Just kick off your shoes and enjoy!
By Menaka Indrakumar
She is always driven to do things differently and take creativity to the next level. Be it her magazine or giving wedding ideas to couples. Always dressed stylishly, with an appealing personality, she never fails to grab the spotlight. Nelum Haththella, started as a child actress and later modelled for top designers. She even took part in modelling competitions. After marriage she took a break and later decided to do something constructive. With her experience in IT, she ventured out to launch the first wedding website in the country 'Brides of Sri Lanka (BOS),' which is a must-view for weddings. From a website it becomes a magazine and is the oldest bridal magazine in Sri Lanka. Her work is internationally recognized for destination shoots.
What made you start BOS?
I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And with the arrival of my eldest son, I figured it should be sooner rather than later, before I'd find myself too comfortable being a housewife or the drastic opposite of being a bored one!
The reason I chose the wedding industry was the fact this is an industry that will never die out. Whatever a country's economy may endure, people will still get married and people will still die! Hence I saw an opening that seemed lucrative at the time, although I must say that the industry is in a bit of a slump right now.
I launched BOS website first. At the time (in 2007), there weren't any online websites a bride could draw inspiration from, or refer to for ideas and most importantly, have a solid database of contacts of wedding suppliers or service providers. Hence when I created www.bridesofsrilanka.com it was an instant hit.
Then I realized that the bride and groom are constantly on the move and at the time smart phones and access to internet was widely available like today. So I decided to present the website in a hard copy format – therefore, the birth of the magazine. It came in a handy A5 size, which could easily fit into a handbag and we called it 'Brides of Sri Lanka – The Wedding Handbook.'
It is also the only magazine available onboard Sri Lankan Airlines' in-flight library.
BOS has come a long way since it started. Comment.
Dedication, hard work and the burning desire to do better than the last issue, has certainly paid off! But none of it would've been possible without the support, love and blessing of many of our advertisers and leading figures that are affiliated with the magazine.
Your magazine came at a time when there weren't wedding magazines. Comment.
Actually there were 3 wedding magazines at the time, none of which are in operation now, to my knowledge. But we managed to rise to the top and maintain this position because our magazine was far better in terms of content, quality and presentation.
How has the wedding scene progressed since then?
Tremendously! Weddings are heavily commercialized today, but in a good sense. Monotony of wedding ceremonies back then was broken sometime ago. People want their weddings to be unique and this desire to stand out from the rest, has taken weddings in Sri Lanka to a different height altogether - in terms of décor, locations, bridal attire, the nuptial ceremony, and more. And I personally think it has made Sri Lanka seem like one of the best locations to wed.
Isn't it easy to have bridal magazine running this long?
Most definitely not! The market is flooded with bridal and wedding magazines. But maintaining consistency and authenticity of content plays a big role. So does originality... It is sad that many lack novelty in such a field full of creative possibilities.
Some tips on what many forget on the wedding day?
Enjoy! Just kick off your shoes and enjoy! I always tell this to people who come to me for advice. The couple gets so caught up in the planning and execution process that they forget they are getting 'married'! And let me tell you, nothing will go as planned. Weddings are one of the most chaotic events in one's life. The bride, mostly, is constantly nervous and it shows– when you walk in, at the altar, on the dance floor, cutting the cake... relax girls! Just let the day take its toll and enjoy the day with your spouse.
How differently do you try do the magazine?
Different to the last issue! I get bored with my own magazine once the issue is out. This works very well for me because I am my own competition. Quite honestly, I have never been creatively challenged by another competitor magazine so far!
What is the most memorable achievement for you?
Motherhood being the most gratifying of all, there have been many, along the way. So, I was overwhelmed when I received the Gold in the Medium Category at the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016. I personally didn't believe I was worthy, as I have this habit of highly underestimating myself. But I am grateful to Purnima Abeyratne and Chathurika Ranasinghe for believing in me and encouraging me to apply for the title.
For the magazine?
Is definitely yet to come!
What is in store for the magazine in the coming year?
Now that we are onboard Sri Lankan Airlines, I am looking forward to the international exposure and the reach we will gain through the App being in place. We are currently shooting in India with Indian models and Sri Lankan designers and my photo crew from SL, which I think is a first for a Sri Lankan magazine.
What was the best thing you heard about the magazine?
The Bride's Bible! Yes, that's what they call it and I think I need not say more!
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