Banking on the big business of Indian weddings

WASHINGTON, D.C. — From grooms arriving at the ceremony on horses and elephants to the newly weds leaving their reception in a helicopter, arguably no ceremony is quite as extravagant as an Indian wedding.

The guest list is typically in the hundreds and the price tag jaw-dropping. It’s a big business and business owners in Canada and south of the border are working hard to court Indian brides and grooms.

“An average Indian wedding is spending $300,000 to $400,000,” said Ani Sandhu, who plans Indian weddings in the U.S. with Ace of Events. “Any business wants to get a piece of that especially hotels.”

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In the past three years, Marriott International hotels in the Washington, D.C.-area have hosted more than 400 Indian weddings, collecting about $12 million in revenue.

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With those numbers, the hotel chain is going out of its way to learn everything they can about planning and hosting an Indian wedding.

It hosts crash courses for staff on South Asian traditions, food and fashion — extra steps that are paying off.

“I was surprised there were places here that knew exactly what they were doing,” said bride and groom Nisha Kumar and Neel Patel, explaining knowledgeable staff made a big difference in planning their big day.

“When you find a venue that is capable of doing this kind of stuff, it actually benefits both sides,” Patel said.

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That’s an invaluable review when it comes to the competitive market of attracting Indian wedding parties.

“As we see the rise in that population and the spending power, it’s something you can’t ignore,” said Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President for Multi-Cultural Markets and Alliances for Marriott International.

Canadian businesses don’t want to miss out either. With about 1.2 million Indo-Canadians, Indian wedding fanfare is equally grand in Canada.

“We’re working hand in hand with these event planners to really understand the traditions and intricacies,” Kevin Siegrest, the director of catering at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver, told Global News.

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The company is taking several steps to secure their spot in the booming business of Indians tying the knot in Vancouver.

To get a better understanding of the customs, they are observing Indian wedding at other venues, as well as developing relationships with Indian wedding planners in the city and making room for traditional food.

“We’re collaborating with some of the top Indian caterers in the city so they can bring their food here,” Siegrest said, adding the hotel will be selling tailored packages for Indian clients in the coming weeks.

PLEASE NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted the cost of an average wedding as $3,000 to $4,000. The correct amount estimate is between $300,000 to $400,000. This post has been updated accordingly.

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