Weddings are not ‘pandemic-proof’

Estimated to be a $74 billion industry (source: IBISWorld), the world of weddings is hurt today, claims Meher Sarid, Indian Wedding Industry Expert, Wedding Curator & Stylist, Sound of Music India. She believes that the dynamics of the wedding market, in relation to the tourism and hospitality industry, would take a whole new turn.

The wedding industry is one industry that was considered ‘recession-proof’ and one that wouldn’t see a stop. But, here we are, grappling with a pause; whether a long one or short, is still left to be seen. We know that tens of thousands of weddings have been called off, impacting the tourism, aviation and hospitality segments in a big way. The Indian wedding tourism turnover was projected to be valued at about `458 billion in 2020, up from `234 billion in 2017, according to Statista and its research, that picked up from KPMG’s 2017 report estimating the size at $50 billion, then.

Little did Indian wedding service providers know in March 2020 that the sparkle in the wedding business will not be long-lived, as announcements on social distancing came about. The new wedding season is now pegged to pick up in September or October this year, and one can expect social distancing and clinical levels of hygiene needed.

Phase-wise return: As weddings cannot have more than 50 guests for the next few months, it would be safe to assume that by October 2020, we will see some slow movement in weddings. The big fat wedding will be slimmer until March 2021, and only then will we see it pick up.

Choice of destination country: Weddings will predominantly stay within the country till 2021. The upwardly mobile in the last four years had started moving to exotic faraway lands, and the revenue outflow from India was staggering. Not only did they fly their guests, but some carried a whole entourage of photographers, hairstylists, chefs, florists and the works from India. About 25 million people in India travel outbound, but we will see this trend reverse with Indian destinations picking up.

Destination wedding hotels: It will be the return of the business traveller over leisure travellers. Up until December, we will find that properties within driving proximity will get priority over properties that need to be accessed by flight. The domestic market will see decent revenues for at least the next one year.

FHRAI and FSSAI are also working on setting the new norms for hotel SOPs, and those will also impact the way a wedding is to be done. With the stringent probability of a policy of ‘No Buffet Service’ in the near future and a probable regulation of pre-portioned food to be served, hotels and wedding planners need to realign themselves, be it on how the service will be done, or on the service style to conduct this.


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