New covid dampens high season wedding planners’ hopes

In Delhi, one of the largest wedding markets in India, the state government has limited the number of guests allowed to a wedding to 20 and imposed a nighttime curfew. He also ordered those planning a wedding to hold it either in a courthouse or at home, leaving the capital’s banquet halls and hotel owners in despair.

FNP Weddings and Events, operated by flower and gift retailer Ferns N Petals, which owns 11 party venues in Delhi, is already receiving panic calls from customers who had booked the venues. Its founder, Vikaas Gutgutia, has said he hopes the government will reconsider the decision before mid-January, when marriages resume. “It’s total panic. I hope this is a short term measure from the Delhi government until the New Years festivities are over. Otherwise, people will have to bring their marriages forward, ”he said.

Kunal Dewan, director of sales and marketing and acting general manager of Hyatt Regency Delhi, said many wedding events scheduled for January may not take place under current circumstances. “This has undoubtedly affected the overall (financial) position of the hotel. But this is what is necessary for the well-being of all, ”he added. About 85-90% of all events at the hotel are weddings and receptions.

“We are already seeing our business decline, unfortunately,” said Dewan. The hotel receives calls from those who had booked their functions in January, February and March. “Many events will come forward. We will support our clients if they want to take on these roles at a later date, should that happen,” said Dewan.

At Bird Group Roseate Hotels & Resorts, which operates two hotels in Delhi, things are on hold. Most hotel weddings are scheduled for late January and February.

On the bright side, Kush Kapoor, CEO of the company, said the pandemic has made customers and guests much more flexible to change their dates. “We will help postpone events or provide refunds if necessary,” he said. Weddings and social events account for 20-30% of Delhi hotel banquet activities.

Following the fluctuating covid graph, the industry experienced a massive slowdown in April-May 2020 and then again in April 2021. India’s busiest wedding season is between November and December. And, after a brief lull, it resumes in January and lasts until March. The last two lockdowns were in March 2020 and April 2021, when fewer weddings took place.

Mehak Sagar, co-founder of WedMeGood.com, said the company had not seen any slowdown in demand for NCR until a few days ago. But after the restrictions introduced by the Delhi government, it expects a 30-40% reduction in demand. WedMeGood lists suppliers in all categories and invoices them for the list.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, and this time the government rules are restrictive. Even with 50 guests, people threw a little party. But with the wedding venues out of sight, their business will be impacted, ”she said.

However, some weddings will move events outside of Delhi. For most of 2021, Gurugram sites grew tremendously as Delhi had a cap of 100 and Gurugram had authorized more, Sagar said.

Earlier this year in Delhi, the number was capped at 200 guests, but authorities had 50% capacity restrictions in parts of the NCR, which meant people could plan huge weddings outside the NCR. capital, depending on the room or floor capacity.

While there are no exact figures on the size of the wedding market in India, aggregators like WedMeGood have estimated the pre-covid wedding market at nearly $ 40 billion to $ 50 billion.

Fresh edging will also have an impact on vendors serving the wedding market directly. Meghaa R. Israni, founder of Israni Photography in Mumbai, said they were engaged by several clients for weddings in Delhi in November, with between 200 and 750 people. “January will see the repercussions of this. Although no one canceled, they also did not pay advances, ”she said.

Aditya Mahagaonkar, co-founder of WhatKnot, a Mumbai-based wedding photography company, expects mission cancellations in Rajasthan, which has become a popular destination. “We hope Maharashtra does not offer similar restrictions to Delhi’s, resulting in indefinite postponements of marriages,” he said.

“It’s a less than ideal scenario when a marriage is reduced from 200 to 250 people to a tenth of that. Weddings are about celebration, and we cannot simply ignore this fact, ”he added.

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Carol N. Valencia