The big fat Indian wedding business – The Financial Express

The Financial Express
The great Indian wedding season is back with a bang. From ticketed weddings to themed receptions, live performances on charter flights to game nights, there has been a surge in spending on luxury and out-of-the-box ideas to create memorable and celebratory experiences. And with both big and small retailers targeting the boom, the country is bracing for one of the most extravagant and glitzy wedding seasons this year.
Let us first look at the numbers to know how the sector is looking. According to the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), 3.5 million weddings will be solemnised between November 23 and December 15, bringing an estimated business of Rs 4.25 trillion this wedding season. In comparison, around 3.2 million weddings took place in the same period last year and expenses were estimated at Rs 3.75 trillion, says CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal.
“More than 350,000 weddings are expected to take place this season in Delhi alone, which are likely to generate business of about Rs 1 trillion in the national capital itself,” adds Khandelwal.
This year, the auspicious wedding dates are 23, 24, 27, 28 and 29 in November and 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 15 in December. The next phase of the wedding season will start from mid-January and will continue till July next year.
WeddingWire India, the Indian subsidiary of The Knot Worldwide, a leading online marketplace for couples and wedding professionals, has seen an increase of 18% in the number of weddings from January to September this year, compared to the same period last year.
Incidentally, the average cost of weddings has remained relatively stable compared to last year and may see an upward movement as services are costlier than before, says Anam Zubair, head of marketing, WeddingWire India. “A possible shift is evident in the mixing of guest list size reflecting a changing trend in the dynamics of celebratory events which are heavily focused on guest experience. But Indian weddings are still fat, but just in a different manner. While the demand may see seasonal fluctuations, it’s heartening to note that the wedding business continues to show growth across most of the categories,” he adds.
Weddings are a time for great celebration and joy, but they are also a key revenue generator for the hospitality industry. For global hospitality major Hilton in India, 12-40% of room share comes from weddings. The figure even reaches 60% for some of its properties such as DoubleTree by Hilton in Kukas, Jaipur. “Out of the 24 (properties open in the country), except one, the rest are wedding-focused hotels in India,” says Ben George, senior vice-president and commercial director, Asia Pacific, Hilton, which launched Wedding Diaries in India in 2021 to offer bespoke experience of weddings, micro-cuisines and in-hotel experiences with select wedding planners.
For Marriott, weddings are a very important business segment. In 2022 alone, reportedly 5,000 weddings took place in Marriott properties across India, and 12% of their revenues came from wedding-related events last year.
Taking note of the demand in tier 1 and 2 cities, hotels in satellite towns are seeing a good demand.  Courtyard By Marriott Aravali Resort in Faridabad opened last year. The property has seen a notable increase in bookings and a revenue growth of 15% from last year. Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Nashik, recently launched an exclusive ‘Wedding Studio’ with personalised service for each ritual, menu tastings, selecting uniforms for the staff, and choosing the perfect crockery and glassware to match a theme. Jatish Ghai, GM of the hotel, says, “Wedding Studio serves as the epicentre for all planning. Families can partake in virtual property tours, savour menu tastings, and select themes. The idea is to provide all wedding related requirements under one roof,” adds Ghai. This year, the wedding season overlaps travel, so the surge in footfall will see visitors travelling to India for both leisure and weddings. “This year and the next will see lots of international tourists visiting India for holidays at luxury properties. Many prominent chains including the Taj, The Leela and Hyatt group, among others, are marketing their properties for a city, palace, beach or fort wedding, and they are doing well during the peak wedding season,” says Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO and co-founder of WeddingSutra, a bridal media brand.
Just like in the past, many Indian families are choosing international wedding destinations this season too. According to Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO and co-founder of WeddingSutra, a bridal media brand, post-Covid, Thailand and Turkey are doing very well, with the Middle-East continuing to host Indian weddings. “Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al-Khaimah and Abu Dhabi are hosting many big weddings. One of the fastest growing locations is Qatar, which is expected to host 12 grand Indian weddings between November 2023 and March 2024,” he says.
However, it doesn’t mean that Indian luxury hotels are losing business as the international wedding business doesn’t constitute a big percentage of the entire destination wedding industry, adds Thyagarajan.
Apart from Rajasthan and Goa, which have been the usual favourites, Dehradun, Mussoorie, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Siliguri in the east, and locations around Mumbai, which have either boutique or five-star hotels such as Lonavala, Alibaug and Karjat, are also fast emerging as wedding destinations, he adds.
The demand for destination weddings has increased considerably with families looking for not just a luxurious setting but also a different kind of wedding ceremony. 
“We have been getting some interesting group charters with customised headrests along with meals on board. Some even wanted a shehnai playing in the aircraft while it was flying towards its destination,” shares Santosh Sharma, founder of BookMyJet and co-founder and CEO of Foresee Aviation, a charter aviation service company. “This year, Udaipur has emerged as the most preferred destination in India. Customers prefer to hire the entire Boeing or Airbus aircraft to ferry guests for weddings. But Jaipur, Jodhpur, Goa and Cochin, to an extent, are also considered for destination weddings,” he adds.
