The pandemic has brought about a 180-degree shift in how weddings are celebrated in the country, moving from lavish weddings with triple figure guest lists to saying ‘I do’ among close family and friends with a lot many others joining in on Zoom.
While many weddings were pushed to the latter half of the year or early 2021, some decided that Coronavirus can’t put a brake on their lives and decided to make a new beginning in the midst of the pandemic. Nevertheless, wedding planning and management, like other businesses, also had to adapt to the new normal.
Along with the bride, groom and their families, wedding planners have been finding new ways to make weddings a memorable affair.
“There’s a considerable change in the way events are held now with social distancing and limitations on the number of guests at gatherings. The exciting and grand Indian weddings have become intimate and quiet affairs,” says Bhavnesh Sawhney, Co-Founder of FB celebrations, an event management company.
“Close-knit gatherings have now become even more experiential, giving rise to the need for detailed and intricate planning. The detailing of the décor, interactive experiences and entertainment along with customised favours are an offshoot of intimate events this year,” adds Sawhney.
Safety and sanitation have become top priorities for wedding management companies.
Khushi Singh, AVP – Events & Experiences, Percept ICE, shares that there is a great influx of technology in hosting weddings as people are choosing a mix of physical and online celebrations to commemorate their big day.
“The role of a wedding planner is very much dependent on technology,” says Singh, adding that the crux lies in how they use the available technology to deliver the best experience.
Singh informs that a 360-degree LED set up with a two-way live experience enables guests at home feel as if they are sitting around the mandap and enjoying the wedding in real time. “Phygital weddings can be accessible by a larger guest list – friends and family who are overseas might not have been able to travel, but can participate in the festivities, thanks to the immersive technology,” shares Singh.
Weddings are also becoming more eco-friendly and hyperlocal in their sourcing for food and beverage, products and gifts and flowers. “Instead of flowers being imported from Holland and Amsterdam, families are picking local variants. Even when it comes to F&B, there was a trend to collaborate with international brands. This is being replaced by patronising local brands and vendors,” explains Singh.
Families need to make sure that experience for in-person guests as well as those who are attending online is memorable.
Online performances by artists, delivering food and drinks to guests homes and lavish gifts are some of the ways to make the celebrations more personalised. There is greater focus on the smaller nuances.
“Everything from the wedding invitation to the décor and menu can be customised. Even the gifts from the couple to the guests are more luxurious and serve as a keepsake, which people can treasure for a long time,” shares Sawhney. With budgets being much lower, families are willing to spend more on gifts this year.
Singh shares that with a smaller guest list there are a lot of new experiences that they are delivering – from ensuring food being catered to each guest’s house for the reception to setting up a bar at home to maximise the fun on sangeet night. They even hosted one wedding where there were satellite pods to maintain social distancing and food was put on conveyor belts to minimize contact.
Until now, guests were limited to 50, so people preferred having wedding at home or at their family’s/friend’s farmhouses. Open air venues as opposed to closed environments are in favour, keeping social distancing in mind. With hotels opening up in July and the new unlock rules in practice, which permits 100 guests from September 20, weddings are becoming slightly bigger. People are now looking at hotels, too, as options to host their intimate functions. Destinations within drivable distances are also being considered.
Amaara Farms has been getting inquiries for its property in New Delhi. Spanning across six acres, the wedding venue has tied up with leading wedding photographers, planners, and decorators to offer a seamless intimate wedding experience while keeping all the COVID-19 safety precautions in place. In the past, cricketer Suresh Raina and celebrity stylist Sanjana Batra have had their weddings here.
“We have been getting many inquiries, and client interest is upbeat and we are hopeful for the upcoming season. We have introduced an electronic concierge to digitally assist guests with wedding planning. The dedicated concierge brings together a team of wedding specialists who cater to every whim and fancy of the couple,” shares Shivan Gupta, owner of Amaara Farms. He notes that personalised, close-knit events will continue to dictate wedding trends this year with high focus on the overall ambience and vibe.