Chicken Makhani Anyone?


Besides being a wedding designer, I can make a signature makhani sauce that I’m known for amongst my dinner invitees.   What does Chicken Makhani have to do with decor?  Read on! In November 2006, I assisted a family who had an interfaith wedding ceremony.  I don’t recall the name of the bride as I never met her, only her mom.  Let’s call her “Amita auntie” for this passage.   Amita had a great experience working with us –  she downsized/simplified all her decor for the elder daughter’s wedding.  Nevertheless, she had an overall decent event. Let’s fast forward three years, Amita auntie’s second daughter is ready to get married and of course they inquire about our decor services for daughter No. 2.  Naturally they first begin speaking to all the vendors whom they had a good experience with and for the most part it was all repeat vendors.

So we met her and submitted a proposal.  Three years later, clearly our prices have gone up and she is complaining about them throughout our conversations.  Apparently, she didn’t understand the concept of inflation and my prices from three years ago are non-existent.  From the beginning of our conversations until verbally agreeing to our services, she wanted to get me to do the decor and get the centerpieces from another vendor.    This is a no-no as we want to be in control in the overall look of the room and if some florist comes in and busts out with carnations, well I’m not happy with this, because it “uglifies” the event.

She kept on bringing up this other vendor doing the floral centerpieces.  Curious as to who this other talented designer was I asked her and she told me it was the caterer.  I said “what?”   And it was an Indian caterer nonetheless!

Weeks went by, and I wasn’t going to lose making the centerpieces to a caterer!  So I basically told her that we have to do the ENTIRE decor of the event.   I mean what would this Indian caterer provide for a centerpiece?    One of those spice caddys that has the lazy Susan turntables on the bottom?  No – not happening!

So she finally agreed to us handling the event and my prices set forth.  Well the In-laws (to be) were in town and she wanted them to meet me and hear my ideas.  So they came by and I showed them everything from the Mandap to the floral centerpieces and they loved everything, especially the centerpieces.

We  were all having a nice meeting until she brought up the caterer potentially making the centerpieces.   I immediately got annoyed because we were regressing.  So I explained to Amita auntie and her daughter’s future in-laws who seemed pretty grounded:  “Ok, Amita auntie, that is fine, let the caterer make the centepieces, but under ONE condition:  I make the best Chicken Makhani, so you have to order that entree from me!  After I finish setting up the Mandap, I will rush into the kitchen (as IF I have time to cut onions and tomatoes?) to prepare the food.  Would this be acceptable?  It is fair, right?  Would you like to taste some now?  C’mon, let’s do it!”

The future in-laws began laughing HYSTERICALLY!  Amita auntie was so angry she began foaming at the mouth.   She KNEW they were laughing at her adamance of the Indian caterer making the floral pieces.  And that was the reason for my preposterous idea! Even her husband laughed loudly who was sitting beside her.   Amita auntie elbowed him.  It looked very painful and out of a scene from an Indian serial on ZEE TV.    He screeched in pain – and then everyone stopped laughing.  It was the ultimate buzz kill. The meeting ended shortly after that.

So what happened?
I didn’t get hired by Amita auntie.  And she didn’t order any Chicken Makhani from me either!

My photographer friend (who was hired) told me she hired a decorator that has office space in a notorious Indian strip mall in Atlanta.  He had no favorable comments regarding decor and the overall event. I never heard from Amita auntie again, but I did see her in-laws at another event.  We both smirked at each other!
Food for thought:  Let designers decorate and design mandaps and make the floral centerpieces. Let caterers marinate and fry the pakoras and perfect their Chicken Makhani.
Now… all this talk of Chicken Makhani is getting me HUNGRY!!!

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