Unorganised for decades, the wedding industry is finally getting its act together - a trend that is reflected in the plethora of wedding exhibitions like ‘Celebrating Vivaha’, ‘Bride and Groom’, and ‘Bridal Asia’. "The wedding business is a lucrative business, especially in India where marriages are the most awaited event in anyone's life. In India, people don’t think twice before spending on marriages. There is a lot of money involved in a wedding; right from the shagun to the reception, a wedding is a big celebration where families spend huge amounts of money on the decor, apparels and accessories. The wedding industry in India is worth Rs 50 billion, and is currently growing at a rate of 25-30 per cent
Tips to Trim your Wedding Expenses
They say marriages are made in heaven. But so is thunder and lightning.
The wedding day is one of the most important and memorable day for you. And you would definitely not relish the idea that it blows up your finances. We do not need Amartya Sen’s expertise to keep our marriage expenses under control. Whether your wedding is a few days or a few months or even a year away, you have to draw up a plan and a budget.
The First Step
The very first thing you need to do is chalk out your budget. Once you fix your budget, stick to it. There may be a number of reasons to go past the limit, but this where most of us falter. It’s not a healthy concept to compete with your neighbour. She will never come to help you out if you overspend. So, budget according to the depth of your pocket. Remember, the wedding day is not the last day in your life.
Once you have budget in hand, you will be able to determine how many people you can invite, the wedding venue, the type of invitation card to be designed as well as all the other expenses.
How to prepare a budget?
Consider the following questions:
- How much can you spend?
- What are your savings?
- Will you be taking a loan?
- Do you expect to get a lot of cash as wedding gifts which can offset the payments?
- Are your parents paying for it or do you have to spend for it out of your pocket?
- Are the costs going to be split between you and your would-be spouse?
- Do you have responsibilities of your siblings’ marriages?
Today, weddings are no longer a household affair. They are well planned, organized and well publicized events. Wedding co-ordination agencies, specialized stores for wedding wear, wedding magazines, beauty parlours (exclusively for brides) are fast mushrooming in our country. A survey conducted by a Delhi based market research agency shows that the wedding industry is growing at over 25 percent every year. In some places stars like Shahrukh Khan, Karisma Kapoor were invited but it is not feasible for everyone to do so. Organizing a star studded event like this is a multi crore business in itself.
Trousseau and gift packing which earlier was confined to the family is now becoming another profession by itself. A professional trousseau packer can charge anywhere between Rs. 50,000 to 1 lakh for packing again depending on the items and the material used. Designer invitation cards, shagun envelopes, pouches, saree bags, fruit boxes, trays for gifts etc are some of the items required and used. Designer cards alone can cost upto a thousand rupees (per card).
Surprisingly, the new spenders who are responsible for the current boom are neither from royal families nor do they belong to traditionally rich business communities. They are all the first generation rich who are using weddings as a showcase to flaunt their wealth. They have the purchasing power. Some of them are industrialists, politicians, real estate owners and retail chain owners.
Wedding co-ordination is a business of ideas. The driving force here is constant innovation. The more one exploits their creativity, the better it is. The search for the unusual has led to weddings being planned on a particular theme. It could be on Mehfil-e-Imaam which would take you back to the nawabi style of weddings of Lucknow or a Chinese theme with paintings.
The most flourishing businesses are that of florists, trousseau designers and entertainers. The splurging of money is just a passing fad. Very soon the idea of showing off at weddings will become passe.
Call them co-ordinators, consultants, organisers or advisers - they are the growing genera of professional wedding co-ordinators. They provide expertise in planning and co-ordination of one of the biggest events of an individual's life- his/her wedding. They plan and personalise the wedding within the limited timeframe and allotted budget. They undertake all kinds of responsibilities right from pre-wedding ceremonies to the wedding day and from the wedding night upto the honeymoon. Wedding co-ordinators also offer suggestions on how to make a wedding unique and different.
A professional wedding consultant is experienced, organised, detail-oriented and imaginative with a mature judgement and the know-how to orchestrate the special day. She/he has the capability of planning, organising and co-ordinating weddings in a cost-effective manner.
Why Should one hire a Wedding Co-Ordinator?
