Big bang baraat: The Indian wedding landscape has changed, and technology has given it a digital makeover
After two years of Covid-19 curbs, India expects to have around 40 lakh weddings this season. However, trends have changed, and Indian weddings are now happening with a digital bang.
Bhoomika Singh May 26, 2022
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The pandemic has changed many things, one of them are the weddings in India.
Those intriguing, lavish, extravagant, multi day events have now segued into intimate private weddings, with less people and less festivities. Not to mention the fact that all the connected stakeholders of the massive wedding industry were hit really hard by the pandemic.
But that setback did not last for long. Being the largest wedding market in the world, it was inevitable that the wedding sector in India would be back with a bang!
Lovers couldn’t wait!
“He was also working from home, and we used to chat for long hours, and he gave his utmost attention and time to me. As the bond grew stronger, we couldn’t wait for the pandemic to get over, so we decided to stay together forever,”says Sonal Narang from Patiala as she shares her Covid wedding tale with us.
She met her spouse on a popular matrimonial website, and eventually had a lockdown wedding.
“We didn’t want to wait to get married and there was no clarity on the situation. So, we decided to get married in July 2020, and ultimately tied the knot in an intimate ceremony,” she continues.
These weddings were popularly called Covid weddings.
In fact, there were thousands of couples who jumped on the bandwagon as well since Covid weddings have their own perks.
To begin with, nobody had any idea about when the pandemic was going to end. Therefore, this unprecedented crisis couldn’t stop India from having weddings. So many couples and families didn’t wait, and quite a few had their ceremonies in unique and quirky ways. Some of these weddings even generated an internet buzz and went viral on social media.
Also, it turned out to be a money saving deal. As the ceremonies got leaner, people opted for fewer guests due to the Covid restrictions. And last but not least, Covid weddings saved many families from the unnecessary hustle and bustle that any normal Indian wedding usually entails. The trend which seemed temporary initially, continued unabated throughout 2021.
Cut to 2022, and the weddings are back, with more ideas, trends and newer streams of revenue for the wedding industry.
Bang Baja Baraat
It’s been two years and the markets have changed. However, gradually the panache of Indian weddings is coming back, say the experts.
According to industry estimates, the country is estimated to cater for around 40 lakh weddings from the April-July period. While 5 lakh weddings will spend an average of Rs 200,000 on wedding events, 10 lakh weddings are estimated to spend over Rs 500,000, per wedding. Similarly, about one million weddings are expected to spend around Rs 1,000,000 on wedding events, and 50,000 weddings are estimated to spend Rs 5 million each and Rs 10 million per wedding is expected to be spent by the same number.
However, these figures could vary by the time we reach the end of this wedding season. But the fact is that there has been a visible and distinctive increase in the number of weddings. A commercial photographer Dr Namrata Rupani says that bookings have picked up since 2021.
“In my belief, the number has increased by 60 per cent in comparison to last year and even this season we are expecting a decent rise in the number of weddings. As of now, wedding bookings have gone up by 70 per cent and we will soon reach the pre-pandemic numbers,” she says.
Rupani says that since people are heavily influenced by social media, so are their weddings.
“However, I do feel that there is still some time left before we reach the pre-pandemic number for weddings in the country,” she adds.
2022 wedding trends show that Indians have started splurging on their weddings on the back of millennial sayings like—You live only once (YOLO). In fact, there are newer ways in which wedding stakeholders are making money.
Another factor that’s influencing costs is inflation. “The expenses incurred on pandemic weddings have increased due to inflation and destination weddings, as the cost of team travel plays a role in the pricing as compared to the previous seasons. The prices increase every year, and this year too, we would have to adjust the price increase of the last two seasons,” says Rupani.
Adding in her comments, wedding planner Prerana Agarwal, founder of Theme Weavers Designs (TWD) says, “Most wedding vendors work full-time in this sector, just like any other career, and with months without weddings with the industry turning for the foreseeable future, price rises may be the only option for many to earn a living at this time.”
But that doesn’t necessarily mean bigger weddings. Covid weddings have given us the new wedding normal of intimate weddings—take the examples of the weddings of Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif and Ranbeer Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Agarwal tells us that intimate weddings have been rising in number these days. While destination weddings too are increasing.
“Weddings continued unabated despite various partial lockdowns across the country, and many couples chose destination weddings. Even the priorities of those getting married changed, and an increasing number of people decided to limit guest lists, a trend that is expected to continue indefinitely,” she tells us.
It’s a tech samaroh
It’s not a wedding without family and friends!!
When couples opted for intimate weddings due to the pandemic, technology came to the rescue of their near and dear ones. Video conferencing and live streaming via different platforms became a popular option for those who couldn’t attend the physical events.
This engendered the concept of tech weddings.
Rupani says, “The pandemic transitioned the wedding celebrations into closed and restricted celebrations. In a way that, many times these weddings were confined to their houses and drove the popularity of virtual weddings.”
The wedding industry, including all kinds of events were dependent on platforms like Zoom Pro, Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, etc. This is the new normal.
And since then, not only the conventional platforms but the new wedding tech start-ups have also started growing. In fact, drones are now the photographer’s assistants. Technology has made it possible to achieve unbelievably cool landscape shots and capture the venues in all their grandeur.
