Karishma Manwani was born in Mumbai but grew up in Tenerife, during which she maintained her strong connection with India. Her passion for planning began when she was granted an opportunity to help organise a wedding on the Canary Islands resulting in her planning the island’s largest wedding to date, boasting over 700 guests. She realised making dream weddings come true was her destiny and moved back to India to work for the premier wedding planning company, Cineyug, organising large destination weddings across India. After completing the wedding season in India, Karishma moved to London where she founded her own events business to cater to global weddings, as well as parties, stage events, and dinner galas.
Karishma speaks English, Spanish, and Hindi which means that nothing is ‘lost in translation’ when coordinating Indian events overseas. Her experience includes civil weddings, English religious weddings and a variety of Indian weddings, namely Gujarati, Sikh, Punjabi, and Sindhi. With over five years’ in the wedding planning industry, Karishma has travelled and made connections with some of the most prestigious wedding planners in the world. Her passion for creating memorable events, combined with her understanding of different cultures and exceptional business acumen means that any wedding she designs is delivered with expert care.
Can you share a typical 24 hours with us Karishma?
To be honest, I don’t have a typical day! Every day is a new adventure as everyone in the events industry will understand. However, when I am in London, my day will generally look something like this. The first thing I do when I wake up is scroll through my Instagram, which is always filled with stunning events that are happening around the world.
This helps me get motivated, inspired and excited for the day. Once I have forced myself out of bed, I will make myself a nice cup of coffee and start checking my emails and my to-do-list for the day. I generally don’t make any phone calls until I have finished my coffee (yes, I am one of those!). I will then spend the day liaising with my suppliers, replying back to client emails, designing mood boards until approximately 3:00 pm. After this, I would head out, whether that is to network with industry professionals, attend events or to meet clients. If I don’t have any work plans scheduled for my evening, I will usually keep working until late evening and then go for a nice Yoga class or meet some friends for dinner.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background prior to becoming a luxury destination wedding planner?
Prior to becoming a destination wedding planner, I was studying medicine in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. My parents decided to move to Tenerife from Mumbai when I was one. Dad had gone there for holidays to meet his friends and he fell in love with the island life, so he came back and asked us to pack our bags, I love him so much for taking this crazy step! I grew up between sandy beaches and volcanoes and watched stunning sunsets every single day. Growing up, I always wanted to become a doctor and so I studied Health Sciences in school and then went onto studying medicine in the University of La Laguna.
Can you tell us about your company Karishma Manwani Events?
Karishma Manwani Events is a high-end wedding and event planning company that creates beautiful and personal events worldwide. Our services are tailored around you and your lifestyle, helping you every step of the way so you and your guests can enjoy the event of your dreams.
You were born in Mumbai but moved to the Canary Islands aged one. Having had an idyllic childhood growing up in Tenerife, you still maintained a strong connection with India, is that why you moved back to India when you initially worked for Cineyug?
No, India was actually never a part of my plan. We did go back every 6 years or so but it was only to meet our extended family or when mum had to go and sort out things. It had never occurred to me that one day I would go and work there or want to live there for more than a month. It all happened when I planned my first wedding in Tenerife and decided that this is what I wanted to do for a living. Someone attending the wedding told me, ‘Karishma, if you ever want experience, come to Mumbai”. So, I decided to go back and explore what the city had to offer! I have to say, this was the best decision I have ever made. I didn’t have any family in Mumbai anymore which gave me the opportunity to explore this incredible city on my own with a fresh mindset. I think everyone should visit Mumbai and work there at least once in their career.
Whilst working at Cineyug and organising large destination weddings in Mumbai, Goa & Delhi, what did you manage to take away from that experience?
The list is so long, I am not sure where to begin or where to end! Cineyug opened up a whole new world for me. I got to work on some amazing events around India. Weddings there are huge! The level of creativity India offers is on another level. Clients come to you and expect you to create something completely different and unique to what has been done before. They spend a lot of money and expect the standard to be extremely high. There was a lot of pressure but I had a very strong team. I got the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s most prestigious suppliers, artists, and Bollywood celebrities. It was fun to see the glitz and glamour and what happens behind it. I made some incredible friends and took away memories that I will cherish for a lifetime. I am still very close to all of the directors and to my team and I meet them every time I go back.
Your experience includes civil weddings, English religious weddings and a variety of Indian weddings, namely Gujarati, Sikh, Punjabi, and Sindhi. However, what has been your most favourite wedding project to have worked on so far?
There is no way I can pick one. I will get into so much trouble with my couples haha! I have been very lucky to have worked with some of the most amazing couples and families. They have all been so wonderful and kind and it has been a real pleasure working with them. Each wedding has its own charm. My Kenyan Gujarati couples are super fun and their weddings always feel like I am at a family wedding. I still go to their place when I am craving good Indian home-cooked food. My Sikh and Punjabi couples always keep me very well fed during our meetings and site visits! Sindhi’s are hard work but then, I am a Sindhi too, so it all stays in the family and we always end up on the dance floor together!
If I were to choose from a professional point of view, I would say my Dubai wedding and my Valencia wedding are my top picks. I had never visited these destinations or knew anyone from there when I started the planning. It was exciting and very scary at the same time but both weddings turned out to be spectacular and the guests were left amazed. It is always fun to work with new venues and suppliers.
