Bouncers, sleuths in demand at weddings

Since hosts are busy with a hundred other things, they can’t keep an eye on all the cash, valuables and gifts piling up

Gatecrashers are common at weddings (as in the film 3 Idiots), and it is up to the security men to stop them.

Wedding hosts are hiring specialised security personnel to prevent theft of valuables and also ensure safety of guests.

Most weddings in India are lavish affairs, the venues awash with jewellery and expensive gifts.

“We always recommend our clients hire security,” says Rosemary Ratnam, who runs Rings & Roses, a wedding planning company.

She saw a report on TV about a theft at a wedding when she was working with her first client 22 years ago. That set her thinking. “I say better safe than sorry,” he says.

Sowmya Crasta, wedding planner from Purple Rings, says security used to be a requirement only for high profile weddings of politicians and actors. But now upper-middle and middle class families are requesting it, she says.
  One of the main reasons for hiring security is to keep gatecrashers out. But it is not easy to figure out who a gatecrasher is.

Neethi Shanthakumar, also of Purple Rings, says many hosts ask their guests to bring along their invitation cards to ensure they are genuine invitees.

“Indian weddings have never-ending guest lists. We take up weddings with only 250-500 attendees and still find it difficult to figure out who has showed up uninvited,” says Rosemary.

The most visible at weddings are the bouncers, but some security personnel come dressed as guests. 

Wedding planners work with agencies across the city when it comes to security. Rings and Roses works with N Ram Babu of Ashraya Security Services, which provides security for at least a dozen weddings in Bengaluru a year.

Hari (name changed) has hired elaborate security for his wedding later this year. “My neighbours had their jewellery stolen from under their noses.The thieves snuck it out in a small bag. Apart from this, I’ve heard of multiple instances of jewels getting stolen and pickpockets being active at weddings,” he says.

He has opted for an agency which provides security personnel dressed up as wedding guests.

 Some venues have taken it upon themselves to provide security.

Pankaj Kothari, founder of Gayatri Vihar at Palace Grounds, says people who hire the venue get comprehensive security.

“We already have 200 staff members who keep an eye out for thieves and beggars. Apart from this, we get 20 security personnel from another agency. They are stationed at the gates and also help with parking,” he says.

Another problem he faces in terms of security is transgender women coming to beg. “I understand they do it for a reason but we have a responsibility to make sure the event goes off smoothly. We give them some money so they go away satisfied and don’t cause a disturbance,” he explains.

A representative for Courtyard House, a boutique venue on Sarjapur Road, says security is part of the deal.  “We have five security guards, and they work to keep out gatecrashers and make sure the music is not too loud,” he says.

Tamarind Tree, a popular wedding venue in JP Nagar, provides five security personnel when you book the venue.

“Four are stationed at the gates and one walks around making sure there is no nuisance,” says a representative. The venue is also monitored by CCTV cameras.

Rosemary says apart from the venue, security is necessary at the houses of the groom and the bride. “The family residence is usually empty during the time of the wedding, and often has valuables inside,” she says.

Cost for security

Certain venues and wedding planners offer security as part of a comprehensive package. But if you plan to hire extra security, keep in mind these rates.

A bouncer costs between Rs 800 and Rs 2,500 for eight hours. Security at the homes of bride and groom starts at Rs 16,000 each.

Not just stars

Earlier, the super rich — tycoons, politicians and movie stars — used to hire bouncers and security personnel at their weddings. The practice is now common among the upper-middle and middle class.

Wedding insurance

A trend on the rise is wedding insurance. It covers loss or damage to valuables. Vehicles at the venue are not covered. This means even if you have taken wedding insurance, you might still need to hire security. ICICI and Future Genarali are among the companies providing wedding insurance services.

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