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Big brand weddings

The fast-growing wedding industry in India is witnessing big brand action at the top end of spending power as the wealthy pull out all stops to gift guests a memorable experience. Pooja Biraia writes.

business Updated: Mar 31, 2013 22:44 IST
Pooja Biraia
Pooja Biraia
Hindustan Times

When a Mumbai developer’s son hosted a lavish bingo night during his wedding celebrations that had guests walking away with BMWs and Audis, it set even the top social circles abuzz. But it does point to an emerging trend among the crème de la crème of gifting international brands to guests, to take the glam quotient of the wedding several notches higher.

For a well-known industrialist’s wedding, over 150 designer bags were sent to invitees along with the invitation cards. International fashion brands such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Leonidas, Swarovski and Tods, among others, are plugging in.

The trend was confirmed in a survey of SEC A1 and A2 consumers across 10 Indian cities, conducted by Ipsos for the Taj Group. The study indicated Indians’ willingness to spend big on weddings across the spectrum of grooming, arrangements and events.

A Taj spokesperson said, “Weddings are becoming increasingly bespoke. They have become an opportunity to network socially and professionally. The scale of grandeur is directly proportional to the status the family wants to portray. Not surprisingly, big brands are looking to cash in.”

Big spends on weddings are fuelling 20% annual growth of the Rs. 1,50,000 crore wedding industry in India, said Candice Periera, founder, MarryMe Wedding Planners.

The presence of international brands started with the entry of Swarovski into the Indian wedding scenario, said Parthip Thyagarajan, director, Wedding, an online wedding magazine. “A few weddings I’ve attended had international and Indian brands making for high-value presents – Sabyasachi sarees along with the invites, for example. In another wedding in Goa, guests were gifted expensive chocolates and cookies from Belgium and the UK, sterling silver bowls with dry fruits, and expensive wines over the three days of celebrations. I’ve even heard of a wedding in Ludhiana where the baraatis were gifted a BMW each.”.

These are mainly high net worth weddings, said Sandeep Kulhalli, vice president - marketing and retail, Tanishq. “Guest-gifting at weddings is a niche trend, seen among the well-heeled. The reason why international brands are considered is that they emphasise the quality and value of the product and also the giver’s social standing.”

“It has much to do with the inherent competition to go a notch up in the ‘wow’ factor,” Thyagarajan added, also attributing the trend to the onset of destination weddings. The host is bound to give something in return as a matter of courtesy to guests who fly in at their own expense.

Wedding planner Gurleen Kaur pointed out: “Indians always had the money to splurge. But now you can easily access foreign brands right here.” Agreed Dr Sujata Sriram, associate professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai: “It’s another form of display. While previously gold ruled, now it’s high-end brands.” Sheetl Choksi, director, Quipper Research, added that there’s a big shift in society from being frugal to flaunting.

Rocky S, founder, Signature Weddings by Rocky S, said, “People now want to have lavish, custom-made designer weddings – Belgian chocolates and silver coins with invites, finest Italian fabrics as wedding décor. I may include the soon-to-be-launched Ceres diamond jewellery collection as a part of my signature weddings.”

Periera observed that this trend is trickling down to the upper middle class. Rocky S agreed: “The upper middle class may be more limited in spending power, but they most definitely aren’t much behind their uber-class contemporaries.”

First Published: Mar 31, 2013 22:39 IST