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The Business of 'I DO': How Weddings Continue to Be a Thriving Industry in India The process of executing a wedding and its subsequent events is no cake walk. Rather, it requires specialized skills in several domains. All this combined made an estimate of INR 4.25 trillion businesses from just 23 days into the Indian wedding season of 2023. What is noteworthy is that 40 number of startups are part of this everblooming industry, offering services from matchmaking to vendors to invitation and highend photography.

By Paromita Gupta

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Cupcake Productions

Weddings in India are no less than any festivals, and rightfully so. Be it 1940s or 2020s, the importance and essence of weddings in India are still going strong, and will continue to do so. Be it a close-knit or a big fat one, the wedding industry is on a rise, onwards and upwards.

According to a market research report by Align, a staggering number of 85 million weddings are set to take place by end of the year. The process of executing a wedding and its subsequent events is no cake walk. Rather, it requires specialized skills in several domains. All this combined made an estimate of INR 4.25 trillion businesses from just 23 days into the Indian wedding season of 2023. What is noteworthy is that 40 number of startups are part of this everblooming industry, offering services from matchmaking to vendors to invitation and highend photography.

ALL YOUR NEEDS, UNDER ONE ROOF

Over a period of time, slowly and steadily, wedding aggregator platforms have become a popular choice among would-be brides and grooms. WedMeGood, Wedding Sutra, Betterhalf, Wedeterna, ForMyShaadi, and Shaadilogy are some of the notable players which work towards ensuring a hassle-free affair. These portals help ease the process of booking various vendors pertaining to wedding celebrations. Such wedding portals often cater to vendors in segments such as venues, planners and decorators, photographers, makeup artists, jewellery and accessories, invites, and outfits. This has become popular among working couples who wish to organize their wedding without it taking much of a toll.

"Everyone would depend only on what they knew from friends and family. At the same time, there were a lot of creative people adding to the vibrancy of the wedding space whose work was not getting the platform it deserved. So, we decided to start WeddingSutra," shares Parthip Thyagarajan, Co-Founder & CEO, WeddingSutra. He and his co-founder, Madhulika Sachdeva Mathur started WeddingSutra and have established it as one of the leaders in the space. Being one of the oldest players in the segment, Thyagarajan feels that the first-mover advantage has helped the company reach where it is now. "Our venture into the wedding planning segment was driven by the need to simplify the fragmented wedding services market. Recognizing the challenges couples face, we set out to democratize wedding planning by curating a network of trusted vendors on a single platform," shares Pawan Gupta, Co- Founder and CEO, Betterhalf. Co-founded by Pawan Gupta and Rahul Namdev, Betterhalf has delivered over 100 weddings since its inception in 2016. "Our goal is to streamline the wedding planning process, making it stress-free and enjoyable for all customers," Gupta adds.

While people expected weddings to become a more contained-limited affair during and post-pandemic, the reality is otherwise. "Even today, intimate weddings co-exist with big, fat weddings. Domestic destinations and at-home weddings thrive, even as a few continue to go abroad," shares Thyagarajan. Gupta adds that the wedding services and products market has evolved to cater and adapt to changing consumer preferences, technology, and global events. He puts a strong emphasis on personalization, sustainability, and inclusivity. Other players in this space include WedMeGood, The Wedding Brigade, WedWise, Bandbaajaa, Fullonwedding, and HappyShappy.

MATCHMAKING

While the two biggest players in space have existed for close to 30 years, newcomers are not timed when it comes to entering space. "In my quest to find a life partner, I had to go beyond conventional checklists and delve into the core of a meaningful connection. I demanded more than a superficial understanding of what I wanted in a companion– a person who could truly comprehend my aspirations and dreams and would deconstruct the intricacies of life with me," shares Anuradha Gupta, Founder, CEO, Vows for Eternity. Gupta's company is focused on NRI matchmaking and has a presence in New York, New Delhi, Mumbai, London and Dubai.

Similarly, apart from being a wedding portal, Betterhalf also acts as a matchmaking platform, where one can find suitable prospects on the basis of caste, religion, mother tongue, state, city, and marital status. So, what's the market for newcomers? "The market for matchmaking services is exceptionally promising. In our interconnected world, there is a growing demand for platforms that go beyond superficial matches and appreciate cultural diversity, individual uniqueness, and the intricacies of genuine connections," shares Gupta.

SAY CHEESE!

