Transfin.
HomeNewsGuidesReadsPodcastsTRANSFIN. EOD
  1. Reads
  2. Lite

The Post-Pandemic Resurgence of the Wedding Industry in India

Editor, TRANSFIN
Dec 16, 2021 9:51 AM 5 min read
Editorial

"Marriages may be made in heaven" but the grandeur and extravaganza of weddings are certainly made in India. 

However, the "big fat" Indian wedding shed some serious calories over the last two years. 

The pandemic forced widespread nuptial delays along with scaled-down planning and finances which directly impacted this multibillion dollar industry in India. 

Outside of India was no different either. The global wedding industry is estimated to have lost over $150bn in 2020 alone. 

However, after almost an 18-22 months hiatus, weddings are reportedly on the comeback. Couples are ready to go all out again as witnessed by their event schedules and spending preferences which are both on the rise too. 

As the wedding season of the year comes to an end, allow us to give you a deeper dive into this story of resurgence. ;)

Delaying and Denting the Do's

The Indian wedding market is valued at $50bn, second only to the United States. With almost half of the country's population aged below 30 years, nearly 11 million weddings are expected to take place annually, many of which likely got upended, no thanks to the pandemic. 

The coronavirus cheated thousands of couples out of weddings they had planned originally. In some cases, it cheated them out of engagements too. But for those who did manage to get engaged, it meant waiting long for the wedding. 

As the pandemic waters receded, couples who were forced to get engaged ran headlong into the recently-engaged, thus creating a logjam. Add to that the ongoing supply chain crisis and we arrive at the following: more delays and higher prices. 

Now let's look beyond the couples. With weddings on hold due to their superspreader potential, many allied businesses (informal caterers, wedding planners, wedding-card printers, flower vendors etc.) are put off as well. 

Let's face it. Wedding events are similar to products with a shelf life, i.e. Perishable. Due to their pre-planned nature, delaying them results in revenue losses and subsequently shortages in cash flows. 

To top it off, there are other industries like gems and jewellery, event management, apparel, photography, videography, beauty etc. that have a heavy growth reliance on weddings. 

Take fashion, for instance. Bridal couture is the most profitable vertical in fashion in India. Wearing a label for wedding-related events has become the norm in recent years. But with shipping channels shut, warehouses on lockdown and courier services reserved only for essential goods, orders in the industry were far from being carried out. 

So yes, an industry that was hailed a decade ago for being "recession-proof", was handicapped by a contagion. Turns out money can't buy you happiness, love or luxury-premium weddings on desired dates. 

 

Wedding Bells Return

With vaccination numbers looking up and lockdown restrictions phasing out, the industry is counting on a comeback. Between November 14th and December 13th 2021, an estimated 2.5 million weddings are set to take place within the country that are likely to generate business topping ₹3Lcr ($40bn). 

Online matchmaking portals like Shaadi.com have also witnessed a swell during the lockdown (by 20-30%). Seeing as matchmaking is the first step in the traditional wedding process, the uptick in events is a likely expectation.

Besides that, wedding loans are visibly on the rise too. In the aftermath of the Second Wave and its recession, wedding loans made up 33% of all loans in similar ticket sizes (small-ticket loans ranging from ₹1-4L ($1,333-$5,333)). With the embargo on guest limits lifting up partially, businesses are looking to make up for the lean pandemic-time revenues by charging as much as 10-20% premium on prices.

With the lifting of restrictions on international travel, the demand for destination weddings is also expected to pick up. In fact, existing inventories till February are already sold out for popular domestic destination wedding spots. Wedding planners are reportedly witnessing a rise of 30-40% in bookings for 2022 as well.

But most of these are downsized to a great extent. With several states still allowing only up to 50% capacity for large gatherings, the size and economies of wedding scales are still radically trimmed compared to pre-pandemic levels.

That being said, some sort of post-pandemic wedding boom is certainly expected. The almost two-year delay exacerbated by the looming threat of the Omicron variant in the long-term could incentivise large-scale wedding expenditures in the near-term before the uncertainty index climbs up again.

 

Wedding Landscaping

Although the industry shrunk in size during the pandemic, it didn't lose its shine. Amidst the decline, it was those who were agile and adaptive in the industry that found success. 

The lockdowns accelerated the pace of change in the wedding pattern in India that was long awaited. The switch from vast gatherings to premium experiences in weddings had been on the rise. The pandemic's "new normal" instrumentalized these experiences by offering virtual bridal appointments, online venue tours, live streaming of events and other tweaks that were meant to adapt to social distancing realities.

Going forward, there could be perceptible changes in the wedding industry. In addition to smaller/intimate ceremonies and heightened awareness to germs, the nature of contracts for wedding services will look different too. Clauses related to force majeure, postponement, cancellation etc. will command better inclusivity. 

Wedding insurances, which have had an otherwise tepid market in India, are also seen to have attracted more takers with COVID-era uncertainties like venue closures or vendor cancellation looming in the horizon. 

Agreed, in the post-COVID era, wedding sizes will likely shrink guestlist-wise and scale-wise. But what hasn't shrunk are the purse strings of Indian families who have traditionally cultivated the practice of saving up good for their children's weddings in the future. 

This means that the pivot of expenses will probably shift from macro-level and ostentatious spends like grand decor or multi cuisine spreads or hosting communal events to jewellery or apparel or photography.

In any case, whether extravagance is replaced by experiential weddings, the pall of gloom casting above festivities has lifted as of now. Let's hope it continues to remain lifted and the once-happy wedding industry is saved from being thrown into a tailspin for the third consecutive year.

FIN.
 

Congratulations! You've made it to the end. Looking for more takes on Business, Finance, Markets and Investing? Subscribe to TRANSFIN. E-O-D for informative and insightful daily news updates