“Today many brides and grooms are actively innovating and latching on to emerging trends and ensuring that their special day gets the perfect coverage. With wide-angle landscape mode lenses like GoPro, it’s even fun to document the wedding and live stream the celebration to distant friends and family who could not mark their physical presence at the wedding,” Rupani tells us.
Apart from the sophisticated gadgets, Rupani employs a coordinated tech-based framework to cover the maximum extent of the venue and the guests. “Live sharing and collaborating of shots help us to avoid repeating the same set of shots and we can then focus on covering a wider range for the wedding. Some emerging tech like Godox lights is great to capture low light shots while the DJI Gimbal helps in stable videography,” she adds.
With virtual vivah trending, the wedding industry has changed drastically.
Nowadays, one-stop wedding planning applications that rely primarily on technology and digital products are aiding the new-age couples who are short on time due to their daily hectic routines but want to be equally active in their wedding planning processes.
TWD’s Agarwal thinks that couples will embrace this trend for a long time. Today the full wedding planning process is possible at the touch of a button from the comfort of your own home. Surprisingly, such applications are increasingly being accepted by parents as well as the family members who are involved in ordering the various wedding services. It’s a money and time saving process.
“One can virtually participate in any event thanks to digital disruption. We believe that ceremonies will be broadcast live online via digital channels for individuals who are unable to attend in person,” Agarwal points out.
Metaverse: A new wedding venue
People’s love for digital innovations is not only restricted to live streaming, photography or music. Now people are finding love in a wholly new and unique arena—the Metaverse.
Created as a fictional universe by techies, it’s a single, universal and immersive virtual world that is facilitated using virtual reality and augmented reality headsets. And since this phenomenon has come into the picture; people have started experimenting with it for dating and even for marriage ceremonies.
Recently, India witnessed two metaverse weddings that we know of.
The super exciting thing about metaverse weddings is that you can be anyone and choose any place as your wedding venue, says Utkarsh Shukla, founder and CEO of YUG Metaverse.
“If you want your wedding on the top of Mount Everest, you could do that,” he says.
On 5th February 2022, his platform hosted India’s first 3D metaverse wedding, that of Abhijeet and Sansrati at a scenic beachside. They were in their 3D avatars and wrote the first modern-day digital love saga. “They wanted a wedding setup where all of their friends across the globe could be present virtually and have an immersive experience,” Shukla tells us.
He explains that his clients wanted an immersive experience for their guests, who could not attend their wedding and they wanted to live stream it for them in a fun way, so they chose metaverse. YUG set up some engaging activities for the guests like fun areas, a DJ and dance floor, a bar, a dining area and much more where the guests could enjoy a virtually real experience.
Another platform, Tardiverse organised a Hogwarts themed wedding for a couple from Tamil Nadu. These are two of the many examples of how Indian couples are taking traditional events to the next level with the aid of new-age technology.
Other shaadi trends
Wedding trends have always been a big deal in India. These trends keep changing, with a new twist every season, be it the invitations or the return gifts. Technology has seeped in on this front as well.
For instance, due to the two-year-long pandemic, the concept of wedding invitations has completely changed. People now send digital cards or e-cards to invite their guests. And the e-card in itself has changed a lot over time. From simple pictures, GIFs, videos and graphically designed cards or even doodles, people are now telling their love stories through these e-cards.
We have already talked about the shrinking size of the weddings. The small guest lists and cosy venues that were opted for due to the compulsions of the pandemic induced restrictions, are now a trend. However, we can’t deny that the age-old custom of splurging on this special day is not going anywhere. So, throwing a big lavish reception party after a small wedding is becoming a popular trend now, depending on people’s finances. However, big fat weddings can never go out of style in India, as it is a lifetime event, and couples want to make it as memorable and big as they can.
Agarwal tells us that creating a genuine one-of-a-kind macro experience by spending on personalization, a delicious sit-down lunch at a five-star restaurant, sustainable wedding decorating for tiny weddings, or out-of-the-box guest entertainment, is quite the in thing these days.
Similarly, when it comes to capturing these weddings on film, the choices have evolved a lot.
Right from the beginning of the Roka ceremony to the Vidai, people like to capture every small ritual and function. Rupani says that due to the evolving digital and social media technology, couples are now much more creative in their choice of wedding photography.
“From choosing picturesque locations to aesthetically shot pre-wedding photo reels being telecast during the wedding ceremony, new-age technology has redefined the overall wedding photography space,” she says.
Gifts, among other things, play an important role in weddings. They have had a technological makeover as well. People who are experimenting with events prefer to share gifts digitally. Most of you may have heard of gift vouchers, coupons, or gift cards. However, as technology evolves, people are now exploring ideas for gifts in the form of bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies or properties in the metaverse, which are likely to be the new-age gifts now.
Among other things, the entire wedding industry, which is still reliant on MSMEs and was disrupted during the pandemic, is back on track. And, based on the trends, it is correct to say that technology has given this sector a significant boost. The industry was saved because it came up with new ways to cater for weddings and explored new and innovative revenue streams. And people are making the most of it, which is definitely a win win situation for everyone involved!