The Pre/Post COVID Wedding market in India

With this piece, we take a look at the Wedding market in India. We take a look at the current wedding market, different types of business models, how the industry evolved during COVID, and finally, the future.

With this, let’s dive right into the piece.

We have always associated weddings with extravagant decorations, unlimited dancing, a variety of cuisines, unique rituals, all-night gossips, and whatnot.

When we decided to work on this case, we both (the authors) agreed that neither of us ever thought of marriage as a private affair, at least in India. Weddings, apart from a ceremony of binding two people, two souls for life are rather a community affair in India. If we take a look at the players involved in a typical Indian wedding, the horizon ranges from caterers to pundits to the Band Baja Baraat, and many more. So, what we’re trying to say here is that apart from the mindboggling numbers (at least 3-digit) of your relatives, a lot of small businesses are involved too.

And this naturally means that the revenue that these small business generate is directly proportional to the number of marriages that happen, what is further more interesting is that this industry is probably never going to go extinct. People will always marry, unless there is a significant and unlikely cultural shift that takes place.

With that said, let’s take a look at the numbers first.

The Wedding market in India

The Indian wedding industry is estimated to be worth over Rs 3,00,000 crores (a KPMG report from 2017 puts it at $40 – 50 billion) and is rising exponentially at a rate of 25 to 30 percent on a yearly basis. According to a 2012 report in CBS News, India celebrates about 10 million weddings a year and one can be sure that that number has gone up exponentially in the past seven years.

According to The Big Fat Indian Wedding Market Survey 2018, carried out by the match-making portal Matrimony.com, 20.6 percent of the women surveyed stated that they would be okay with spending Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. These statistics reveal that the wedding market in India is a major contributor to the country’s economy. Currently, however, due to the COVID pandemic, the industry has been severely hit but is expected to resurge manifold during the winters and the first quarter of 2021 which typically is the wedding season in India.

Business models and type of weddings

We deconstructed the wedding business in 2 sectors:

  1. Matchmaking Services
  2. Wedding Planning Services

Let’s take a look at the Matchmaking services first. There are no definite numbers available but more than 90% of Indian marriages are arranged. So a big chunk of prospective brides and grooms and their families rely on the matchmaking services. The concept of “Arranged Love marriage” is now common among the millennials. Matchmaking services are now catering to the needs of people trying to find the love of their life.

Earlier, giants like Bharatmatrimony, Shaadi.com, Jeevansathi were market leaders in this segment. Now, however, several start-ups like Marrily app by an IIT alumnus that caters to their clients for efficient end to end matchmaking services have entered the space. For effective branding, these companies leave no stone unturned. Notable author, Chetan Bhagat was roped in as a Brand Ambassador for Shaadi.com and the company keeps its social media game up to date.

Although matchmaking services are still offered by professionals such as Sima Aunty (courtesy: Indian Matchmaking Netflix), these companies have emerged as more reliable brands for better matches.

What’s more, a few of the matchmaking services have entered the business to cater to the niche segments, like Wanted Umbrella app for differently able, SecondShaadi for divorced and widowed. 

Let’s now take a look at the second sector in this market, the Wedding planner segment. This sector constitutes a major part of the business. To analyze it we further divided the weddings into two categories:

  1. Destination weddings
  2. Temple weddings

Destination weddings are weddings that make big money. Udaipur, Goa, Kerala, are the most popular places for destination weddings. The cost of such a wedding ranges anything from INR 25 lakh to more than a crore depending upon an individual’s capacity to spend. Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra are some of the brands that have been associated with the destination wedding bridal wear. Wedding planner charges lakhs for a day’s service and that includes pre-wedding shoots, videography, sangeet ceremony, and n number of other ceremonies. The affair lasts for a minimum of 2 days.

Earlier, the concept of the wedding planner was relatively unknown. People used to manage catering and all other things on their own. But now all these services have come under one umbrella. Companies like Weddingz, cater to the clients by taking full responsibility for everything under the sun. Also, weddings like Shaadi on a parachute, underwater Roka ceremony, and another unconventional way of tying the knot are becoming a rage these days. Needless to say, the players involved in this business have also started offering such unique services to the would-be couple.

