Wedding planning in Pakistan is a grueling commitment: between searching for suitable vendors and waiting upon them, running to and fro picking photographers, tailors and caterers, and managing one’s own wardrobe and shopping list… the tasks are endless.
To prevent the betrothed families from being overwhelmed, two start-ups are offering a one-stop solution for wedding planning dilemmas: with just a few clicks, a bride and groom-to-be in Karachi and Lahore can arrange a perfect wedding without losing their minds in the process.
How it works
Both start-ups were the result of stressful wedding planning; in the case of one, the bride lost her initial wedding mirth, in the other, the brother ended up pulling his hair out in frustration. The founders of both and Shadibox wanted to do something that would make the lives of brides and grooms and friends and relatives a lot easier.
The process is pretty simple: customers log in through their Facebook account or email IDs, and select a service from listed vendors. They can pick their choice venue, photographer or caterer after browsing through a list of selections. Vendors have the same process, though what are the criteria behind their selection onto the website has yet to be decided.
Once a booking is made online (which can be done in a matter of minutes), all one has to do is sit back and relax— and wait till the wedding day!
Here’s a run-down of the specifics the two start-ups offer, and how they fare.
Location is key
Arguably the most pressing task of wedding planning is finding the venue. Most popular halls require bookings to be made a year in advance, and even then, they are difficult to get hold of. To complicate the process, most folks have little or no idea of venue pricing and their seat availability, so multiple trips have to be made until a location is finalized.
To help couples out, both WeddingPlannit and Shadibox have listed venues with preliminary information, including rent, decoration costs, venue type, guest number accommodation and catering availability. The start-ups have also posted high-quality photographs of the space, allowing the planner to experience the halls in their full decorum without an actual excursion to the site.
Taking care of the essentials
Every marrying couple wants the perfect photographer, the perfect menu, and the perfect salon and spa deal. The biggest problem: too many options. WeddingPlannit and Shadibox have neatly listed all of the best names in town. You don’t have to worry about comparing costs or finding out who people love the most—customer reviews are there to help you make the right choice. All you have to do is check if the service is available on your required date, get a quote, and seal the deal.
ShadiBox also offers listing on additional categories, including car rentals, DJs, florists, hotels, invitation card printers and even cake makers.
Deals for your wallet
For Karachiites and Lahoris, the planning start-ups are offering competitive deals to lure new couples in. One could save Rs15,000 on a photography gold package with WeddingPlannit, for example, or hunt down a similar deal by one of Shadibox’s ‘featured vendors’.
Given the culture of mistrust when it comes to online business in Pakistan, both startups are working hard to build trust. WeddingPlannit has established a contract with vendors; if they violate certain internal criteria, their listing will be taken down from the site. Shadibox, on the other hand, is handling things differently. They only take in “well-known venues”, even though they have an open registration platform where vendors can register through their site.
At the moment, both websites are in their beta version, so functionality is not the smoothest. Plus, since both are platform based, users might be concerned about privacy, legal matters, and even customer satisfaction. These concerns should be addressed by the start-ups before their businesses take off on a drastic scale.
In order to enhance their trust and credibility, these start-ups should implement a transparent criteria that is laid out publicly for all accepting vendors. The start-ups should also be responsible for ensuring that services are carried out as promised, without compromising on quality.
Keeping these concerns aside, however, one can safely say that Pakistan’s USD 4 billion industry has great potential for growth. ShadiBox has already received over a dozen orders, and has earned roughly up to 1.2 million (dollars? Rupees?) in profit. The WeddingPlannit has not yet disclosed its profit margin or their number of orders, but their Facebook page highlights multiple reviews by satisfied customers.
While these start-ups are sure to change Pakistan’s wedding landscape, for now, they need to concentrate on clear-cut, defined solutions to problems of privacy, legal matters and customer satisfaction. After all, wedding planning need not be a hassle—it can instead be a process filled with cherished memories.
It is important to note that online wedding planning services are common in the West, but in Pakistan, these start-ups are the first of their kind. What works in their favour is their ability to understand the Pakistani audience’s needs. Their services are clearly defined on their website and cater to the culture of Karachi and Lahore, where each of them are primarily located.
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