If you thought finally deciding to get married was tough, think again. You now have the monumental task of planning the wedding ahead of you, and believe it or not, this can sometimes be more stressful than actually taking the plunge. And with the current slump in economy, an event like this can have you wanting to pull all your hair out.
The fact that India is facing the very real possibility of a serious recession is indisputable. Hundreds, even thousands of people have lost their jobs, and nearly the whole country's job force is on tenterhooks, hoping that they won't be the next to go. In days like these, large weddings might just be a luxury you don't really need. The multi-million dollar wedding industry has taken a hit, and those who make their livings off other people getting hitched have started to feel the pinch.
Rachna Bhagchandka, fashion designer who goes under the brand name, Kashiish says, "Things are slow this year. Last year, there was no problem selling. In fact, the expensive things would go faster. This time everything's about the prices."
Jiten J. Parikh, who has been in the jewellery industry for 35 years now, says, "Our brand, Kimara, is facing trouble. People are not buying this year; even despite reasonable pricing. I don't see a bright future for the jewellery industry for a long time."
Wedding planner, Nitin Raichura has been seeing a lot of downscaled weddings this year. He says, "As compared to last year, I am seeing only 1-2 per cent of really lavish weddings. Last year there was enough money for people to have their dream weddings. This year, however, the weddings that we planned in advance are also being re-planned to cut costs. Wedding expenses are directly proportionate to the stock market and we all know how that is doing right now. However, there are many ways to downscale -- if the customers put their minds to it, you'd be surprised at how many expenses are actually unnecessary."
How they're downscaling...
When downscaling a wedding, the first thing to go are the decorations, followed by clothes and jewellery. People are choosing to buy imitations instead of designer wear, this year. A clever few are getting their local tailors to copy their favorite designs. And others are recycling jewellery! Says Prajakta Pitkar, jewellery designer who sells under the name Jaipur Jewels, "Big traditional neckpieces that look old and royal are in vogue right now. And I have started selling pendants with different jewelled strings. So people can wear the same pendant for various functions and make it look like a completely different piece."
Designer Kalol Datta is worried about business as well. He says, "The mode right now is combative and depressive. I have made an effort this year, to design garments that are not too expensive. To be frank, the biggest spenders today are the ones with black money. I mean, when was the last time you splurged on a pair of shoes? With this financial crisis, the proportion of people choosing to buy high street fashion has increased and the demand for designer wear has gone down."
When wedding budgets are slashed, the bride's ornamentation takes a hit too. Make up and mehendi are seen as items that can be drastically cut back on. Bridal make up artists are complaining about the current state of affairs quite loudly. Bookings that had been made six months ago are being re-thought. People are changing their minds about their make up needs.
Well known makeup artist Zubair Quraishi who has worked in the fashion industry for more than a decade says, "People are bargaining these days. That never used to happen earlier. They are willing to compromise; for instance, they'll ask me to do the bride's makeup and hair, but ask my assistants to do the rest of the family, because that would be 40 per cent cheaper. Or they'll ask me to come for only one function, instead of all. On my part, I've slashed my prices. Earlier I used to charge Rs. 12,000. Now I charge Rs 9,000-10,000. To be very frank, we anticipate markets to fall even more, so we are taking whatever we can get. I don't hang up when people start bargaining anymore. I relent."
Don't find yourself in wedding debt
Saloni Mehra*, who is planning her wedding this Christmas is very upset about the falling stock market. She and her fiance had invested a lot of their savings in stocks and are now having to downsize their wedding because of the financial crisis. Despite this, they have already gone over their budget. "I just spent Rs 6 lakhs in a day. In a day! Ordinarily, I wouldn't be upset over something like that. I expected expenditures like that. But this year, it's really pinching. And I don't want to be broke by the time I'm married."
So if you're planning to tie the knot this season, the first thing you need to do is make a wedding budget -- and stick to it. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasised. If you don't make a budget, you will almost definitely land yourself in debt. And if you do make one, but don't stick to it, you'll end up breaking your bank account. The next thing -- and this is the hard part -- is to plan your wedding in such a way that it fits in your budget without being too obvious about it.
So put your thinking cap on and try to work out ways to downscale your wedding without losing out on the charm of it. And remember, this is just the beginning of your married life, not the end. No matter how large or small it turns out to be, it is still your special day and will hold fond memories for you forever, despite its size. And last, but not the least, take time out to relax and enjoy the experience -- this is your wedding day, not a chore.
* Name changed to protect privacy.
Text: Insiyah Vahanvaty | Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
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