Wedding Service

Winds of change: Couples and wedding planners are turning to smaller, hybrid and more intimate celebrations

Interestingly, most of these trends are here to stay.

Indian weddings have always been week-long ceremonies and extravagant celebrations. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that change is inevitable. More and more young couples and wedding planners are now turning to smaller, hybrid and intimate affairs. And interestingly, most of these trends are here to stay.

The Covid-stricken world has also taught people to be more creative and resourceful. For example, during the pandemic, customers were introduced to the concept of contactless hospitality or minimizing the interaction between staff and guests. This, in turn, has now set the tone for hybrid events. “The wedding industry in India has most certainly been subject to various changes over the past year. We are still constantly adapting to better and more viable alternatives from the conventional ‘big Indian wedding’ to transitioning to hybrid, intimate weddings and small-scale,” says Puneet Dhawan, Senior Vice President of Operations, Accor India and South Asia.

The leading multinational hotel group rolled out “Vivaah at Novotel”, a hybrid concept for contemporary virtual weddings, in November 2020. The initiative has generated interest across all of the company’s properties. “Although hybrid wedding concepts have been a consequence of the pandemic, they are now a commercial and sustainable alternative,” adds Dhawan.

Weddings have now become inventive, intimate and digital with new add-ons such as temperature scans, disinfectant sprays, self-service valet parking, contactless catering and micro and outdoor ceremonies for safe and socially distanced gatherings. From hosting “staggered” weddings – in which couples hold their celebrations on their original date while having smaller groups of guests present in shifts – to “minimonies” or mini-ceremonies at their original wedding with family and live broadcast of functions like mehndi and cocktail party, new trends are emerging now.

According to Lalita Raghav, vice president of FNP Venues – a unit of flower and gift retailer Ferns N Petals – India’s $50 billion wedding industry has been deeply affected over the past two years, as most events have been postponed to a later date. The ordeal which began in January 2020 has continued to this day. “Before the pandemic, we used to have 1,000 to 1,200 guests per function, which has reduced significantly. We used to do 700 to 800 weddings in a financial year, but the numbers have dropped by almost 60%,” she says.

Pre-wedding receptions have also declined, Raghav says. “Over the past year, overall wedding activity has dropped by almost 60%, but as weddings from the previous year are postponed now, most of our venues are booked in advance and we are seeing a back on the cards by the end of this year,” she adds.

An a la carte menu and, occasionally, pre-plate sit-down dinners are now preferred with an emphasis on “voice for local” in the decor. The use of rattan furniture or accessories, energy efficient lights, green plants and flowers for design aesthetics has taken over this wedding season, according to Raghav.

Get intimate

For home, garden or backyard weddings this year, there is also demand for intimate affairs. “Custom bell notes, petal cones with photos of couples, custom cushion covers, dining table details as well as name plates, custom menu cards, key rings if desired. is a destination wedding, a welcome note or paintings that the bride has made, or a meaningful piece of article that she has written, are part of personalized weddings,” says Aashna Saran, design specialist at Mumbai-based weddings, founder and creative director of Aash Studio, which has worked with hotel brands such as Trident Oberoi Group, The W, Grand Hyatt and The Leela Hotels.

Saran has questions from couples who planned and rescheduled their wedding this year. “So small weddings and intimate weddings are here to stay,” says Saran.

As brides and grooms and vendor partners worked in tandem to deliver innovative solutions, the reliance on technology increased dramatically as couples sought to plan their wedding from the comfort of their homes. Mumbai-based wedding photographer Aditya Mahagaonkar, co-founder of photography company WhatKnot, says, “We shot gigs with a guest list ranging from 50 to 200, carrying more on-site gear like kits. of PPE and masks, and using zoom lenses and 360-degree cameras for live streaming, which reduces our team size to two or three members at most due to safety protocols. Client meetings are organized on Zoom/Google Meet, especially when home weddings become the norm, which involves improvised decor in a limited space, virtual guests via live streaming or sending wedding baskets personalized to the guests.

