WeddingSutra’s Thyagrajan believes that the concept of a big wedding is firmly entrenched in the Indian culture. “Big weddings are very much part of our DNA. They are a special celebration. They are part of the happiness industry. They will make a comeback,” he says, though he believes it may take a year or two.
Indeed, nine months into the pandemic, there are signs that interest is picking up again. Banquet halls at five-star hotels have seen a surge in bookings for November and December. However, hosts are having to get a little creative; for an upcoming ceremony, wedding planner Ekta Saigal Lulla says the clients have requested that all the guests be tested for Covid-19 two days prior to the wedding. Lulla has partnered with a diagnostics lab. She says, “Social gathering and social distancing don’t go hand in hand, no matter how hard you try. Which is why we are taking precautions beforehand.”
Destination weddings, which were all but forgotten in the past few months, are slowly picking up, too. Saigal Lulla says that newer venues are being explored, from Cyprus to Malta and Vietnam. Now that the numbers are smaller, people are focusing on giving a grander experience to their guests, she says. “So, instead of going to, say, Lisbon, a popular wedding destination in Portugal, people are exploring other places like Sintra or Algarve, where they can rent a castle.” Countries such as Switzerland, where weddings didn’t happen earlier due to generally small venues, are now on the table. “Since the guest list is shorter, clients can just buy the entire property and make it a memorable experience for those few people.”
Kolkata-based wedding planner Pramod Lunawat is also in the midst of planning a wedding in Bahrain. He says that clients aren’t concerned about travel safety, since “they are now spending on charter flights instead of commercial flights”.
Although the pandemic has changed many of the ways we live, the entrenchment of the Indian wedding demonstrates how some cultural traditions are immutable. Major ceremonies like these weddings may adapt, especially as Covid-19 still looms large over every occasion. But even as Indian wedding hosts – and socialisers around the world – are being forced to think outside the box, some rituals simply seem bigger than their challenges.