Temple weddings are a common thing in South India and it is also preferred by the couples who intend to have a low-key wedding, by adopting the immediacy of the religious ceremony. India is filled with temples, so the couples do not have to break their heads in deciding a divine destination of their choice. Some notable temple weddings location is, Hampi in Karnataka, Meenakshi Temple in Tamil Nadu, Tirupati Balaji in Andhra Pradesh and, Lingaraj Temple in Odisha.

There is one more category of weddings but that doesn’t fall under the aforementioned categories. This comprises of weddings that happen in community halls, hotels, marriage banquets. This type of wedding employs largely the informal job sector ranging from catering to the orchestra at a very local level. And these are the biggest one between the three we mentioned.

Destination Weddings (Image source: WeddingWire India)
Temple Weddings (Image Source: YouTube)
Community hall/Hotel/banquet Weddings (Image source: Weddingz.in)
The spending and startups in the industry

The accurate cost of hosting a wedding cannot be estimated as the rates tend to fluctuate. There are many tools available like wedding cost calculators, personal wedding planners which help the couple or the families to have a rough estimate of the cost. The first step for the couple is to decide the budget and then take things forward. The wedding venue and the food take up the major chunk of the budget. Also, pre-wedding photo-shoots have become a new trend in India. The outfits, jewellery, wedding trousseau budget, and other miscellaneous expenses like Mehandi and make-up artists must also be taken into the account. 

Many families in India are part of the middle-class socio-economic strata of the society, even though everybody is willing to spend on such a blissful occasion, achieving true value makes the costs worthwhile. The average cost of middle-class weddings in India has already surpassed INR 10 lakhs. To cover the costs of weddings, marriage loans are available. The advantage of applying for loans is that you can make the expenses without upsetting your fixed savings. A marriage loan comes in very handy to cover the cost of marriage without stressing about the present financial situation. Leading Peer to Peer Lending companies such as Monexo in Chennai offers wedding loans to the family to fulfill their wish of having an extravagant party.

Related: Take a look at how startups are valued

In wedding planning services, some start-ups have started providing all the services directly under one roof. Start-ups like WeddingsOnly, ShaadiSaga, have become market place aggregators where services ranging from providing priests to providing transports to even giving access to wedding planners are just at a click. This shows a huge shift in the wedding industry which was highly unorganized to a more formal organized industry. The change is definitely to be more accelerated in the coming years with the platform economy taking the lead.

COVID and Wedding market in India

Indian weddings are a grand affair and in COVID times it became impossible for the couple to host a large gathering. Many postponed their weddings, while some conducted with the limited guest capacity according to the government mandate. But here also, the wedding market adapted itself. Virtual weddings are in and now a rage amongst the people. After all, the big fat Indian weddings are a profitable business. At around INR 4 lakh crore in 2017, it is bigger than the telecom industry, which was around INR 2 lakh crore in 2017.

The concept of SuperCloud wedding is also picking up. Here, the wedding is broadcasted on Facebook Live or Zoom. Guests dress up in their party clothes and participate through video calls. When it comes to dinner, delivery services can deliver the exact wedding menu to each of the guests.

Augmented and virtual reality can transform the wedding experience and make an online wedding truly immersive. People will attend weddings through 3D virtual reality goggles. The couple and their families could be sitting at home while immersed in a dream location. A couple in Delhi can have their wedding on a beach in Greece. Guests would be sharing that same immersive reality during the wedding. Key players in the wedding business like Shaadi.com were quick to adapt to this and came up with virtual matchmaking and dates.

Related: Take a look at how AR improving customer experience in times of COVID

COVID-19 has definitely affected the big fat Indian wedding industry but that did not stop the Indians from getting married. The sheen is still there and it will revive back soon with a big bang. After all, Shaadi is considered an important milestone in our life by us.

Authors

The piece was co-authored by Abhinav Srivastav and Anuranita Basu, students at XUB. Go ahead and share the piece on WhatsApp, do it for good karma!

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