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Indian Weddings: Financial Nightmare or Business Heaven?

Created on 18 Nov 2022

Wraps up in 6 Min

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As the Covid restrictions die down, the Indian wedding season is returning with a vengeance. Based on a survey involving 35 cities and 4,302 service providers, the Confederation of All Indian Traders (CAIT) secretary general Praveen Khandelwal has projected 35 lakh weddings worth ₹3.75 lakh crore. These projections are for the period from November 4th to December 14th.

This is an increase from last year’s 25 lakh weddings worth ₹3 lakh crore. This means that the number of weddings is expected to go up by 28% and the money spent by 25%.

So, the “big fat Indian wedding” will only get bigger, but not really fat, as the pandemic sent it on a diet. The global sniffle-fest induced limitations on the number of guests admissible to weddings. As a result, the new, lean guest list has become pretty much the norm.

Don’t believe me? Well, believe the numbers, then! WeddingWire’s Indian subsidiary, The Knot, revealed that 43% of respondents to its survey preferred mid-sized weddings with 250-500 guests! This number was even after the Covid restrictions were lifted.

Goodbye, grumpy chachaji!

Speaking of the obnoxious uncle, a rather rude question he’d often ask is, “Kitne paise lage?” and “Itne paise gaye kahan?” First of all, shut up, Chachaji; focus on the happy couple, your food, and rejoice!

Second, really though, Paise gaye kahan? Let’s find out.

Indian Weddings and Millennials: A Trend Analysis

First of all, a little age shocker. Yes, millennials are getting married! Millennials being the people born between 1981-1996.

Weddings in India are more than just the communion of two people. There is a group of people, apart from the couple and the guests, who bastardise the entire ceremony by making it a display of status and social standing.

Thus guests, or rather, the number of guests, plays an important role in this shakti pradarshan. This is why a small army of 1,000 to 3,000 guests was a commonplace number for pre-covid weddings.

So, if the current preference of 250-500 guests is gaining traction, fewer guests would mean fewer plates of food and rooms for guests, ergo, fewer costs. Right?

Nope.

The current focus is shifting from quantity to quality. With a more intimate guest list, the funds are more focused on premium wedding services, and these are the industries earning from it.

Wedding Tourism

Tourism can be categorised into two classes, domestic and international. Weddings contribute to both of these parties.

Speaking of domestic tourism, based on the CAIT survey, Delhi is projected to hold 3.5 lakh weddings worth ₹75,000 crore out of the 32 lakh mentioned above. So let’s do a little maths.

3.5 lakh X 2= 7 lakh people getting married.

Assuming the low end of the guest list, if 250 people are invited to each wedding, that means…

3.5 lakh X 250= 8.75 crore guests.

So that’s 8.82 crore people. With Delhi’s population being 32 lakh, it is safe to assume that a few people would come from outside Delhi. That’s domestic travel covered.

This is assuming the wedding is being held in Delhi. Throw destination weddings in the mix, and 8.75 crore people are going to Goa, Udaipur, Shimla, or any one of the famed locations.

How about adding a trip abroad and making it a meal, eh? India’s wedding partnership with Dubai is a match made in heaven, it seems. And the best part, unki bhi haan hai!

India has over 80 million passport holders, and UAE tops the list of 10 destinations contributing to international travel, with 31.24% of outbound travel leading to the Gulf country. Indian tourists are also the highest spenders abroad, with an average spend of $1,200 per visit. American tourists and European tourists follow with $700 and $500, respectively.

Indian Tourism vs Covid-19 Lockdown
Covid might have taken a bite out of Indian tourism like I devour the free food at weddings, but the travel industry is ready to bounce back with a vengeance.

Mubarak Al Shamisi, bureau director of Abu Dhabi Convention & Exhibition at the department of culture and tourism, also wants to capitalise on this flow of crowds to their country. Apart from sports, Shamisi plans to market Abu Dhabi as a wedding destination to cater to its top tourist source.

