The Indian wedding industry is massive. It is one of the most important business segments not only for wedding planners, decor managers, fashion designers, stylists, caterers but also for the leading hospitality chains.
Experts from several hospitality chains explain that this industry contributes significantly towards hotel catering and banqueting revenues.
“Currently, weddings are a USD 45 billion industry and is growing at 40 per cent CAGR”, says Arif Patel, Vice President – Sales, Marketing, Distribution & Loyalty, AccorHotels India. “This can be attributed to the demographics of the country, where India is the youngest nation in the world with 70 per cent individuals below the age of 35, and it is estimated that the average age in the country will be 25 years by 2025. Hence, weddings will always be an important aspect for Indians and the industry will continue to flourish.”
He also adds that the wedding industry has shown tremendous growth in the hospitality market of 25-30 per cent year on year basis. Contribution of the wedding sector to MICE has enabled the hospitality industry to focus more towards this segment.
Experts say that weddings remain a stable business irrespective of economic downturns and an average Indian spends one-fifth of the wealth accumulated in a lifetime on weddings. Earlier, wedding planning was a small industry. However, due to multiple factors this segment has shaped up to be a profitable one. Rise of the middle class and economic liberalisation has shifted the overall attitude thus increasing the spends on weddings and boosting the industry. Also, a growing number of millennials no longer adhere to auspicious dates, hence it is proving to be a profitable sector all year around.
For this issue, we speak to the experts from various leading hospitality brands who shed light on this thriving market in India in addition to discussing their bespoke wedding services.
AccorHotels has more than a decade’s presence in India with a growing network of 49 hotels across nine of its internationally acclaimed brands in 22 cities. One of their prominent properties, Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre has a social cell, which is well-versed with all wedding rituals. According to Arif Patel Vice President – Sales, Marketing, Distribution & Loyalty, AccorHotels India, “Weddings are no more a single-day event. There are welcome parties, mehendi and sangeet ceremonies, dhol nights, sundowners, departure brunches and so on. Guests also plan sightseeing trips, wine tasting sessions, ghazal nights and the list
can go on.”
He adds, “We have had unique requests such as luxury motorbikes to be a part of the baraat, to brides wanting to enter in a customised carriage to fulfil their dreams of a fairytale wedding. And for adventurous couples, we have arranged for zip lines to come down from 40ft.”
Patel says, “Because of all these activities and events, the wedding industry has shown tremendous growth in the hospitality market of 25 to 30 per cent on year to year basis. The contribution of the wedding sector to MICE has enabled the hospitality industry to focus more towards this segment.”
Novotel Hyderabad Convention Centre
The property has more than 1,00,000 sq. ft. of event space, and offers a resort-like ambience. Landscaped lawns and manicured gardens are the preferred venues for pre-wedding ceremonies like sangeet, mehendi and engagement functions.
Approximately, 60 per cent of the entire banquet revenue at the hotel is derived from the various weddings held throughout the year.
The Fairmont Lawn, an awe-inspiring 25,000 sq. ft space is used for grand celebrations, be it imperial weddings wherein the entire palace fort becomes resplendent and reflects the grandeur of the lawn.
The Imperial New Delhi
The Imperial New Delhi is known for hosting HNI (high net worth individual) weddings.
From pre-wedding functions to grand weddings and post wedding parties, the heritage hotel offers utmost exclusivity. Vijay Wanchoo, Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager, The Imperial New Delhi says, “We conduct a thorough inspection of a designated venue appropriate to the wedding vision and anticipated guest attendance, as well as checking date availability. Right from silver service, pre-plated or buffet meals, regional cuisines, dessert stations, speciality martini and beverage service, international selection of wines, champagne toast to non-alcoholic beverages offerings along with wedding designer cakes, The Imperial addresses all facets of a grand wedding.”
The venues at The Imperial include The Royal Ballroom and The Imperial Lawns that is spread over a sprawling area of 2972 sqm. Known for being a prime destination for high-end weddings, the hotel’s key focus lies in planning the wedding décor. They offer unique themes featuring bright hangings, drapes, and regal backdrops.
InterContinental Hotels Group
Wedding is an important business segment for the IHG brand. The group launched the ‘Weddings by IHG’ campaign last year, where they engaged with top wedding planners in India to get their inputs on ensembles, decor and venues within the property.
This hospitality chain is also a one-stop shop for all wedding needs. For instance, the Crowne Plaza Greater Noida features an in-house wedding studio that lets you experience your wedding set up, enabling you to feel the ambience and decor before making the final choice. Vivek Bhalla, Regional Vice President, South West Asia, IHG, says, “A growing percentage of Indians are opting for destination weddings at non-metro locations such as Jaipur and Kochi, and resorts on the outskirts of a city like InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort, that make for popular wedding destinations.”