A Boeing or Airbus from Delhi-Udaipur or Mumbai-Udaipur one-way would roughly cost over Rs 20 lakh while Delhi-Goa and Delhi-Cochin would be priced anywhere between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 40 lakh. “A seven- to ten-seater charter is in demand, especially among VVIP guests or married couples and their immediate family members, and can cost anywhere between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 20 lakh,” adds Sharma.
This year, retailers are anticipating a high demand for Indian ethnic wear and accessories as the preparation for the wedding season is coinciding with festive celebrations. Setting the mood for the season, DLF Retail has already started the fourth edition of ‘The Wedding Tales’, an annual festival, featuring some of the most sought-after brands across fashion, make-up, accessories, jewellery and footwear.
It’s a good wedding season for jewellery and Indian luxury brands, feels Pushpa Bector, senior executive director, DLF Retail. “We see an unprecedented surge in wedding sentiment among consumers, driving them to invest in exquisite wedding attire, intricate accessories and jewellery. There is a clear preference for locally sourced bridal wear, reflecting a desire for homegrown brands that resonate with cultural values,” she adds.
According to Bector, brands in fashion, jewellery and footwear are expecting double-digit growth, possibly up to 20% in the third quarter. “We are seeing remarkable year-on-year growth rates of up to 50% in categories like watches, branded jewellery and ready-to-wear items, as modern brides seek not only traditional Indian clothing but also a diverse range of accessories to complete their wedding ensemble,” she explains.
Landcraft Retail, which opened a new gourmet store ‘Food Square’ in Mumbai in September, has already seen a robust demand in imported beverages, chocolates, savouries (Indian and imported) and Indian sweets. “We estimate revenue around weddings to be around $0.6 million this year with a focus on increasing it 2.5 fold in the next wedding season,” says Lalit Jhawar, co-founder and CEO, Landcraft Retail.
Weddings and festivals remain the most important demand drivers of gold jewellery—bridal jewellery alone accounts for at least half of the market share in India, the world’s second-largest consumer of gold jewellery, as per a report by the World Gold Council this year.
Joy Alukkas, CMD of jewellery group Joyalukkas, expects a 20-30% increase in sales this year owing to a drop in gold prices. “The wedding season is an exciting period for the jewellery industry and we have seen the demand grow every year. The allure of gold, accentuated by the current low gold prices, is bound to play a pivotal role in shaping this year’s trends. The confluence of tradition, cultural significance and favourable market conditions makes this season exceptionally promising for the jewellery retail sector. There is a resurgence of traditional designs with a modern touch. A timeless jewellery is not just a purchase, it’s an investment in the heritage,” he adds.
Lab-grown diamonds have emerged as a lucrative alternative, growing primarily to sustainability and price difference factors. As such, Colin Shah, founder and MD of Kama Jewelry, expects the demand for such diamonds to rise by 25% as compared to last year. “Although the demand for natural diamonds will rule the trend, lab-grown diamond jewellery is catching the attention of buyers and is expected to gain traction, especially among young women,” she adds.
There is a remarkable rise in individuality and each decision by the bride and groom ignites a trend. “Contemporary weddings that are deeply rooted in personal significance transcend traditions serving as catalysts for innovation and propel the industry towards unprecedented growth,” says fashion designer Manish Malhotra, who added a personal touch to actress Parineeti Chopra and politician Raghav Chadha’s big day by designing the bride’s veil with her groom’s name embroidered in Devanagari script on it.
For the festive collection, fashion designer Rocky S has seen a notable demand in the choice of fabrics like raw silk, brocade, lace, satin and metallic, well-received in the luxurious yet comfortable attributes. Available in the price range of Rs 40,000 to Rs 2 lakh, his collection consists of dresses and gowns, attracting customers seeking both casual elegance and evening wear. The incorporation of sequin embroidery, metallic fabric textures and influences from the baroque art movement have contributed to the collection’s popularity reflecting a blend of contemporary style and exceptional craftsmanship.
“Both Indian and foreign buyers have expressed interest in our bridal wear collection with an emphasis on our botanical print lehengas and heavy embroidered lehenga designs. These discerning buyers are willing to invest in bridal wear priced above Rs 80,000 and favour colours like baby pink, pastels, or multi-coloured options. Meeting their demands goes beyond just design, as they often inquire about customisation options, delivery timelines, and logistics for destination weddings, emphasising the need for a holistic bridal wear experience that combines artistry with convenience,” adds Rocky S.
Hand zardosi embroidery work in tissue, dupion, brocade fabric with vibrant colours are back in demand, as per designer Anju Modi, who is creating Indian outfits with veils giving them a unique twist that’s a mix of Indian and international style. “This idea is catching on and becoming quite popular in the wedding season. Weddings hold a special place in people’s hearts, and we strive to cater to their sentiments and needs with utmost perfection,” says Modi, who caters to a substantial number of both Indian and foreign clients captivated by festive collections.
