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Far from the wedding crowd

Far from the wedding crowd

Lured by attractive pricing and the tag of exclusivity, more and more people are picking foreign locales and royal backdrops as wedding venues.

Marriages might be made in heaven, but they can cost the earth. In the excitement of the traditional big, fat Indian wedding, people tend to forget the price tag. Or simply pass on the bills to indulgent parents, who are only too willing to go deep into debt if they can manage an ‘exclusive’ wedding that pips the Sharmas’ son’s themed Hawaiian extravaganza. Enter the concept of destination weddings. To show how much you love your child (and to show up your neighbour who has been gloating about the 5-star hotel venue for his daughter’s wedding), fly family, friends and officiating priests to a fancy resort in Phuket or to a royal haveli in one of the erstwhile princely states.

The good news is that you might actually be spending less on Pinky’s wedding in Fiji than on the same ceremony in a fancy hotel in an Indian metro. The simplest marriage reception in a metro can cost upwards of Rs 3 lakh, not including the decor and entertainment. Add other ceremonies like the sangeet and mehndi, and you’ll end up with a bill of at least Rs 6 lakh. And if you have family and friends coming to town, you’ll have to pay for their accommodation, which works out to at least Rs 5,000 per night for one room in a 3- or 4-star hotel. Pay this amount (Rs 6-8 lakh) to a resort in India or abroad for a wedding package and watch your neighbour go green.

Most resorts offer wedding packages, which include a honeymoon suite, accommodation, wedding ceremony, flowers, cake, wedding reception, and food and drinks. You can also opt for rooms on the basis of the lunch and dinners you want. Some resorts throw in freebies as well. For instance, the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa offers two free nights at any Park Hyatt or Hyatt Resort worldwide on the couple’s first anniversary.

So where should you take your wedding party? Aditya Motwani, the wedding section head at Percept D’ Mark, says that a destination outside the country sometimes works out cheaper than a destination within. For instance, a threeday wedding celebration in Goa with 100 guests costs a minimum of Rs 35 lakh, including hotel accommodation, meals, vendor payments and entertainment. At the Marriott Phuket, a hotel room, if booked as part of a wedding package, costs Rs 6,500 per night, which is nearly Rs 4,000 cheaper than a 5-star hotel accommodation in Goa or Mumbai. However, the air fare could level the cost. As a typical destination wedding is designed for a much smaller group of guests, you can safely cross out the expense of food and stay for the great Indian extended family.

If you don’t want to take your easily shocked great-aunts to a beach resort, consider a royal wedding party in a fort or palace that once belonged to the maharajas of Rajasthan. Amby Valley in Lonavla is another hot spot for outof-town weddings due to its picturesque surroundings and great venues like the Banaras Ghat, Town Hall or the Naga Village. Other offbeat options include the Resort and Retreat in the suburbs of Mumbai and the studios of Ramoji City in Hyderabad. And, of course, there’s Goa, which is a popular option thanks to its relaxed beach settings and fancy resorts like the Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa or the Leela Kempinski.

“Countries in the Far East and around the Indian Ocean are the most sought after for weddings. They are close to India and understand our culture,” says Motwani. These include Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, Mauritius and the Maldives. Thailand is among the most preferred in terms of cost, with the Venetian in Macau also popular. So if you are in the marriage mode or planning one for a kin, opt for a destination that will make it an occasion to remember—not just for you but for your guests as well.