Challenges Plaguing the Wedding Industry And How To Overcome Them During this time, wedding-related businesses have encountered a host of challenges to sustain business as usual, however, on a brighter note, the industry has been quick to innovate, adapt and bounce back

By Sandeep Lodha

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The $50-billion Indian wedding industry has definitely faced its worst possible slump due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, green shoots of recovery are now stemming and although, the wedding market has taken a hit, it hasn't lost its sheen. All over the country, couples are opting for smaller celebrations with a limited guest list. To compensate for the diminished numbers, families are going all out to make the small celebrations as personalized and memorable as possible. During this time, wedding-related businesses have encountered a host of challenges to sustain business as usual, however, on a brighter note, the industry has been quick to innovate, adapt and bounce back. However, as the world moves forward, the industry is yet to overcome a host of challenges before it rises to its former glory.

Lack of investment in technology slowing online bookings for consumers

The future of most industries depends on its ability to adopt and embrace digital transformation. With COVID-19, most industries have embraced digital solutions and are building for the future. However, while there's a huge appetite for growth in the wedding industry, the investment in technology in this particular industry has been relatively slow, thereby, delaying its trajectory to go digital for today's and most importantly tomorrow's fast-evolving consumer. Having said that, in today's Internet age, some startups and tech investors are beginning to notice the massive scope of opportunities in this historically traditional industry. With modern couples taking more and more ownership of planning their own wedding, there's a steady shift in preference for online channels for wedding related inspiration as well as discovery, mostly led by social media aspirations. While disruption is underway, there's still a long way to go for the highly scattered wedding industry in India.

Lack of standardization and regulation of the industry

The wedding industry is a highly competitive one, involving several vendors and freelancers. Due to the absence of a formal system ensuring legally binding contracts for these wedding vendors, couples sometimes experience last minute cancellations or substandard delivery on initial promises made for products and services causing undue stress. This fragmented and disorganized sector is in great need for a standardized marketplace to bring in clarity regarding rates, 100 per cent transparency on services, quality deliverables and expectations, from both parties, so that each one benefits in the long run. In the current air of uncertain times, professional wedding planners and digital planning aggregator websites have set standard operating procedures to ensure seamless customer experience and ensure a level playing field for all vendors in the industry.

Smaller guest lists

During pre-COVID times, the grandeur of wedding celebrations defined the industry by large and one could not imagine an Indian wedding to be a small and sweet affair. However, in current times due to stringent social distancing guidelines, and safety for one and all, couples have accepted intimate weddings as the new normal. While transitioning from macro to micro was nothing short of a herculean task, the industry has risen to the challenge quite spectacularly.

To cater to this new demand for smaller ceremonies, wedding planners, venues managers and other ancillary businesses have redesigned their offerings to allow much more customization based on the couple's aspirations and requirements, making it more personal and memorable. Wedding venues boast of curated packages for a limited number of guests, inclusive of live streaming/multi video conferencing services. Friends and family of the couple who live far away can now be a part of the celebrations without missing out on any of the fun. The wedding industry is constantly trying to improvise and provide a dream-come-true experience to consumers no matter what the size of the guest list and assure them that micro weddings can be as Instagram-worthy as the big fat Indian wedding. While doing so and innovating new features to provide a great experience, the industry is also rising above with resilience and opening up new revenue streams to compensate for the shrunken guest list.

Embracing the new normal for business survival

Technology-driven solutions are here to stay and they are going to play an important role in revamping the Indian wedding industry space. People continue to be wary of stepping out of their homes unless necessary. Hence, this will pave the way for more and more digital services such as VR/AR-assisted wedding venue tours, digital décor illustrations, contactless dining options, digital wedding couture catalogues and wedding video streaming platforms. The wedding industry has traditionally thrived on the grandeur of events, but to ensure business as usual during this challenging phase, businesses and vendors in the industry are fast adapting to the virtual wedding demand. Small and medium businesses are beginning to embrace digital transformation and offer personalized services to couples. This amalgamation of safety measures, tradition and technology will continue to be the new-normal in the wedding industry.

The Indian wedding industry was once thought to be recession proof but this pandemic has proved to be a harsh wakeup call for the sector. However, the industry has shown resilience in the face of insurmountable challenges and it will continue to innovate and evolve to make sure every couple enjoys their big, magical day.

Sandeep Lodha


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