Millennials are also implementing a significant new trend in the wedding industry. This trend is somewhat ominous…

… for the priests and kundali makers, of course! Wedding businesses favour this trend as much as traditional families prefer suitors with government jobs! I am talking about muhurat, or auspicious days, and the millennial avoidance of following these dates.

An industry with seasonal demand that thrives on this ignorance of tradition is the hotel industry.

Indian Weddings and the Hotel Industry

As far as Indian weddings go, the matter of budget is quite sensitive and extremely volatile. The costs can be as thrifty as ₹10,000 or as grandiose as ₹10 crore. How much a wedding really costs can shift depending on how much someone is willing and able to spend.

Of course, there is the matter of showing off one’s status through weddings, so that affects numbers too. After all, Bank balance jaye par status na jaye!

The wedding industry experienced its own mutation through the pandemic as the guest list got shorter. This new variant of the Indian wedding meant the same amount of money got spent on lesser people.

So, goodbye, marriage halls! Hello, fancy hotels!

Vikaas Gutgutia, founder and MD of Ferns n Petals Pvt. Ltd, said that their subsidiary, FnP Weddings and Events India, is set to experience more than 100% growth this wedding season.

The Eurasia regional director of Wyndham has reported that their hotels in Chandigarh, Kochi, Dehradun, Mussoorie, Kasauli, Jalandhar, Lucknow, Udaipur and Jaipur were booked 100% during the upcoming wedding season.

Remember the ignorance of muhurat? Here is why hotels always have room for breaking tradition.

Manbeet Choudhary, chairman of Jewel Group of Hotels, reported that one of their properties, Noor Mahal, in Haryana, is 100% booked for the wedding season. Even during the period of December 15 to January 15, when Indian weddings are usually put on hold.

As a result of this change in date preference, the population of hotel guest lists no longer swells and dips with the seasons, and hotels experience a consistent revenue stream. So, while the lockdown ensured that hotels did not turn into Covid Petri dishes, the incoming marriage fever sure has cured the hotels’ loneliness.

Profits of Top 5 Indin Hotels
These are the top 5 listed hotel and resort companies based on market capitalisation. While Covid-19 tripped up the hotel industry with limited admissions, the post-Covid year saw hotels bounce back by shrinking their losses.

Mahindra Hotels & Resorts India even managed to stay profitable during the lockdown restrictions and even grew its profits.

Another trend shift with Indian weddings can be seen in the next business, fashion.

Indian Weddings: A Fashion Show

In the animal kingdom, the males are the flamboyant and “pretty” creatures; look at any number of birds; look at our national bird. However, for some reason, humans seem to have gotten the whole thing backwards.

Men, in general, have long been fashioned in drab, modest attires. Hell, even their big day sees them dressed in the same old red, orange or yellow. Women, on the other hand, steal the show, the eyes and the majority of the wedding wardrobe budget.

However, men are finally waking up to the advent of fashion. After all, no groom wants to be called the kauwa that took away the moti ka chara.

Realistically, the phenomenon of themed weddings has taken Indian couples in its sway. Not only the bride and the groom, but guests too fashion themselves in fancy threads for the couple’s big day.

Although the Indian fashion industry is not the most organised, companies like Raymond, ABFRL, and Reliance have begun capitalising on this growing trend in men’s fashion. These brands, although, are not solely in fashion. Yet they seem to be getting a run for their money from this one company that’s turning the Indian Celebration and Wedding Wear into its playground.

Look out for an article on this secret underdog!

The Bottom Line

There has been an extreme paradigm shift in the Indian wedding industry. Couples and people involved have moved from spending every penny (sometimes from the money they do not have) in a rush to prove their status to spending rather reasonably.

Weddings have become less about minimising costs and more about spending the same extravagant amounts more efficiently. The wedding business is no funny business anymore.

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Deb P Samaddar

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Deb is a keen learner and eager to learn about the finance world. He is that person who would never stop talking, but my oh my, the words he uses, are not something a normal human would in a regular conversation. While the conversations are well, interesting, the write-ups are faultless. With an increased proclivity towards tech and language, he aims to capitalise on his interests as a content writer at Finology.

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