A wedding in our country is not any less than a festival. Scrumptious foods, riots of colours and flavours, and a medley of fragrance in the air, a wedding is a party for your senses and ‘subtlety’ and ‘mediocrity’ are words which Indian weddings have chucked out of the window long back. It is all about going big, bold and making an impression, something that will have the guests talking for at least a year or two! While the family hosting the wedding plan meticulously with the mission to impress, the guests partake in their role of speculation to ensure they haven’t missed a ball. The result? A wedding which will invite awe and admiration of three generations and friends of family! This is how things have been for decades. Then comes 2020, and it’s not-so-friendly guest-COVID-19!
To-be-brides who had their weddings planned for 2020, our heart goes out for them! This couldn’t have been an easy time to navigate through. One day she was browsing through Sabyasachi lehengas and planning out her Mehndi outfit, the next moment, her dreams were rudely interrupted by a certain virus called COVID-19. And in a matter of days, everything changed and chaos took over. The definition of a ‘big fat Indian wedding’ seems to have changed significantly in the year 2020! Celebrated for the extensive guest counts, close dancing in the Baraat, and the scrumptious street-style food stalls, Indian weddings are going through a reiteration, like everything else. While what remains to just the trend of the hour and what remains permanent remains to seen over time, let us take a peek at some of the things we can expect in the upcoming weddings in the post-COVID era:
While a Big Indian Wedding can have anywhere between 500 to 2000 guests, or even more, COVID-19 put the plans of a wedding with thousands of guests on a check, until further notice! In the coming years, we can expect weddings which are more intimate and come with a shorter guest list. Which means, there is no obligation of inviting elaborate extended families which you haven’t seen in years. It means having people around who actually mean a lot to you, and you are happy to share your special day with. This means a wedding day which is truly special and memorable and not a huge blur of a day!
People will be choosing more outdoor wedding venues with an open-air plan rather than indoor venues, for the obvious reasons. Not only outdoor venues make it easier for the guest to maintain social distancing guidelines, but outdoor venues also sound more healthy in terms of circulation of air particles, and sound in terms of safety measures. In the wedding coming up in the next year or so, wider spaces and more room for the guests to mingle seems to be the need of the hour.
In the spirit of “If you can’t beat them join them”, masks seem to be the wedding accessory of the time, and it seems like it is not going anywhere anytime soon. From exquisite and opulent designs of masks created meticulously for the couple to the casual hand-outs of masks in the entryway, masks have made their presence felt firmly in the wedding community. While there is a deliberate morbid feeling about wearing a mask to a wedding, making one feel they are in an episode of a dystopian series, people are warming up to it fast and making it a part of their wedding personality by incorporating cheeky quotes or the fun Bride’s side/ Groom’s side mask!
Sanitization and precaution
The welcoming of the guests had a new makeover with sanitization stations, temperature checks and handwashing stations becoming a norm and a part of the decor now. Taking the whole pandemic situation with the grain of salt, wedding planners are coming up with creative and aesthetic ways of displaying wedding sanitizers and masks and is something that we can expect to see at weddings. Strategic placement of sanitization stations around the wedding venue, and adding an edge of personality by adding quirky or funny signage is something that can make something like a sanitization be a part of your wedding rather than having it stick out like a sore thumb. From letting the guests feel overwhelmed or jittery, it is a good idea to reiterate and remind that these practices are there to ensure couples, guests, and staff feel comfortable and safe.
Change in floor plans
Being used to the crowd and hustle bustle of a desi wedding, the idea of a socially distant wedding celebration comes with challenges of its own. The floor plan of the wedding had to be shuffled and remapped as there it is encouraged not to congregate. The high traffic areas like the bar area or the dance floor had to be revisited carefully. While the dinner seating area is easier to manage with socially distanced seating, the high tactile activities had to be moved to a more open area with more room to mingle without contact.
Serving food and drinks at a wedding is going to go through a huge shift too. While open salad bars, chat stations and the wedding signature drinks might be something we have seen often, things will be different now. The appetizers might have to be served on individual plates and drinks will be served by the servers only. Low contact and exposure are what we can expect to see in terms of food preparation and serving. While over the years, communal eating experiences like buffets and food stations promptly replaced plated dinners, with the virus in the air, the elegant plated meals can be expected to make a comeback. There will be a higher degree of precaution and hygiene which will be maintained in the background so that everything meets the highest level of standard!
There was a new awakening as virtual mediums stood up against the restrictions of social gathering. Virtual weddings were something which we never deemed to be possible and suddenly, it was all the rage everywhere. As we have already ventured into the virtual streaming route, chances are even after COVID, virtual weddings will still be very much a part of the scene. The convenience of the same cannot be undermined, as it ensures that weddings are streamed so that those who are unable to attend in person can be there virtually. Even when the size of the guest list is not constrained by the rules of social distancing, the virtual streaming of this special day opens it up for more people to be included, be it the grandparent who can’t make it, or the cousin studying abroad.
Indian weddings are already on board with multiple celebrations, so the concept of having a smaller celebration now, followed by a more elaborate party when the coast clear seems to be something that many are adapting to quite easily. Whether having an intimate wedding celebrated alongside the Haldi and Sangeet, with the wedding reception to be followed later on, or whether a simple court wedding with a small dinner with a grand celebration in a year’s time, people are opening up to breaking down their wedding celebrations into nuggets of mini-celebrations
COVID-19 has impacted not only the couple awaiting their weddings, but the entire wedding industry as a whole, from the florists, to the caterers to the wedding photographers, and it has been tough sailing for all. The light at the end of the tunnel promises the return of the wedding in all its glory, and it is surely a reason to rejoice. While a dark cloud looming over an almost sunny day, there are some tell-tale signs which will keep on reminding us of the world we are living in right now. But these little things fail to steal away from the undying spirit of weddings. The weddings post-COVID-19 tells an inspiring tale of love in times of uncertainty. That whether there is a global pandemic or not, love will find a way to bloom.
Weddings will still happen, and celebrations will still find a way to trickle back into our daily lives. Sure, the post-COVID weddings will be filled with the word caution in the air, but it will also be full of the combined sense of accomplishment of having survived a pandemic together. The highs will be higher and the waves of laughter will be louder and there will be a beat in the drum which was never felt before!