Luxury brand Christian Louboutin has introduced ‘The India Wedding Edit’, a special capsule collection comprising 18 pieces, as the largest edit done by a global brand for India. The exclusive capsule showcases a selection of the Maison’s icons – ten women’s shoe styles, six men’s shoe styles and two handbags, in a gradient of metallic hues— platinum, gold and bronze. The capsule is versatile and has options in a variety of heel heights ensuring the offer compliments any celebratory occasion and can be matched perfectly with both western and Indian silhouettes.
Vivaah Dori, a brand specialising in wedding essentials, including kaleera, flower jewellery and kaleera and barati pagdi, has seen a high demand for bridal haldi/ mehendi ceremonies and the traditional welcoming of wedding guests. “These products are projected to generate a business revenue of Rs 10 crore this wedding season, with an average customer purchase ticket of Rs 5,000,” says Priyanka Nandrajog, the designer and co-founder of Vivaah Dori, which is introducing welcome umbrellas, haldi/ mehndi return gifts and phool chadar, contributing to an additional Rs 3 crore in business this wedding season.
Meanwhile, there is a remarkable improvement in the quality of decor, especially in terms of the choice of furniture, lighting and floral arrangements, feels Vikaas Gutgutia, founder and MD, Ferns N Petals and FNP Weddings. “These changes are making Indian weddings look more international and classier, reflecting the maturation of decor in the wedding industry. Ferns N Petals has launched ‘Shaadi Central—Universe of Weddings’, a one-stop solution covering destination options, venues, catering, decor and planning, all in-house. We anticipate this launch will significantly boost our weddings and, ultimately, our revenue at FNP Weddings. We are looking at a minimum of a 25-30% increase in our revenue,” he adds.
Indians are gradually becoming more aware and sensitive about the environment threatened by factors such as air pollution and climate change, and this is now reflected in their weddings.
Prerika Puri, founder of wedding planning company To The Aisle, is seeing a 15% increase in queries for such weddings. “Sustainable weddings have picked up as a major trend. We created one this year in Manali and another in Gir (Gujarat) two years ago,” she adds.
Three Entertainment, a Mumbai-based wedding planning company, is also witnessing a demand for sustainable weddings. “Some clients want a wedding mandap using potted plants or herbs that can be reused or transplanted in their garden after the event. This not only reduces waste but also gives them a lovely keepsake for the wedding day. Decorations include materials like jute, cane or fruits,” says co-founder Aashna Lalwani, adding that the company has noticed a 50-60% increase in wedding clients for this wedding season over the previous year.
Mumbai-based wedding and event planning company Shreem Events utilises seed paper, a sustainable alternative, frequently for wedding invitations as part of its efforts to promote sustainability. “People are choosing gifts like reusable flowers or incense sticks from firms such as Phool, as opposed to conventional showpieces. Sustainable cookware, dinnerware and serveware made from materials like copper are also gaining popularity, supporting a long-term sustainable lifestyle,” says Devanshi Patel, founder of Shreem Events.
Themed weddings are also trending. “Couples want their decor to be detailed and personalised. For instance, a couple staged a wedding in Manali only because they met there for the first time. They wanted an Alice in Wonderland/ constellation-themed reception, where we placed constellations with lights on the pathway. The bride had constellations on her lehenga,” says Puri of To The Aisle.
Shrey Bhagat, founder and creative director of Raabta, a photography and cinematography company, finds international pre-wedding shoots becoming increasingly popular. “Out-of-the-box ideas to create personalised and memorable experiences, which include perfume-making, sake bars and elaborate game nights, are currently in demand,” he says.
Bhagat is also receiving a lot of queries from non-resident Indians (NRIs) this season. “Up to 20% of our queries this season have come from NRIs. Most couples are either avid travellers or have studied abroad, and have relatives who live abroad. So, most weddings tend to have foreign guests, irrespective of whether the couple is an NRI or not,” he adds.
Talking about wedding budgets, Puri of To The Aisle says intimate luxury weddings are trending but the scale and expenses, more or less, remain the same. Wedding budgets now range from Rs 2 crore to Rs 50 crore, as per Bhagat of Raabta. “Some couples are spendthrifts, quality spenders, while many are conscious spenders. Since our brand launched last year in November, we are booked on most days this wedding season,” he adds.
Three Entertainment’s clients often spend an average of Rs 15-20 lakh on decor (not including sound, special lights, or generators) per function, as per Lalwani. “Several venues offer flexible packages in response to small or medium budgets. Bookings at these places have increased by about 30% to 40% as a result,” adds Patel of Shreem Events.
Meanwhile, the Union government’s ‘I Do Weddings in India’ initiative, along with rising costs associated with overseas weddings due to taxation changes, has prompted more couples to explore picturesque Indian locales. “Pushkar, Alsigarh and Kumbhalgarh, among others, are unique and offbeat wedding destinations. The budgets for weddings have significantly increased with spending 15%–20% more than in the prior years,” adds Patel.
Get live Share Market updates, Stock Market Quotes, and the latest India News and business news on Financial Express. Download the Financial Express App for the latest finance news.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Join Whatsapp Group!
Scan the code