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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Strained wedding industry says guests reduction move could be the final straw

Amid a surge in Covid cases, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the permission to allow 200 people at weddings has been withdrawn, and that only 50 people will be allowed from now on, pending the L-G’s approval.

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi | Updated: November 18, 2020 11:12:32 am
Strained wedding industry says guests reduction move could be the final strawAs the Capital enters peak wedding season, an industry that is already in trouble says it fears this could completely break its back.

Ten days ago, wedding planner Vipul Gossain booked 20 rooms at a Delhi hotel for his client’s family from Pune to stay at for a November 25 wedding. “Their flight tickets and hotel are booked, a caterer paid in advance. It’s a 150-people wedding, and suddenly we hear it might be scaled down to 50 people… How will this work?” said Gossain, who is working on nine weddings between November 25 and December 15.

Amid a surge in Covid cases, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the permission to allow 200 people at weddings has been withdrawn, and that only 50 people will be allowed from now on, pending the L-G’s approval.

As the Capital enters peak wedding season, an industry that is already in trouble says it fears this could completely break its back.

The Indian Express spoke to tent-house owners, wedding band managers, caterers, decor companies, hotel and farmhouse owners, many of whom said their clients had already started to cancel or scale down. Anil Thadani of JEA wedding band said that the three-week peak wedding season will give employment to 120-150 bandwallahs daily. “We will be performing at seven-eight weddings a day. This year, we made special arrangements such as masks, sanitisers for all… Earlier we used to book a hall for all the bandwallahs to sleep in; this year, we have booked rooms in different hotels to ensure there is social distancing,” he said.

Thadani said that each bandwallah is paid Rs 400-500 a day. “Clients have been calling to request reduction in the number of bandwallahs at their wedding… This will impact employment,” he said.

Nitin Gulati of Gulati tent house, who bagged 11 weddings this season, said, “I’ve spent Rs 25 lakh of my own because clients pay most of the money after the wedding. Now they are calling to cancel. They don’t want to pay Rs 3 lakh for the tent for 50 people.”

Lalita Raghav of Ferns N Petals wedding venue said that clients have been calling to enquire if the functions can be shifted to the company’s venues in NCR instead. In the coming days, the group’s 11 venues are booked to host 10-12 weddings each. She said, “We had decided to keep thermal scanners at all venues, get each staff member tested via the rapid antigen test… We are facing the brunt of the Diwali crowds at markets.”

Sandeep Khandelwal, who heads the Delhi Hotel & Restaurant Owners Association, said, “The government should have involved us while figuring out this proposal. We can do social distancing at weddings and suggest stricter measures.”

Lokesh Thukral of Food Fiesta Caterers said that many clients who were to get married in May had pushed their wedding to November-December, and are again looking to push it to next year. “Everyone wants to negotiate now — reduce dishes, reduce pricing, reduce staff. We have already paid contractual staff some money, already figured out how much raw food to buy… This is a very last-minute decision,” he said.

At Ghitorni’s Hotel D Imperia, at least five cancellations of functions in the coming weeks took place Tuesday afternoon. “We are hosting 25 functions this season, five already cancelled. Pre-Covid, I had 90 permanent staffers, now it’s 35, and if the wedding season is hit, it will be down to 15,” said owner Alok Gupta. He said that he invested in Rs 8 lakh to sanitise the hotel premises, buy masks, PPE, sanitisers for staffers, and thermal scanners for the hotel.

Pankaj Radhwani of Fleur & Decor company said he has booked eight weddings this season at five-star hotels such as The Leela Chanakyapuri and Maurya Sherataon, as well as farmhouses. He said, “Clients want budgets slashed but we have already paid for the flowers and the contractual labourers.”

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