Chunky Indian weddings are back, but with slimmer guest lists


  • According to data from the Confederation of All Indian Merchants (CAIT), more than 3 million marriages will take place wedding season in India which will generate a revenue of more than ₹ 3.75 lakh crore.
  • Hotels in North India are already sold out for this and next year.
  • Most weddings still have shorter guest lists, despite high budgets.
  • Young couples opt for off-season weddings.

The onset of winter always means a boom for the wedding market in India, but this season is different. Following the Zoom weddings during the pandemic, this season is expected to see 3.2 million weddings held in December and January, according to CAIT. Like the festival season, budgets are also not being cut, but something has changed after the pandemic.

Call it the side effect of inflation or just a shift in mindset, but weddings in India are now more intimate affairs, with thinner guest lists.

“The pandemic has made the trend of medium-sized weddings with a limited number of guests a great success. Couples are now eager to host small events and go big with intricate details,” said Anam Zubair, Head of Marketing, Wedding wire India told India.

Size does matter

Weddings are once-in-a-lifetime events, and Indians are known for throwing ‘fat indian weddings‘. According to a
KPMG reportan Indian is likely to spend a fifth of his or her lifetime earnings on a wedding, and these can cost anywhere from ₹5 lakh to ₹5 crore.

For the past two years, the few weddings held during the pandemic have had to stick to a small guest list, due to government restrictions on gatherings. While the restrictions have been lifted, experts believe the idea of ​​an intimate wedding has struck a chord with people, and is here to stay.

“The fat Indian wedding has evolved and while people spend more or less the same amount, the size of the guest list has decreased significantly. From 400-500 guests on average pre-Covid, it’s now down to 200-250. But expenses have not diminished as couples focus on improving the guest experience,” Zubair continues.

However, there are exceptions, as in the case of some of the business families, who continue their predilection for celebrating marital unions. “In India, the concept of slim and flabby weddings will coexist with fat weddings. While business families are back to big weddings with long guest lists, young couples still prefer intimate weddings,” said Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO of WeddingSutraa marriage portal, told India.

Small but big

While most couples think “small,” this has had no effect on the size of the wedding season, which is expected to host about 3 million weddings.

According to a report by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), this year’s wedding season is expected to generate revenue of around ₹3.75 lakh crore – a 25% increase from last year. However, this includes wedding purchases, services and related factors such as home repairs that are carried out as part of the wedding preparations.

And about 11% of the 3 million weddings are expected to be held in India’s national capital. In fact, most of the hotels in North India are already sold out for this and the upcoming wedding season next year.

“We get a good response regarding the number of searches generated at our properties. Quite a few bookings have been confirmed through February 2023,” Vishal Lonkar, general manager, business development, Renest Hotels and Resorts told India.

Couples are now more focused on perfect decor, kitchens and other smaller details, experts say. “From a huge number of guests, the trend has shifted to grand weddings with grand layout, decor, smaller number of guests, intimate gatherings, bespoke experiences, personalized services, exemplary selection of food, beverages, the emphasis is on ‘in the moment’, ‘luxury’, ‘larger than life’,” Kush Kapoor, CEO, Roseate hotels and resorts told India.

Thanks to the wider selections demanded by couples, the cost per plate of weddings has also increased this season.

“Costs have marginally increased by about 15%, but this has more to do with guests preferring luxury, tailored experiences, opting for more unique, global, gourmet cuisines, expanded menus, wider selections,” emphasized Kapoor from Roseate Hotels onward.

Off-season weddings are in trend right now

Couples now focused on better marriage experiences are also willing to forego the
muhurats or the traditional wedding seasons. This trend was also evident in the number of off-season weddings that took place this year ahead of the busy November season. Zubair also says they’ve seen an 18% year-over-year increase in couples’ signups for off-season wedding bookings.

“It helps them significantly reduce their wedding costs. During the wedding season/muhurat dates, both venues and vendors such as photographers, caterers, etc. charge higher fees for the same products/services. In the $50 million+ Indian wedding industry, this trend continues to resonate with consumers and drive new revenue opportunities for professionals,” said Zubair.

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