From intimate celebrations with limited guest lists to bespoke services, luxury hotels in Delhi are ensuring that your winter wedding is a big hit this season!
Dramatic baraats, huge entertainment acts by celebrities, brides and grooms making jaw-dropping entries in choppers or posh vintage cars, guest lists running upto thousands, elaborate multi-cuisine menus, and more — Indian weddings have always been far from a modest affair, especially in Delhi. With the grand celebrations and ceremonies spreading over three to four days, luxury properties in the capital usually see a complete buyout during the wedding season. It’s no wonder then that when the coronavirus hit India, the wedding industry was one of the first to take a major blow. Now, after being subdued for 20 months, the lucrative business has started to bounce back as the pandemic shows signs of receding, and the hospitality sector is looking to revive fortunes.
According to a report by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), over 25 lakh weddings are to generate a revenue of Rs three lakh crore between November and December, out of which 1.5 lakh wedding are scheduled to take place in Delhi alone, expected to generate Rs 50,000 crore during this period. On November 21, the capital saw an unbelievable count of around 8,000 weddings!
Although the limit of 200 guests (recently increased from 50) might sound drastically low in comparison to thousands, to-be weds and their families in Delhi are happy to take what they are getting and make the most of it. The restricted guest lists couldn’t dampen the spirits of these high-budget weddings since, instead of large gatherings, clients are now focussing on paying similar or even higher amounts to have bespoke experiences for their limited guests. High-end hotel venues are, of course, elated to offer just what these big-ticket weddings need to be a success.
New trends in play
The years 2020-2021 have seen the introduction of new wedding trends, with micro-ceremonies, intimate weddings, and virtual audiences being the most popular. “Banquet events and weddings have been a total game-changer for us post-pandemic. These not only contributed substantially to the revenue pie, a much-needed push to hit back after tough times, but also made us experiment and re-invent with our popular venues,” says Vijay Wanchoo, Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager at The Imperial New Delhi, which is known for its premium wedding venue options amongst HNIs.
Nayan Seth, General Manager, Taj Palace, New Delhi, says despite local guidelines in terms of capped numbers, the overall response to weddings has been fantastic for them. “We have seen an uptick in wedding and celebratory event bookings and given the stipulated restrictions on capacity in the new normal, booking a wedding or a celebration with not more than 200 invitees has evidently become a faster and more seamless process for the host. Moreover, we are also flexible in creating wedding packages that are tailor-made to preferences. Besides the main wedding event, our ability to curate everything from the couple’s magical proposal to post-wedding gifts and favours, allows our guests to benefit from a holistic set of offerings,” explains Seth.
Ask Rohit Arora, Area General Manager, THE Park, New Delhi, about the biggest trend of the season, and he simply points in the direction of small gatherings with special attention to guests. “COVID-19 has made the trend of small intimate weddings with limited guests in grand, luxe settings a big success. People are now keener to do small events at five-star venues, going big on intricate details. The demand for venues, especially during the saya (auspicious) dates have gone up almost threefold! We have tied up with some big players in the wedding segment who have a major online presence. The other big trend we have seen is ‘staycation weddings’. Even if the guests are from the same city, they are preferring to stay at one place and have a fun-filled intimate wedding that they can cherish for a lifetime.”
Other than ultra-luxe venues for intimate weddings, the list of popular trends for the season extends to virtual assistance in wedding planning, personalised small set-up decor, curated invitations, high-end gifts and favours, customised masks, zero-contact menus, and live-streaming of the celebrations.
Customised services here to stay
Andaz Delhi has unique bespoke offerings like yoga parties and private movie screenings for friends and family, a ‘401 Reasons to fall in love with Delhi’ experience for newly-weds, fun culinary classes and mixology sessions at the Juniper Bar, and more. With over 37,500 square feet of event spaces ideal for intimate weddings and distinctive celebrations, the swanky hospitality address at Aerocity, is known for its tasteful wedding venues, including Andaz Studios, a pillar-free oval ballroom, al fresco spaces, and the Elephant Path. With its special honeymoon package in place, planning a wedding here means free honeymoon nights at any Hyatt Hotels & Resorts location worldwide.
Luxury hotels are now treading away from per-plate rates and sticking to all-inclusive wedding packages to cover the costs and offer more custom-made services at the same time. Talking of The Imperial New Delhi‘s flexibility to offer tailor-made services, Wanchoo adds, “We have become more flexible and creative in converting our various locations to accommodate high-end social events, which was not the case earlier. And expectedly so, the per-person rates have increased, as costs of individual services have also gone up substantially now. Hence, we prefer to sell holistic packages inclusive of many services. This works in favour of both the hotel and the host. Moreover, all the events are conducted keeping Covid protocols in mind under our ‘I care’ programme and guests are made completely aware about all the guidelines.”
Safety still comes first
Speaking of safety protocols, the luxury hoteliers do remember that despite increased pace of vaccination, an ebb in infections, and state governments relaxing rules for gatherings, the pandemic isn’t over just yet. They are, hence, making sure to leave no loose ends when it comes to necessary safety and sanitisation protocols.
At Taj Palace, New Delhi, Seth believes that safety protocols and restrictions in the new normal are crucial for all stakeholders — guests, staff associates, and vendors. “We remain committed to ensuring compliance with stipulated norms and guidelines. As a part of restrengthened commitment of Tajness, we have implemented a host of precautionary measures across our hotels, with strict adherence to protocols prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), and the Government of India. All guests and associates entering the hotel undergo mandatory non-invasive thermal screening checks. Wearing of Category III personal protective equipment (PPE) is mandatory for all food handlers at the hotel. All our associates are vaccinated and have been trained to maintain physical distancing at all times. Our food handlers undergo strict 20-second handwash regimes followed by use of certified, alcohol-based hand sanitisers. Common and high-touch areas of our restaurants witness frequent sanitisation and industrial strength disinfectants are being used as part of an escalated cleanliness routine.”
“THE Park New Delhi is committed to adhering to all protocols during functions and follow government’s guidelines,” says Arora. “We follow the strict SHIELD Protocols, an in-house guidelines process to ensure maximum guest safety, and as a hotel, we ensure that all protocols are followed at all times.”
Offering one of the capital’s largest convention spaces, sprawled over a whopping 40,000 square feet with that pillar-less ballroom, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, an AccorHotel’s flagship hotel, also has the brand’s #ALLSAFE label certification that represents its global cleanliness and prevention standards. This includes providing guests with masks and sanitisers, offering them access to medical professionals and tele-medical support, reinforced cleaning program in public areas with frequent disinfection of all high touch areas, contactless check-ins, vaccinated staff, and more.