The COVID-19 outbreak has changed weddings in ways we could not have comprehended. However, we can see some light now with the declining cases in India. We expect the situation to get back to normal soon. Couples who were disappointed earlier can now see a beautiful ray of hope! These duos have been very sporting to accept new ways and the new normal. They know that with this uncertainty digitization and technology will hold the real key! While the miserable situation recedes, and we see changing statics of cases- we see some positive changes too! Yes, the future of Wedding Industry is going to be larger than life, experiential and much more real and beautiful. Indeed, the global pandemic has altered the traditional wedding in many aspects.
Image Credits - Wedding Story
Here are some useful insights, articulated by the connoisseurs of the industry. Let’s see what they have to share through their expert lens.
Q. What is the common sentiment in couples and families these days? Are they keen to plan big fat Indian weddings or do they still prefer a limited guest list?
Since the Global Pandemic Covid 19 hit us in March last year, weddings, like many other segments, had a huge impact in India. With the lockdown uplifted and relief in restrictions - couples are now finding the best ways possible to still have this special day of their lives. Some are doing intimate weddings at home & venues and some are doing Big Fat Weddings. On being asked, what will be the future of the wedding? Should we expect more of these glitzy big fat weddings or should we expect intimate weddings? The experts shared some valuable insights on the same. Read here:
Megha Israni- Founder of Israni Photography says, “ I will be getting married in the next 45 days and I think sentiment is very different. Yes, Covid has created a panic already as it has raised guards as you don't want to call too many people in your wedding. The month of April looks the heaviest months of the season. People are expecting 150 guests but still people will increase the guest list to 250. We have extended the 100 people guest list to 250 already, however, I don't see 500, 1000 guests coming to weddings for now. From last one year people have not seen entertainment around so if they have right support from the hotel then the guests list can get better. I think post Feb there will be a lot of difference. Photography and makeup are two important things that brides look up to and they block professionals before anything else. Rest, we have been receiving enquiries for April already. Also, cities like Udaipur and Jaipur have been opening wider arms to us for destination weddings."
Chef Harsh Shodhan -The Gourmet Kitchen shares,“ I think people are still confused because people are still not clear about what the government norms are going to be. They can change anytime. You don't know how the flights are going to behave. Secondly, the total number of guests is extremely unpredictable. You may want a 100 person wedding or a 200 person wedding - but those 149 are not sure if they want to attend the wedding or not. So that is a scare. I'm in Ahmedabad right now and catering a wedding of 150 people. There is huge open space but still gathering is less as they are not sure that the people will be comfortable in larger crowds or not. Though Mumbai has a different story as there are not so many open gardens there. There are large banquets in Mumbai but they are not allowing outsiders there. Rest, there is a huge age gap now as the younger generation is happy inviting close people and the older generation is not happy with intimate setups."
Krunali Gokani from The Wedding Corp, “Weddings have started becoming slimmer and people have started focusing on destination weddings all the more. We have ensured safety by placing Covid check station for people who are travelling."
Q. What challenges did the wedding businesses face with the government policies being changed extremely frequently?
Image Credits - The Wedding Story
We asked them about the challenges they faced with the government policies being changed and on this the Gokani shares something insightful.
Gokani continues, “We have faced problems with the change in the government policies. Especially in August 2020, where there were 20 people allowed in the wedding. Luckily, the resort had its own private space and we shifted there. Apart from this, another problem was that we have to discuss everything virtually. For instance sitting on the call, zoom calls etc and discussing virtually is not easy at all. Work from Home ruined our schedules and we ended up having late nights calls and erratic work hours."
Q. What are the additional steps we have incorporated to make sure that the guests feel safe and secure?
Praveen Kashwan from Hyatt Regency Lucknow, says, “We followed all the protocols issued by the Ministry of Health Affairs. We started ensuring safety measures right after the pandemic. The hotel was shut for 4 months and we were facing major challenges then. Once the hotel reopened we strictly ensured safety measures. Secondly, we started educating our customers about it. We mentioned on the contracts about the safety measures for the clients too. Being in Lucknow we had to make the customers understand how important the protocol is for everyone's safety. On top of it, we started placing masks in the touchpoints. Even hand sanitizers were kept everywhere. We sanitized the elevators especially in the banquet and ensured safety thoroughly."
