Weddings – I do or I don’t’

Radhika has planned her February 2020 wedding in a picture-perfect manner till Covid struck and she was forced to postpone her dream event by a few months.  On a positive note, she sought this time to better plan her wedding and dress. But even after 6 months, the pandemic refused to go away and she had no option but to marry in the presence of a few relatives and even fewer friends in a temple in October 2020.

Like Radhika, plenty of couples and event hosts had to cancel their lavish parties to settle with small gatherings amidst Covid restrictions.  Not only did they incur financial loss but received the wrath of uninvited relatives and guests.

The pandemic has changed the entire way events and marriages are organized. While decorations were the forte earlier, it changed into safety measures, sizing down the guest list and observing Covid protocols.

November 2021 saw a robust comeback with Delhi witness to about 7000 weddings in the month of November and December. But the third wave of virus raises a fear in people. Yet people refuse to postpone their planned events and go ahead with their big day celebrations with more safety protocols, of course.

Ritu Ghai from TIDU traces the trajectory of pandemic weddings. 

Prerana Agarwal Saxena of says, “Weddings are all about creating a joyous and harmonious surrounding that celebrates the holy union of two souls. Indian weddings have always been synonymous with luxury and lavishness, and it can be observed that the 2021-22 wedding season is a season filled with hope and new beginnings. However, as 2020 had been a precarious year for the wedding industry packed with uncertainty, many prospective couples had to postpone their lavish wedding, in lieu of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns imposed in India. As the year passed, and we came into mid-2021, things started to look up. Couples were re-selecting their wedding dates, shortlisting the guests, and finalizing their decor options. As the wedding season is now upbeat, its fate looks much more optimistic when compared to last season. I will surely say that the quintessential Big Fat Indian Wedding is ready to come back with a twist, observing that uber lavish has a new meeting of ultimate intimacy and even more luxury. 

Over the past years, we have seen couples wanting to get married in an exotic destination or to have a celebrity-inspired international destination wedding. However, due to the pandemic, international weddings were next to impossible to achieve. Couples are embracing local yet luxurious wedding destinations such as Jodhpur and Udaipur extensively this season. I would say that even though international travel restrictions have loosened up considerably, folks are willing to spend a good chunk of money to have a domestic destination wedding now, considerably understanding the value of Indian cultural charm and magnificent Indian locales. India is seeing a drastic increase in intra-national weddings, as couples are opting for weddings in Mussoorie, Puducherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and even the Kerala backwaters, apart from the traditional wedding palatial destinations in Rajasthan. Couples are now looking for open spaces which can accommodate their wedding dreams with their intimate wedding guest list, without compromising on the luxury or the social distancing practice. Instead of the age old trend of calling everyone they know, couples are being more selective with their guest list. It is much easier to accommodate an intimate gathering and manage them, therefore, they are a perfect fit for a destination wedding. In order to make a lasting impression on the guests and have a feel-good wedding ceremony, couples are willing to invest in a truly lavish bash that can rival any celebrity wedding, making Destination Weddings a trend even in 2021-22.

Keeping the Indian culture in mind, Indian weddings have always been a reflection and the by-product of the times. Poets and writers in Mughal India wrote about the elaborate tales of the extravagant weddings that took place. The 2000s weave stories about elaborate baarats that would hold up the traffic of a small town and chefs flown in from exotic destinations to prepare a single meal. And today, we can see the lingering effects of COVID that has paved a way for wedding events that are very personalized and customized in nature. Moreover, antimicrobial materials and surfaces are considered in order to reduce the sanitization that needs to be conducted. Lastly, there has been a renewed focus on sustainability. In these cases, couples are hyper-aware of the carbon footprint they leave behind. Therefore, couples are opting for seasonal menus, eco-friendly lighting options, recyclable gifts, upcycled backdrops and using compostable utensils.

The focus has shifted from “grand” to “grand, secure and feel-good” weddings. Sure, the focus of the wedding will always and undeniably be the couple, but these days, the comfort and the experience of the guests is one of the top priorities for the couple, making weddings more extensive than ever. Rather than being driven by a need to impress guests, couples are motivated to ensure that their guests have a fun time to temporarily forget about their worries, the pandemic and feel safe while they attend this wedding. Another area of weddings that has been rejuvenated is the emphasis placed on multi-generational gatherings again. What this means is that a wedding is often the only time in a year that various generations have gathered in one place. This wedding in a vaccinated era has been their first chance to meet each other in over two years, so couples are also willing to go the extra mile to satisfy the demands and needs made by the elders of the family. 

To me, the wedding and the process that goes on behind the scenes to plan a seamless wedding are sacred. This process has become invaluable in a post-COVID world. The value of a planner is much more understood and appreciated than being just a decorator”, concludes Prerana.

You are invited

Brother-sister duo Rohan & Aparna of The Wedding Card Co., an online Indian wedding card store allows brides and grooms (across India and globally) to effortlessly choose and purchase invitations from the comfort of their home. There are more than 200 designs in their 2021-22 collection across 9 categories. Samples can be ordered at home to see the quality and then an order can be placed online. They talk about some key trends post covid, “ Due to gathering constraints, the average order size for printed cards is 25 of 50pcs. Prior to Covid it was 100-125pcs. Also e-invitation are preferred because there is no formality with the invitees which are mostly family and close friends. E-invites can be distributed at a short notice and faster speed. Moreover couples add live streaming links on their e-cards so that their guests (who are not invited in person) can see the events live. Some even send a gift with their cards to make the invited and non-invited guests feel special”, sums up Rohan.

Trends that are going to stay:

  • Outdoor locations would be the chosen venue;
  • Closer destination weddings;
  • Zoom weddings, Intimate ceremonies with a curated guest list;
  • Safety measures to be given priority;
  • Live streaming of weddings for people who can go online and be a part of the celebrations;
  • Mandatory temperature reading for guests in attendance;
  • Face masks and hygiene kits provided to guests;
  • Food cooked amidst strict safety measures.

The big fat weddings were back towards the end of 2021 with people splurging their money on making their wedding a dream come true.

Shawna from comments, “Weddings are back and couples are now more than ever planning the weddings of their dreams.  Surrounded by family and friends has never been more important, and with a particular fondness to destination weddings. We see more weddings being hosted outside and with a careful eye on the moving pandemic.   2022 will see more weddings than we have seen since 1984, with larger budgets and more events”.

As for now Omicron may have put the Indian wedding industry in a quandary, but people are hopeful that the situation would come back to normalcy. Soon wedding experts would start planning fairy-tale marriage with shopping sprees, grand baraats, lavish buffets and guest filled events.    

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