How much additional research did you undertake prior to launching to understand the luxury wedding market as best as you could?
I was thrown into the luxury wedding market from the very first wedding I planned so there was no research done prior. I had no idea about the scale of my first wedding until it actually happened. All the research came after and I do a lot of it. My life is all about weddings and events. When I am not responding to emails or attending calls, I am following other planners and designers online. I am constantly reading about their projects, their achievements, how they got to where they are today. As in all creative fields, you have to keep up with the latest trends, styles, designs. It’s changing by the minute. As soon as a celebrity does something out of the norm, every couple wants to do it. As soon as Pantone releases their colour of the year, every bride wants to design their wedding around that colour. And then you also have to ensure that every wedding different to the other and personal to the couple by infusing their style likes, and traditions into it. It’s like a full-time job on its own.
How have you funded your business?
With my savings and by reinvesting the money I make from my weddings.
You planned the largest wedding to date in the Canary Islands, boasting over 700 guests. Can you tell us what is the most seminal point in your career so far?
The most seminal point of my career so far is moving to London and starting my events business here. London is an incredible city and it is filled with opportunities. People actually value quality and hard work. They don’t care about your age or if you are new as long as you provide them with a good service. I didn’t even have a website or Facebook page when I landed my first wedding in London. They came through a recommendation from my first client. I went to meet them, showed them some photos of my first wedding and they hired me straight away. That’s when it got real for me.
Any challenging times you have had to overcome? When were they and how did you learn to overcome them?
The first year of my business was quite tough. There was so much going and I had to handle every aspect of the business all by myself, client servicing, marketing, accounting and all of the admin work. I had a wide range of clients and unfortunately, not all of them were on the same page as I was. One couple didn’t want to pay me after having done their entire wedding and exceeding all expectations, they wouldn’t even respond to my messages or emails for weeks. Another couple was asking me to lower the quality of the event massively because they couldn’t afford the wedding of their dreams. Some suppliers decided to back out two months before an event and I had to get new ones on board. Some clients would message me at odd times and expected me to be available at all times.
Once the wedding season ended, I made a list of things that didn’t go as expected and decided to make changes. I now have official contracts in place with strict terms and conditions. Before signing any contract, I give them a clear indication of how much their wedding is going to cost and we agree on an estimated budget and only then I start working with them. I take all final payments one month prior to their events. I am very selective about the couples I decide to work for. I have set working timings and I try my best to stick to them. I have learned a lot and I still am.
Have you ever had to deal with any doubts of contention or lack of support from relatives or friends? If so how did you push through?
When I decided to go into wedding planning and leave medicine, I did. However, even though some of my closest didn’t think I could do it, I came across a lot of people who believed in me and helped me, especially the suppliers I was working with. They shared their knowledge and had my back at all times. Today, I have some amazing people around me, this includes my friends, my suppliers, my team members and my clients. They are always there for me and at times when I am low, they are the ones who push me back up.
What outlets do use to market the Karishma Manwani Events brand?
I use Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest to market my brand. I also use some online wedding portals to feature my work.
Which methods are you using to build your audience and expand your network?
I am working on my SEO to rank higher on Google, I try to post good content on social media, I attend many networking events to introduce myself to other industry professionals and I try to network as much as I can with all of the wedding guests that attend my weddings. Word of mouth is the most important marketing method for me.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
Don’t make decisions when you are angry or ecstatic.
Which millennial female pioneers and leaders do you also admire and why?
I recently came across Sarah Kauss, founder of S’well Bottles and I think it’s amazing what she has done. She didn’t think her water bottle couldn’t keep up with her lifestyle – in terms of both personal style and a busy schedule so she came up with a chic and reusable bottle instead. Not only these bottles have become a fashion statement but they are helping the environment too! She started the business with only $30,000 from her own savings and today her company’s revenues have crossed the $180M mark. They also give back so much by supporting environmental research. Her mission is to make the world a more beautiful place and I think it’s very inspiring.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I am currently reading ‘Lean In’ by Sheryl Sandberg. I think she is very inspiring and it’s incredible to see where she has reached and the lessons she has learned on her way.
What does success look like in your eyes?
Success for me is waking up to your loved ones and to a good cup of coffee, and wanting to go to work every morning because you absolutely adore your job.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
#BEYOUROWN to me means do something different to what the world is used to, something out of the norm. Chase your dreams with all your heart, believe in them even if they sound crazy and bizarre. Those who don’t believe in you, prove them wrong. Do whatever it is that makes you happy and do it the best you can!
Lastly, what is next for you and Karishma Manwani Events throughout 2018?
Lots! I have just launched my new brand identity and website. Please do check it out and let me know what you think! We have been working very hard for the last few months and I am really excited to see how this is going to change my business. Hopefully in a positive way!
I have some beautiful weddings this summer and I am going to be working with some new venues and suppliers which is always very exciting. I am attending a luxury wedding conference this October which will be taking place in Ireland. Some of the industries most sought after planners such as Preston Bailey will be attending as speakers. Their work has inspired me from the day I started wedding planning and I am really looking forward to meeting them in person and listening to their stories!