining after. Luckily, the DIY goddess in me awoke.
Funny how creativity creeps in when money is of consequence. I realized I could commit to a few DIY projects to bring the hall alive. I’m here to share some pointers with you, sisters!
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Most of my suggestions rely on dollar store finds and a hell of a lot of patience, not to mention a steady hand at craftiness. Still other suggestions are not necessarily cheap, but they will certainly be cheaper than hiring a decorator.
What you have to ask yourself is whether or not you have the time to do certain things yourself if you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on decor. Something has to give. Essentially, my internal debate was this: Do I budget time or money?
I ended up saving money but gave a week’s worth of time to make some decorations and put them up myself, which would have other otherwise cost $2,000 had I paid my wedding decorator to jazz up my sangeet venue as well. No joke. That’s a shit ton saved.
Luckily, I had my sister and friends assist, so perhaps another important question to ask yourself is this: Do you have friends and family who can help you? You certainly do not want to be hanging your own decorations on YOUR sangeet night! Let’s say you have concluded you have both time and friends—great! Time to rock your sangeet!
Here’s another suggestion, one that really helped me envision what I wanted and how much I could actually make myself. I made a vision board of what I desired for the overall aesthetic of my space to look like.
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Then, I hopped on Pinterest and looked up “DIY sangeet decorations.” This is a great start for getting into DIY mode! To get you inspired, I have shared what I did for my sangeet.
1. Christmas Decorations
Christmas decorations were the number one money saver for buying accent pieces. I’m not kidding.
Look, I’m not suggesting you put a Christmas tree smack-dab in the middle of your hall. Sangeet tree anyone? Hell No.
However, after Christmas, until after the beginning of a new year, stores have mad sales on Christmas decorations. I have seen places like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s sell decorations with an 80 percent discount post-Christmas!
Christmas lights, particularly the fancy icicle string lights can be expensive in season, so bulk up on these. They will liven up your hall or home for sangeet celebrations.
Looking for more of a Bollywood kitsch vibe? Get a bunch of opaque multi-colored lights and drape them around your room or, if you have a staging area, string them as a backdrop for pops of color and light.
Or what about those colored branches that are sold during Christmas? These make for colorful and dramatic decorative pieces! You could go for solid gold for a blinged out look. If you can’t find the colors you’re looking for you can always spray paint the branches to match your preference.
Christmas time also brings big ornaments and all things gold and red—traditional Indian wedding colors—which can be displayed in big vases or bowls as decorative pieces.
You don’t have to go with traditional Indian wedding/Christmas colors. Nowadays, ornaments come in a plethora of color schemes so be creative!
I actually made my peacock theme come to life with strategically placing peacock ornaments (top down so you couldn’t tell it was an ornament!) in huge hurricane vases along with scattering other Christmas peacock decor across the room.
2. Dollar/Discount Store
Dollar and discount stores can provide a treasure trove of items if you have the bandwidth and creativity to add the oomph factor to otherwise ordinary pieces.
Items you can purchase in bulk and decorate yourself include hurricane vases, mason jars, large picture frames, lanterns, and even unique pieces that metallic gold spray paint and/or good quality puff paint can really glam up.
You can easily find cheap, glass vases and trays to showcase the Christmas ornaments.
Spray painting large cheap picture frames or getting a glue gun and gluing flowers onto them make for a fun décor scheme as well. You can hang these on the wall or even use them as DIY photo booth frames!
You can also use smaller frames to decorate banquet tables or as center pieces for guest tables. Hop online and find images for Mughal wedding art or similar themes; print out colored copies and stick it to the frame. Scatter Indian bangles and electric tea light candles (which can also be bought in bulk at discount stores) around it and you just made yourself some classy and colorful decorations!
Another trend is taking plain candles and piping mehendi designs on them which can make for eye-catching, decorative pieces. You can even make these as gifts for your guests!
Mehendi patterns can be put on glass jars as well for that desi touch. For more inspiration and how-to instructions, check this Pinterest board for DIY Mehendi Candles.
3. Things From Home
I did a lot of sangeet decoration “shopping” from home. Prior to my wedding, I would tease my mom that our house looks like a holding cell for Chandni Chowk, with all the tapestries, sari-print pillows, and desi kitsch she displayed.
Well, you better believe come wedding time I took all those Ganesh murtis, peacock statues, marble figurines and what not and made my own display in the sangeet hall.
I remember the decorator quoting prices for setting up displays and I thought why would I pay you money to display what my mom already has at home, and that I can get my cousins to display? The power of putting family to work to save some money should be duly noted.
Decorative pillows do wonders in making a room look festive. Rent these from Indian wedding planners, and it costs an arm and leg.
Use what you have at home or buy Indian pillow covers and stuff it with cheap throw pillows from the discount store, and the area in which the Mehendi will take place is suddenly elevated!
For more pillow talk check out this style blog.
Finally, do not underrate the value of your beautiful saris, dupattas, and bangles. They are a goldmine for DIY decorations! With saris hung on the wall as the backdrop for a stage, dupattas draped around a room, or bangles creatively placed on tables, your hall will have a modern and stylish touch.
Do not be afraid to pin up yards and yards of cloth for an instant room makeover. Put those Aunties to use and get to decorating!
If you are like me and come from a family of women, bangles are, and I reckon always will be in an abundance in our house. They sure came in handy when I needed creative ways to use what I already have for my sangeet decorations!
For more ideas and inspiration for bangle art, visit Pinterest!
OK, and now, perhaps the biggest tip. Quit reading. This is the time to hit up stores for those Christmas sale items! Happy Holidays and all the best with your sangeet!
[All photo in this post are via Pinterest.]
To see more of Soni’s original food articles and comics, visit facebook.com/sketchydesi.
Soni Satpathy-Singh is a recipe developer and content writer who resides in Manhattan. She is either always cooking or eating be it for work or simply because she loves to! She is working on her own comic cookbook as her alter ego “Sketchy Desi.” Stay tuned to upcoming posts on Brown Girl Magazine.