Big fat Indian weddings slim down in tough business times

MUMBAI, January 14, 2010 (AFP) – Preeti Punamiya is a young and excited bride-to-be, preparing to get married in a traditional Indian wedding which usually features days of lavish celebrations. But the impact of the global economic downturn has caused her to rethink the extravagance, following a trend that has seen many Indian families scale down their celebrations over the past 12 months.

“It’s our families who wanted to make it a grand affair,” said Punamiya, a biotechnology researcher in her early 20s who is marrying a US-based software engineer.

“I have wanted it simple, keeping costs under check,” said Punamiya, who has cut back the days of festivities to three from the five customary in her family and also slashed the number of ceremonies to three from nine.

India’s wedding seasons from mid-October to January and April to July bring with them street drummers and musicians, processions and open-air ceremonies where the statement often seems to be: the bigger and louder the better.

The industry is estimated to be worth 1.25 trillion rupees (27 billion dollars) a year. One leading wedding website Shaadi.com put the average cost of a high-end marriage at 44,000 dollars.