The venue may be beautifully decorated, all glittery with lights; pulsating music may fill the air; mouth-watering food may be served. But the chatter of guests won’t send the decibel levels up at big fat Indian weddings — at least not in the foreseeable future.
A society that pulls out all the stops to celebrate a marriage is now trying to adapt to small, intimate ceremonies and virtual vows.
Newly-married couple Anshula Verma and Parth Dawar said theirs was a well-thought-out decision to opt for a ‘virtual wedding’.
“With the ever-rising number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, we don't know when things will get back to normal. Moreover, we have many aged relatives; we didn’t want them to risk attending our wedding. So, we went ahead with a virtual wedding where only a handful of close relatives were present and the rest of the guests were on Zoom calls. The entire experience was nice and different. But yes, there were some technical glitches due to slow internet speed sometimes,” says the bride Anshula, a happiness coach.
Interestingly, for another Mumbai-based couple, Kasheesh Mallik and Abdullah, who also got married recently, a virtual wedding was the last option. “Our wedding dates were fixed and we didn’t want to postpone it. So we decided to go ahead.
Being in the industry of wedding planning ourselves, it wasn’t that difficult to organise our own virtual wedding. We did a very intimate nikah with close relatives after we got an NoC from our society. Our relatives took on the responsibility of one task or the other. The three-day ceremony was well attended by guests on zoom calls — right from the mehendi session to the haldi ceremony and the wedding,” says Kasheesh.
On the technical side, we had placed cameras at different angles to capture the moments in the best way possible. We also arranged a run through of how a Zoom call works for our guests much before the wedding date. It was not at all stressful,” adds Kasheesh, the co-owner of Topnotch Events.
According to Geeta Ratwani, owner of MyEventz, virtual weddings are the best alternative for couples who don’t want to play the wait-and-watch game. “Due to the ongoing pandemic, people are scared of venturing out and attending any large social gathering. Virtual weddings can have a few close people in attendance and other guests can watch the rituals from their own homes,” she explains.
“When we started taking up virtual weddings and other events, it was difficult,” she shares.
“But now I have my team in place and everything is streamlined — we plan every single bit of the event, just as we did earlier. As of now we have organised about 20 virtual events, including weddings, birthdays and corporate dos. We are in talks with five-star hotels for food delivery to round-off the celebratory mood,” she adds. But of course there’s a flip side — the lack of intimacy. “I have been hearing about virtual weddings for a while now, and finally got a chance to attend one a few weeks ago,” says Satrupa Arora, blogger.
“It was a live streaming video, with a handful of family members; obviously everything was like a traditional Indian wedding — the dazzling décor, colourful ceremonies, gorgeous garlands and those validating vows. But the one thing that was missing was the feel,” she shares.
“Indian weddings are all about emotions, and one can never experience that virtually. Sitting in front of a laptop, all dressed up, and not physically participating in the drama, is no fun,” she explains. Acknowledging that event planners had undoubtedly left no stone unturned to make the occasion as close to the traditional kind as possible, she said “We got the return gifts via courier; sweets were delivered at the doorstep, but the live experience is something you cannot rekindle.”
Echoing these sentiments, Shrawan Yadav, director, Shubh Muhurat Luxury Weddings, says, “Weddings have always been grand in India.
With the lockdown and other restrictions in place, it is difficult to get the same feeling through a virtual wedding. Even when we connect guests through zoom calls and set up LED screens at the venue so that the couple and the guests can interact, not many are enthusiastic about it, as the feel is lost. Only time will tell if Indians will actually embrace the new normal or not when it comes to celebrations.”