Band, Baja, Baraat and Big Money

Israni is the director of Israni Photography & Films, a decade old Mumbai based company in the wedding photography market. His client has pulled out all the stops, inviting 500 people, most of whom will be housed in the ultra-luxe former residence of Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II.

Israni’s studio, which employs around 70 people, is now recovering to pre-Covid levels in terms of volume, if not value. If in 2019, it catered 85-90 weddings, this season it has billed 65 weddings per day. 2-2.25 lakhs. “The last two years were difficult. We did the same number of weddings, but at a much lower cost because customers were not ready to pay. This year, weddings are coming back in a big way,” she says.

An estimated 10-12 million marriages take place in India annually. A survey by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) reveals that over 3 million marriages are scheduled between November and mid-December, and this is expected to generate business worth approx. 3.75 trillion. Marriages held in the same period last year were booming 3 trillion, up sharply 1 trillion affected by the pandemic in 2020. In 2019 this figure was 2.5 trillion. “The estimate includes not only the actual expenditure by families on weddings, but also the multiplier effect in the economy due to the number of vendors involved,” says Praveen Khandelwal, secretary general of CAIT.

But weddings also come with a hefty bill. Hotel rents are high, vendors are expensive and related expenses like food, jewelry and travel have become expensive. Yet spending has been curtailed, which once again shows that weddings in India, barring the crisis of the Covid-era, remain recession-proof. Due to the paucity of wedding venues this season, event managers and hoteliers are also planning for expansion. But will this consumption boom reflect in a significant boost to the GDP figures? Economists say that it will definitely happen, but its quantity cannot be estimated.

back with a bang

Have money, will have fun’, this is the mantra of this wedding season. For instance, Israni has a busy calendar ahead with wedding shoots in Indore, Pune, Bengaluru, Mahabalipuram, Goa as well as Thailand and Turkey over the next few months.

WeddingWire.in, a company operating in the wed-tech space, is also seeing a good trend. It expects the industry to grow by 20% by the end of FY20 based on current bookings. This is slightly lower than 2021, which saw a spike in demand from the 2020 pandemic year due to delays and delays.

“We found that 21% of couples are willing to spend 5-10 lakhs on their wedding, keeping their budget low by around 20% 5 lakh, and 18.5% are spending 15-30 lakhs. These don’t include engagement rings and honeymoons,” says Anam Zubair, head of marketing at WeddingWire India, a part of The Knot Worldwide.

Indians take their weddings seriously and Vikas Gutgutia knows it very well. Gutgutia Gifting Company Ferns N Petals Pvt. Founder and Managing Director of. Ltd., and also FNP Weddings & Events India which leases and operates 11 wedding venues in and around Delhi-NCR. It is in the process of finalizing six new sites around the capital. By the end of next March, the company expects to host around 650 weddings, which will range in price from 2-10 crores, 50 lakhs- 2 crore and below 50 lakhs. This year, the business is likely to be split equally between the very expensive category and the other two being merged together.

“We are optimistic about a rebound. The wedding business is recession-proof. Considering our population as well as the emotional attachment of parents associated with weddings, I expect it to grow further. We have There are going to be 5-6 locations in the next year or so. But, on an average, things are 25-30% more expensive this year than they were during Covid,” says Gutgutia.

The staggering cost was an eye-opener for this 28-year-old Delhi-based professional, who has chosen a destination wedding in Kolkata in December. The venue is a 4-star resort on the outskirts and there will be approximately 350 guests in attendance. Till now the family members of the bride and groom together have spent around Rs. 1 crore. “We have lost track of the expenses now. People—and not just our families—lose all logic when it comes to weddings. With this money, we could have easily made the down payment for a flat in Delhi. Or bought a little holiday home somewhere in the hills. But we have to live up to our family’s expectations,” she says.

Mukta Kapoor, director of Delhi-based Yuna Weddings, says her company is likely to perform 200 wedding ceremonies, including pre-wedding and post-wedding functions, this financial year—a jump of 15% compared to 2019. Similar to airline business. When demand is high, prices also fluctuate. Skilled labor has become at least 30-40% more expensive on auspicious dates. We have to pass this cost on to the customer,” she says.

Many of their vendors, especially hotels, have begun to incorporate a minimum guarantee or minimum billing concept instead of a per guest fee. Already, most of the indoor venues in Delhi-NCR, the focus of wedding businesses, are already booked. Many farmhouses have also increased their rents by more than 20 per cent.

Similarly in Mumbai, Niomi Zatakia, founder of wedding planner Partystarters, says the overall wedding expenditure is 20-30% higher as compared to 2019. “All sub-industries were affected in a big way during the pandemic. There is also a shortage of skilled labor and employees. Every stakeholder wants to get a bigger piece of the wedding pie. For example, if the cost of wedding decorations is around 12-15 lakh pre-covid, has touched now 2 million. Everyone from dhol walas (wedding bands) to safa walas (turban makers) have increased their prices. But the cost increase is most pronounced in hotels where room rates have gone through the roof. And that can drain the budget of a destination wedding very quickly,” she says.

