Ok, so I have been wanting to write this post for a really long time, but paucity of time and inclination rendered me lazy. But it’s never too late to share some oddly-funny, mind-churning changes in the Indian wedding market that I have noticed lately. A few months ago, my younger brother got married and I was naturally the ‘go to’ person for bills, barbecue and band! So, having personally witnessed a big wedding closely, today I am getting down to compile my little list of trends that have changed the face of Indian Wedding Market in the last decade.
Before I begin, I must admit that I got married almost eight years ago in New Delhi. But this whole new wave makes me feel that it has been eons. Though the changes are evident in metropolitan cities, I am sure in small towns, the Desi heart still beats for a conventional wedding. Nevertheless, here’s my list:
1.) Pre-wedding shoots: So when I got married in 2006, Facebook was in its innocent embryonic form and people still used their phones to make calls. Selfies sauntered in much later. Wedding photography meant getting those toothy smile shots done by the neighbourhood lensman who had done a fairly decent (read reasonable) job at Chinki’s shaadi. But, cut to present, and here we have elaborate pre-wedding shoots. Yes, something that happens before the couple actually mutters “I Do”. Clicked by professionals, these shots are candid moments between the bride-to-be and the groom-to-be. That’s not all. We also have romantic HD videos involving families and glamorous photo-booths for the big day.
2.) Caterers: Today, the bride shrieks at the mere mention of a Halwai. Her size minus zero friends squirm looking at the kachoris. And no one has the time to visit the sabzi-mandi to buy fresh produce in bulk. Everything is offloaded to a professional caterer who lays out fancy schmancy multi-cuisine like Thai, Italian, Vegan and much more apart from the mundane Mughlai. Moët & Chandon flows freely along with exotic cheese and fruit platters. From stewards to cutlery – everything is taken care of. For desserts, cupcakes have elbowed out motichoors and chocolates look prettier than plain Jane barfi. Ofcourse, mithai is passé and there is little traditional about gifts accompanying the wedding cards.
3.) The dressing up: With a whirl of designers armed with a strong PR team, now every bride secretly wishes to clinch a Sabyasachi or a Rohit Bal outfit for her big day. Perhaps, it's because so much has been said and written about them. I never cared much for what actresses wore at the Cannes or Colaba. But today, I really know who wore what. Sometimes the information is shoved into my face by popping adverts, while in some cases, I happily click away to fashion blogs. Yes, it has affected me and changed the way we women look up to fashion. Clearly, the strong marketing campaigns, teasing tabloid pictures and big haute couture sales have spurred the aspirational values in the conventional Indian bride. The wedding dress would usually be from a modest store that mom set her finger on or stitched by the next-door darzi. Make up usually meant Lakme or Maybelline. Today, nothing less than Mac or Bobbi Brown shines. With smoky eyes and nude lips – today’s blushing bride looks a lot different from the panda-eyed, gajra-clad Messy Miss of yore.
4.) Band aur Baaja: I think, by the time my child grows up, she would probably get to see the humble shehnai and nafiri only in the National museum. As a kid, I have participated in many bombastic wedding celebrations that were made dramatic by eye-popping, ear-smashing light and music shows, courtesy the indispensable brass bands and entertainers. Remember the fancy burnished red uniform, jhumar, tashe, atishbazi, tubelights and the works? They all seem to be fading into oblivion now. Who’s to blame? People or their changing tastes? Well, in a clear exit from the past, the latest trend is to have tastefully and sometimes distastefully arranged musical functions. There’s an eruption of Sufi singers, Yo Yo Singhs, out-of-work Indian Idols, classy live bands and private DJs - all jostling for their share of space in this Grand Indian Wedding Market.
5.) Gold is old: While gold continues to be on the wish list of every bride, the girls and their families do not view this metal with the same love and affection anymore. Gold is not bought solely as investment and there are diamonds, emeralds, rubies and platinum making a foray into the jewellery boxes of traditional brides. I could not help but notice my South Indian friend who clearly skipped the tradition of wearing innumerable gold neck pieces and instead wore a dainty diamond string on her wedding day. Ofcourse, the bride is happy to experiment - there are brazen ear cuffs, studded collar necklaces and cocktail rings with kitschy motifs in her listing.
The list is actually endless. There is a dramatic shift in every aspect of nuptial ceremonies. The brides are wearing gowns, the rock on her finger is growing bigger, the Hijra community (eunuchs) is demanding a lakh plus in exchange of blessings and the cost of a single wedding is going through the roof. Do you agree? Please feel free to add to this list. More the merrier!