The Big Fat Economics of Indian Weddings

A popular Hindi movie titled “Band Baaja Baraat” based on the business of wedding planners has the protagonist speaking a dialogue “Recession ho ya inflation, shaadi toh honi hi hai” which translates to the conviction on how weddings are actually protected from any kind of economic roadblocks.

But what does actually the big fat Indian wedding entail for the entire economy? Starting with the provision of employment to a vast size of the population, to actually cause a movement of money in the circular flow of the economy ranging from gold purchases to durable goods being a part of gifts being passed on during the glittery affairs. The concept of gig-economy may have found its name during recent times but the wedding business thrives mostly on the temporary gigs that the various vendors may be a part of. Across the globe people find it to be an intriguing point of discussion, about Indians standing shoulder to shoulder as the country celebrates together. A true reflection of the colorful Indian culture actually involves the expenditure of 1/5th of an individual’s lifetime wealth. The idle money that might usually spend its major span of life in the lockers of banks may also see the light of day with these life-size events.

As per an estimation by the global media giant Conde Nast in 2013, the Indian wedding business stands at $38 billion per year which is equivalent to the GDP of a developing country. Weddings boost many industries related to wedding planners, decorators, Mehendi artists, bands and musicians, photographers, and caterers to name a few. Going by the exponential growth of the business, KPMG reports of having approximately 60.5 million weddings taking place in India from 2017-2021 which can be marginally affected since the outbreak of pandemic but if the revival rate is a model being followed and with a dropping number of active cases while the enthusiasm sores heights among individuals to turn their backs on the COVID-19 infection fears.

There has been a noticeable rising trend in the customizations of cards which has boosted the cards industry to value more than Rs. 5000 crore. The glitter is incomplete without the gleaming clothing. Designer clothing actually pushes the business to thousands of crores every year. The dreamy-eyed wedding of Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli and actress Anushka Sharma made a lot of heads turn with the exclusively designed apparel by designer Sabyasachi. As the prominent personalities pull off these designer dresses, there is a hoard of local market players who would replicate a similar low-cost design that would be economically more reachable to a lower band of income levels as well. According to the celebrity designer Sabyasachi, the Red Benarasi saree donned by actress Anushka Sharma would flood the market with similar copies and hence pushing thousands of local weavers to enable a better living.

If the cards and clothing needed anything to complement, it is the makeup. Vivek Bharti, who heads the Bollywood-Hollywood International (BHI), a Mumbai-based make-up and hairstyling academy says that people at Indian weddings spend around Rs. 15,000-30,000 on bridal make-up compared to $150-200 in the US. While the makeup industry grows at a positive rate of 20% annually and awareness of make-up growing at a rate of 50%, newer categories of Jobs are also emerging as the professional make-up artists are being paid heavily.

There has also been a growth of startups focussed on wedding business-like ‘Wanted Umbrella’ which gives a platform for the differently-abled people to find a suitable match for themselves and ‘ForMyShaadi’ which lets the couple getting married to create a bucket list of all the gifts their family and friends. To finance the extraordinary expenses many banks and non-banking financial companies offer tailor-made personal marriage loans and financial products like wedding insurance being the new offering to cover for situations of cancellations caused due to various reasons.

The gold consumption and purchase is also a major factor during Indian weddings to make it a head-turner for economics enthusiast as Somadsundaram PR, MD of World Gold Council, India quotes “The country’s demand is largely in the form of jewelry in which 50-60% is bridal”. The clubbed effect on these variables can be collectively labelled as the “Weddonomic Effect”. With additions to the celebration and more and more enthusiasm over the ‘once in a lifetime event’ and the COVID-19 introducing a new normal to all our lives there is bound to be a bump in the usual growth of the wedding industry but the cycle shall keep running while the wheels continue to accelerate the economy at a micro level to create a macro impact.

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