While matches are made in heaven, weddings are made memorable on this beautiful earth. Of late, well-to-do Indian couples have begun to spare no expense in looking for the best destination around the globe to tie the knot as destination weddings take off.
Italy as a wedding destination hit the headlines after the celebrity couples Anushka Sharma- Virat Kohli and Deepika Padukone-Ranveer Singh tied the knot in the southern European country. It was also the location for the engagement ceremony of business tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s daughter Isha with Anand Piramal. Three high-profile and very high visibility events, closely clubbed together, went a long way in adding to the charm of the place for Indian couples scouting for a location to get married in. While South-east Asian destinations are still favoured by the Indian couples due to their proximity to India, many are taking the plunge to have their wedding in Europe.
Every year more than 10 million weddings take place in India and the Indian destination wedding industry is expected to reach a market size of INR 450 billion with a projected annual growth of 25-30 pc, according to a KPMG report, and Indians spend one-fifth of their wealth accumulated in lifetime on weddings. A recent report by Travelport, a travel company, said that young Indian travellers are looking for value for money deals, it also holds true for destination weddings. With various destinations proposing niche experiences with focus on Indian wedding rituals and traditions, Indian couples are increasingly spoilt for choice. From an underwater engagement ceremony with the couple decked up in a scuba diving outfit, to exchanging vows on a hot-air balloon and going on to conducting the wedding rituals on the premises of famous temples, it seems Indian couples can choose the backdrop that their imagination can come up with.
Tying the knot in tropicals
Weddings along the beach or river front seem to top the list of choices for Indian weddings. The pristine azure or turquoise waterbodies, the beautiful sandy coastlines and the amicable temperature are the few factors that influence the Indian people to go for a beach wedding. The additional availability of beach sports and adventure to keep the guests engaged is also a great attraction. Many people are even inclined towards a beach wedding to involve some of these adventure sports in their rituals like exchanging rings while scuba-diving.
The Indonesian island of Bali and Thailand seem to top the list for beach wedding with not only their proximity to the Indian sub-continent as well the presence of an Indian vibe with the shimmering white sand beaches and luxurious resorts but also the amazing budgeted wedding location offered in the paradise lands. There are many other destinations pitching in to lure the lucrative business of Indian weddings. These include countries as far and wide as Maldives, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Turkey, Indonesia, Reunion island, Azerbaijan, Zanzibar, Sanya islands, Bahrain and many more.
Not just beaches even lakes and rivers are in demand as they add a calm and soothing effect to the colourful affair. Endorsed by a lot of celebrity weddings, Italy seems to be leading on this front with its beautiful lakes, picturesque scenery and luxurious resorts.
“It started with film stars going to Goa or Rajasthan for their weddings. Then some well-to-do business families started hosting their functions in Thailand, because it was cheaper. Now, we have countries like Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Oman competing for Indian wedding clientèle,” says Parthip Thyagarajan, CEO, Wedding Sutra, a wedding planning platform.
Nuptials in the lap of nature
Destination weddings are a lot fun from guest-experience point of view too. One gets to travel to a different country, observe the blend of cultures in the wedding and also be a tourist! And for those who love nature and adventure, they have the options of planning a wedding amidst the nature. The neighbouring Sri Lanka has not only got the beautiful beaches but it also offers the couples with the options of having the beautiful tea gardens as the background for their wedding ceremony. Another attractive and novel wedding destination is Japan during the cherry blossom season. With the blooms symbolising spring, they create a delightful sight to behold and make for a great backdrop for a floral wedding.
“We have recognised that destination wedding is a potential segment for Sri Lanka tourism. Indian destination weddings are getting very popular in Sri Lanka. We are here to network and get to know the stakeholders and wedding planners better and promote Sri Lanka as a destination for wedding,” Viranga Bandara, assistant director, Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Bureau to India Outbound at the ICWF event in Kolkata.
Lavish wedding in luxury destination
Most luxury hotels around the world have their own wedding packages designed for the purpose. From intimate signing ceremony to theatre seating to a wedding with the Burj Khalifa or Burj Al Arab in the backdrop, Dubai offers it all. Other players in the region such as Abu Dhabi and Oman have dominated the luxury wedding scene for affluent Indian families for several years, but now even smaller countries like Qatar and Bahrain are offering wedding packages. Even Turkey hosted 32 lavish Indian weddings in 2019 itself, according to an industry source.
The SunLux collection luxury hotels of SunLux Internationals in South Africa also wants to venture into the wedding business as Sherene Allaman, international sales manager at Sun International said to India Outbound, “We want to focus on wedding, South Africa as a wedding destination. We are still in the process but we understand that you are entering into a world of beauty, charm at an exotic location. And these images which you are going to put out for your wedding are going to be memorable. Because, it is not only romantic and beautiful city, but you also have wildlife, and many other activities. And all of your guests, here on your special day, but still having time to enjoy the facilities of the property and having their own little holiday.”
Trisha Jani, daughter of jewellery designer Varuna D Jani, tied the knot in Oman and shared her thoughts in a WeddingSutra blog about the destination. “We were very clear that we wanted a destination wedding, preferably at a beach-side location not too far away from Mumbai to avoid strenuous travelling for our elderly relatives. After exploring many locations in the Middle East, South East Asia, and even Europe, the one location that wowed us was the Shangri-la Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa in Muscat. The hotel’s hospitality, picturesque open venues, and most importantly, its proximity to Mumbai was what won us over and we picked it as our wedding venue,” shares Trisha.
Another option may be destination wedding on a cruise as promoted by Richa Chadha, CEO of Tirun, a leading cruise brand at a recent conference on Indian wedding industry. “On a cruise, you not only get a luxury wedding at an affordable price but also get to touch ground at different locations, and even countries. So it is like a number of destinations at the cost of one,” she said.
Read the full version of the article in India Outbound Magazine February 2020