The Indian wedding industry is arguably very dynamic and is a constantly evolving one. What it has evolved into, now, is a reflection of changing tastes, social mores, exposure and lifestyle choices of Indian consumers. The modern Indian couple is now increasingly involved in the planning process — and the family has far less influence on the event. Hosts and guests alike are in a race to live well, party hard and dress trendy for the occasion, all this in keeping with prevailing lifestyle trends. This is, thus, reflected in changing fashion choices for brides and grooms, evolving food habits as indicated by caterers, and even more evolved sensibilities with regard to decor and design.
We get a bunch of industry leaders from different fields to express, in a nutshell, how Indian sensibilities are evolving and how the market is transforming. A look at the changing trends of the Big Fat Indian Wedding.
Sandeep Gonsalves, Co-founder SS HOMME
The modern groom
A lot of bridegrooms are choosing a fusion of silhouettes. For instance, they are choosing to blend a bandhgala with a kurta and a sherwani, or blending a suit with a kurta. They are playing around with silhouettes and staying away from traditional sherwanis and bandhagalas. Thus, there is a lot of layering and there is much asymmetry involved.
Geometric accessories are a huge trend right now, like broaches and lapel pins. They work really well because grooms are on the lookout for some additional embellishment and they work pretty well.
Tone-on-tone embroidery is also another important trend. Grooms want to see something more subtle than typical gold on white, or silver on green.
Utility is a big factor as well. A lot of grooms want to be comfortable. That is why open bandhgalas and sherwanis are all the rage. Grooms also want this element of reusability, so they ask their tailors to create garments accordingly. They want something that they can wear and style differently at another functions. If they are investing in a garment, they do not want it to be a one-time thing. They will reuse the garments for the weddings of, say, a brother or a friend.
It is clear that sensibilities are toning down. Men are not looking for jarring garments anymore. They are looking for something more sober. I see this as a massive generational conflict as well. Parents are not always in agreement with the subtle choices of their sons. But grooms in their 20s or 30s are the ones looking for something more understated. As a middle-ground I’ve seen many grooms opting to wear a classic sherwani with minimal embellishment, and maybe even add a broach to the entire look to add a bit of bling.
And lastly, we are seeing a genuine fascination for quintessential black-tie looks. I recently created some clothes for a high-profile wedding, and they accessories their tuxedos with cummerbunds, suspenders and even self-tie bow-ties.
Sonam Modi, Design Head – Sva by Sonam and Paras Modi
Comfort over style
Over the years, what has changed, in my experience, is that modern brides are staying away from very elaborate and heavy garments. The key word these days is comfort, something that was not considered earlier. Apart from having something comfortable, brides today want to be wearing something edgy and unique. Take lehengas, for instance, they want lighter lehengas in which they can dance freely. Brides also want to do away with dupattas, and are opting for capes and jackets, in which they are free to run around and dance. They want an Indian silhouette, but when it comes to embroidery and textiles, they want to tone things down. Organza is all the rage right now — organza dupattas, lehengas, jackets. It is light and fresh. This is a far cry from the heavy dupatta borders and lehenga borders, which which would weigh
Minimalism: There is a rise of the minimalist trend. Brides are also going back to their roots in terms of textiles and embroidery. They still like to keep things traditional but they want to give it a nice modern approach. For textiles, there is a continued preference for handwoven textiles, and Banarasi fabrics. A lot of brides want to use, for instance, their grandmother’s heirloom pieces, but styled in a modern way.
No more red: Another huge trend is that many modern brides want to stay away from reds. Those who do have to wear red because of tradition will probably have an element of red in their outfit but they will not do a head-to-toe red outfit. Popular colours include blush pink and orange. It’s just so trendy. Bright oranges are such a modern replacement for red. If we’re talking about a really progressive bride she might even ditch the orange and ask for ivory, pastels and other such soothing and subtle tones for her wedding. I think that the modern bride does not want to be that typical bride anymore. She wants to do everything and respect traditions, while adding a contemporary feel to it.
Prernaa Makhariaa, Jewellery blogger and influencer
Where ancestors revered gold as a metal, today’s generation “Z” is looking at other innovative alternatives. They are changing trends, and favour jewellery that is versatile. Old to young: With shifting attitudes and mindset, millennial brides are no longer willing to wear heavy, chunky or over-the-top (OTT) jewellery. They prefer elegant, minimalistic jewellery that can be used more than once rather than storing it in lockers. Young brides opt for functional, practical and multi-purpose pieces, and investing in detachable jewellery where pieces of one set can either be added, layered or detached depending on the occasion. Resort wear jewellery is trending too..
Choices differ: The choice of heavy jewellery versus chic jewellery is very individual. If for some it is ‘less is more’ while for others it is ostentatious. For instance, a bride in the north and east of India will preferably opt for polki, kundan or diamond. Yet the choices of the brides in western India will be comparatively more wearable. The southern bride will reach out for heavy gold jewellery. I believe whether it is stylish or whether it is OTT, choosing a jewellery set for a wedding is purely an individual choice.
Popular styles: When it comes to a bride, adornments such as hair accessories: a maagtikka, matha patti, passa/ jhoomar look elegant. Earrings like shoulder dusters, chaandbaalis, bold jhumkas are popular. Along with that, many like to experiment with palm jewellery or a haath phool (hand harness), baajubandh (armlet), kamar bandh (waist belt), bold sized nath (nose ring) and payals (anklet).
Gemstones are the new showstopper: For generations, the most sought after gems were ruby, sapphire and emerald. Today many coloured gemstones like opal, multi-colour tourmalines — especially Paraiba, tanzanite, multi-colour sapphire, baroque pearl, jade have made their way into the market as alternatives to the standard three biggies. Apart from gemstones there has been a rise in jewellery with rose-cut diamonds, fancy shaped diamonds like princess and heart being more popular.
