A server in PPE gear. Celebrations are making a comeback and bookings are trickling in, but weddings will continue to look different well into 2021.(Photo courtesy Megha Israni)
A server in PPE gear. Celebrations are making a comeback and bookings are trickling in, but weddings will continue to look different well into 2021.(Photo courtesy Megha Israni)

Virtual reality, green screens: The near future of weddings

Is there a way to rescue the sangeet? Make shopping online less mundane? The answers to these and other questions are emerging as the industry pivots to fit a new reality.
By Madhusree Ghosh | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 24, 2020 04:01 PM IST

Chivas India, the event company Magnanimous and the platform WeddingSutra have released a report on wedding trends in the time of Covid-19.

“We decided to conduct a study around April, when we started to see just how massively the business of weddings would be affected by the pandemic,” says Kunal Avanti, co-founder of Magnanimous. “We spoke to 90 brides, grooms, parents and guests and 30 industry experts from the fields of fashion, photography, makeup, F&B, venue management etc.”

The study was completed by August and released earlier this month. Among their findings, 75% of those polled said that they planned to exclude the elderly from their celebrations and 65% were opting for a virtual wedding experience rather than waiting.

The survey also polled stakeholders on how they thought the next year (or two) would look for the industry. These players, in areas such as fashion, jewellery, venues, photography and food and beverage, largely saw the number of events held going back up in the immediate future, but the events themselves continuing to look different. Here's what else they had to say.

On the virtual experience

“The virtual wedding experience needs to improve. Automated multi-cam set-ups should capture weddings almost like an awards function. If things are planned well, the haldi or mehendi ceremony can even be held against a green screen to create the backdrop of your choice for the people viewing it on a video call. Virtual reality can be used to give someone sitting at home the experience of a wedding,” says Anand Rathi, wedding photographer, founder of Reels and Frames.

The food

”We recently launched our Zoom party catering which allows guests in Mumbai to invite their friends and family to join them for a meal online, and we’ll take care of sending the food, beverages and decorations, if any, to each of their guests. It’s the closest they can get to recreating the feeling of eating together… in the current scenario,” says Gauri Devidayal, co-founder of Magstreet Kitchen.

Shopping and fashion

It’s going online, but how will it be different? “Virtual consultancy is going to be the way forward for brides who are looking to start their wedding shopping and designers are more than happy to be available on video calls etc. Even styling as a matter of fact, it’s happening that way,” says stylist Esha Amin.

“I definitely think women are going to change when they come out of the pandemic. They’re going to be more themselves. I’ll only be working with pre-consumer waste and recycled fabrics. It’s going to be completely adaptable, versatile. It will have a lot of separates that will be all very multi-purpose,” says designer Manish Malhotra.

“Most of [the weddings] are scheduled towards the end of the year and that (number) should grow as time passes,” said designer Raghavendra Rathore.

The Covid-era wedding checklist

Venue checks: Have your own checklist and sanitation monitor to ensure that all undertakings made by the venue are followed.

Vendor checks: It may not be possible for your vendors to stay in quarantine before the wedding but you can ask for a safety log of where members of the teams have been in the preceding weeks. Discuss this at the time of booking.

Set-up: For an added layer of safety, have vendors set up one day prior to the function leaving the venue untouched for a minimum of 8 hours before your guests arrive, followed by the final round of sanitation just before the event.

Guest checks: Keep a guest check log by requesting travel history at the time of invitation. Do temperature checks before the main day. Share a detailed list of safety protocols to ensure your guests keep each other safe too.

Government norms: Keep yourself updated and do not try and bend the rules. You don’t want your wedding remembered as a super-spreader event.

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