Q. What are the prominent changes in the Catering Trends?
Image Credits - Chef Harsh Shodan
On being asked about the changes in catering trends and how the buffet system has changed as per the prevalent scenario and what other cater trends are being followed. Chef Harsh Shodhan gave an insightful revelation on this. Read here-
He avers, “Buffet is not going anywhere. Every wedding will have a buffet system- be it a small wedding with 50 people or a big wedding in Oberoi's. The sit down dinner was also incorporated. Inn Mumbai, they had waiting staff at the serving counter. These waiters are serving the guests to ensure safety. Apart from this alteration in trend there was no other change in eating pattern. Also, waiters and chefs are asked to do regular Covid tests."
Q. How have the circumstances of 2020 redefined the concept of destination weddings in India?
With the change in protocols, there have been changes in the concept of destination weddings too. We asked the experts and we have received the insightful takeaways. Read here.
Brijesh Sharma, from ITC Grand Bharat avers, "Earlier people thought destination weddings should be held in exotic places. However, at present, people are getting married in the outskirts of their city only. These outskirts refer to areas that are in the drivable distance. This period is a blessing in disguise for us as we are choc-a-blocked in all the seasons. Also, I see great demand in the month of April. The Grand Bharat is close by to Delhi and people are finding it comfortable to reach here. Our-other hotels like ITC, Rajputana, The Grand Goa etc. are doing phenomenally well. Our brand promised to give everyone a safe place and it is working really well in the North especially. Also, families are keen to come within drivable distance and hence we have been benefited enough during this period."
Q. Do we expect a growth in the number of queries and demand from the consumers now that the pandemic restrictions have eased out?
Image Credits - Imprint Studio
With the ease in restriction there is a change in the growth trend too. Ankur Sarawagi- Country Head- WeddingWire India shares his insight on this.
He says, "Wedding business is a 6 months business in India. People are basically getting married now and they don't want to extend the timelines as there has been enough delay already. Unfortunately, there was a 6 months dull period when we didn't come across any ceremony because of the restrictions. So, 50 percent of the weddings that were about to happen between Oct 2020 to March 2021 saw a shift in dates. First indicator is vaccination and this is indicating that the demand will spread over the next 3-4 years. So people who were not getting married- will suddenly start planning. With the availability of vaccines, our traffic has gone up as more people are thinking about weddings. We cater to a digital audience of approx. 1.5 to 2 millions users. This will see a growth of 25 percent in the next three years.. In between July 2021 and Sept 2021, we will see traffic coming back to the platform. We are also forecasting that people will start getting married on non-saya dates-especially in the metro cities. There will be a demand and supply mismatch."
Q. With destination weddings on the rise, can we also also expect a comeback of Pre-Wedding Shoots?
With the Covid-19 restrictions - the concept of pre-wedding shoots have slowed down however, the pre-wedding can be diminished. There is change in the perspective, On asking about the impact on Pre-wedding shoots- the expert had an insightful viewpoint on it-
Israni avers, "Initially when Covid hit, people were scared to even ask their photographers for a full team for their wedding, we ultimately saw that photography still remained an essential part of all the Covid-19 wedding celebrations. Also now that the vaccine has been introduced, I feel that we will be seeing a further positive change in the sentiments. In the month of December, the number of enquiries increased for us. Though now people are asking to shoot in places like Goa. Earlier people preferred realms like Budapest etc. Yes, pre-wedding shoots are here to stay with a different perspective. Now duos are focusing on candid pictures rather than larger than life experiences. Also, studio pre-wedding shoots have also started Recently, we did a shoot in an abode with a Netflix setup. This setup is again trending amid millennials. We can see that people are investing in unexplored places- like road trips. People are capturing emotions that are larger than life. The younger generation is loving the idea of having less people around and are keen for candid, real and closely knitted shots."
Q. With a rise in the guest list - are Hair and Makeup services also being booked for bride's and groom's family and relatives? If so, how is the hygiene maintained?
