Weddings have changed with the onset of COVID-19 and have now become more intimate and family-oriented affairs as opposed to the Big Fat Indian weddings we were earlier known for. Bindu Gopal Rao takes us through some of the celebrity weddings that have taken place this year and have set a benchmark for new age weddings in the post-pandemic times. Here are some of the new trends.
“Weddings have been a silver lining in these trying times. While we can no longer sustain the Big Fat Indian wedding format – the market has adapted very quickly to the micro weddings format. Due to the restrictions in the number of guests to 50 earlier and now 200, we are seeing the gatherings become smaller, more intimate and meaningful for the couple and their families. We are seeing more destination weddings and hotel buyouts due to the limitation on the number of guests,” says Jayant Singh, Managing Partner, Treehouse Hotels, a hotel management company. From a financial perspective, most of the hotels are sustaining their expenses because of weddings and social functions. Although the gatherings have become smaller, the numbers of weddings taking place in hotels have increased. “We have seen a reduction in the average billing of a wedding by at least 40%, but as the number of wedding enquiries has gone up, we have seen a boost in volumes to sustain revenues,” adds Singh.
Guests are looking for larger resort-like venues even though the gathering is smaller. The reason behind this choice is the safety and social distancing aspects. Today, everyone wants to be doubly sure of the safety and hygiene in a hotel and while almost all hotels are following safety protocols, resorts give the added advantage of space, and are hence better options.
“As the guest lists are more restricted, people now have the budget to upgrade their wedding to a resort, and in turn make it more memorable. Earlier, when there was a wedding in our hotel, there used to be an equal number of in-house guests and non-resident guests or invitees who were not staying with us. But nowadays we only have in-house guests from both the families. Families prefer booking the entire resort to ensure there are no guests besides their own invitees, shares Singh.
Even pre-wedding shoots are happening remotely. “We started Facetime photoshoots just as an experiment, but a lot of people got intrigued by it. It is a time-consuming process but amid a pandemic, sitting in the comfort of your own home, you are getting to make memories while social distancing is maximised. We evem get queries for Facetime photoshoots from overseas, but due to a tight time schedule we could only take up a few bookings,” says Himanshu Sharma, Founder at Wedding Matinee.
Weddings have been a silver lining in these trying times. And while the Big Fat Indian wedding format is no longer sustainable, people are now opting for the micro weddings format.
Wedding décor has become more simplified nowadays but it is retaining its elegance. There is more use of fabric, mirror and strings of lights instead of ornate elements. “Having a ‘virtual platform’ set up has become an important part of the wedding owing to the limitation on the number of guests that can attend. We ensure that we have the ideal equipment for this with our audio–visual vendor. We have re-engineered our menu so that adequate social distancing can be maintained in the kitchen and one chef can complete the dish from start to finish. We have hygiene stations all around the hotel for staff to sanitise their hands and throw the used gloves and masks,” explains Himanshu Sharma.
Traditionally, Indians preferred a lavish Big Fat wedding and marriages in India evolved to include elaborate themes, long-drawn ceremonies and destination weddings. But with the advent of Covid-19, weddings have turned into close family affairs. “Earlier, weddings were quite elaborate and social in nature. This created multiple opportunities to wear jewellery. But according to new trends, youngsters want to rework and modify their mother’s or grandmother’s old jewellery pieces by adding new elements to it like precious and semi-precious stones and making them contemporary in nature while retaining the old charm and value. Also, preference towards mid-segment has started diminishing. People are gravitating more towards lower and higher-end jewellery rather than the mid-segment when it comes to wedding jewellery,” says Shrusshti Sharma, Founder, Designers of India.
Facetime photoshoots have become a rage now! Although it is more time consuming, you can sit in the comfort of your own home and make memories while social distancing is maximised.
A recent report titled Global COVID-19 Weddings Report released by The Knot Worldwide, the largest wedding technology company in the world, has thrown up some interesting aspects of new age weddings.
According to the report, 23% of the couples are not going ahead with a wedding reception while 48% are planning one but with all health and safety measures to ensure everyone’s well being. The number of wedding receptions being cancelled is the highest in India. Taking into cognizance the restriction on the number of guests at the ceremony, 90% of the couples are inviting only immediate family and close friends. A few also invite extended family (30%) who reside in the same city for a private get together while more than half the couples (52%) want friends and family from outside their city of residence to be present to share their magical moment. A quarter (25%) event want their guests to take a COVID-19 test ahead of the event as a precautionary measure. At the ceremony, 75% of Indian couples are conducting temperature checks for attendees and a follow up check a week after the event to check for symptoms (47%).
Only 40% of couples anticipate that their budget will be 25% or more lesser than what they had originally planned. 33% of the couples are seeking different venue options that can accommodate smaller groups of guests. “Couples in India are staying positive and are keen to celebrate their special day, despite the pandemic, by making necessary arrangements and precautions,” says Ankur Sarawagi, India Country Head, The Knot Worldwide.
So, while celebrations won’t stop, stay safe and have a fun wedding with all the safety precautions!