scorecardBig fat Indian weddings back but with slimmer guest lists
  1. Home
  2. business
  3. news
  4. Big fat Indian weddings back but with slimmer guest lists

Big fat Indian weddings back but with slimmer guest lists

Big fat Indian weddings back but with slimmer guest lists
Business4 min read
Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor wedding    Instagram
  • According to data by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), over 3 million marriages will take place this wedding season in India, which will generate a business of over ₹3.75 lakh crore.
  • Hotels in North India are already sold out for this and the upcoming season next year already.
  • Most weddings continue to have shorter guest lists, in spite of high budgets.
  • Young couples are choosing off-season weddings.
The onset of winter always spells a boom for the wedding market in India, but this season is different. After the Zoom weddings during the pandemic, this season 3.2 million weddings are expected to be held over December and January, as per CAIT. Like the festival season, there is no scrimping of the budgets either but something has changed after the pandemic.

Call it the side effect of inflation or just a change in mindset, but weddings in India are more intimate affairs now, with thinner guest lists.

“The pandemic has made the trend of mid-scale weddings with limited guests a big success. Couples are now keen to do small events and going big on intricate details,” Anam Zubair, head of marketing, WeddingWire India told Business Insider India.

Size does matter

Weddings are once-in-a-lifetime events, and Indians are known for throwing ‘big fat Indian weddings’. As per a KPMG report, an Indian is likely to spend a fifth of his or her lifetime earnings on a wedding, and they can cost anywhere between ₹5 lakh to ₹5 crore.

Over the last two years, the few weddings that were held during the pandemic had to stick to a slim guest list, following government’s restrictions on gatherings. Though the restrictions have been lifted, experts believe that the idea of an intimate wedding has struck a chord with people, and it’s here to stay.

“The big fat Indian wedding has evolved and while people are spending more or less the same amount, the guest list size has significantly come down. From 400-500 guests on an average pre-Covid, it has now come down to 200-250. But the spending has not reduced as couples are focusing on enhancing the guest experience,” Zubair further explained.

There, however, are exceptions, like in the case of a section of business families, who are continuing with their love for going big on celebrating marital unions. “In India, the concept of slim and slack weddings will coexist with big fat weddings. While the business families are back to big fat weddings with long guest lists, young couples still prefer intimate marriages,” Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO at WeddingSutra, a wedding portal, told Business Insider India.

Small but grand

Even as most couples are thinking ‘small’, it has had no effect on the size of the wedding season, that’s expected to hold around 3 million weddings.

As per a report by Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), this year’s wedding season is expected to generate a business of about ₹3.75 lakh crore - an increase by 25% since last year. This, however, covers wedding purchases, services along with allied factors like house repairs that are undertaken as a part of wedding preparations.

And, around 11% of the 3 million weddings are expected to be held in the national capital of India. In fact, most hotels in North India are already sold out for this and the upcoming wedding season next year.

“We are getting a good response regarding the number of queries generated at our properties. Quite a few bookings have been confirmed until February 2023,” Vishal Lonkar, general manager, business development, Renest Hotels and Resorts told Business Insider India.

Couples are now more focussed on perfect decor, cuisines and other smaller details, say experts. “Instead of a huge number of guests, the trend has shifted to grand weddings with a grand layout, décor, smaller number of guests, intimate gatherings, bespoke experiences, personalized services, exemplary selection of cuisine, beverages, the emphasis is ‘on the moment’, ‘luxury’, ‘larger than life’,” Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate Hotels and Resorts told Business Insider India.

Thanks to the wider selections being demanded by couples, the per plate costs of weddings also went up this season.

“The cost has marginally increased by about 15%, but this is more to do with guests preferring luxurious, bespoke experiences, opting for more unique, global, fine dining cuisines, elaborate menus, wider selections,” Kapoor of Roseate Hotels further highlighted.

Off-season weddings in trend now

Couples who are now focussed on better wedding experiences are also willing to forego the muhurats or the traditional weddings seasons.

This trend too was evident in the number of off-season weddings that took place this year, ahead of the busy November season. Zubair also says that they have seen an 18% y-o-y increase in couple sign-ups for bookings for off-season weddings.

“It helps them reduce their wedding expenses significantly. During the wedding season/muhurat dates, both venues and vendors like photographers, caterers, etc. charge higher for the same products/services. In the over $50 million Indian wedding industry, this trend continues to resonate with consumers and drive new revenue opportunities for professionals,” Zubair said.