India’s $50 billion wedding industry is gearing up for a busy winter — business may have shrunk in size but it has not lost its sheen

Groom entering the wedding venue wearing a maskBCCL
  • The COVID-19 lockdown led to a spurt of small, intimate Zoom weddings; but the $50 billion Indian wedding industry is sure that a recovery is on the cards.
  • With the government extending social gatherings to upto 100 people, matchmakers and businesses believe that the worst is over.
  • The stage is set for a busy winter with weddings lined up over auspicious dates during November and December.
  • With the smaller size of weddings, people are also opting for destination weddings at offbeat locations.
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One can say that ‘marriages are made in heaven’, but the grandeur and extravaganza of weddings are definitely made in India. The coronavirus pandemic has weighed heavily on the wedding industry across the world, and India was not immune to it either.

While COVID-19 achieved the unimaginable in India, with intimate and small weddings on Zoom becoming the go-to option. While many deferred the ‘big fat Indian wedding’ plan, as we approach the end of the year, the weddings have shrunk in size but they are back in business — for the $50 billion Indian wedding industry — a recovery is on the cards.

The stars are aligning for the year-end wedding season

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Netflix’s reality series, Indian Matchmaking stars the quintessential matchmaker - Sima Aunty - who believes that ultimately her efforts would be meaningless if the “stars are not aligned”.

And in India, that largely holds true. The first step for planning a traditional Hindu wedding in India is meeting the astrologer. So if you want to know whether the ‘band, baaja, baarat’ should be set in motion, ask your astrologer.

“After a forced lull due to the pandemic, now there is a sudden spurt to get married by year end looking by the number of queries in recent weeks which is about 3 to four times more than normal. The relaxation in norms has also given optimism to people looking to get married,” said RK Sharma, a Delhi-based astrologer.

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As things get busy for Sharma, he also pens down the upcoming ‘auspicious’ days for us. “There are quite a few dates in November – 2nd, 3rd, 9th and 12th – common for all based on moon signs of bride and groom except for Cancer and Scorpio. In December though there are only 5 auspicious days – 1, 7, 8, 9 and 11. So we can expect a lot of marriages on these days,” he said.

A pandit at a weddingBCCL

With the auspicious dates and the government extending social gatherings to upto 100 people, matchmakers are confident that the worst is over. Popular online wedding platform Shaadi.com said that the online matchmaking industry saw a 20-30% surge during the lockdown, which is going to result in a reasonable uptick in the number of weddings.

A groom on a horseBCCL

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Adhish Zaveri, Director of Marketing, Shaadi.com however believes that despite the relaxations, intimate weddings will still be seen across the country. “The scale and size of the weddings remain in question and would be a larger contributor to the contraction of the industry, than the number of weddings itself. We have couples who have met on Shaadi.com during the lockdown and are certain to marry this year. They are equally certain to have an intimate wedding and we expect people to avoid the excesses we usually see at Indian weddings,” said Zaveri.

Intimate weddings take over

For many next-gen brides and grooms across the country, there’s also a sense of urgency to get married now so they can avoid inviting the entire brigade of extended relatives for the wedding. This could be their only shot at getting a simple wedding done, sans the crowd. And of course, it cuts through the budget too.

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In the budget wedding space, OYO’s Weddingz.in said in August that it had seen 40% demand of pre-COVID levels coming back. The company said it had rescheduled over 3,000 events and locked approximately 1,500 unique bookings for October, November, and December 2020.

For the luxury hotel group Taj, there’s been an uptick in wedding enquiries and not just for their already popular hotels but also their drive-to hotels at serene locations.

“From weddings at our grand palaces in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Hyderabad, and beach weddings in Goa to intimate gatherings at our landmark city hotels in Mumbai, Delhi and Gurugram, Agra, Lucknow, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad are popular choices off late,” said Renu Basu, Senior Vice President, Global sales and marketing at Indian Hotels Company Limited.

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A destination wedding - Representative imageUnsplash

But with the smaller size of weddings, people are also opting for offbeat ideas, and that’s opening up opportunities for hotels with a smaller inventory of rooms. “For instance, Taj Usha Kiran Palace, Gwalior; can now host weddings due to the reduced size of the events. It is time to showcase these unique and amazing destinations in India as they will now be preferred over international destinations for small weddings,” she shared.

All that glitters

With the fall in gold prices over the past few weeks, jewellery shops have seen a buying rush. And even with the fall in prices, the market is flooded with discounts to lure in more customers. With weddings and the festive season around the corner, gold jewellery brands like Tanishq are hoping for a quick and swift revival.
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People buying gold jewellery in IndiaBCCL

“We are very optimistic about the upcoming wedding season as many weddings have been deferred to the second half of the year. Now with larger gatherings of up to 100 being permitted, it is likely that we will see many more weddings taking place,” said Arun Narayan, AVP, Retail & Marketing, Tanishq, Titan Company.

On a shopping spree

While one can cut corners on the guest list and budget, brides still want that perfect dream lehenga. But the safety concerns have left them skeptical of actually visiting crowded bazaars and shopping areas. And so, even ‘lehengas’ have gone online. Bridal Asia is now hosting a virtual exhibition where brides and grooms can meet designers, jewellers, online, and book video consultations as well.
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“Inquiries have increased for makeup artists, photographers, and other service providers, however, given government regulations and safety concerns, they are for smaller weddings. However, wedding shopping and festival shopping is on the rise. Even our July sales were equivalent to our pre-COVID sales in February, but this is perhaps because we focus on more affordable ethnic wear and jewelry though. Designer brands will take longer to see a resurgence,” said Sanna Vohra, founder of The Wedding Brigade.

The big fat Indian wedding may have shrunk in size but definitely, not lost its sheen.


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