Pandemic halts big fat weddings! Post-covid, destination & luxury weddings to get even bigger: Wedding experts

‘The shift is temporary as weddings in India are nothing less than festivals, people can’t wait to celebrate them to the fullest.’

Indian Wedding Industry, a billion dollar sector, had come to a complete standstill due to the Covid-19 lockdown. With state and nationwide lockdowns in effect, the regular operation of several industries came to a grinding halt as large gatherings of people were no longer permitted. The wedding business, which was widely referred to as one of the only few recession-proof industries, also took a massive hit due to the unprecedented effects of the pandemic that swept across the globe. Also, the destination weddings have also limited themselves within the country. In an email interview with Financial Express Online, brother duo –  Ritin Kumar and Sagar Kumar, Head Storytellers, CineLove Productions, talk about the latest wedding trends in India. Excerpts:

How has the destination wedding scene changed from pre to post-pandemic?

With the outbreak of pandemic and closing of International borders, the definition of destination weddings is now confined to weddings within the country. In fact, people are now only opting for nearby drivable locations and even for that matter, many are shifting to hotels in their own city just to celebrate it as good as a destination one. As far as venue choices are concerned, the wedding hosts, couples and families are now preferring outdoor locations over indoors. Overall impact is, with social distancing becoming the norm, weddings are way smaller, more intimate, and with emphasis on top-notch hygiene standards as well as ensure contactless services.

As a photographer/cinematographer what changes has it brought in your preparations for shooting a wedding?

The processes have become a lot stringent in terms of maintaining the hygiene of the teams, equipment and even the workspaces. During these times, we are ensuring that very piece of equipment is thoroughly sanitised and cleaned before leaving the office premises for a shoot. In addition, each team-member is thermal screened and sanitised before they head out and we try to allocate a minimum number of assistants/helpers for the event. In fact, during the event, team-members maintain sufficient possible distance with the guests – while still achieving great looking photographs.

How do you think the pandemic has affected Luxury wedding space?

Luxuries have been affected immensely in each and every aspect in weddings, be it location, number of people, the kind of decor, entertainment, and the list doesn’t end. In the pre pandemic era, luxury had no bounds, people used to call for international celebrities, imported flowers, food items and what not. The restrictions have affected this all. But now, people are utmost concerned with the safety of their guests and trying to wrap weddings with the best possible options, locally and feasibly, in order to minimise any risk.

Will intimate weddings be the new normal in the wedding industry?

We don’t think so, intimate weddings are about these times which are very circumstantial. The shift is temporary as weddings in India are nothing less than festivals, people can’t wait to celebrate them to the fullest. We think as scenarios become normal and get back to as they were in the pre-pandemic era, people will go even bigger and explore what they missed during these times.

What are the challenges/problems faced by the Luxury Wedding Industry during the lockdown?

Indian wedding industry, a billion dollar industry with the lockdown had come to a complete standstill. The major effect was on the luxury choices as the focus of the hosts has completely shifted from luxury to the basics. People are now just considering the safest and minimal ways to get their weddings done. The norms and circumstances are changing each day which has resulted in grandeur and luxury in weddings to take a back seat. The luxury bit is not picking up because of the comebacks and uncertainty associated with this whole scene.

What’s your personal take on why this has been a hard time for the Luxury Wedding Industry?

The times have been really hard, we have never faced  such a situation. Even generally so in respect to the society, the loss of lives, health systems working through this, and businesses getting critical the situation demands extreme care more than anything else right now. I’d just hope and expect for everyone to be diligent and follow the norms until we go back to the times where we relive them, to a full extent and celebrate minus any fear.

How this pandemic made you feel unsure financially or worried?

Everyone has faced financial setbacks in industry and possibly in every industry. Personally, it has affected getting clients, providing the best quality in constrained budgets and managing the same set of expenses on post production and infrastructure, all this has been hard to manage. But we are coping up with making the best out of the available resources and opportunities by praying to experience better times.

Tell us some of the upcoming wedding trends?

The most trending thing right now is residential weddings, even with fewer people, the hosts want to celebrate to the fullest, hence they choose to shift to hotels within the city, call their limited guests over and make it just as memorable as a destination wedding. Another evident trend is the focus on detailing and customisation, for all one knows in everything related to weddings.

What are the current demands for destination weddings?

Destination weddings within the country are pretty much in demand, in fact with the downsizing of gathering, people are preferring to celebrate in places which are open and have good venues and experiences to offer. A lot of our enquiries for the upcoming wedding season are for destination weddings mostly. Most hotels are going on buyouts, as the hosts are ensuring security of their guests in order to minimise the risk while celebrating.

What are the top 5 places in India you’d recommend for a destination wedding?

Jaipur, Udaipur, Goa, Mussoorie and Kochi.

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