India: The colossal rise of the wedding industry of the ultra-rich
The wedding business in India is the industry of all superlatives. While the average celebration lasts only one to two days in most cultures, Indian weddings can last from three to seven days or more. Many industries are therefore involved: hotels, catering, decoration and entertainment are key sectors. In the last two months of 2022 alone, it is estimated that 46 billion dollars (3.75 lakh crore INR) were spent on weddings. And according to a specialised institute, this figure is expected to reach 159 billion dollars (13 lakh crore INR) in the first six months of 2023. "Indian weddings are an explosion of colour, glitter, sparkle and, of course, love! They are much more elaborate than any other culture's wedding celebrations," says Joseph Radhik, a wedding photographer who has captured some of the most sought-after wedding ceremonies, such as that of actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, former Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and even the Ambani family.
Planning the ultimate soiree
"In ultra high-net-worth family weddings, expectations are sky high, as not just the family but all the guests are amongst the world’s most distinguished and discerning individuals" KAINAZ SETHNA, WEDDING PLANNER
To make the grand affair one for the books, India’s affluent families do not plan the weddings themselves, they dream about it and leave it to a team of experts to turn it into reality. “In ultra high-net-worth family weddings, expectations are sky high, as not just the family but all the guests are amongst the world’s most distinguished and discerning individuals”, reveals Kainaz Sethna, one of the carefully selected wedding planners that organised the multi-day wedding celebrations of the Ambani scions. “With world travellers who have seen everything, there is always a scope to push the envelope”, adds Tina Tharwani of wedding planning company Shaadi Squad, who counts Priyanka Chopra Jonas and many other bollywood millionaires as clients.
"The key here is to give a unique experience to everyone attending the wedding. The price there is secondary to what it comes for" DEVIKA NARAIN, WEDDING PLANNER
The wedding planning commences with the selection of a suitable destination either in the home country or overseas. “Indian weddings have gone to far corners of the earth, from Mexico to snow capped mountains, castles and many places in Europe. The key here is to give a unique experience to everyone attending the wedding. The price there is secondary to what it comes for”, reveals Devika Narain, who designed a distinctive pastel wedding for Virat Kohli and bollywood actress Anushka Sharma in Tuscany. “Expenses for destination weddings of the ultra high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals can begin anywhere between 600000 to 3 million dollars”, adds Tina. For the top-end budgets, imagination is the only limit.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas chose the Umaid Bhawan Palace (Around 1000 dollars per room per night in peak season) in Jodhpur, to marry Nick Jonas in a multi-day wedding affair. The entire Palace with about 70 rooms was booked for several days along with its inhouse facilities.
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