After months of delayed nuptials, amidst pent-up anxiety, and long days of waiting, luxury hotels and wedding planners are all set to orchestrate celebrations in an all-new way amidst reformed, shorter timelines, ambiguity on some rules, and new apprehensions of guests.
People in love have been eagerly waiting to celebrate their unions albeit in smaller settings, and now as the economy slowly opens up, venues are doubling up on hygiene and safety while sprucing up to accommodate wedding celebrations during the most auspicious days in the span of three weeks this year – November 20 to December 15.
DATES IN DEMAND
According to wedding planner Bhavnesh Sawhney, Co-founder & Director of FB Celebrations, “Now that the country has begun unlocking phase by phase and that the number of guests allowed at social gatherings in some states has increased, those who had initially planned to postpone their weddings to next year have decided to tie the knot as previously scheduled. Hence the backlog has added to the current pile-up on the most auspicious dates this year between November 20 and December 15.”
He adds, “We are also seeing a surge in enquiries for next year between January 18-31 and February 8-28 as of now. The time constraints and fast decision making process are challenging aspects in this rushed planning of weddings. However, we intend on giving couples and their families our best and curate memorable occasions even in the midst of chaotic times like these!”
FRESH PROTOCOLS & PLANNING
Rajiv Kapoor, General Manager of Fairmont Jaipur, states: “Fairmont Jaipur was famous for large-scale luxury weddings but given this COVID environment, we prepared ourselves with all safety measures and incorporated a whole protocol for hygiene and safety in place. So instead of doing one big wedding during these auspicious dates, we are doing two smaller weddings.”
He adds, “The beauty of our property is that it has multiple venues – an enormous rooftop, poolside, several restaurants, and a couple of ballrooms, that allow us to easily accommodate two weddings simultaneously at different sections of the hotel keeping safety protocols in place. And we have four different gates at the hotel that allow for different incoming and outgoing routes.”
Telling us more about some of the challenges faced, Mr Kapoor reveals, “As of now, in October, we have over 300 staff working with us. We have additionally hired 120 interns from different hotel management institutes in the country. We did a lot of training during the last four months to strengthen our manpower through online sessions, dummy setups, interactive Zoom calls to make them aware of the safety protocols they needed to follow. The food service will be different, and we’re doing live strategic buffets, where guests can take their own pre-portioned food.”
NEW OPPORTUNITIES ARISE
As per Alok Chakravarty, Area Director of Sales & Distribution – North India, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, “Being a part of the Leela chain in India, we are fortunate since we can align with our sister properties, so on our busiest days the team of Leela Palace Delhi will come in to assist.”
As Tushar Khanna of The Club Mumbai explains the challenge for all – be it wedding planners, caterers, or venues – is manpower. “From a low demand till October there will be a sudden surge in November and December, so capable manpower needs to be hired and trained accordingly.”
Kolkata’s ace Wedding Planner Pramod Lunawat, of Marriageuna tells us about this learning experience: “We have to answer so many new questions (for which we may not always have an answer) and the way everyone is working is different from how it was in the last two decades or so. However, it is a welcome change that is giving us an opportunity to onboard new vendors. For another wedding we are planning in January, the client has agreed to our idea of having the legal registration done on the auspicious day of November 30, and to push the celebration to the last week of January. We got them a great deal and now all of us are relaxed and happy.”
One of India’s top luxury wedding designer/decorator and industry veteran, Rituraj Khanna, of Q Events by Geeta Samuel, shares some valuable points with us, “We avoided the first and second wave of meetings since they did not match our style and budgets. I started my meetings 10 days ago. We have our own production house which is huge, so I picked up multiple weddings on the auspicious dates. In December, I have five weddings on the 8th, 9th and 10th, and I have even passed some business onto my friends. I had to refuse a few weddings in Gujarat and Chennai, but it’s alright.”
BOOKINGS BOOM IN SEASON
Noted musical artist for ceremonial chants Ameya Dabli says, “We are inundated with a lot of enquiries on these auspicious days, so its obviously going to be a super busy fortnight with a lot of travelling and virtual gigs.”
Not to forget the makeup artists who are critical for every bride’s glam look on her big day, ace makeup maestro Tamanna Rooz tells us, “We received a lot of enquiries for the period between November 20 to December 15. Fortunately, we have a huge team of 15 artists, hence we have been accommodating most clients. A lot of our old weddings (slated for March-May) have been postponed to now. Most clients are understanding, kind and flexible. They are willing to get ready a little earlier or later, and some are open to visiting our studio so it saves us our travel time.”
Top wedding photographer Ramit Batra concludes, “Earlier we could travel back to back during the peak wedding season. Now as a precautionary measure we need to keep a gap. And there are many challenges. Like how to work with and around guests wearing no masks, and how to ensure that my team members can complete as many assignments, go back home to take rest and yet reduce their contact with the outside world as a precautionary measure.”
In these unprecedented times, one can rely on the creativity and enterprise of the wedding industry to adapt to changed norms faster than any other field. From crafting no-limit dreams for clients to redesigning them to match the current reality, this phase will throw up new challenges and opportunities for everyone. The auspicious wedding season in India this year may be very different but no less memorable in all aspects.