Comfortable fashion

Fashion, too, has slimmed down, with brides now favoring finesse and getting an outfit that gives the impression of comfort. Designer Tarun Tahiliani sources premium lightweight fabrics and outfits with high-demand luxury pieces that can be worn in many ways rather than being part of a single outfit.

“Brides are more confident in their skin and in harmony with themselves. They don’t want to follow the season’s trend but rely on the comfort and quality of the pieces they choose. In addition to the traditional reds and oranges, the Pale English colors such as variations of jade, dusky rose, pastels in the form of ivories, oysters or pale pinks are all the rage.In terms of design sensibility and methodology, timeless pieces like chikankari are preferred and can be passed down from generation to generation,” says Tahiliani.

Alternatively, weddings are ruled by the new-age bride who will step into full-blown maximalism this season, with multicolored dupattas adorned with heavy jewels and gold. “With less budget allocated to guests and larger venues, more importance is placed on the bride’s attire. The three trends to go big are: mixed color combinations, bridal capes and light gold lehengas. New dress silhouettes are emerging,” says Delhi-based fashion designer Abhinav Mishra.

Graphic and geometric patterned lehengas and quirky print dresses are working well as brides are shedding traditional lehenga patterns, in addition to floral prints which are already popular. “We expect to see more brides making outfits that are fun in their trousseau and can be worn on many occasions,” says Delhi-based designer Siddhartha Bansal, who uses pattern-infused eye-soothing pastel color combinations. kaleidoscopic.

Women also rummage through their mother’s or grandmother’s cupboards to choose heirloom pieces. A personalized wedding with a tendency to buy less but buy well, says Aditi Chand, co-founder and CEO of Tilfi, a local Banarasi handloom brand saris, dupattas and lehengas, weaves in pure silk, cotton and koras. Chand also recreates the saree as close to its original version depending on the fabric.

“People choose versatile pieces that can be styled differently and worn over and over. The idea is not to be stuck with something you won’t enjoy or can’t wear later. L Experimentation and exploration as a theme runs through fabrics, designs and silhouettes.The changing format of weddings has allowed many to choose unconventional pieces that express their individuality and don’t necessarily conform to standard definitions of “wedding wear”. wedding”. Pieces woven in the Kadhua the weave is popular for bridal wear as it tends to last longer, look better and drape better; also considered an investment. For summer weddings, vibrant reds and yellows are making a comeback, even though they are very traditional choices,” she says.

A green affair

Durable elements and decorative items like rattan baskets, rattan lanterns, plants and flowers are trending wedding themes. There is also attention to detail. “A custom menu, dinner table setups, custom decor options, and earthen pots help create lovely nooks on the site. An effort to reuse everything we have, reducing waste and plastic purchases while reusing the things we already have. For example, we use a few empty liquor bottles as the base for a cocktail shade and create an entryway using hanging leaves we made with graph paper. It turned out to be unique and got a lot of attention,” says Saran of Aash Studio.

On the other hand, eco-responsible weddings have always been a concern for years but not the mantra in 2022. One of the reasons could be budget restrictions but the expectations in terms of design are always the same. “A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime affair and a lot of emotions and wishful thinking are attached to it, so the challenge is to make a couple’s dreams come true at a reasonable price. From the service provider’s perspective, it It’s hard to keep up with the expenses under the tight budget,” says FNP Venues’ Raghav.

On a positive note

While the past two years have seen a significant drop in inquiries and sales due to the pandemic-induced lockdown, this year the wedding industry expects business to pick up.

For example, in a year as big as 2019, JW Marriott New Delhi hosted around 160 weddings throughout the year at the expansive 30,000 square foot banquet and convention center. The year 2021 has shown a juxtaposition of marriage requests and social segments stalling or being postponed, says Karthik Ramdas, former director of sales and marketing, JW Marriott New Delhi.

“Despite a difficult year for the hospitality industry, the fourth quarter of 2021 ended on a very positive note. As of September, weddings and events were close to 2019 revenue figures, which were This year is looking promising with pent-up demand as there are nearly 70 auspicious dates with 40 in the summer,” says Ramdas, who is now the founder of WICE Events, an event planning and management company Delhi-NCR based.