It might be a 'seasonal' industry, thriving only during the auspicious months of the year but with an estimated worth of Rs. 1,25,000 crore, the Indian wedding industry is getting bigger and fatter.
With the industry growing at an average rate of 25 per cent per annum, the lavishness doled out by Indians on weddings is just getting larger this season as exhibitors and even designers from Pakistan entering the market to target the customers who have begun shopping for the post October marriage season.
"The weddings just grown larger only. The latest trend is now to fly out the 'barat' comprising 250-350 people to Kaula Lampur or Singapore to have the wedding there," says Tarun Sarda, CEO, Vintage Group, Vivaha Interactive, the organisers of Vivaha exhibitions.
Citing seven such weddings which have taken place in foreign locations such as Sunway Lagoon and the Palace of the Golden Horses in Malayasia recently, he adds, "Everyone is trying to outdo each other. With the property and stock boom, India has seen new generation of millionaires coming up and the lavishness that they indulge in weddings are just mind-blowing."
Gone are the days when great weddings were the ones to be held at some five star hotel with baratis trooping in fanning Rs. 10 bundles, points out wedding organisers and industry experts.
"With increased money at their disposal and more awareness, people now don't just want a five star wedding. The Mittals and Sahara's along with the Chatwal weddings have changed the way, one would view a grand wedding," says Saurabh Sen Gupta, Head, event management, Kimaya which organises individual events like ladies sangeet with Bollywood singers performing and bachelor parties along with theme parties for the marriages.
"The pandlas are more like film sets now. Theme parties are what really excites everyone. With fashion designers like JJ Valya and Ritu Kumar focusing on marraige trousseau more, one cannot even imagine how much can one spend on even individual ceremonies. Moreover, with even some Bollywood set designers stepping in to design marriage pandals, the grand Indian wedding is just getting bigger," he adds.
Industry experts now point out that a good wedding now takes place for around a crore and a half, even though the average wedding expenditure for a middle class family comes to about Rs. 15 lakhs without the jewelery.
Recently, the The Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, the citys top Sikh body, had told the capitals nearly one million Sikhs to boycott weddings that are not teetotaler, vegetarian and over by noon to cut down the cost involved in the usual lavish sikh weddings. While similar measures are being considered in other Indian cities, wedding planners and wedding exhibition organisers point out that such a directive will not in anyway stop the grandness of weddings.
"Look around, young Indians know that marriage is usually a one time opportunity and hence, want to have a great wedding if not a lavish one. Its more like to each its own. The notice put up up the Gurdwara committee will not have much impact on wedding expenditure," says Kiran Sharma, Director, ITE Group which organised the just concluded Bride and Groom 2007, exhibition in the capital.
It is not just an industry which caters to the tentwallas or the flower shops or the catering firms but even high-end car lending companies to who's who of the Indian film industry and even the new age photograph firms who easily charge upto Rs. 2-3 laks for a wedding album.
"People have money and now want to tell others that they have it. The increasing trend is to have a bollywood star.
So, its not surprising that many leading Bollywood stars are more than eager to dance to the occassion but at a good price," says Vijay Arora, Director, Touchwood Entertainment which specialises in organising entertainment for such marraiges and adding that the firm has seen a growth rate of 350 per cent in the last two to three years.
He adds, "An avergae evening with a reality show star along with a dance troupe would cost Rs. 3 lakh and above while if you want to bring in big names of Indian cinema, then the rates can touch the sky."
Orgainsers point out that Indian weddings are the most expensive and lavish in the world.
"India is happening and Indians are willing to pay for the expertise to send a style statement through an event like a wedding. A wedding for an Indian is probably the biggest and most serious event in his or her lifetime," says Bini Kohli, of Pace Weddings, a wedding organising firm in the capital.
Wedding have now become specialised with even some foreign universities offering diploma in bridal consultancy among others.
"The industry is now slowly getting organised with the roles played by wedding planners, exhibition firms providing everything from make up to jwellery under one roof and with other big players now stepping into," says Urvashi Sharma, a wedding planner based in Gurgaon.
"Soon there would be more Mittals and Chatwal style marriages which continued for 10 days among lavish settings happening in India. The best is yet to come," she adds.