New normal: Intimate weddings, virtual events
The Covid-19 pandemic turned the Capital’s big fat weddings into a low-key affair with restrictions on gatherings, and sanitisers, social distancing and masks becoming the new normal. But, for many, it was also a moment of truth about their closeness to a certain family or friend as hosts began to mercilessly downsize their guest lists.
Deepshikha, an IT professional who goes by her first name, was invited to attend her college friend’s wedding in December last year. But, a week before the wedding, she got a message from the bride, saying, “Due to the latest Covid restrictions, we will be limiting our guest list to an intimate number. Please accept my apology for not having you with us on the special day...”
Deepshikha, who had already purchased a dress for the wedding, said she was looking forward to the event. “When the wedding pictures came up on her Insta profile, I found out that another girl from our group back in college was invited. It’s just an awkward feeling where you realise that you were not as close to a person as you thought. It’s funny how the pandemic has brought out such aspects and emotions of people,” she said with a nervous laugh.
On October 31, 2020, the Delhi disaster management authority (DDMA) lifted the restriction of allowing only 50 people in weddings. In banquet halls and closed spaces, the DDMA allowed up to 200 people, while the decision on the number of guests in open spaces was left on the district administration.
But, after Delhi was hit by the third and the most severe Covid wave on November 16, the DDMA reduced the number of guests to 50 on November 18.
The norms were again relaxed on January 31, allowing a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity, with a ceiling of 200 people. In open spaces or grounds, the number of permissible people now depends on the area of the venue.
Tara Khosla, a wedding planner in South Delhi, said weddings now have become more intimate and requests from the hosts have also changed drastically. “The packages post Covid also include costs for virtual weddings where the entire ceremony is live streamed to those who could not be invited. The welcome hampers now mostly include designer masks and well scented sanitisers, among other things,” she said.
People are no longer spending a lot on physical cards, she added. “It has mostly gone all digital with some even demanding websites with details about the couple, how they met, apart from the events, dress code and the venue. The idea of a small, intimate and well decorated wedding has trickled down really well and is in huge demand among the young working class where the bride and the groom take the onus of their own weddings,” she said.
Ramesh Dang, president of Community Welfare Banquet Association, Delhi, said banquet halls and farmhouses have still not recovered from the losses incurred during the pandemic.
“The business is picking up slowly, but the demand is still not the same as pre-Covid times. Even as weddings were allowed with up to 50 persons, people hardly booked a large hall and rather shifted all events to their homes. So, you can say that our properties were out of business for at least 10 months. During this time many of our banquet halls were also taken over by the government to convert them in Covid car centres, most of which were hardly used as hardly any patient came,” he said.
But not just weddings, even business or corporate events, which were an annual affair for many companies, have shifted to digital modes. “We are losing out on corporate events big time. In pre-Covid times, there used to be conclaves, summits, off-site team building meets and what not. All of that has now shifted online. The worst part is, very few companies are going back to physical participation. Most of them have decided to continue with the webinars or digital conclaves as it saves money,” said Rakshit Singh, a corporate event handler in the city.