Everybody would agree that we want our marriages to be remembered by others. In India, weddings are the only occasions that bring us closer to our near and dear family members who are far away from us. We all love to sit together with our friends and relatives and discuss the details of how a wedding should be arranged in the family.
Gone are the days when a bunch of relatives used to come months before the D-day to arrange the marriage. Today, nobody has the time for anything. Arranging a major function like a wedding becomes an exceptional task. It is at such times that the wedding coordinators, who are skilled managers, negotiators and mediators, who are able to take away the worry and frustrations relating to the big day. Advantages of having one
Whenever one is selecting a profession, an important thing should be borne in mind is that of the remuneration that the job offers. Wedding coordination as a career can be really rewarding. Wedding co-ordinators have started becoming a necessity and not a luxury.
With more and more people working, the per capita income has also gone up. People want to celebrate their weddings in style without spending extravagantly. The trend of style weddings has started spreading. However, inspite of the heavy demand, there are very few people who are taking up this profession as it can be very demanding.
Wedding Industry's Current Scenario
It is the time of the year again when India's wedding industry, valued at $10 billion and growing, begins to stir.
Most marriages in India happen between September and March, given the overlap of favorable weather and auspicious days declared by the pundits, without who no marriage can be solemnized.
Hundreds of thousands of marriages happen across the country, most planned with meticulous attention to detail -- decorations, lights, bridal trousseau, the exchange of expensive gifts, purchases of jewelry, feasts and theme parties at banquet halls, hotels and farmhouses. If there is one occasion Indians like to splurge, it is during weddings.
It is no surprise one of the most-expensive weddings that made news across the world this year was hosted by Indian steel magnate Laxmi Mittal for his daughter near Paris. The more than $50 million price tag included a 20-page silver invitation.
While the Indian wedding jamboree expands to gargantuan proportions, wedding planners and professionals are doing brisk business.
Arrangements range from the more peripheral coordination of travel and guest lodging for attendees from around the world to the actual putting in place of the sangeet -- the mandatory song and dance celebrations where Bollywood stars are often invited for a hefty price -- the exchange of engagement rings, the ceremony itself and the reception that is hosted by the groom.
For the past six autumn, New Delhi has been host to the Asian subcontinent's largest bridal exhibition, Bridal Asia. The offerings include venues for marriage, makeup, makeovers, jewelry, cosmetics, trousseaus, honeymoon destinations, theme planners, wedding coordinators, designer home ware, fashion designers, marriage bureaus, travel agents and caterers. The spots in the exhibition held in September were booked months in advance and families with weddings in the winter scouted for more information.
"We are going to target Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia in the next year," said Divya Gurwara, head of Bridal Asia, "We believe that Bridal Asia is a global brand, and we want to take it global."
The regions have large South Asian populations.
In August, the four-day wedding exhibition "Celebrating Vivaha (marriage) 2004,'' held in New Delhi, registered business worth $12 million, besides providing Indian wedding products with a global platform. Buoyed by the success, the exhibition will now be held in Bombay between Oct. 21 and 24.
Realizing the vast potential in this segment, Tarun Sarda, the chief executive officer of the Delhi-based Vintage Group that launched Vivaha, said: "Last year when we introduced the exhibition for the first time in India, we generated a turnover in excess of $8 million with, 1,25,000 visitors turning up. This time the turnover has been over $12 million."
"Celebrating Vivaha 2003 put me on the world map. And this year we are spending close to $300,000 on promotions alone," Sarda said.
Vivaha has been promoted in the United States and Britain to target wealthy Indians there. More than 80 national and international exhibitors took part in Vivaha. The designers included Ritu Kumar, Ragini Singhania and Renu Dadlani; cosmetic brands like Dior and La Prairie and international brands like Soher and Mariner exhibited their products, while Australian Tourism, Tourism Malaysia, Mauritius Tourism and Star Cruises were the major international attractions.
Sarda discussed certain categories of exhibitors who never come to exhibitions, including chocolates, candles and premium watches who have found ready markets in the wedding segment.
Indeed, despite claims of a global economy, existence of wedding planners, Internet networks, dating sites proliferating small towns, most Indian marriages remain traditional with more than 80 percent of marriages in India still arranged by parents.
