Recovery was on the cards for the wedding industry after the Delhi government - in keeping with the Central guidelines, had allowed a top limit of 200 guests at weddings. But in the third week of November, the national capital logged almost double the number of fresh COVID cases. With the third wave of COVID upon us, the Delhi government immediately rescinded the order and the top limit is now back to 50.
What does this mean for the wedding businesses? Will 2021 end in an ‘intimate weddings only’ note or are couples still going that extra mile for their dream wedding? Vikaas Gutgutia, MD & Founder, Ferns N Petals & FNP Gardens, Shivan Gupta, Founder of Amaara Farms and Prerana Saxena, Founder of Theme Weavers Designs, answer all the raging questions.
What does this decision mean for the weddings planned in Delhi NCR?
Prerna Saxena: Our heart goes out to all the couples who have again had to put a halt on their dreams because of the immediate circumstances. It is a hard time for all of us in this business of making memories, however, we have faith that the wedding industry will bounce back. It does not come as news to us that in the recent past, the authorities have had to step-in at multiple levels to ensure compliance in the past with little success. Hence, whilst the proposed limit may be disheartening for many, but it surely is in the larger good of the people of Delhi who need our support right now.
Vikas Gutgutia: The wedding industry had already faced the brunt of the uncertainty during lockdown and was slowly recovering the massive losses. Though the proposal of the centre is for the betterment but the reduction in gathering will again scale down the business and a lot of associated units like caterers, planners, designers etc. will be badly impacted. We are now anticipating cancellations and delays by clients.
Shivan Gupta: The decision seems to be inevitable and the right one keeping in mind the health and safety of our guests and the industry personnel. There has been a downward trend and we aren't expecting to see a recovery till the first half of 2021. However, with the limit of 50 guests, we are advising our clients to invite their guests in batches this way they can still work around having blessings of the closest people and not put their guests at risk. Also, even with the permission for 200 guests in the past, we haven't seen an attendance of more than 120.
Image Credits - Amrit Photography
Do you hear cancellation/further postponement requests or are couples willing to host their weddings with 50 guests?
Vikas Gutgutia: Many of our clients who were to get married in May 2020 had pushed their wedding to this year and are now again looking to postpone it. Because of these cancellations and alterations, all the associated units such as caterers, designers, make-up artists, wedding vendors, or planners have been affected to the core. We have been getting calls from clients who had opted for a venue in Delhi, to enquire, if the functions can be organised at our venues in the NCR region. In the coming days, all our 11 wedding venues are booked to host 10-12 weddings each but we are now, anticipating changes or delays. We are suggesting our clients to shift their functions to our venues located in Gurgaon (outside Delhi). We are also helping them in managing their function on a further date. Plus, people are also fine with hosting an intimate wedding with 50 guests.
Prerna Saxena: Whether it’s cancellation or postponement, it’s only natural to be upset and even worrying for the families. Yet, it varies from client to client! Some of them are going ahead on their decided day with just 50 guests .So, they are willing to stick by the norms, follow them and get the rituals done mainly because they are conscious of the current situation.They understand that it will find it difficult to get bookings for the coming months and also that nothing may change for a year or so. Other couples and their families have either cancelled their plans or postponed for a full year because they want nothing short of a true elaborate Indian wedding saga. Whatever their choice maybe, we are encouraging our clients and prospective couples to tie the knot in an intimate setting abiding by the current government mandates as there is uncertainty about the future.
Image Credits - Vintage Films Photography
In case couples wish to continue with their weddings, how does this impact the overall wedding planning process? What are the key steps you are taking to downsize the wedding and keep the grandeur of the celebrations intact?
Prerna Saxena: No matter what, safety is the top priority. We make sure we stay digitally equipped such as e-invites, same day video edits and zoom calls which are now an essential part of sharing the joy and grandeur with friends & family spread across nations. The grandness is further enhanced with buffets being replaced by meticulously curated sit-down meals for all invited guests. Choosing the right venue for the wedding is more than half the gamble. Hence, we work with beautiful properties across Delhi with gorgeous interiors to reduce set-up costs and full catering so that the families don’t feel the impact of the downsizing. Sometimes, we have even merged the functions into one just so that budgets are not spread thin. In a nutshell, as a planner, our job has not reduced in any manner. If at all, it may well have increased because now the challenge at hand is not only to tie in all the services but also to keep the clients’ family safe.
Vikas Gutgutia: There are couples who want to continue with the celebrations despite the restrictions. Therefore, to make it possible we are ensuring that all the precautions will be followed by us and our staff for the safety of our guests. All our wedding venues are equipped with thermal scanners, get each staff member tested via the rapid antigen test, everything is being done in accordance with the need of the hour. We will be further emphasising on top-notch hygiene standards as well as ensure contactless services.
Image Credits - Amaara Farms
Would you suggest breaking down the guest list to 2 different celebrations to accommodate at least 50 guests in each event?
Shivan Gupta: Yes, we are experiencing a positive response to the suggestion of breaking down the guest list for different events. Also, the trend of a sundowner wedding has proved to be a convenient option over the years, this format allows the couple to enjoy their big day to the most. Going ahead with the well-planned, split guest list is allowing are clients choosing to call the senior members and the immediate family in the first batch to reduce exposure and the friends in the second batch to carry-on the party.
Prerna Saxena: Whilst it may not be the most pocket friendly suggestion to make, we would keep our options open on a case to case basis. Should a prospective client want to go the extra mile then we would be pleased to execute two different celebrations.Yet, in the Indian context, this may turn out to be quite tricky. How would the client choose who to call for the main wedding and who to count out? Furthermore, most hotels are asking for a minimum of 24 hours between one check-out to the next check-in to have ample time to sanitise the rooms and the banquet spaces. Hence, our ideal suggestion to all would be to accept that weddings are going to be intimate and that they go ahead with a guest list of 50 only for now. Once restrictions are lifted, we would join the family in designing and executing their dream reception.
Vikaas Gutgutia: As per the new regulations people have to minimise their guest list, therefore we have suggested breaking down the guest list to 2 different celebrations so that more people can be a part of their celebration. But, now the guest list has been just limited to just 50 guests, we are trying our best to help our clients to maintain the equilibrium of the event. On top of that, we are suggesting them to shift their functions to Gurgaon venues.
Download the WeddingWire India app and plan your wedding effortlessly, no matter what the size of your guest list is. From planning to wedding budget calculator, and inspiring blogs on latest wedding trends, the app has all your wedding requisites covered!