“My daughter’s wedding is more important than a recession,” declares Ravi Shah unequivocally. The Shah wedding, which takes place in February, will span Mumbai and Delhi and include six events. “This is the first wedding in the family, so I want to do it right. Besides, I’d already saved up for the wedding,” says Shah, a bulk drugs importer and exporter from Mumbai.
Like so many other proud fathers, Shah wants to give his daughter “the best”. And in wedding parlance, that translates into designer ghagras, celebrity performers, huge venues and kilo-loads of jewellery. “For Indians, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, so they go all out. Despite the recession, people are spending as much as they were last year, if not more,” says well-known wedding planner Gurleen M Puri, who has organised destination weddings in Macau, Hong Kong and Bali this year. “Even upper middle-class families will spend anything upwards of Rs 2.5 lakh on décor alone,” she says.
In Delhi, media giant Percept D’ Mark recently organised a three-day wedding, in which the sangeet had a Singh is Kinng
theme and Daler Mehendi performed. “Even a mid-sized wedding these days will cost between Rs 1 and Rs 1.5 crore. Just look around — all the five-star hotels and farmhouses are booked. We haven’t been affected by the slowdown,” says Aditya Motwani, CEO of the company’s wedding planning division.
Designer Ritu Kumar says that the shaadi industry has not seen a slump so far because weddings are a pre-planned affair. “Which is why the demand for lehengas and trousseaux haven’t gone down as yet,” she reasons.
In fact, for many service providers in the wedding industry, this year has proved to be more profitable than ever. “We’ve
been handling three events every day. This year we’ve been so busy that we’ve actually had to turn down offers,” says Meghna Diwan, a partner with wedding planning agency Wedding Commitment. “This despite the fact that I’m charging Rs 5 lakh for the same sets that I charged Rs 3 lakh for last year,” she adds. And wedding card designer Priya Mulchandani says, “The business we’ve done this quarter is much better than last year. ”
According to studies, the Indian wedding industry is currently worth Rs 1,25,000 crore and growing at 25 per cent per year. Clearly then, the big fat Indian wedding is recession resistant.
(Ruchira Priyanka Hoon contributed to this story)