The business of getting married
With the major wedding season in Goa almost upon us, Café looks at the trend of getting married in Goa, and all that it entails from a planner’s viewpoint
When Animesh Jansen and Anushka Raman, residents of Oman, expressed their desire to get married in Goa, a destination wedding was what they wanted. They asked around in Oman and they were instructed to check with wedding planners in Goa to help them. And that’s what they did.
The marriage ceremony, and the function that follows, are very important markers of a life that will be lived together. The couple, and family and friends will look back at the day with memories that will be tinged with joy and relief that it all went well. Relief is usually the sentiment expressed by the family and friends who have been involved in ensuring the evening passed off smoothly. Goa has emerged as an important destination for domestic and NRI weddings over the last couple of years. This has meant that several wedding planners in the state have had to improve their expertise or ‘up their game’. The number of wedding planners increased, some started by staff who exited existing companies or by those who came into the state on learning of the riches to be made. The business, however, remains very competitive and is expected to get even more so in the years ahead.
Shyam Haridas of Lucros Event Management says business was always very competitive and it was important to present innovative themes. Shyam says “Clients would like a theme for the mehendi, sangeet, mehfil. They would like to have alternatives for each of these segments. Some would like a sunset weddings others midnight pheras. The Marwaris always prefer it at midnight”.
Ever since the domestic market discovered the pleasure of saying ones vows on the beaches of Goa, the skill levels of Goan wedding planners have improved drastically. Many have no problem looking beyond the shores of Goa to hire services of entertainers or expertise for designing sets. Lyndon Alves of Sunset Gateways hired the services of Sumant Jaikrishnan, considered the best wedding theme designer for a wedding in the state. Lyndon says “Yes, it was for the wedding of an industrialist in the state and yes, the people of Goa will spend money when it is needed”. He goes on to say that Goa is the only place in the country where it was possible to get a large number of rooms in the same property. It is also possible to combine two properties since distances are not large. Goa, he says, fits into the budget of the aspiring middle class who want to show the world, they have made it. Themes are important, he says, for all these weddings and couples as well as their families are open to ideas, some of which are certainly out of the box. Lyndon says budgets for such weddings usually are between Rs. 12 to 30 lakhs. Goa will continue to remain a great venue and will get even bigger, in the years to come. This, however, will depend on sorting out the 10 o’clock deadline of outdoor parties. He says wedding planners in the state usually have to design two sets one for an outdoor party and another indoor after 10 when the party can continue with music.
Jayant Varma of Forever weddings says with a great deal of interest in Goa as a wedding destination, it has resulted in an increase in the number of wedding planners. This means, hard negotiations are the order of the day. Themes are getting even more interesting, but budgets are in most cases decreasing due to hard negotiating. Clients are coming in from locations as diverse as Dubai, Singapore, Zambia, UK, and most of them are of Indian descent. Many of the clients he says have conducted research and have someone who has some experience in the past, interacting with wedding planners. A large number of the big wedding planners in the state, he says only organise weddings for domestics or NRI’s and will not touch local weddings, because the budgets are not large enough.
Tastes and a willingness to experiment have certainly increased, but budgets remained tight irrespective of nationality and this at times places a strain. However, they all agree that there is way too much business to complain. It is not unusual for a mid-size wedding planning company to help organise around 45 to 50 weddings in a three month season. With each wedding conservatively spending Rs. 20 lakhs, it can be only imagined what the profit margins are for these wedding planners. However, as a wedding planner who did not want to come on record says, “Yes, the money is good but what is heartening is that one in five clients will listen to you and trust you. And when at the end of the evening, they thank you with tears in their eyes, it makes up for everything.” Amen to that.