Shaadis are big, especially our desi ones. Now, with our desi shaadis evoking their ‘world famous’ appeal, opulence and grandeur, and the videshis yearning to have a look see, be a part of the whole fiesta, why shouldn’t they visit an Indian wedding to live through this innate Indianness? That is exactly why Wedding Tourism or “Marriage Tourism” or “Destination Wedding”, came about. If you think about it, there’s nothing more cultural than a wedding.
Remember the once ‘couple’ Katy Perry and Russell Brand‘s much spoken about Indian wedding in October 2010, at Ranthambore? And Heidi Klum and Seal, and their grand Indian wedding celebration, which they held in 2008, to mark their third wedding anniversary. The couple had also visited the Indian city Varanasi, which inspired them to renew their vows as per the Indian traditional way. Such has been the curiosity and obsession for Indian weddings for the westerners.
Since, weddings are a huge part of the Indian praxis. The humdrum around the wedding preparations, is an experience! Right from the maddening rush into the by-lanes of the crowded markets in search of the perfect wedding attire to the decorations, the food spread and exotic venues, Indian weddings are well… almost tourist destinations. This is one event where, apart from the bride and the groom getting married, there is a bigger marriage taking place simultaneously- that of culture, tradition, rituals, local food, local attire, music and entertainment, all in one sweep. So, cashing in on making weddings as “one of the touristy things that you must do in India”, isn’t surprising.
A missed wedding and a FoMo moment, led Orsi Pakanyi to start her trend setting venture, ‘Join My Wedding’. Two Australian bloggers signed up to attend a Dehli-based fund raiser, Surabhi Chauhan’s wedding last year. 400$ for a two day invitation, seemed liked a worthy amount to them, to embark upon their Indian wedding fest. First hand familiarity with Indian traditions, comes with a fair share of extravagance and a whole lot of fun…. Band, Bajaa, Baraat… and of course, connecting with the hospitable Indian locals who will teach the foreigner tourists some local words too!
Apart from the ‘Join My Wedding’ start-up, many travel agencies and tour operators are also offering tour packages for international travellers to attend Indian wedding ceremonies during their visit. Experts estimate the Indian wedding industry to be worth about $40 billion and expect it to grow around 20 percent a year. Wow! Shaadi isn’t so bad after all!
So this is how it works….
- Tourists interested in attending your wedding, approach through ‘Join My Wedding’ or any other travel agent.
- You choose from amongst the weddings listed and book as per your fascination.
- The tickets cost anything from INR 20000 per guest.
- The guests get accommodation and access to all the ceremonies and related activities.
- Contributions from the tickets go to the betrothed couple, while the start-up/agent takes a cut from it.
- The couple must nominate a friend/ relative to guide and explain the rituals to the travellers.
And voila… you have some friends for life too! If nothing else works, there are always weddings… recession proof, fun, entertaining and glamorous!
Desi shaadiyon ki toh baat hi kuch aur hai!