March 2019 made big waves as industrialist Mukesh Ambani’s son Akash Ambani tied the knot with Shloka Mehta in Mumbai. For days, India discussed the grandeur of the event—the wedding rituals, the guest list, multiple lavish parties, gifts, and the list goes on. Even six months ago, the Indian wedding market, estimated at $50 billion got the tag of being recession proof. The Indian wedding industry was only second to its counterpart in the US.
That was then.
As paranoia grips the country with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the length and breadth of the country, the big fat Indian wedding—with the big bang band-baaja-baraat culture—could well be a thing of the past.
Typically, weddings in India have reflected a socio-cultural picture. It has always been an event for families and friends to reunite and celebrate life. It is no secret that Indian parents typically have always earmarked larges sums of savings for their children’s marriage. Even a modest wedding in the main cities could incur a cost of anywhere between Rs 30 and Rs 50 lakh. The more upmarket ones would cost over a crore—with no upper limit.
Cut to today. Weddings are few in number. But what is worrying the large number of wedding planners is that the contours of Indian shaadis could change in the coming years, even after the country comes out of the grip of the pandemic.
Couples and their families are discovering the charm of minimalistic weddings. More importantly, they are realizing that a minimalistic wedding comprising limited purchases with a limited guest list can be equally fulfilling.
Wedding planners—a tribe that has grown over the last few years as Indian weddings kept growing in size and grandeur—are a worried lot. “Once the situation improves, we might see people opting for destination weddings which may be attended by a few close family and friends but may not revert to the multiple wedding rituals with large-scale purchases and parties,” said a wedding planner, who refused to be identified.
“If 100 people were being invited, one may see 50 people coming in, the event could be trimmed with just a few rituals being observed instead of elaborate multiple ceremonies,” the planner said.
Job losses and slashed salaries across the spectrum could push a new wedding culture that is much smaller in size and grandeur. Importantly, the unprecedented paranoia and sense of uncertainty can alter India’s wedding culture..