Huge weddings – a thing of the past?  

Wedding industry is still struggling to find business despite COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed 

Wedding industry is still struggling to find business despite COVID-19 restrictions being relaxed 

Although the cap on the number of people allowed at weddings and other functions was relaxed several months ago, industry insiders say that it will take them at least a few years to get back to the pre-pandemic levels.

According to wedding hall owners, the number of bookings has reduced by at least 40% in recent months. With the COVID-19 cases and positivity rate on the rise in the city, the situation is only expected to turn more grim.

“The wedding scenario has changed a lot in the city in the post-pandemic era. People are now looking for smaller budget weddings and usually book convention halls, with a maximum guest list of 50-100 members. Before pandemic, people spent huge amounts of money on weddings, but now that is not the case. Before COVID-19, we usually received 5-6 bookings during the season, which has now drastically fallen to only 2- 3 in a month,” said Rathna H.P, owner of Shri Venkatadri convention hall, located in Kanakapura and an executive committee member of Karnataka Marriage Hall Welfare Association. 

Many wedding halls and convention centres have also slashed their rent hoping to get more bookings, but it has not worked in their favour.

“After the COVID-19 situation relaxed, the weddings have started happening again, but people are reluctant to have large gatherings. We have reduced the rent of the convention halls by 10-20%, to attract more clients,” explained Ramesh N. Reddy, president of Karnataka Marriage Hall Welfare Association. 

The hit is not limited to traditional weddings choultries, but also to open-air wedding venues, which has become a trend in the last decade. The owners of such venues say that with not many people preferring to travel to other destinations for weddings, customers think twice before spending on “aesthetically appealing” venues.  

Lakshmi Kanth, spokesperson from Temple Tree Farm, one of the venues for open weddings in Sahakar Nagar, said, “Most of our clients were usually Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) who came for outstation weddings. But ever since the pandemic, the number of these clients has fallen drastically. All the bookings that were made during the two years of the pandemic were cancelled with all the amount refunded to the clients. Most of the weddings organised now are very low budget and not grand, and the guest list has fallen from almost 1,000 to 300 people”. 

Youngsters who are getting married think that money spent on lavish weddings can be used for other purposes, especially travel. However, while restricting the guest list, they do not want to compromise on décor and food which has led to an improvement in related businesses.

“I do not mind if we have only 50 guests at my wedding. But I have already selected the kind of flowers I want for decorations, the menu for different occasions, and the return gifts for the guests. I am not going to compromise on these as it will only amount to ₹3 to 4 lakh instead of spending the same money just on a venue,” said Nisha S.K., who is getting married in January 2023. 

Floral boutiques and design studios agree that the demand for their services has increased in recent months but add that it will take them a long time to recover losses they have incurred in the last two years.

“The business has no doubt improved, but the people coming to weddings have reduced. Wedding organisers now spend more of the wedding budget on gold, clothes and décor. An average flower décor budget has increased from ₹1 lakh to almost ₹1.5 lakh,” said Syed Atif, partner at Melting Flowers, a design studio for floral arrangements.  

“Families which are organising weddings have done a lot of research during the lockdown period and have gotten to know about sweets and dishes from other cuisines as well as the native cuisine. They do not mind spending a few extra rupees to get an exquisite or rare dish,” said Narendra, a wedding caterer in north Bengaluru.