Israni says that photographers make up only 2-3 per cent of the wedding bill. Hotel expenses take up a huge chunk. Rates almost double in popular 5-star locations like Jaipur and Goa, where auspicious dates are booked well in advance. “Decorators and hotels were the most affected during the pandemic. They doubled the cost of their existing inventory,” she says.

But customers are also getting savvy, looking to social media platforms for the best service at competitive prices. They check rates directly with vendors on Instagram, YouTube etc. “It was not like this before Covid. Customers are far more aware, and know exactly what they want,” says Geeta Raj Rawatani, founder of My Events in Mumbai, a business born in the pandemic.

Demand brought down inflation?

While inflation has affected many sectors, including the demand for jewelry, planners are not as fazed. “We incurred huge losses during the pandemic as weddings got postponed or took place on a very small scale. The prices of raw materials are also skyrocketing. But with weddings coming in full form, not only have we recovered our losses, but we are also planning to expand,” says a Kanpur-based wedding planner, whose team of 10-12 people works during the peak season. Handling 6-7 weddings per day during.

Jewelry demand may not be as strong, but is expected to be up 35% from pre-pandemic levels. In the current financial year, it is expected to grow 12% year-on-year due to healthy consumption in April-June and buoyant demand in the ongoing wedding and festive season, according to the latest report by rating agency ICRA.

In the last few months, several hospitality consultants as well as companies have shown their commitment towards Indian weddings and expect a growth in their business due to increased revenue from these events.

For Aayushi Raj, 29, who got married in early December, inflation was a problem, but finding a wedding venue was a major headache. “When I tried to book a banquet 7-8 months in advance, most of the places were already booked,” she says. “But I was more than happy to pay extra, mostly in cash, because you don’t get married every day.”

This is the reason why French giant Accor’s Hotel Fairmont Jaipur is considering organizing double the number of weddings. The company is expected to host 105 weddings this fiscal, which is more than double the number in 2019. Company expects average turnover 1.5 -3.5 crores per wedding, depending on how many dates are sought. Its 250-room hotel only includes two nights’ stay and meals for more than 500 guests. Other expenses for wedding decorations and entertainment are extra.

“Today, the income from weddings has increased from 60% to 85% in a span of three years. “We know for a fact that matrimony is resilient to recession in India,” says Rajeev Kapoor, the hotel’s general manager.

In view of the increase in the number of queries, publicly listed Lemon Tree Hotels specially designed and redesigned some hotels under its Aurika Hotels & Resorts and Lemon Tree Premier brands, which have large banquet spaces , Including half a dozen hotels. 20,000 sq. ft. of banquet space.

“There are over 150 weddings confirmed across our group properties by March 2023, with more queries under discussion. Vikramjeet Singh, president of the company, says, “Just from the confirmed business, weddings will contribute 3-5% to the total revenue, as 35 of our approximately 90 properties now have large banqueting spaces.” going up 1.5 crore in upscale resorts in metros and tier-1 cities.

Where is the data?

At a time when there are concerns about a slowdown in the economy due to global headwinds and high inflation, the busy wedding season offers hope. Economists said in what can be called the first normal year after the Covid-19 pandemic, people have loosened their purse strings, ready to boost private consumption – the biggest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP). Is.

Historical data shows that private final consumption expenditure increased in the quarter ended December due to back-to-back festivals and the wedding season. In October-December last year, buoyed by pent-up demand and revival in spending, the share of private final consumption expenditure in total GDP rose to 61%, the highest under the current series.

While CAIT estimates 3.75 trillion turnover this year translates to about 20-25% growth in the sector over the last two years excluding the year affected by the pandemic, with many economists skeptical about the projections in the absence of hard data. Speaking to Mint on the condition of anonymity, one of them said, “We cannot say whether their estimates are correct or incorrect as high-frequency data on the informal sector is not available.”

“It is true that economic activities are not captured in the unorganized sector, but unless there is a significant change in such activities, it is unlikely to make a big difference in GDP growth,” he said.

A lot of the wedding business remains unorganized and cash is still king. Most of the half-a-dozen wedding planners Mint spoke to confirmed that cash is still the norm in the wedding market. While most of the companies are GST-compliant and many of their customers also prefer bills, vendors prefer cash and give as little bills in white as possible.

“Many of our vendors, especially food and beverage vendors, band-wallahs and other small vendors, prefer to take cash as they can avoid taxes,” says a Mumbai-based planner.

An earlier KPMG report estimated the size of India’s wedding industry at $50 billion ( 3.4 trillion), which is about 1.5-2% of the GDP for the entire year. But economists say the industry’s contribution to the economy is difficult to measure because of its informal and cash-based structure. Moreover, the wedding industry is reverting to the pre-pandemic growth trend of around 20-25% as per available estimates, especially when nominal GDP is also growing at a faster pace due to inflation, year-on-year. Significant changes would not have been made. Annual GDP growth rate.

Yet, for players in the sector, the return of big fat weddings marks the return of the big bucks season.

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