80% of Indian couples chose to postpone their weddings: Here’s what a survey by TKWW on the latest marriage trends revealed
Mini-monies, weddings-in-shifts, masks to match bridal wear, disposable makeup tools —this is the new normal on the wedding scene in the times of the coronavirus. Gone are the days of luxe décor, lavish buffets, elaborate guest lists and priceless wedding gowns. Today, in its pared down form, wedding planning is all about social distancing, wearing masks and preventing the spread of the virus.
During the recent lockdown due to the pandemic, The KnotWorldWide (TKWW) conducted a survey among 233 engaged couples in India over April and May 2020. The Knot WorldWide is a global wedding technology platforms, which is a one stop online marketplace that connects engaged couples with wedding planners and vendors. Respondents were recruited via email, SMS, community and social media channels of WeddingWire India. The survey was conducted on Qualtrics and covered all major metros, Tier I and Tier II cities in India.
In an exclusive interaction with YSWeekender, Ankur Sarawagi, India Country Head, The Knot Worldwide, described the current trends in the marriage industry, the role of technology in ceremonies now and how marriages will be conducted in the foreseeable future.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
YSWeekender: Can you tell us about the survey that TKWW conducted and what was the data that emerged from the survey?
Ankur Sarawagi: As a part of the global initiative, TKWW had recently conducted a survey which captured responses from over 233 engaged couples in India planning to get married between April to August 2020. The major data and insights gathered were:
● 80% of Indian couples chose to postpone their weddings to the latter half of the year over cancellations.
● 75% of couples do not plan on reducing their guest list but will segregate the list for separate wedding celebrations.
● 2/3rd of the couples are planning a big celebration event post lockdown but these celebrations won't be taking place on auspicious dates.
● 90% of these couples have confirmed that they will not reduce their pre-planned wedding budgets because of COVID-19.
On the global front, most engaged couples whose weddings have been impacted by COVID-19 are not cancelling their weddings (92% globally, 93% in the US), and are rescheduling for either later this year or in 2021.
To celebrate their weddings as they had originally planned, 94% of couples in the US and 87% globally do not plan to reduce their overall guest count, and 95% in the US and 90% globally do not anticipate lowering their budget.
YSW: Tell us about The Knot WorldWide and how long have you been in India?
AS: TKWW is a global wedding technology platform with over four decades of expertise in the wedding industry. Over the past 3 years, we had a presence in India through WeddingWire, a marketplace connecting engaged couples with local wedding professionals in India.
TKWW is present in 15 countries and to date, we have inspired and empowered over 40 million couples all around the world to plan a wedding that’s unique to them by providing leading wedding marketplaces, personalised wedding websites, planning tools and registry services.
YSW: What is the role of technology in the wedding space now?
AS: We believe that ‘digital’ will continue to evolve as the new ‘prefix’ to wedding planning. The impact of COVID-19 has definitely led to many wedding professionals upscaling themselves as well as their businesses and embracing technology for the future. They have strengthened their online presence and handled end-to-end solutions over apps and online platforms, both for the wedding ceremony itself or to plan it.
YSW: What do you think are the challenges that the wedding industry is facing due to COVID-19?
AS: With the new 50 people wedding norms, we are seeing weddings taking place but this has impacted small-scale vendors who usually have cash reserves for two to three months.
I also believe that vendors and planners are already revising their Standard Operating Procedures that require financial investments. Lastly, destination weddings will mostly take a backseat depending on how the global scenario changes in the coming months. Having said that, we might not be able to predict the extent but many industry experts still believe that there is a silver lining that the industry will witness towards the latter part of the year.
YSW: What are the future trends and opportunities in the wedding industry in India post-COVID-19?
AS: ● The rise of the Mini-monies: The concept of mini-ceremonies or as The Knot WorldWide coined as ‘mini-monies’ on pre-planned dates with an intimate gathering followed by a larger celebration sometime in the latter part of the year on non-auspicious dates.
