Photos: Indian weddings in the time of a pandemic

At the start of the nationwide lockdown in March, which was wedding season, couples scrambled to postpone or cancel. Some postponed by six months, some by a year. As it became clear that they would have to rethink their celebration entirely, or put it off indefinitely, the wedding celebration made a (rather unrecognisable) comeback. Gone are the arches covered in flowers and lights; the red carpets and hints of tinsel. Instead, it’s an all-white booth you walk into, dressed in your best. You’re greeted by contractors covered in safety gear.

Updated On Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST
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The long queues of well-wishers are gone; instead couples do the rounds and are wished from a distance. Photographs are taken from a distance too. Guests are regularly reminded to stay off the stage, and some planning agencies even offer a service where they appoint monitors to ensure distancing all through the venue. (Photo courtesy Radiance Events, Lucknow)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

The long queues of well-wishers are gone; instead couples do the rounds and are wished from a distance. Photographs are taken from a distance too. Guests are regularly reminded to stay off the stage, and some planning agencies even offer a service where they appoint monitors to ensure distancing all through the venue. (Photo courtesy Radiance Events, Lucknow)

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When you step out at a wedding venue though, it’s no longer ‘Arre, pahunch gaye aap… kaise hain sab?’ It’s an anonymous contractor greeting you with ‘Namaskar. Can I check the status on your Arogya Setu app?” The new pandemic-era wedding portal is the sanitation booth. Expect your fancy hairdo and make-up to get dampened a bit by the spray. (Photo courtesy Megha Israni)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

When you step out at a wedding venue though, it’s no longer ‘Arre, pahunch gaye aap… kaise hain sab?’ It’s an anonymous contractor greeting you with ‘Namaskar. Can I check the status on your Arogya Setu app?” The new pandemic-era wedding portal is the sanitation booth. Expect your fancy hairdo and make-up to get dampened a bit by the spray. (Photo courtesy Megha Israni)

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The wedding make-up and photography sectors have seen business dwindle by about 90%. “Costs have boomed in so many ways too,” says Aniruddha Chakladar, a wedding make-up artist from Kolkata. “I have to take makeup out of the bottles to minimise the risk. I’ve had to invest in disposable makeup brushes, hundreds of sets of gloves, sanitiser and masks.” (Photo courtesy Aniruddha Chakladar)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

The wedding make-up and photography sectors have seen business dwindle by about 90%. “Costs have boomed in so many ways too,” says Aniruddha Chakladar, a wedding make-up artist from Kolkata. “I have to take makeup out of the bottles to minimise the risk. I’ve had to invest in disposable makeup brushes, hundreds of sets of gloves, sanitiser and masks.” (Photo courtesy Aniruddha Chakladar)

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Friends and relatives are learning to do hair and make-up, even décor, usually with a little assistance from YouTube videos. (Photo courtesy Yatharth Joshi)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

Friends and relatives are learning to do hair and make-up, even décor, usually with a little assistance from YouTube videos. (Photo courtesy Yatharth Joshi)

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Whichever way you look at it, it’s hard on couples who had already set a date. From an April 3 wedding of 400 people, Farhat and Fareed Khan had to scale it down to 16. “We had to cancel everything,” Farhat says. On August 9, Fareed travelled to Mumbai from Hyderabad for the ceremony, alone. His parents were too high-risk to make the journey. (Photo courtesy The Khans)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

Whichever way you look at it, it’s hard on couples who had already set a date. From an April 3 wedding of 400 people, Farhat and Fareed Khan had to scale it down to 16. “We had to cancel everything,” Farhat says. On August 9, Fareed travelled to Mumbai from Hyderabad for the ceremony, alone. His parents were too high-risk to make the journey. (Photo courtesy The Khans)

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The long queues of well-wishers are gone; instead couples do the rounds and are wished from a distance. (Photo courtesy Radiance Events, Lucknow)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

The long queues of well-wishers are gone; instead couples do the rounds and are wished from a distance. (Photo courtesy Radiance Events, Lucknow)

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Couples are doing what they can to take the pandemic in their stride — cake-top dolls in masks, zoom lenses so photographers don’t have to go too close to the seniors zone. (Photo courtesy Megha Israni)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

Couples are doing what they can to take the pandemic in their stride — cake-top dolls in masks, zoom lenses so photographers don’t have to go too close to the seniors zone. (Photo courtesy Megha Israni)

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The socially distanced sangeet seems like it’s here to stay. “But despite the restrictions, or maybe because of them, the weddings I’m working now feel a lot more intimate, more emotional,” says Megha Israni, a wedding photographer from Mumbai. (Photo courtesy Megha Israni)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

The socially distanced sangeet seems like it’s here to stay. “But despite the restrictions, or maybe because of them, the weddings I’m working now feel a lot more intimate, more emotional,” says Megha Israni, a wedding photographer from Mumbai. (Photo courtesy Megha Israni)

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Where possible, couples are opting for safe and familiar spaces like the home, roping in neighbours to allow for more room for their small group of guests to spread out — as was done at this home-hosted wedding in Mumbai. (Photo courtesy WeddingNama)
Updated on Oct 25, 2020 11:30 AM IST

Where possible, couples are opting for safe and familiar spaces like the home, roping in neighbours to allow for more room for their small group of guests to spread out — as was done at this home-hosted wedding in Mumbai. (Photo courtesy WeddingNama)

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