Wedding Celebrations & Wealth Creation: A Match Made in Heaven
Indians take weddings seriously. That’s it, I could end this right here, with no further explanation and no one would have difficulty in believing me – There would be few who haven’t witnessed this grandeur. Even the most modest affairs involve extraordinary amounts of food, drink, music, and dance. Guests from different parts of the country gather, book hotels, hire taxis, and indulge in extensive shopping for gifts and wedding attire, for a celebration that lasts three or more days, and often involves more than a thousand people.
While these events were previously always taken care of by the close relatives, they no longer remain so. These elaborate and detailed events require careful planning, to ensure that they are executed successfully. Today, there’s décor, there’s photography, there’s catering, and so much more! The need for all these intricacies has also led to the rise of professional wedding planners who help manage the myriad aspects of these grand celebrations.
The wedding industry thereby, is not a singular entity, but a confluence of various large and small, formal and informal sectors that have together evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry. What sets this industry further apart, is that the extravagant spending associated with them is also undertaken in a remarkably short duration. In fact, this wedding season, around 3.5 million weddings are expected to take place in just twenty-three days, with their total spending exceeding a staggering four trillion rupees1. That’s more than the GDP of several small countries!
Businesses too bank heavily on the expenditures associated with weddings. The Indian wedding wear market is considered to be more than ₹ 1000 bn2. Jewellers make 70% of their annual sales from wedding-related purchases. Similarly, hotels derive about 20% of their income from hosting weddings, with some international chains strategically locating their properties, and delivering a bespoke in-hotel wedding experience. The sheer scale and opulence of Indian weddings have even attracted attention globally, with some countries actively marketing themselves as wedding destinations.
And with Indian weddings, that’s not where the luxury ends – From dance performances by celebrities to customized food and décor on charter flights to even actual weddings in-flight, there is a growing trend of investing in creating memorable experiences for the guests. Recently, luxury brand Christian Louboutin, too launched a special “India Wedding Edit”, the first of its kind, to participate in this booming market.
The financial commitment to these festivities is also obviously immense, with Indians saving a substantial portion of their earnings for getting married. This year, almost two million weddings are expected to have a budget of over 10 lakh rupees, of which 50,000 weddings will be pushing limits further, with a budget of more than a crore3.
Emotions play a crucial role in these expenditures too, with some willing to go into debt to finance their dream weddings. As per estimates, at least 20% of people getting married every year resort to taking wedding loans3. Some lenders now offer “Marry Now, Pay Later” schemes as well, collaborating with hotels to provide wedding loans, allowing couples to pay off expenses through EMIs instead of using their savings.
No wonder Indian weddings are considered “recession-proof.” People see these as status symbols, and the desire for grandeur is well-ingrained. In fact, author Sudhir Kakar had once joked, that one can be sure that the first big wedding in space will be an Indian one, provided someone builds a large enough spaceship!
The significance of India’s wedding industry, considered the fourth largest by some estimates, is underscored by the direct attention it recently received from the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi himself. In a speech directed at the affluent, he urged them to reconsider hosting weddings outside India, emphasizing the importance of supporting the domestic wedding industry.
This sector flourishes, despite minimal formalization and technology adoption, relying mainly on reviews and word-of-mouth. And given that 50% of the Indian population is still below the age of thirty, the growth opportunity seems particularly vast. In light of these, the sector warrants a keen observation from investors interested in India’s consumption story – A consumption story that is a unique blend of both, the aspirational middle class, and a rising affluent base.
This article was written by Soumya Turakhia.
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