Hubbs Makes Sure Desi Weddings Have an Electric Karma All Their Own


By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Therese Cole Hubbs is no stranger to Hindi words like kanyadaan, hasta milap, jaimala, misri and antarpaat. In fact, it’s often the other way round.  Having coordinated six hundred and eleven Indian weddings with her wedding planning company, Electric Karma International, Therese is usually the one explaining Indian wedding rituals and traditions to the newer generation of newlyweds and their parents!


Hubbs has put her wealth of experience in Indian weddings to paper, and recently released a glossy 189-page coffee table book during a book signing event held at Blu Restaurant in Sugar Land on Tuesday, February 11. Entitled “Shaadi – a journey into desi weddings”, the book features many stunning displays of thirty classy to classic weddings coordinated by her over the years.  The book also celebrates the support she receives from her vendors, caterers and decorators, serving as a handy resource for those planning a wedding and, towards the end, the book contains a useful glossary of terms used in Hindu, Islamic and Catholic wedding rituals.

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Hubbs priced the book at $71, as she believes that any number ending in “one” is auspicious, harkening to a traditional Indian custom. She even closes every contract she signs with the number 1, no zero endings for her! She avidly believes in karma, which explains the name she gave her company, and is quite Indian in her beliefs, describing herself with a chuckle as “brown on the inside!”

Polish by birth, Hubbs was brought up in an extremely close knit family which is probably what draws her to Indian families.  She describes Indian families as “extremely welcoming, giving and generous about sharing information” and it’s not uncommon for her to quickly become an ingrained part of the family she is working with in planning their wedding. She adores the idea how Indians seek the blessings of their elders by touching their feet, and often cannot resist doing so herself.

After the desi community found her, Hubbs was quickly dubbed “Tara Patel” or “Star Patel” for her hardnosed negotiating skills with vendors. “Hiring a wedding coordinator brings in the expertise that can protect you from vendors and banquet halls who may charge a lot more”, Hubbs explained. “It gives your wedding that unique factor and of course peace of mind so the host can enjoy the wedding just as much as the guests”. She tailors every wedding to suit individual budgets and preferences and is present at every wedding from the time the first chair is put down to when the last guest leaves.  It’s not uncommon for her to work 36 to 48 hours straight on a wedding to make sure things are moving smoothly.

According to Hubbs, there are five key elements to a wedding – hospitality, food, alcohol, entertainment and décor. She takes the phrase “Food is Love” seriously, working with the best caterers, hiring renowned entertainers, jugglers, contortionists and once even an illusionist who made the newlyweds appear out of thin air! “But things don’t always go according to plan”, Hubbs laughingly admits. Wedding cakes sometimes fall off their multi-tiers and electricity outages do occasionally occur during the wedding ceremony. But she just takes a deep breath, tries not to look nervous and goes to work on Plan B!

Hubbs mainly coordinates weddings in Houston but with destination weddings growing increasingly popular, it’s not unusual for her to head to Mexico or Hawaii with a “Ganesh statue tucked safely in my carryon”. She has worked on wedding themes such as an Egyptian paradise, an enchanted forest and a Texas ranch (the groom arrived in a pickup truck wearing a cowboy t-shirt and boots but later removed them to please his horrified mother).

She is also well aware of the huge influence Bollywood movies and music play in Indian weddings.  For one sangeet (the song and dance program), she commissioned movie posters advertising the couple as stars in their own film and even recreated the snow globe scene from the Shah Rukh starrer, Om Shanti Om, so that the star struck newlywed couple, in copycat outfits, could enact their grand entrance dancing to the same tune.

Hubbs has coordinated elaborate wedding productions for Houstonians like Vik Agarwal, Swatantra Jain and Aku Patel; but she’s also coordinated weddings for as little as $5,000. She works with a team of ten, which includes her husband Hal, son Steven and staff in affiliate offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Ohio and India. A valuable recent addition to her team is her Director of Marketing and Senior Event Coordinator, Shirish Krishnan, who until recently was the Assistant Director of Banquets at Hotel Intercontinental on 610 West Loop (now known as Royal Sonesta), where he had worked with Hubbs on several weddings.

When she’s not busy planning a wedding, Hubbs is busy speaking about them as a national speaker at conferences where she conducts workshops for marriage coordinators. Asked if she would like to renew her wedding vows the Indian way, she didn’t bat an eyelid and said “it would be just too expensive for me”!