Destination Wedding: For a Fairytale Beginning


October 27, 2015

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India & You

Nov-Dec 2015

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Destination wedding is a luxurious addition to the EUR 34.5 billion Indian wedding industry. However, the trend is picking up among all classes, as couples prefer to mix holiday with wedding amidst close family and friends.

“I can’t wait for the relaxing honeymoon in Goa, away from the noise,” said the tired bride Shruti Poddar, during one of the wedding affairs that in totality lasted for nearly a week. Poddar got married in her hometown Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh with all her family and friends by her side.

Conversely, for Switzerland based Indians, Nilkanth Kumar and Namrata Das, who planned their wedding in Udaipur in Rajasthan, it was no less than a holiday. “Since both of us live abroad, we had only a limited time to spend in India for our wedding. We always wanted to have what could be called a small family trip than a traditional Indian wedding,” says Nilkanth who is a PhD student at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and got married at Raas Leela, a boutique hotel by the lakeside.

For EUR 34.5 billion Indian wedding market that is growing at 25 to 30 pc annually, the frenzy of spending with open arms does not come as a surprise. Destination wedding is an addition to the Indian wedding saga. Exotic locations such as Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala that have so far been favourites among the honeymooners are now emerging as popular choices for wedding destinations. In 2014-15, in Goa alone 720 weddings took place as opposed to 600 in 2013-14. The target for this year, however, is 850, according to Goa based wedding planning company Destination One that organises weddings in Goa.

However, the growing popularity of destination weddings is not only due to the spending power of Indians but also is a reflection of growing trend and preference of having a small ceremony amidst close family and friends, away from the city and jittery relatives. Just like being on a holiday.

Hit locations for vows

Thanks to its serene beaches that provide a suitable ambience for dreamy and fairytale weddings, Goa is one of the most sought after destinations. While south Goa has five star properties such as the Leela, Park Hyatt, Radisson, Grand Hyatt, Cidade De Goa; North Goa provides wider options in combination with multiple category hotels for theme-based beach weddings. Goa also bagged the PATWA award at the ITB Berlin 2015 for the ‘Best Wedding and Honeymoon Destination 2015’.

As says Nikhil Desai, managing director, Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), “The biggest advantage that Goa offers to couples who want to tie the knot here is the diversity in landscapes. Couples can choose between a traditional Hindu wedding at a temple and a white wedding at a church; those who are nature lovers can opt for a ceremony in the Western Ghats or against the backdrop of the majestic Dudhsagar waterfalls.” He also emphasises on the stunning forts in Goa that serve as wedding venues, saying “The open spaces of these forts can be transformed to resemble the venue of your choice. For instance, we have seen a mini Punjab being recreated here and hours later the same venue transformed into something from a Victorian era for another function.

” While weddings at Goa may be both relaxing and dreamy, Rajasthan offers for a royal setup with its palaces, forts and havelis (mansion). Wedding ceremonies in Rajasthan are also known for their colourful ambience created through well-decorated marriage venues that have a majestic charisma. Udaipur, Devigarh, Jaipur, Mandawa, Jodhpur, Neemrana and Jaisalmer offer a wide range of royal wedding destinations.

(L-R) Goa is one of the most preferred places for destination weddings; City Palace in Udaipur offers space for wedding rituals and ceremonies; Hyderabad in South India is among emerging wedding destinations with properties such as Taj Falaknuma Palace

(L-R) Goa is one of the most preferred places for destination weddings; City Palace in Udaipur offers space for wedding rituals and ceremonies; Hyderabad in South India is among emerging wedding destinations with properties such as Taj Falaknuma Palace

Udaipur with its properties such as Taj Lake Palace, Jagat Niwas Palace, Oberoi Udaivilas, Jag Mandir Island Palace, Shiv Niwas Palace and the Fateh Prakash Palace offers numerous choices for different wedding ceremonies. Surrounded by Lake Pichola, Taj Lake Palace and Jag Mandir Island Palace make for exquisite locations. The lake enhances the regal backdrop, adding nature to heritage. Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan that is also known as the ‘Pink City’, offers enthralling spaces through heritage properties such as Rambagh Palace, Rajvilas Palace, Jai Mahal Palace and Samode Haveli.

One of the most grandiose destinations for weddings in Rajasthan is also the ‘Sun City’ Jodhpur. The Umaid Bhawan Palace, set amidst 26 acres of gardens, puts the dream wedding for every girl into real frames, with the backdrop of the Indo-Colonial architecture of the grand edifice. Samsara Resort, Indana Palace, The Ajit Bhawan-A Palace Hotel, Vivanta By Taj and Hari Mahal are a few other places for the rituals and ceremonies.

While these may cater to the high-end clients, Rajasthan also offers spaces for budget weddings. For Nilkanth and Namrata, for instance, who planned to finance their wedding themselves, Raas Leela by the Lake Pichola in Udaipur acted as a perfect venue within their budget. “The lakeside wedding venue was very charming, everything was hassle-free and very relaxed (yes… relaxed! Who says that for a wedding!). Above all, what was important that everyone among our family and friends thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Perfect for the small wedding that we wished for,” says Nilkanth.

In addition to Goa and Rajasthan, Kerala too is gaining popularity among the couples and wedding planners. While the Leela Palace of Kollam with its exclusive beach is apt for hosting luxurious wedding, private wedding on a lonely island, the Poovar Island Resort in Thiruvananthapuram is among other good choices.

The myth about big budget

It may go without saying that the destination weddings come with heftier price, but to say that it only suits the pocket of the upper class is a myth. “The past decade has seen some major changes in terms of wedding expenditure. Yes, weddings have become grander, but earlier only the elite were known for organising such lavish affairs. These days, a new consciousness has been seen in the upper middle-class and middleclass as well. They too wish to have grand celebrations,” Jasleen Kochhar, founderdesigner of Delhi based Bougainvilla Design that specialises in luxury floral and setup design, told Business Today, an Indian business magazine.

However, different wedding destinations come with different prices and the cost includes accommodation, catering, decorations, photography and other logistics such as pick up and drop. For 100 guests for two nights in Udaipur, for instance, the expenses can vary between INR 1.5 million (EUR 20,000) to over INR 6 million (EUR 80,000), depending on the venue. Sites such as Jagmandir and Taj Lake Palace evidently come with a bigger price.

The numbers also immensely depend on the scale of the wedding and the guest list. A well organised and planned destination wedding can even cost as less as INR 500,000 – 600,000 (EUR 6,000-8,000), as it was for Nilkanth whose guest list included 50 close family and friends whom he accommodated at three different heritage homes and havelis suitable to their budget.

Goa too caters to all budgets. Says Desai, “Hotels here range from luxurious 5 star resorts to mid segment hotels and also quaint boutique resorts – the choice is endless and suits all kinds of budgets.” While having a wedding of one’s dream is no longer a mean task, wedding planners play a crucial role in management and keeping things as per client’s budget. As suggests Nilkanth, “Having an experienced wedding planner based in Udaipur really helped and we would highly recommend hiring a good wedding planner to everyone planning their wedding, destination or otherwise.”



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