● Health and safety measures: Installation of sanitisation fans that are similar to mist fans to make sure all the guests walking in are sanitised without manual effort. Guests will be given sanitisation kits instead of welcome kits and asked to procure a medical certificate and post the function, the wedding planning team will make calls to the guests to ensure the invitees are in good health.
● Weddings in shifts: Couples who do not want any change in plans including a full guest list can celebrate as they initially planned, but in shifts. With shift weddings, couples can host their wedding day festivities at their original venue and with their full team of wedding vendors but the guests come in shifts, allowing them to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
● Wedding dates: The focus will not be only on auspicious dates, going forward. This will majorly depend on availability of venues, wedding service partners, vendors as well as government and required permission from the authorities.
● F&B: While delectable food is still top of mind for couples, the manner in which dishes are prepared and served will follow stringent safety precautions. Most venues have confirmed that they will likely opt for a sit-down plated meal instead of a buffet. This would also mean no long queues and crowds which are a risk.
● Venue preferences: Open-air venues will see greater demand, irrespective of the weather. These eliminate the possibility of guests feeling confined in a closed, high-risk air-conditioned space. This will require fighting against nature’s elements but will ensure social distancing with spaced-seating arrangements.
● Going digital: To limit exposure and to save time, money and energy, couples will look at creating e-invites and their own wedding website. These digital invitation cards can be emailed and WhatsApped to guests, along with the link of the wedding website.
● HMU: Trends will also evolve with more focus on eyes and interesting hairstyles as the bride will have to wear a mask. There will also be a high focus on sanitisation since the make-up team works in close proximity to the bride for extended hours with most of the makeup tools being disposable and the team to wear masks, face shields and PPE kits for all appointments.
YSW: How are people meeting and deciding to get married at the moment?
AS: At present, meeting in person is not advisable hence, couples have resorted to virtual platforms. With the help of their wedding planners and vendors, couples are doing virtual meetings as well as taking virtual tours of venues. They can also enjoy and plan F&B through home-delivered tastings from caterers and decor for their weddings from the comfort of their homes.
YSW: Are people missing out on their dream weddings due to the lockdown?
AS: As we continually adapt local regulations in response to changing circumstances, TKWW anticipates weddings being celebrated with enthusiasm but in completely different ways. All in all, in the post-COVID era, we can say that downsizing may not necessarily imply compromising on the experience and enjoyment. With the help of wedding planners, they can still create wedding celebrations tailored to intimate experiences.
YSW: How many people can attend these weddings and how are they conducted?
AS: While the reopening process has been kick-started, the government has implemented strict guidelines that limit large gatherings and events, with not more than 50 people in attendance at weddings. Couples who are planning to go ahead with their wedding ceremonies on pre-planned dates do mini-ceremonies, followed by a larger celebration sometime in the latter part of the year.
Couples who do not want any change in plans including a full guest list can celebrate as they initially planned, but in shifts. With shift weddings, couples can host their wedding day festivities at their original venue and with their full team of wedding vendors but the guests come in shifts, allowing them to adhere to social-distancing guidelines.
YSW: What are the biggest trends in garments and décor?
AS: When it comes to wedding wear, many brides who are planning a lavish reception during the latter half of the year and don’t wish to go overboard on designer wear can pick an outfit and jewellery from their family’s heirloom collection. We will also witness customised masks that match the wedding outfits which means there will be more focus on eye makeup and beautiful hairstyles for the bride.
In terms of decor, we will witness more sustainable measures in terms of wedding decor owing to intimate ceremonies especially during the lockdown and subsequent months.
YSW: What are you planning in the future to make the experience much more exciting for everyone?
AS: While COVID-19 has set an unexpected set of challenges for the wedding industry making everyone rethink their planning, are prepared for this change. No one is able to predict the extent but many industry experts still believe that there is a silver lining that the wedding industry will witness towards the latter part of the year.
In a post-COVID-19 era, apart from following stringent sanitisation methods and social distancing measures, attention to detail will be of paramount importance.
(All representational pictures: Shutterstock)