It’s the venue that sets the tone of the wedding, and once you’ve chosen the perfect place, managing the food, flower arrangements, bridal lehenga and wedding attire will be a breeze
Some dream of tying the knot by a picturesque beach in Goa, others in a grand fort in Udaipur or lavish farmhouse in Delhi or even an architectural marvel in an unexplored destination that promises romance and exclusivity.
One thing is certain–it is the venue that sets the tone of a wedding, and choosing one for yours should be your top priority. Get a fix on that first and then start working on the other elements such as food, flower arrangements, bridal lehenga and wedding gifts. After all, you want to be sure where you will be hosting your family and friends to celebrate this event of a lifetime and a significant milestone.
Zeroing down on a venue
First and foremost, set your budget. Having a budget in mind while planning for your wedding is crucial. This will eliminate non-feasible options, help you stay within what is possible and save you a lot of time. Planning and envisioning your wedding day is the first step to making the right choice. To begin, ask yourself: What kind of venue would you like to be wed at? Do you have a specific wedding theme in mind? Would you prefer an outdoor or indoor setting? How many people would be attending? Would your vendors and guests have access to the venue? Will your venue be able to facilitate rapid action in case you encounter last-minute troubles?
Once you have answers to these questions, you will then be able to shortlist venues. Ahead of finalising the venue, paying a deposit and signing a contract, it is advisable to check images and videos of the setting, read consumer reviews, and terms and conditions to gain a sense of personal guarantees, clauses for cancellations, deposits, etc.
Which are the hottest wedding destinations currently? Says Anam Zubair, Associate Director of Marketing, WeddingWire India (WWI), a part of The Knot Worldwide: “The top three venue categories most requested by users on the WWI platform are resorts, banquet halls, and marriage gardens. With a relaxed rule for gatherings, domestic destination weddings have had a huge uptick, with 10 out of 100 WWI registered users enquiring about such weddings, and Jaipur, Udaipur, Mussoorie, and Lonavala being the most preferred destinations.” Wedding planners talk about the “big shift” in luxury weddings from “diverted destinations”. So weddings that were earlier planned for Bali, Thailand, Maldives have now been shifted to the Goas and the Jaipurs–in short, the domestic turf.
Couples and families are also opting for destinations closer to their places of residence. For instance, a couple in Pune might opt for a wedding in Goa or Lonavala, and one from Delhi may choose Manesar or Rishikesh. Therefore, tourist locations that fall within the proximity of Metro and Tier-1 cities are fully geared up to cater to this demand.
The guest list is shrinking but the opulence is spreading across the select few now. Says Ahemer Shaikh, Director of Catering Sales, JW Marriott-Mumbai Sahar: “When it comes to some of the top new trends, the most trending event is residential weddings. While the number of guests is few, the host wants these celebrations to be grand. The years 2020 and 2021 have seen new trends and creativity in event planning with micro-events, intimate weddings and virtual audiences gaining popularity. Couples often choose to shift the celebrations to hotels within the city to ensure the safety of guests. Indoor venues remain main the top choice due to the uncertainty of weather and relatively lower spend on décor. Outdoor spaces are only being requested for events with larger crowds, in order to maintain social distance.”
You can expect smaller meals instead of elaborate buffets. Today’s weddings have more bite-size food items and sit-down meals instead of large portions. Regional and local cuisines are much in demand. Says Shaikh: “We also have an experienced Indian Chef (Maharaj) who delivers authentic Marwari cuisines, and this gets us repeat and referral business through word of mouth.”
What should be one’s budget to host a maximum of 300 people? (See Price Chart below). Hoteliers say the budget will depend on a guest’s requirements and preferences. Decor, meal experience, audio visual requirements determine the overall budget and vary for each wedding group.
One large banquet hall is passe. Many hotels such as Accor are now creating several break-out rooms for bubbles of people to get together rather than one big room. Rohit Chopra, Regional Director-Sales & Distribution, Accor India & South Asia, says some of their marquee properties that have been go-to wedding destinations for families include Raffles Udaipur, Fairmont Jaipur, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia, IBIS Gurgaon Golf Course Road.
