Couples looking for destination weddings, more in India than abroad: Industry experts

PTI, Nov 30, 2023, 11:59 AM IST

The idea of tying the knot with one’s soulmate in a distant dreamy land with exotic foods and clothes decidedly has a certain charm. The place could be far from home, across the seven seas, or simply a few hours’ journey to another city or state in India. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his latest ”Mann Ki Baat” radio broadcast, encouraged couples to opt for destination weddings within India, industry experts said the trend of getting married away from home is becoming increasingly popular, both internationally and within India.

However, there are more such couples who look for romantic and historic landscapes within the country than abroad, they said. Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO of wedding planner, said around 10 per cent ”high net worth individuals” opt for destination weddings and an even smaller percentage goes abroad for the occasion.

”Many more weddings are happening in Rajasthan, Goa, Mahabalipuram, Kerala and a few other destination wedding hotspots in and around Mumbai and Delhi. So, 10 per cent of high net worth individuals are having destination weddings and out of those only 10-15 per cent are having it at international locations,” Thyagarajan told PTI.

In recent years, celebrity couples such as Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh chose to fly to Italy for their special day while others such as Kiara Advani-Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif-Vicky Kaushal tied the knot in India, but away from home. Kiara Advani-Sidharth Malhotra got married at Fort Barwara in Sawai Madhopur while Katrina Kaif-Vicky Kaushal chose Suryagarh Palace in Jaisalmer as the destination for their wedding. Another destination wedding that caught the fancy of young couples was that of actor Priyanka Chopra and US singer Nick Jonas at Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur.

Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) General Secretary Praveen Khandelwal said it is estimated that every year about 5,000 destination weddings take place in foreign countries, in which ”an expenditure of about Rs 50,000 crore can be estimated”.

The estimated amount that goes out is far lower than what the trade body has expected for the current domestic wedding season. According to the latest report by CAIT, the wedding industry this season is expected to earn Rs 4.7 lakh crore through 38 lakh marriages — the highest-ever recorded in India. The number of weddings last year stood at 32 lakh with a trade of Rs 3.75 lakh crore. ”If destination weddings are held in the country in accordance with the spirit that India’s money should be spent within the country, then not only will Indian values flourish but the country’s business and economy will also get a boost and a large amount of permanent and temporary employment will also be available,” Khandelwal said. He added that some of the top overseas wedding destinations are Dubai, Muscat, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malta, and Malaysia.

”There are also some prominent places in different states of the country where destination weddings take place on a large scale such as Goa; Lonavala, Mahabaleshwar, Mumbai, Shirdi, Nashik, Nagpur in Maharashtra; Dwarka, Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda in Gujarat; and Orchha, Gwalior, Ujjain, Bhopal, Indore in Madhya Pradesh,” Khandelwal said.

Cities such as Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer and Pushkar in Rajasthan; and Mathura, Vrindavan, Agra and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh are also some of the hot destinations.

With the trend to marry away from home, there is also an increase in the amount people are willing to spend on weddings.

On an average, the expenditure on weddings has increased over the years, according to WeddingWire Director and Head of Marketing Anam Zubair. The online wedding vendor directory in its report for 2021 and 2022 recorded an increase of 14.6 per cent where the spends grew from an average of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh. ”With this year drawing to a close, we estimate that this cost will stay close to the average cost of Rs 18 lakh. With inflation and the current economic status, this spike is negligible and has been the same post the pandemic,” Zubair told PTI. She added that the top three destinations in India last year were Udaipur, Goa and Jaipur. For this year, the top three destinations will be Dehradun, Goa and Jaipur.

While people generally spend upwards of Rs 20 lakh to a few crores on domestic destination weddings, the amount goes up to crores when the ceremonies are conducted abroad.

”Costs for destination weddings can vary widely based on multiple factors like location, guest count, venue choice, services required, and duration of the celebration. In India, a destination wedding can range from anywhere between Rs 20 lakh to several crores, depending on whether it’s a luxurious affair at a premium location or a more budget-conscious celebration,” Zubair said.

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