As part of our community series, we’re hoping to connect you with all-around badasses in the South Asian community. This time we're doing a couples spotlight. We've interviewed Manali Shah, who is here to share the story about how she met her fiancé Raj.

At LUKH, diversity of thought, culture, identity, etc. is what inspires us every day. We hope to share inspiring stories and helpful resources to continue fostering this inclusion in our community.

 

How did you two meet? When did you start dating? We met on Coffee Meets Bagel and had our first date at Il Porcellino. We started dating immediately after that and got to know each other better. We quickly realized that we had a spark and knew that we were going to last.

Tell us about your proposal story. I kind of knew when Raj was going to propose as he kept hinting at Feb 2020. The day before the proposal, my sister was telling me and my family that we needed to look nice tomorrow as we were taking family pictures. We never take family pictures, so that was my first red flag. When the next day finally came, I noticed that I was more dressed nicer than the rest of my family. We then drove to Adler. As it was freezing, we went inside and I saw his dad, so that convinced me that today was going to be the day. A few minutes later, we also met the photographer, who also let it slip when he mentioned Raj. Eventually, we went back outside and that's when I noticed an airplane with a banner. It said, "Will You Marry Me Manali?". It was so unreal and then when I turned, I saw Raj on his knee. When he popped the question, I knew it was a straight yes!

How is the wedding planning process for you? What were the challenges you faced as you were planning it? We are still planning our wedding. One of the challenges we had was finding vendors. I was working a full-time job and going to school, so any free time I had, went into calling vendors and following up with them to get prices and info. Raj was also in a similar boat. Once we had all the vendors, Covid-19 happened. Luckily our wedding is in Sept 2021, so we are still hopeful. However, we had to come up with several plans if we would not have our wedding.

How do you think a service like LUKH can help your wedding planning? We would consider LUKH for our upcoming wedding. As we have some friends and guests who are not Indian, we would let them know about LUKH so they get the full experience of being at an Indian wedding.

Tell us about your business. Where did you get the idea for your business? We got the idea for our business from our wedding planning. The frustration was real when we spent hours finding and calling vendors. Pyaariweddings.co is a South Asian wedding directory where couples can shop through all wedding vendors based on pricing, reviews, and more. Think of a cross between The Knot and Amazon. Couples select their city and guest count; evaluate 1,000+ wedding vendors in different categories; and add them to their cart, checking out with a customized wedding plan in less than five minutes. 1-2 years saved, $15K still in the wallet, and no headaches. A true win-win-win.

How did you take it from idea to execution? As a couple who was planning for their own wedding, we first figured out what we would want in a site. Then we asked family and friends or anyone who was wedding planning for some feedback. Once we had an idea, we got a domain, reached out to a developer, and started collecting vendor data. We spent a good 6 months getting everything in order. Once we had an MVP, we launched our site in Nov 2020, and from there we're gotten some good traction. We've gotten 5000 customer sessions, won 1st place in a startup competition, and have been featured in Poets & Quants, Yahoo News, and several podcasts.

Any advice for couples who are starting a business together? The good thing about couples starting a business together is that the trust factor is already built-in. You both know that you can count on each other. I would say that dividing up responsibilities based on skillset is definitely a must! The other advice I would give for couples is to not forget that you are a couple first and business partners second. Once you start a business, the business will consume you and it'll be pretty much all you and your partner will talk about. Take time once in a while and enjoy each other's company.

 

About the Author

Kruti Malkan is an MBA candidate at the Kellogg School of Management. Her background lies in supply chain and operations, but she has a passion for marketing. In her free time, she loves to Bollywood dance, practice yoga, and explore new fashion trends!