People are spending much more on a fewer number of people. Says Accor’s Chopra: “There is a complete shift towards contactless food services, micro wedding ceremonies, in addition to the present norms of socially distanced gatherings, with a focus on highly sanitised venues. Because of the restriction on the number of guests, intimate weddings have gotten grander and more extravagant as guests have a smaller audience to cater to. The fact that there is a limit to the number of guests one can invite to their wedding has only encouraged people to spend more on weddings as it falls within their budget.”
Ornate & Maximalist Décor
What about décor? The décor which is very elaborate, exquisite and lavish is trending. From experimenting with bold colours, patterns, unexpected textures it is the era of OTT (over the top) and maximalism in decor. Says Lalita Raghav, Vice President, FNP Gardens by Ferns N Petals, “As of now, things have got back to normal, we are seeing a comeback of ‘Big Fat Indian Weddings’ where couples are opting for OTT décor to make their wedding a grand affair. They are going for bigger setups with lots of flowers and drapes to make their events more glamorous. When it comes to daytime events, people choose options like pastel shades of pink, blue, lilac, lavender and so on for their functions, but when we talk about events in the night they want more bold colours like blue, gold and red. A lot of couples and their families have been waiting for these special occasions and now they don’t want anything to be minimalistic!”
What kind of venues are being preferred – outdoors or indoors? People want the setup of a lawn as well as a banquet to have a feel of both types of venues at their function. Says FNP’s Raghav, “Sometimes they take indoor for catering and outdoor for the main event and sometimes vice versa. As we have got all the options available for our clients when it comes outdoors or indoors or resorts for destination weddings, we see a blend of bookings made.”
There are many small resorts and hotels where people are booking the entire property. Says Taj Group’s Parveen Chander, Senior Vice President – Sales & Marketing, IHCL, “Families are booking out the entire palace or hotel available exclusively for their celebrations while looking for even higher levels of customization. Many are also hosting phygital weddings, for which we have developed a hybrid model of simultaneously delivering meals at home to guests who are attending the celebrations virtually via Qmin, IHCL’s food delivery platform. This has grown in popularity in current times.” The Qmin package is usually customised according to client requirements, the per plate price beginning from appx. Rs 2,000 onwards.
Finally, the perfect wedding location is one that is accessible to guests, is aesthetically pleasing and has packages and facilities that cater to the couple’s needs. However, having to pick the ‘right’ venue can be a process that takes days on end, is overwhelming and hard. You need to know what you want and book as soon as the wedding date or month is finalised, preferably five to six months ahead of the D-day.
Table: Indicative price list of top wedding venues pan India
|Per-plate price||Block price for 300 guests|
|Leela Gurgaon||Starting at Rs 3,000||Starting at Rs 9 lakh|
|Tivoli MG Road||Starting at Rs 1,950||Starting at Rs 5.8 lakh|
|Starting at Rs 2,500||Starting at Rs 7.5 lakh|
|Della Resort Pune||Starting at Rs 3,000||Starting at Rs 9 lakh|
|Leela Karkardooma||Starting at Rs 3,100||Starting at Rs 9.3 lakh|
|Devam Palace East Delhi||Starting at Rs 2,400||Starting at Rs 7.2 lakh|
|Starting at Rs 1,199||Starting at Rs 3.5 lakh|
|Starting at Rs 3,200||Starting at Rs 9.6 lakh|
|Starting at Rs 2,200||Starting at Rs 6.6 lakh|
|Hyatt Regency Delhi||Starting at Rs 4,200||Starting at Rs 12 lakh|
|Taj Santa Cruz||Starting at Rs 3,500||Starting at Rs 10 lakh|
|Starting at Rs 4,000||Starting at Rs 12 lakh|
|Fairmont Jaipur||Starting at Rs 4,000||Starting at Rs 12 lakh|
|Welcome Heritage Ranthambore||Starting at Rs 2,000||Starting at Rs 6 lakh|
|JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar||Starting at Rs 1,600||Starting at Rs 4.8 lakh|
|Ambassador, New Delhi-IHCL SeleQtions||Starting at Rs 2,000||Starting at Rs 6 lakh|
Credit: WeddingWire India