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Life and Work with Sonal Shah

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sonal Shah.

Indian-born Sonal J. Shah migrated to The United States at the age of eight and grew up embracing the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. Her fondest childhood memories were of the grand traditional Indian weddings she attended in her homeland. For the past seven-years, she has been living her dream, maintaining these ancient traditions throughout the United States for the most affluent Indian, Pakistani and Middle East expatriates through her New York-based company. A Masters of Business Administration in Finance from The University of Phoenix and Bachelor of Science degrees in both Hospitality Management and Spanish from The State University prepared Ms. Shah well for her chosen career. After graduating, positions in management and new business development at top hotels, including The Marriott and The Westin, further developed her skills and uncompromising work ethic. This background also gave her an in-depth understanding of hotels’ capabilities to provide the specialized services required to create premiere South Asian and cross-cultural events. These insights planted the seeds for her launching a company that proves the ideal complement to high-end venues, by specializing in this market and dedicating itself to maintaining all of the nuances of cultural tradition, while surpassing every bride’s expectations. A self-starter with a true entrepreneurial spirit, Sonal J. Shah, founded her company in Phoenix in 2004. Her talent for supervising high-end, elaborate events on a grand scale led her to relocate her firm to New York City. Fluent in English Hindi, Gjurati and Spanish, she brings a stylized international aesthetic to her work.

Ms. Shah is at her best when she takes the reins of a high-end event, meticulously coordinating, supervising and
choreographing every aspect – from concept through completion – while maintaining a cost-effective approach. Booking 5-star caterers, and supervising each course of over a dozen meals, arranging for entertainment – such as dancers, fireworks, DJ’s, singers, henna artist, and photographers and videographer, as well as arranging for transportation and high-end accommodations and for up to 1000 guests, are all in a days work for this professional. The ability to pre-plan every detail, while anticipating innovate creative solutions to the inevitable challenges that present themselves during 40- plus hours of celebrations is Ms. Shah’s forte. South Asian wedding celebrations are typically four-day affairs and every last detail is planned and coordinated by Ms. Shah and team. A Sangeet or Singing Night, a Mehendi or Henna Night, a Garba or Dance Night, and the Wedding and Reception day are the highlights.

An excellent communicator and negotiator, Ms. Shah’s consistently provides brides, grooms and their families with memorable celebrations that respect and integrate the cultural traditions of the couple’s parents, while incorporating the bride and groom’s contemporary style and vision. Bridging this generational gap is a key element of her success in this.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
One of my main challenges was that the older vendors didn’t give a lot of opportunity for newcomers just starting out in the industry. My advice to young women just starting out is that you have to have a lot of capital to get started. Simply waking up one day and becoming a wedding planner isn’t feasible. This takes a lot more work than people think.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sonal J Shah Event Consultants or SJS Events – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
What I am most proud of is the fact that we know the ins and outs of the luxury market and we are very type A. Meaning, we really take it really personally that we make every single wedding extremely special. All of the press we receive are for happy clients that we are so proud of. Additionally, we have gotten so many referrals, so we must be doing something right. I specialize in planning luxury Indian weddings that are unique to each couple.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
For starting a career in event planning it is important to have staff lined up, a non compete in place, and have all of the necessary paperwork completed. Additionally, it is very important to have a lot of capital to launch a business.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Priyanca Rao Photography, Clane Gessel Photography

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