BY SIDDHI JAIN
New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) When it comes to Indian weddings, there’s a lot one can say about the wastage, over-the-top expense and outrageously grand exhibits that people indulge in. With wedding guest-lists capped at 50 people, venues and banquet halls in lockdown, and a financial crunch for a majority of the population – the Indian wedding has no option but to downsize, and that may not be a bad thing.
While weddings may be smaller, the grandeur of the Indian wedding will far from pale. The rise of intimate, micro-weddings (though none the less lavish) has the wedding industry believe the ‘big fat Indian wedding’ might have a long wait before it makes an appearance.
Technology is allowing couples to get married and have their family and friends attend their ceremonies over Zoom calls. Over 500 people can attend a celebration in this manner even if they are miles away. Many couples have embraced the concept of intimate weddings after the sudden outbreak of COVID-19.
According to a The Knot Worldwide survey, around 80 percent of Indian couples who were planning to get married between April to August 2020, have chosen to postpone their weddings to the latter half of the year, over cancellations.
What would change?
“Taking safety into consideration, international pre-wedding shoots and destination weddings might take a back-seat depending on how the global scenario changes in the coming months. At present, couples are discussing weddings within their home city. Some are also planning on making road trips to places near their home city,” Ankur Sarawagi, India Country Head, The Knot Worldwide told IANSlife.
“75 percent of couples do not plan on reducing their guest list. They will design and segregate their guest lists for separate wedding celebrations. Attention to details also plays a major role in big budgeted marriages. In case there is a dip in the number of guests, we can expect more tailored experiences like customised wedding seating ideas, wedding favors,” he added.
According to a Weddingz.in survey, a majority said that in the next 2-3 months, they would prefer intimate weddings with a smaller guest list.
Post-COVID era will force families and the bride and groom to re-evaluate their plans and priorities. Personalised and more meaningful guest experiences will take precedence. Personalised menus, change in traditional seating arrangement, and decor will all be part of the collective guest experience at any post-pandemic wedding. According to our recent customer survey, most respondents said that they would prefer in-house catering to ensure high-quality standards in procurement and food preparation, notes Sandeep Lodha, CEO, OYO’s Weddingz.in.
“Domestic destinations for weddings will be the norm with limited access or restrictions to international travel in the foreseeable future. Destinations that can be reached by road will be preferred to guarantee the safety and social distancing in a post-pandemic era. Unarguably the spend on destination weddings will be limited owing to limited international options.”
“Weddings will see a definitive shift to the virtual world. Couples and families will look for photographers and videographers that are well-equipped to live-stream events for their friends and family from across the globe. Families will be willing to pay a premium for good service and technology here,” Lodha told IANSlife.
Not all gloom and doom
The COVID-19 “does not necessarily mean that all businesses associated with weddings are going to suffer” and some businesses may boom. With reduced number of guests, the expenditure on banquet halls, fancy decors, large scale food catering, extensive honeymoon travels will go down, but jewelry might not be all that badly hit, Rohan Sharma, Managing Director of RK Jewelrs, South Extension-2 told IANSlife.
“Jewelry is an asset that one builds at their wedding and families would now probably spend more on jewelry than anything else. During the lockdown, we have experienced an increase in inquiries for gold jewelry. People have seen that in the time of need, gold is the only stable asset,” Sharma said.
As and when things return to normalcy, weddings will slowly but surely become the quintessential elaborate gathering as always, planners are certain. Couples will focus on venue sanitization, frequent disinfection of common facilities and hygiene while serving guests, and prefer open, larger venues to ensure social distancing.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)