Image Credits - Zohrain Khaleeli
Zohrain Khaleeli, Founder of Zohrains Studio & Academy helps us with the below insight. Read here. She says, "Hygiene has always been a crucial aspect of what we do even before Covid hit us. With the recent normalisation in guest list numbers, we have again started getting make up requests for the family of the bride & groom. When it comes from extended families - the budget has increased as people know that they will be in the focus too. With masks - guests ask for more eye makeup. Grooms are also particular about their looks. Also, guests know that people are watching them online - so decking up is important now too.
Q. How are Makeup packages being tailored to suit the clients' needs right now?
Zohrain further shares, "The number of events have increased. Therefore we had to customize packages and their budget also increased. But now people are getting braver, they are also showing the trend to not bargain. Things are getting back to normal. The packages have changed and we will be catering to a smaller budget too."
Q. With multi event weddings being planned with separate guest lists, which wedding formats will continue to trend in 2021?
Gokani says, “With the availability of vaccination people have started including grandparents and other extended family members in their guest list. Obviously, couples have started keeping safety measures before calling elderly people. However, a positive attitude towards the larger guest list can be seen around November and December in comparison to April and May.”
The lockdown has not stopped the millennial couples from tying the knot. With the pandemic, a lot of events have come to a halt. While some couples have planned on postponing their wedding amidst the situation, many couples have resorted to innovative ways of getting married.. Praveen Kashwan shares throws light on the same, "We have a case when a couple postponed a wedding when they found out that their family members have tested positive for Corona. We considered the situation and refunded the amount. As a brand, Hyatt believes in refunding or adjusting in unforeseen situations. Some clients didn't cancel- they just postponed the event.."
q. What is the role of digitalization in Wedding planning right now?
On being asked about the role of digitization in the prevalent circumstances. We got an insightful byte from Sarawagi.. He shares -" I think when we started our business in India, we expected that technology would play the role. Covid has accelerated that growth in a platform like ours. While digitalisation has been picking up for the past few years in the Indian Wedding Industry, I feel Covid-19’s impact over the past year has only fast tracked this change. From doing Designer and Jewellery consultations, we have only seen how digitalization has deeply impacted and integrated itself with the wedding planning process. Usage of wedding planning apps and platforms has accelerated and we only predict this trend to grow further. After all, digital is the way forward. "
Q. How has Intimate Weddings impacted Catering overall? Has it also impacted the packages?
The couples and their families wanted the experience to go a notch up because their guests lists were small and thereby this allowed for a more exhaustive and immersive experience. We asked Chef Harsh about it and he shares -
"With intimate weddings, people saved money. Whilst some couples and their families wanted the experience to go a notch up because their guests lists were small. Those who want to spend will spend! This experience has grounded us for good. Now people are exploring India and have stopped calling chefs from Mongolia etc. This shake up was much needed for the industry."
Q. Have any specific modifications been made in overall Photography offerings and cost packages?
Israni says, "The work has increased and the effort is the same. The overall team of photographers has decreased in number but the effort has levelled up. But the end product has not changed. Client’s customs have changed as there are no fancy backdrops and settings like before. Bargaining can squeeze the creativity too. However, we have compromised on our profit margin but that is not substantially down. But the budget has gone down 30 percent overall."
Q. What are some technological advances that venues have implemented for weddings post the pandemic?
Brijesh avers on this- "Technology has played an important role as ITC takes safety as a priority. The implementation of technology has also taken place. You will see QR codes in all payment procedures. We have digital menus now. We have put an armoured wedding buffet - where there is a shield in front of the buffet. I'm also thankful to your team for giving us many closures and guests."
Q. What kind of pricing trends can be predicted for Venues?
Brijesh avers , "Huge cost is incurred while maintaining hygiene and other safety measures. However, statistically for us, everything is as per the normal. Our revenue at the moment is similar to what we had before COVID hit our country. God has been kind to us.,"
Praveen from Hyatt also adds, "Considering the situation, we don’t do per person plates now, we do a roundabout figure for 200 people etc. We did this specifically in October, November and December- cause auspicious days were less and wedding numbers were high, Overall the profitability increased because of it."
As the industry connoisseurs are garnering businesses through more safety, creativity and dedication- the future of Wedding Industry looks more promising and lucrative. Even if the situation gets back to normal then also fad of intimate weddings will be a trend amid millennials but with a different perspective.
Planning to get married this year? Find your favorite wedding planners , photographers, vendors in WWI who are helping other couples to map out their Dreamy Day.