Bringing Indian weddings back

PM Narendra Modi’s push for ‘Wed in India’ has potential to boost economy. But are Indian families willing to do this?Do we have have the infrastructure to deal with the demand? TRAVTALK speaks to three key wedding planners on the issue.

Hazel Jain

A large percentage of Indian couples are planning their weddings in foreign locations, but this is depriving Indian businesses and the exchequer of thousands of crores every year. Is the PM’s wedding campaign luring them back? Perhaps, says Rohit Jadhav, Founder & Managing Director, Moments Forever. “The government’s emphasis on doing weddings within India through Incredible India’s wedding tourism campaign is affecting this movement to a larger extent. But we are still faced with a lot of challenges while planning destination weddings in India. There are limitations of hotel rooms that a single hotel can offer, limitation of event spaces whether it is indoors or outdoors, within any hotel baring a few. Moreover, the infrastructure to some of the destinations, whether its Goa, Jaipur or Udaipur is lacking. Lastly and most important, it is the cost factor. The amount of money spent on weddings in India to the quality and standards offered by the destination are not comparable in my opinion,” he says.

Jadhav adds that traditionally, Indians favour international destinations like Middle East and Far East for weddings due to the ease of travel in terms of connectivity and duration. “I feel that due to political unrest in various destinations, the HNIs and UHNIs who we cater to, are avoiding any social celebrations internationally due to the uncertainty. Secondly, due to government’s new reforms of restrictions on international transactions out of the country – 20 per cent fee – on all transactions is exorbitant and enough reason to stay in India!” he shares.

Sense of caution

In his past few meetings and since the appeal by the PM, Birju Gariba, Founder, ISKRA Events, has seen an increase in the requirements for weddings within the country. “The ones who are in the public eye, closer to the politico or from the high ranks of corporate have already cancelled their plans of international destinations. While there is no major panic, there is definitely a sense of caution. With the appeal from the leader of the country and a parallel campaign by the Tourism Ministry, there is definitely a positive movement towards India, and decisions are still pending as far as locking the destination is concerned. The campaign is a good reminder that the families are not compromising by considering hosting the wedding in their own backyard as against going international,” he says.

While the campaign and appeal are a definite positive move, India poses a variety of challenges. An average destination wedding in India is for 250-300 pax and is hosted for about two nights, three days. The first challenge is to find sufficient branded hotels that have this inventory and finding enough flight options to reach from different places within India and also for international guests reducing flight times, Gariba adds.

“There are very few hotels within the location or few options to fly to these places. Another major factor is the hotel pricing these days. In the past three years, the pricing per room have almost increased by up to three times of pre-COVID rates. This makes it almost imminent for guests to explore destinations outside India who come at a far more attractive pricing,” Gariba adds.

Deep cultural connect

Nirav Thaleshwar, Founder & Director, Allegiant Events, has observed a growing trend of Indian weddings choosing domestic destinations due to a desire for a deep cultural connect and the charm of local traditions. “Additionally, the convenience and cost-effectiveness of planning within the country contribute to this shift. Undoubtedly, the government’s push for weddings in India through the Incredible India campaign has played a role. The emphasis on showcasing India’s diverse cultural heritage and picturesque locales has heightened awareness. This makes it an attractive option for couples seeking a memorable wedding experience,” he says.

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