Jewellery for men: One of a kind accessories like cufflinks, brooch, bracelet, lapel pin, tie pin, kurta buttons, kalgi are the preferred choices by a groom apart from a classic engagement or wedding ring worn along with a wrist-watch. Grooms who believe in making a statement like to adorn a pearl necklace, elegant polki or kundan haar, sarpech or kalgi especially designed for their special day that could later be worn by the lady of the house.
Wedding planning trends
Candice Pereira, Creative Head and Co-Founder, Marry Me – The Wedding Planners
At present, there has been a significant rise among modern couples who prefer to curate weddings on their own. Of course, with Indian weddings, a lot of elements still stick to the traditional route, but it is very refreshing to work with couples and brides, who truly let their personalities show when it comes to their weddings.
Personalisation is a key: Young couples love to personalise everything – their wedding crest often features everywhere – on their napkins, on the bride’s delicate embroidery, the grooms socks, at the dance floor settings, lightings, the mini desserts and so on. For couples who don’t want to go crazy with the wedding monogram, there are other interesting ways to customise. For instance, they can theme the food counter as the “bride’s favourite” and the “groom’s favourite”. Moreover, return gifts can also be personalised.
Picking a cause: We witness a lot of couples who are passionate about a cause such as education for children, a non-governmental organisation that works with illness survivors, among others. In lieu of gifts, we have had couples put out information about a cause they are interested in and donate in the name of their guests.
The Tech game: This is another popular factor. From wedding hashtags to a live social media feed, and apps, the modern couple is keeping their guests in loop about the wedding arrangements.
Unique and interactive: Everyone is looking for a wedding that is memorable. So, the best way to do that is to include fun and interactive elements. It makes the entire experience unforgettable. This could include a live perfume bar instead of traditional mehendi giveaways or maybe aerial artists to pour you your next drink or table entertainers like illusionists to entertain at the dinner table.
Doing it their way: From including their pets in their wedding to wearing an unconventional coloured lehenga, modern brides are definitely doing it their way! We’ve seen a lot of couples who are going back to their roots, and getting married at the family beach house or a bungalow as opposed to the usual hotel locations. Recently, we have had brides mix-matched their traditional outfits with glitter sneakers.
Vandana Mohan, Founder, The Wedding Design Company
What is a Millenial Wedding?
Indians love to celebrate. It’s in our DNA! I have been designing and planning weddings for almost three decades and over the years, I have seen everything around us evolve in terms of lifestyle, design, travel, art and entertainment, and so have weddings. Weddings today are all about the experience. An Indian wedding is a visual treat and a feast for the senses. Today, Indian weddings require customisation in every aspect. Young couples can now dream of setting their wedding in any period, time or city of their choosing. From royal to retro, even a favourite childhood story, the possibilities are endless. Similarly, pre-wedding and post-wedding celebrations have become a trend.
The millennial couple of today is thinking outside the box. They want to keep the wedding as realistic and traditional as possible. The setting may differ but the wedding as a traditional form does not change. The pre-wedding and post-wedding functions are the quirky and fun events, and involve the things that you traditionally cannot do at a wedding. For example, a bride who has always liked butterflies or feathers or a particular brand that she favours, or even a colour she has always liked, or a bride who is interested in the arts, a groom who has been inspired by the latest Marvel movie, he or she can create and have fun with all these elements at
their bachelor/bachelorette or a post-wedding bash.
Couples today even host pre-wedding parties together. And they can come up with interesting decor ideas. For example, a couple that is looking at a Mykonos or an Ibiza setting can recreate that vibe and atmosphere with the right decor. All you need is some LED lights, a big bar and some great music you can dance to. Another couple could want a carnival feel. So you’re looking at jugglers, vending machines, candy floss stations and more — it is very interactive and experiential.
The spend on these pre-wedding and post-wedding functions is probably as much as the spend on a wedding or even more, sometimes. The pre and post-wedding functions are not big on décor. Yes, décor is important but it’s more about creating the experience and enjoying the moment and making the most of that. The experience, the emotional quotient and the expense are what drive the planning and designing of the ‘Millennial Wedding’ today.
Manisha Bhasin, Senior Executive Chef – ITC Maurya, New Delhi
Catering for Indian weddings
In the changing wedding market, the demand for food has changed most significantly. Twenty years ago, wedding food was more focussed on large buffets and very elaborate set-ups. Today, the trend is moving towards a fresher style of cooking, where the process is more visible. Indian customers are also evolving when it comes to deciding wedding menus. They are not necessarily sticking to the usual suspects like butter chicken, chicken tikka masala or rogan josh. They are exploring different regional cuisines like Manglorean food or even Himachali food. Regional cuisines with different stories to tell. People are looking for “experiential” food where guests go back with memories and a story to tell. Needless to say, at weddings, people look for more traditional food and there are lots of events back-to-back, so some diversity is needed. But we as chefs and caterers are trying to add this diversity — for example, for lunch, we could do some seafood and a bit of south Indian, which will not just have the regular dishes but preparations from, say, Coorg, Mangalore, or the Konkan belt. Basically, a lot more flavours are being added to today’s wedding menus.
Another important trend is that people are moving towards fresh food, which is made in front of them. In times gone by, stir fries were only associated with Asian cuisine but now we have different Indian stir fries and guests are open to trying so many things. Most well-catered wedding events today have live kitchens, where dishes are prepared in front of guests, where they can actually see the ingredients.
Most importantly, people do not want food that has travelled thousands of miles to reach their country. They all want us to use produce that is locally available in India. The days of the buffet chaffing dishes are well behind us.