He also adds, “The Indian wedding industry is growing at 25 to 30 per cent annually and with each passing decade, Indian weddings have become more elaborate and a lot more customisation options are expected by the couples.”
The brand also offers special wedding packages that not only make a dream wedding more affordable but also include a dream honeymoon to the couple at any of their 5400 hotels globally.
InterContinental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort
Nestled by the Bay of Bengal, this luxurious property offers guests an exclusive beach access. Ceremonies could be held in the resort’s lush beachfront gardens. Later, guests can dine by candlelight at water’s edge by the Bay of Bengal and end the night with dancing and cocktails at the lavish, KoKoMMo tiki shack. Perfect for couples looking to exchange their vows against the spectacular waterfront views.
Crowne Plaza Jaipur
The hotel in the pink city has a dedicated ‘Crowne Meetings’,
a department specialising in the weddings portfolio. The Crowne Meetings expert serves as a one-point contact during the event journey, from the confirmation stage to seamless event execution and post-event services to ensure a pleasant and memorable experience. The property also has a lush green lawn to have open-air functions under the starlit sky.
ITC Hotels has a designated team of specialists across the country to manage the wedding segment in the country. The perfect table setting, stunning floral arrangements, ambient lighting, good music and a menu to complement the theme are some of the in-house wedding facilities offered at ITC properties. The marriage scenario in India is constantly changing. Dipak Haksar, Chief Executive of ITC Hotels and Welcom Hotels says, “A significant change in the wedding segment is the role that is played by the bride and groom in deciding all the aspects related the wedding as compared to the roles traditionally perfomed by family elders and community leaders.”
Food, which is core to Indian weddings, is the key strength of the hotel brand. Crafted by Master Chefs, the culinary offerings at ITC include cuisines of Bukhara and Peshawri, the rich delicacies of Dum Pukht and Royal Vega among others.
ITC Grand Chola, Chennai
ITC Grand Chola, Chennai boasts having one of the largest pillar-less ballrooms in the country that are spread across 2465 sqm.
The culinary brigade at ITC Grand Chola also creates thematic, customized menus based on guest requirements. For the wedding reception of a food lover, the chefs at ITC Grand Chola presented a “Kitchen and the Cook” menu. From the décor to the presentation of the entire buffet landscape, kitchen tools and the necessities of a chef’s professional life were used.
ITC Grand Bharat, Gurgaon
This property offers event spaces such as Prithvi, The Stateroom, the lush lawns of Shatranj, intimate spaces such as Agni and Jal. Additionally, ITC Hotels’ cuisine brands such as Bukhara, Dum Pukht, and Royal Vega, can be made available at the property through visiting Master Chefs.
The LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa
With properties in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur and Kolkata, The LaLiT Hotels has a team of qualified and experienced professionals who tactfully blend culture and traditions into the city weddings.
For a beach themed wedding as well, The LaLiT Hotels offers two of the most prolific beach resorts in India.
Adding to the brand’s plethora of themed-wedding venues is
its heritage properties like The LaLiT Temple View Khajuraho and The LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata.
From regal to beach and city affairs, the wedding team at The LaLiT Hotels is highly equipped to handle the logistics and challenges of hosting the weddings in a particular site.
The LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa
The LaLiT Golf & Spa Resort Goa offers an outdoor garden, that is spread across 1486 sqm and a lavish indoor space, that is spread over 1300 sqm of space. The indoor event venues include Braganza Hall that can accommodate up to 600 guests, Francisco and Rajbaga Halls, ideal for pre and post-wedding events.
The LaLiT Laxmi Vilas Palace Udaipur
The meeting and venue spaces at this property include The Aamrapali Lawn, that offers space for approximately 80 guests, thus making it suitable for an intimate family gathering; Aangan for private parties; and Lower Lawn that offers a splendid backdrop for a traditional Indian wedding. thelalit.com
The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts
The banquet revenues from the wedding business for The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts range from 35 to 50 per cent.
The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts group focusses on ancillary events like engagement, sangeet and cocktail parties, rather than big-ticket weddings.
The hotel’s wedding team works closely with the couple and family, to discuss wedding elements including accommodation, food and beverages, décor and logistics. Also, the team makes sure that wedding arrangements match the client’s budget, which is one of the key challenges in the wedding business.
In terms of food, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts caters to the specific demands of Indian weddings. For a Jain wedding, the menu is crafted keeping in mind the dietary requirements of the community.
The Leela Goa
The Leela Goa has been hosting many spectacular theme-based weddings.
Spread over 1858 sqm space – the event venues at the property include Aparanta Ballroom, Hampi Conference Room, Belur, Halebid, and Leela Lawns. The property, also offers facilities for and intimate gathering of 6 or a large ceremony for 1,200 guests.
