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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Indian weddings move to new destinations

Anupama Airy and Himani Chandna Gurtoo, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 29, 2013
First Published: 23:50 IST(29/12/2013) | Last Updated: 23:52 IST(29/12/2013)

The big fat Indian wedding is no longer about food, dresses, dance and rituals. It’s also about exotic wedding destinations.

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What started off as large, lavish designer weddings at exotic Indian palaces in Rajasthan and seven-star venues and beaches of Goa and Kerala — mostly for non-resident Indians and the super rich — is emerging as a more widespread phenomenon.

While palaces of Rajasthan and the beaches of Goa continue to top the charts, new destinations including Kashmir, Shimla, Manali, Kerala, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and religious places such as Varanasi, Tirupati and ancient world heritage sites including Khajuraho are also emerging as favourites.

“People these days are definitely experimenting hence organising wedding at new and exotic locations, apart from the regular preferred wedding destinations… they are now very keen to travel to Andaman Nicobar, Kerala, Varanasi,” said Rakesh Mitra, general manager, sales and marketing, The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

“Kerala has emerged as a preferred venue in competiton to any international destination,” he added.

The adventurous of the lot also prefer weddings at five-star safari lodges. A Taj spokesperson told HT that safari lodges provide the perfect setting against a backdrop of unbridled landscapes and exotic sounds of the jungle.

Hill stations such as Shimla and Manali are also proving to be attractive locations with top luxury hotels offering attractive off-season discounts.

“The landscape and availability of grand hotels is pushing Manali as a wedding destination. Not many hill stations have exotic facilities,” said Neha Chauhan, destination wedding planner, Back2Culture, a company which handles majority of NRI clientele. Wedding at such location costs `60-80 lakh.

“Today, weddings are becoming more bespoke… be it a royal wedding in real palaces of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad or an exotic beach ceremony at Goa, Bentota, Sri Lanka, Maldives or a classy event in New York and Colombo,” the Taj spokesperson added. 

Outside the country, Indians are increasingly spending on locations including Barcelona, Florence, Cannes, Austria, Geneva, Mombasa among several others. 

The minimum expenditure on international locations vary between Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 5 lakh per person.

“NRIs come back to India and choose exotic palaces and beaches whereas Indians go abroad and choose art palaces, snowy mountains and crystal clear beaches at the backdrop,” said Neelabh Kapoor, creative partner, Studio Neelabh, a wedding management company whose client list boast of several industrialists, politicians and Bollywood actors including Ritesh and Genelia Deshmukh’s wedding.

For instance, wedding of UK-based Kishore Lulla’s daughter, a film producer and distributor of Eros International, took place at Jodhpur’s Umed Bhavan. On contrary, Hyderabad-based businessman and owner of Country Club, Rajeev Reddy’s daughter got married in Dubai.

“Locations in south east Asia are comparatively cheaper but the expenditure splash up for locations in Europe, UK, South Africa and US enormously,” said Kapoor. The average size of guest list is 300 to 350 but if the client is a multi millionaire, the guest list exceeds 5,000.

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