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Wedding startups adapt as couples look at scaled down ceremonies

As lockdown relaxations take place across the country, online wedding startups are looking at different ways to salvage and make the best of the remaining auspicious wedding dates. Several wedding planning startups including  ShaadiSaga and The Wedding Brigade have come up with different versions of what an Indian wedding could look like during a pandemic and have started helping couples with it.

For example, ShaadiSaga now has packages that allow couples to have a small-scale 50 person wedding with live stream options alongside other services with guarantees of complete sanitation and hygiene maintenance.  

“The idea is to now plan an intimate wedding with 50 people while taking all the precautions,” said Himanshu Kapsime, chief executive of ShaadiSaga. “Until a vaccine comes into picture, this is how it’s going to be. People have understood that and a lot of them are going ahead with their wedding plans but on a much smaller scale.”

There are around 1.2 crore weddings in India every year, according to industry estimates, of which around one-fourth take place in the months spanning April to July. In a usual year, these months would have brought a total of $8 billion money into the wedding industry. But as the country was on a complete lockdown since late March, most weddings have been postponed barring some that were organized virtually

“With weddings being allowed now, at least some inflow of money will take place,” said Kapsime. “Because of restriction in guests, however, the recovery could be around $4 billion with a net loss of $4 billion.”

The coronavirus pandemic could possibly change the way Indian weddings take place — if not the entire celebration, at the least the planning — with technology playing a major role. Online wedding planning and e-commerce startup The Wedding Brigade is working on coming up with a custom-plan for couples to be able to book a photographer, venue, make-up artist, among other arrangements, through its new offering which is expected to be launched later this month.

“When we launch our wedding packages, it will be completely online and flexible,” said Sanna Vohra, chief executive of The Wedding Brigade. “The couple will be able to add the different elements of the function to the cart without having to talk to anyone. It will be like product shopping  but for wedding services.”

As the fear of physical presence and proximity takes over, technology is bound to play a much larger role going forward. This is already being observed in some of the core behaviour by the soon-to-be-wedded couples.

“People used to discover wedding essentials such as clothing, make-up online while trial and actual purchase happened offline,” said Pankhuri Shrivastava, founder of her eponymously named bridal-focused startup. “This is changing due to the fear of Covid-19 spread. Now, couples want such services at their doorstep and the role of the internet has increased significantly.”

Even as most marriages that were scheduled for March and April have been pushed to November-December, most weddings aren’t expected to invite larger crowds due to a looming threat of the virus to continue for the coming months. “A large number of guests will attend online through Zoom and other apps,” added Shrivastava. “Because of this, gifting is also expected to be moved online.”

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