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The Big Fat Indian Wedding Is Getting More Obese!

An Indian wedding – the very words conjure up images of over the top opulence, ceremonies that extend over several days, families draped in fine silks and designer outfits, jewelry that sparkles in the glittering lights and tables laid down with all manner of delicacies. In the midst of all this, making sure that everything is working smoothly and soothing ruffled feathers are the wedding planners. Indeed, even the average Indian wedding has grown to such proportions that managing it is no longer within the ambit of uncles and aunts. Enter, the professionals who treat every wedding like the important event it is – juggle budgets, plan unique décor, make sure the designer outfits are ready on time, get the bride and groom, well, groomed, organize the caterer, music, priest, florist…. basically have their check lists and network geared to go the whole nine yards and make it a wedding to remember.

All this for a fee of course, in fact, a recent report by Ken Research titled “India Wedding Market Outlook to 2020-Focus on Online Matchmaking and Wedding Planning Segment”, shows that wedding planners could charge anything between 10 – 15% of the entire cost of the wedding. Given that elite weddings now average between Rs 50 lakhs to a few crores, that’s a pretty pay packet from one wedding. Even the middle class weddings are seeing budgets of up to Rs 10 – 15 lakhs.

Trends in weddings are also changing. While the mehendi, sangeet and cocktails have been adopted by almost every Indian household, irrespective of cultural background, there have been changes in choice of venues, décor etc as well. Gone are the typical marigold and mango leaf garlands that were used in the wedding ‘mandap’ exotic orchids and other flowers are now de rigueur. The local wedding hall has given way to five start lobbies and destination weddings whether in India or abroad are what brides and grooms are also aspiring for.

What makes it more lucrative to be in the wedding planning sector is that in India weddings are like show biz ‘the show must go on’ and no matter what – recessions, weather issues, new tax policies… weddings will take place. The same report has also projected that the wedding planning sector will be worth INR 1.6 trillion by the year 2020. Given that India is poised to be one of the countries with the youngest population and in a few years the average age will be about 29 years, (marriageable age by Indian standards) the number of weddings taking place annually is bound to go up.

It’s not just wedding planning which is big business, but match making too has come out of the ‘neighborhood auntie’s album’ and gone online. Several portals like Shaadi.com, BharatMatrimony.com are making big money by providing matchmaking services to those outsourcing the search for a life partner. They are spending on television ads and other media promotions to ensure they get the largest piece of the marriage pie.

Marketing and branding is becoming a major focus for wedding planners and matchmakers alike. The big fat Indian wedding seems likely to sustain its trajectory and families look inclined to continue to spend a huge chunk of their income and savings in order to ‘keep up with the Mehtas’. The Indian wedding is adding to the ‘saubhagya’ of more than just the wedded couple!

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Almost two decades into the business, Rachana Lucknowala, Director, PartyCruisers is a known name not only amongst the Mumbai elite but also internationally. Very recently instrumental in designing décor for the Arpita Khan and Aarti Kochchar(daughter of Chanda Kochchar) wedding, amongst others. Rachana has designed and executed decor for several destination and high-end weddings.

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