The Leela Kovalam
The Leela Kovalam offers a beach wedding ceremony followed by a cliff-top reception. A popular venue at the hotel is Pandal, a traditional hall that is only five minutes from the beach. The convention centre at this property is the largest in the state, and can accommodate up to 900 guests.
India’s leading hospitality player, Marriott International that is all set to touch the 1,000 hotel mark in the Asia Pacific region by 2020, is expanding at a fast pace. And by introducing a wedding focussed programme, Shaadi by Marriott, across its hotels in India and abroad. Because of this, the brand has jumped onto the Indian wedding bandwagon, which is one of the growing segments for hospitality brands in India.
This initiative was created with the intent to craft unique, and personalised wedding experiences that come alive with designing gourmet meals, themed bachelor parties, fabulous venues, exquisite décor and beautiful ensembles. Marriott has even associated with the highly-acclaimed designers Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla. The stalwarts came together to curate an extraordinary wedding experience in the form of a fashion show.
Also, for couples who are eagerly waiting to set off on their honeymoons, the brand has another section called ‘Honeymoon by Marriott’. Couples who book their weddings with the hospitality chain, will receive a complimentary honeymoon vacation too.
Couples looking to tie the knot against the backdrop of the ocean, will love W Goa. Located on Vagator Beach, it offers luxurious suites and villas, four dining venues, and the first CLARINS Spa in India, making it the best fit for an exotic beach wedding in India. In addition, it provides access to W Music curator and resident DJs, special cocktails menu designed by W Mixologist and a hangover brunch to sum up an ideal Goa vibe.
JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa
This mountain property of the brand offers stunning views of the mountains, an expansive dining options, the acclaimed Cedar Spa by L’Occitane and the JW personalised service for your wedding. It encompasses five banquet halls with a capacity of 350 people and 115 rooms for accommodation.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts offers a dedicated team of wedding planners. Shangri-La offers professionally designed wedding packages — Gold and Diamond package. Special room rates for wedding guests staying at the hotel with a minimum of 10 rooms per night, complementary room for couple, 25 per cent discount for the 1st Anniversary stay and buffet dinner or lunch at b Café and 25 per cent discount voucher on the massage at CHI, The Spa for the couple are some of the features of the Diamond package. The Gold package includes 15 per cent discount for the 1st Anniversary stay and a buffet dinner or lunch at b Café.
However, the highlight of the wedding packages is the exclusive honeymoon offer, where the couple can choose from a range of romantic destinations offered by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
Other than this, the brand’s award-winning culinary maestros including international chefs, craft menus to create a spectacular wedding feast. The chefs work closely with the couple to create wedding cakes, that are of the highest quality.
Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi
This hotel’s ballroom is an ideal venue for banquet celebrations. Overlooking the lush manicured terrace, the ballroom is a perfect blend of contemporary architecture and state-of art facilities. This event venue can be divided into four parts, where you can organise your smaller pre-wedding ceremonies. The ballroom is bathed in natural light, thus making a perfect pick for a morning wedding.
Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru
Event venues at Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru include one of the largest ballrooms in Bangalore, a sunlit junior ballroom with a foyer, and seven flexible function rooms covering a total of 1,996 sqm.
The hotel offers both, authentic regional cuisine and international cuisine. Bespoke catering services for a champagne brunch, festive buffet or a sit-down dinner are available here.
Lastly, to ensure that you look and feel refreshed on your wedding day, the hotel offers a variety of wellness treatments.
This legacy brand offers interesting wedding concepts — ‘Timeless Wedding Concierge by Taj’ and ‘The Taj Wedding Studio’. Their customisation options range from fixing a venue to curating ambiance settings, decor, theme, colours, mood and lighting to the music and the menu. Guests are even allowed to choose cutlery of their choice.
The Taj Wedding Studio, on the other hand, provides similar offerings under the guidance of industry experts. For instance, previously, the studio had tied up with ace brands like Tarun Tahiliani and Zoya to create some gorgeous wedding outfits and jewellery.
Additionally, the brand has introduced the Chef Studio wherein the Executive Chef meets the family and curates food sessions along with the family, drawing from their preferences, personal stories as well as keeping in mind a fine balance of wedding guest preferences. In terms of trends, Renu Basu, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, Indian Hotels Company Limited, says, “Presently, we are witnessing the trend of personalisation.The newest thing in trend are the after parties, which are now being held after the actual wedding.”
Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad
Couples can schedule their main event at the hotel’s 9,000sq ft Rajasthani Gardens, created and conceived by the Nizam himself. They can even take the plunge in the gold-hued Durbar Hall, which has been inspired by the mythological Indra Bhavan.
Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur
The Fountain Courtyard at the palace is a great spot for the pre-wedding mehendi function followed by the 17,800sq ft Baradari Lawn for the wedding ceremony.
Nisha Shroff and Sanchita Nambiar