The process involves periods of discussions wherein the pros and cons of the girl and the boy are weighed before a mutual agreement. Dowry is part of this institutionalized process, with the girl's parents usually parting with a substantial amount of their lifetime savings to garner the best boy. MBAs from top institutes, young civil servants and till recently Indians settled in the United States or Europe are considered prize catches.
A few years ago, people would have smirked at appointing an event manager to oversee a traditional Indian wedding. Even as consciousness about quality services increase in India, anybody who can afford it has realized it is cheaper and more convenient to hire a wedding management specialist.
The biggest diamond, the most expensive sari, a stage performance by actor Shahrukh Khan, a wedding managed professionally are all enmeshed to form one style statement.
There is no need to buy all the jewellery at one go. Do the shopping for exactly what you and your spouse would like to wear on the wedding day. You have your whole life to buy jewellery.
The price tag of the bridal dress will not be attached to it on the wedding day. So, buy something which is in vogue, but not too expensive. You should look good in it. So pick up a dress with a good and comfortable fit.
You can hire either a Mercedes or a Maruti. And you also have the choice to deck with tulips or leave the car unadorned. Choice is yours.
Photographer / Video Grapher
With digital camera and handy cam available, do you really, really need a professional photographer?
Things you can avoid
Once you draw up your list of expenses, don't panic if it is way above what you can afford. Prioritise them. This will enable you to figure out what you can and cannot avoid. For instance, you can do away with things like bachelor parties. Keep reviewing your budget. If you have gone a little overboard with something, you may have to trim down expenses in another department.
File all the quotes, contracts, agreements, vouchers and bills. Make note of the cheques you issue. If you are making payments in cash, keep the vouchers safely. It helps you to figure out where you can save a few bucks without sacrificing your vision.
Decor is becoming more and more extravagant at weddings these days. Go for a minimalist look. There is no point setting up a huge pandal and spend a few lakhs just to show the town that you are getting married. Give importance to the comfort of your guests. Remember, the warmth and exuberance displayed by the host is the best decor.
There is no written law that you need to have a professional DJ and a dance floor for your marriage. The cousin of yours, who has a taste for music, may don the role of a DJ. As far as dance floor is concerned, do you need a specified space to dance on your marriage? It will save you at least Rs 25,000.
Let people remember your wedding, not your cards. But, that does not mean you get a sloppy card designed. Track down the neighbourhood guy, who did a graphic design course. Sit with him and get a cost effective card designed. Do not try to make it too colourful. Stick to one or two colours. The more colours you add the more you will have to pay.
- For the Bride: There is one magic mantra here: do not overdo the make-up regimen. Go for the things that suit your skin and hair. Remember, heavy make-up does not last long and you will have to spend close to 8-9 hours with that make-up. Consider your comfort first.
- For the Groom: The same rule applies. There is no need to get your hair spiked or coloured just because you are getting married.
Restrict the number of outstation guests, as it inflates your expenses. If they are not your close relatives and you do not sponsor their journey, the invitees would also prefer not to be invited. So, better trim down their count.
The venue is a very important aspect of a wedding and can have a big impact on your pocket. Once you fix the number of invitees, the next step is to decide on the venue. If your wedding date is fixed well in advance, book the venue straightway. Advance booking means less expense. And if it is a small wedding, you need not book a farm house or a banquet hall.
But if your wedding date is fixed in a hurry, it may be a little difficult for you to find a suitable venue, especially in metros. The best idea under these circumstances is to postpone the reception to a later date. The wedding rituals can be performed at your residence with your near and dear ones around you. It will save you from forking out a huge amount just to get a venue, which may not suit your requirements.
When you have it in a hotel, you will be given a per person quote. This will include the food, beverages, rentals and taxes. Do a hard bargain and check out as many hotels as possible. It’s not necessary to go to only the big names. Some budget hotels also provide very good service. You just need to do a little bit of research.
It’s always wise to avoid serving liquor to your guests. Liquor, apart from raising your expenses, may kick start many unsavoury incidents.
If you do not choose a hotel as your venue, you will have to pay separately for the ground or hall and the catering. Prepare the menu very carefully. It’s an area where you need to spend some time. The menu may create a deep hole in your pocket and yet may not bring smiles to your guests. It’s better to consult experts on the menu you choose.
Some venues have the option of paying for the rent of space and then getting your own decorator or caterer. Others have affiliated caterers and decorators. Choose the one which is less severe on your pocket.