Wedding videography and photography have always been a non-negotiable aspect of wedding festivities. However, it has made massive strides in recent times, with the introduction of newer technologies to capture moments to cherish for life. "Many couples are opting for a more candid and authentic approach to both photography and filming. They want to capture genuine emotions, un-posed interactions, and spontaneous moments that reflect the real spirit of the day. This trend emphasizes the beauty of unscripted moments and genuine connections, providing a more intimate and emotional portrayal of the wedding day," shares Jayant Chhabra, Founder, Cupcake Productions.

Fortune Business Insights reports that the global wedding photography market size was valued at USD 21.83 billion in 2023, and is expected to grow to USD 36.80 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 7.74 per cent over the forecast period. For Vishal Punjabi, founder, The Wedding Filmer market for wedding videography and photography in India is an ever-evolving one courtesy of AI and other technological advancements, "These innovations are setting a new bar for quality, encouraging videographers and photographers to continually elevate their skills and creativity." TWF have captured several weddings such as Bollywood actress Dia Mirza; and actors Rajkumar Rao and Patralekhaa, with the most prominent one being that of Deepika Padukone and Raveer Singh. "In India, the market for wedding photography services is significant and continues to grow. Looking ahead, the future of this industry is expected to be shaped by advancing technology," said Shruti Khannas, Cofounder, Cupcake Productions.

Rapid Innovation of High-end Professional Cameras and Inclination towards Destination Weddings are the top trends in this space. "Drone Photography and Videography have become a popular tools for capturing stunning aerial footage and dynamic perspectives of wedding venues, outdoor ceremonies, and scenic landscapes, especially FPV drones," shares Khanna. Khanna, Chhabra, and their team have captured several breathtaking weddings, one of particularly recent one being that of actors Randeep Hooda and Lin Laishram. So, what's the opportunity newcomers can leverage? Punjabi feels being open to the latest technologies and prioritizing quality is the key, "A lot of people think a camera and a computer is enough to be a wedding memory maker. Focusing on unique needs and gaps in the market can also offer a significant advantage, setting your venture apart in this evolving field," he adds. Other players in this space include Raabta, Stories by Joseph Radhik, and House On The Clouds.

THE PERSONAL TOUCH

The rise of small businesses in the complimentary segment in the wedding industry has been very evident. This segment is miniscule as compared to others. Individuals and startups are coming up with interesting ways and personalized products to captivate couples. Curators of personalized signages, digital invites (e-vites), unique trousseaus, calligraphy products are some of the players in this space. While largely informal, this segment has been truly embraced by today's brides and grooms. The traditional physical invites are quickly being replaced by digital invites and eco-friendly invites. Eco-friendly invites can be found in the form of seed paper, recycled paper, and e-vites. With climate change being a looming concern for youngsters, such offerings are not only sustainable but a much more affordable option. Hashtags and neon signages are a common factor in today's weddings, and nothing seems to slow them down. "In 2019, we hopped on the glass engraving trend that was booming in the US, and now it's a big trend here in India," shares Sanjana Chatlani, Founder, The Bombay Lettering Company, a boutique Calligraphy company. But are these ideas and offerings scalable in nature? "It's crucial to remember that the foundation is a creative skill and an art form. Balancing the constant need for upskilling while managing the business aspects can be challenging, but maintaining that is crucial for sustained success in this field," shares Chatlani.

THE HUSHED 'F' WORD

While the space is an ever-evolving and expanding one, the funding has been extremely limited. According to Tracxn, a market research firm, only three out of a list of 40 wedding startups had raised Series A. Why is the wedding space a no-zone for investors? "Despite the increasing number of weddings in India, the industry remains fragmented and largely unorganized, with a significant reliance on cash transactions. To fully unlock the potential of this market, wedding planners need local expertise, prompting the necessity for diverse teams across geographical boundaries. While immense opportunities exist within this space, the industry has yet to embrace its digital potential in a significant way," shares Vikram Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner, IvyCap Ventures.

THE WAY AHEAD

The trillion dollar wedding industry in India is expected to grow 3.5 times by 2030. In August, the Ministry of Tourism launched a wedding tourism campaign to unlock the potential of India's huge wedding industry. "Our 360-degree approach will ensure that every moment, from the first "hello" to the final "I do," is a testament to India's warm embrace and rich heritage," shared Kishan Reddy, Union Minister for Culture, Tourism and DoNER.

Safe to say, India is on its way to become the 'it' market for wedding festivities in times to come.

Paromita Gupta

Features Writer with Entrepreneur India

Covering news and trends in AI and Metaverse segments. An avid book reader running her personal blog on the side. You may reach me at paromita@entrepreneurindia.com. 
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