Sectors dependent on weddings, including planners, vendors and hotel companies, have witnessed an unprecedented revival in demand between May and June. “Weddings are not as elaborate as they were pre-pandemic as the guest lists are still restricted for a luxe wedding, but they are open to spending lavishly on experience, specialized cuisines, offbeat weddings and destinations,” Mukta Kapoor, director of Yuna Weddings and Events, which organizes luxury weddings, said Yuna has seen a 15% increase in business this year over FY19-20, she added.
Vikram Mehta, founder and executive director, Mpire Events, said he has never seen such a spike in demand for wedding-related services. “It is a different story for the next four–five months. The requirement for good quality service providers and hotels is the largest I have seen in the wedding industry, ever,” he added.
The surge in demand came as a surprise for many, considering that April-September is not a wedding season in India. However, pent-up demand, and the calendar of auspicious dates have had a big role to play in the revival.
Wedding services website WeddingSutra.com said vendor prices have shot up due to increased demand, especially on auspicious dates. Parthip Thyagarajan, co-founder and chief executive officer, WeddingSutra, said popular wedding destinations such as Rajasthan, Goa, Lonavala, Alibag, Karjat, Mahabalipuram and Silliguri have seen a surge in rentals, room rates and minimum guarantees.
“Venues such as The Leela and Fairmont Jaipur, Leela Udaipur, Suryagarh Jaisalmer; Taj properties in Goa; Sheraton Mahabalipuram, The Oberoi Sukhvilas in Chandigarh and Della Lonavala have upped prices by 20–40% in 2022 vis-a-vis the same dates pre-covid,” said Thyagarajan.
Despite the price rise, queries are flowing in. Indian Hotels-backed Taj Mahal Hotel New Delhi has witnessed a considerable increase in business queries and revenues.
“Typically, in the past, this quarter was not known for its high demand from the wedding segment. The significant rise in demand began in November and has continued through, barring the few weeks in January and February owing to the third covid-19 wave-led restrictions,” said Satyajeet Krishnan, area director, New Delhi, and general manager of the hotel .
Preference for residential weddings, larger venues and outdoor celebrations has also increased, he said. “Weddings and wedding-related business not only grew significantly, it also became an all-season segment and the trend has been encouraging,” Krishnan added.
The Imperial in New Delhi, which had focused on weddings during the pandemic, saw about 20% of its revenue coming from the segment. It was never the mainstay earlier, said Bhuvnesh Kaul, director sales and strategic planning, Imperial. However, while the hotel was hosting 9-10 events a month post-covid, it is back to two–three weddings a month and the hotel is generating more business from other sources.
Abhishek Sharma, general manager, Raffles Hotels and Resorts in Udaipur, said while it may not be wedding season, both May and June have ‘muhurat’ dates and the hotel is organizing three complete buyout weddings. “We are a 100-room hotel and we only do buyout weddings and have done 20 weddings since we began operations in 2021.”
House on the Clouds, which specializes in wedding shoots, is seeing up to three times more inquiries compared with 2019. “There are inquiries up to August-October which is also not generally considered a busy period,” said Siddharth Sharma, founder and director , House on the Clouds, that covered Alia Bhatt and Ranbir Kapoor’s wedding recently.
However, the wedding industry is largely unorganized. In 2016, the Indian wedding market was estimated at ₹3.68 trillion, according to a KPMG report titled Market Study of Online Matrimony and Marriage Services in India.