The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on almost every industry in the world and the Indian Wedding Industry, estimated around $50 billion, has now come to a halt. However, industry experts believe that Indian weddings will return with spike in growth in the coming years and it will continue to be bigger once the virus threat is down to be negligible.
Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder and Managing Director, Ferns N Petals, who ventured into the luxury wedding venues business in 2003, was interviewed to know the impact of the lockdown on the Indian Wedding Industry and the wedding trends in post COVID era. Excerpts:
What impact the lockdown has had on the wedding industry and FNP Gardens?
Gutgutia: All the summer and spring wedding at our 11 venues under FNP Gardens are either postponed or cancelled. Many couples have chosen to postpone their weddings to the winter season of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, whereas few who have cancelled the bigger celebration are now opting for an intimate wedding. Because of these cancellations, all the associated units such as caterers, designers, make-up artists, wedding vendors or planners have been affected to the core. We see this year, the revenue continues to stay below expectations. But there is no question Indian weddings will return with spike in growth in the coming years.
How do you see the wedding scene in the country post this pandemic era?
Gutgutia: Indian wedding market is ever-growing and has multiplied multifold in the past few years. However, due to this ongoing pandemic, things may change but wedding functions will never stop in India and we will come back stronger. Since, social distancing is the need of the hour, we are expecting a behavioral shift towards choosing the wedding venues. People will either opt for bigger space so that sufficient distancing can be maintained or they will prefer a smaller banquet which can accommodate only immediate family members.
Do you think the concept of a fat Indian wedding is passe now?
Gutgutia: While we have a collective history of extravaganza grand affairs, never thought the world will come to a standstill. Weddings has always been considered the most auspicious event in India and no expenses or thoughts were ever spared by people to turn it into a Big Fat Indian Wedding. Now weddings will be more mindful and conscious, but it will continue to be bigger once the virus threat is down to be negligible. Some of the clients we are getting in pandemic are ready to wait for some time but they want their event to be opulent, just the way they desired. There will be sustainable measures and mindful execution in terms of venue selection, design, seating arrangements etc. adhering to the social distancing norms to execute the event smoothly and safely. This clearly shows big fat Indian weddings are here to stay!
Moving ahead, what role sustainability has to play as far as wedding is concerned?
Gutgutia: This year has made us realize, that it”s high time that we give more priority to sustainability. Being, the biggest floral chain in India, we have always been closer to the elements of nature and now we will also implement them in our weddings. All the arrangements, be it décor, catering, lighting and so on will be done, minding the rules of sustainability. We are also promoting day weddings to support the idea of saving energy. On top of it, we are also planning to add eco-friendly elements to beautify the spaces for weddings. Therefore, we are trying to go on a sustainable path for weddings.
What trends do you see in the wedding scene in India?
Gutgutia: As we are seeing, couples are swapping their grand wedding celebration with small gathering or intimate wedding affair, so the ”New Normal” for celebrating weddings in pandemic is different. Though we are sure grand celebrations will be back after normalcy in the situation. We are looking at smaller weddings with more personalization in arrangements. Strict precautions will become a major part while organizing mass gatherings. People would opt for open-air or outdoor spaces while making the venue selection, to have plenty of space that will help to maintain physical distancing as compared to an indoor venue. Furthermore, a well-thought-out seating arrangement with bigger tables will be counted as essential to maintain social distancing.
What changes are you adopting to cope up with the changing trends?
Gutgutia: We would make all the required arrangements as per the need of the hour. Be it the setup of our venues, installing sanitizing tunnels, tweaking the buffet style and so on… everything will be done in accordance with the need of the hour. There will be emphasize on top-notch hygiene standards as well as ensure contactless services.