India, with its rich cultural heritage, vibrant traditions and diverse landscapes, has long been a sought-after choice for destination weddings, especially for couples seeking unique and memorable experiences. The recent campaign by the Ministry of Tourism aims to showcase India as a leading wedding destination.
This has not only put India on the global map but has also sparked discussions about the country’s potential to become a destination wedding hotspot for couples from around the world. Ahead, we delve into how India is redefining the wedding industry and its impact on the local economy, with the help of insights from industry experts.
A Vision of Grandeur
The Ministry of Tourism’s campaign, cheekily called ‘India Says I Do’, has left no stone unturned in highlighting India’s diverse appeal. It effectively captures the essence of India’s magnificence, from its stunning natural beauty and cherished traditions to its mouthwatering cuisine and modern infrastructure. The initiative beckons international couples to host their weddings in the incredible country.
As Parthip Thyagarajan, Co-Founder & CEO at WeddingSutra, puts it, “India already has an elevated status as a unique destination for travel. The current campaign is aimed to get more well-heeled Indians to get married in India, than abroad. (It encourages) more foreigners and NRIs to consider getting married here.”
India’s allure is already global, but the campaign seeks to further elevate its status in the wedding destination hierarchy. “Currently most luxury hotel chains in India are very proactive in marketing their properties. These include venues like Leela Udaipur and Jaipur, all the Palace hotels of the Taj Group, Accor’s Fairmont Jaipur and Hyatt hotels in Goa, Dehradun and Jaipur,” he adds.
The Magic of India’s Culture and Landscape
What sets India apart as a wedding destination is its rich cultural tapestry and diverse landscapes. The fusion of customs, vibrant colours and joyful festivities create an enchanting and unforgettable experience for guests. Devanshi Patel, the founder of Shreem Events, a luxury wedding and event planning firm, notes, “Indian weddings are unique because of their extensive cultural traditions and their elaborate, multi-day celebrations.”
“Apart from luxury hotel chains like Taj, ITC, Hyatt, Marriott and Accor, there is a need for more heritage properties and hotels with picture perfect spaces located close to airports or in spiritual or cultural hotspots that can play host to destination weddings,” Thyagarajan observes.
“Also, some of the most historical and iconic locations do not permit weddings on their premises (yet) and that is where NRIs would like to get married, thanks to the images they’ve seen in Bollywood movies. So, there is a bit of a disconnect there,” he adds.
Fueling Local Economies
One of the most significant impacts of the rising trend in destination weddings in India is the boost it provides to local economies in Tier two and three markets. Everything from hotels and resorts to local transportation, labour for wedding preparations, local catering and markets for wedding-related supplies benefit from this trend.
Parthip Thyagarajan explains, “More destination weddings mean more employment and business opportunities for local vendors. By local vendors, I don’t mean just planners and decorators. There are many other entrepreneurs, be it those handling airport pickups, hospitality desks at the hotel, sound and light, catering support, or local cuisine stalls.”
This boost to local economies is not just limited to well-known wedding destinations like Rajasthan and Goa; it has expanded to newer locations like Dehradun, Mussoorie, Mahabalipuram, Coorg, Siliguri, Alibaug, Lonavala and more.
“Women-led businesses such as mehendi and make-up artists also flourish, along with stalls selling accessories in bazaar-like setups. It’s a win-win situation, where the wedding industry bolsters the local economy while couples create unforgettable memories,” Thyagarajan adds.
The Rise of Experiential and Personalised Weddings
The shift towards more experiential and personalised weddings is another hallmark of India’s evolving wedding industry. While grand three-day affairs orchestrated by successful wedding planners remain popular, there is a growing trend among couples who seek more intimate and cost-effective celebrations as well.
Devanshi Patel states, “Unconventional weddings have become increasingly popular as couples look to express their unique personalities and values. Shreem Events has played a pivotal role in this transformation, orchestrating weddings that defy convention, such as a white wedding for a Marwadi bride and inclusive celebrations like those of Hardik Pandya and Nataša Stanković. We’ve also introduced trends like hosting receptions before the wedding, providing a meet-and-greet opportunity, and allowing couples to enjoy their special day with peace of mind.”
India’s diverse wedding landscape, with its talented yet affordable local services and hidden gems in picturesque villages and mountains, offers couples of all budgets the chance to create their dream wedding. This expands India’s potential to host a multitude of weddings beyond the stereotypical Bollywood and royal extravagance.
As Parthip Thyagarajan points out, “Experiential and bespoke weddings have been in vogue for a couple of years. Many couples relate to intimate weddings, but we see more and more budding or younger wedding planners who cater to the requirements of couples who may not want to spend huge amounts. What is needed is more participation and a proactive approach from different hotels (not just the five star properties) to offer their exclusive spaces for clients who may not wish to spend a few crores or more.”
The Future of India’s Role as a Global Wedding Destination
As we peer into the future, India’s status as a global wedding destination appears brighter than ever. The possibilities are limitless, with emerging trends like sustainability, cultural fusion and immersive technology reshaping the landscape. India’s skilled professionals, cost-effective options and its penchant for lavish, elaborate weddings position it as a global wedding hub.
Devanshi Patel emphasises, “The choices are infinite in India, which has skilled professionals and a culture that increasingly favours holding lavish, elaborate festivities—whether it’s a beach ceremony for those who love the water or a picturesque fantasy wedding in the mountains for those who enjoy chilly weather.”
From the iconic locations of Rajasthan and Goa to the lesser-explored gems, India offers a myriad of options for couples from all over the world seeking to tie the knot in grand style.
With India’s grandeur now firmly etched on the global map, couples worldwide are saying ‘I do’ to an unforgettable desi wedding experience. So, if you’re dreaming of a destination wedding that combines tradition, luxury and unique flair, the time has never been better to tie the knot in this incredible land, steeped in history and culture.