Covid ‘jugaad’: Drive in to a big fat Indian wedding in UK
Thousands of Indian weddings have been postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions, but one couple and an enterprising planner conjured a novel, socially-distanced way to get hitched: it all happened in a drive-in park, with hundreds of guests remaining in cars and many more watching on Zoom.
Saheli Mirpuri, a London-based planner, said on Wednesday that when Vinal Patel and Roma Popat got married in Braxted Park in Chelmsford, Essex, on October 2, it rained heavily, but that did not dampen the spirit of the occasion marked with the usual music and noise, aided by a DJ.
The event skirted around current restrictions that only 15 people can gather, with guests – attired in designer ‘lehngas’ and ‘sherwanis’ – remaining in cars while the formal ceremony was showcased on a giant screen. Family and friends across the globe watched it on video.
Mirpuri, whose family has links in India, said: “Thousands of weddings that usually take place in the summer have been postponed. It has been tough for the industry; billions of pounds have been lost. Guidelines are changing constantly. Many have postponed their big day to 2021”.
“This wedding was a nice way to involve more than 15 people. The pre-wedding ‘sangeet’ and other events were held at the couple’s home. It was a risk and challenge for us to organise since it has never been done before; we didn’t know how it would work out,” she added.
It took the London-born Mirpuri’s team two months to organise, after she and the couple realised the idea that started as a joke could work out. The guests in cars were provided with a hamper of snacks, hand-gel and plastic bags to put their rubbish in.
On the day, the suitably attired Patel entered the park and travelled around in a decorated golf buggy driven by a venue staff member with a face mask. After the ceremony, the couple went round the park to greet the guests, who honked horns and flashed car lights.
Mirpuri said: “I am really glad it worked out. We have now received several inquiries from couples. We have a blueprint now for a Covid-secure wedding. There are quite a few venues where similar weddings can be organised, using technology and following socially-distanced norms”.
A spokesperson of Braxted Park added: “We are delighted to say…we were able to overcome these new restrictions in a safe and secure way by hosting our first ever (and we believe first for the UK) drive in wedding ceremony here at Braxted Park”.