There is a frenzy surrounding Indian weddings that is almost unparalleled. Beginning from the selection of a bride or a groom to the destination of the couple’s honeymoon, there is a tremendous amount of work that families undertake to make the wedding a memorable one.
As weddings grow bigger and grander, the need for professional help has also grown. Joining this line of business is the Andhra Pradesh Department of Tourism in collaboration with ‘Imprint Travels’, known for its earlier project ‘Temple tourism’.
Marriage Tourism includes wide ranging services like match-making, astrological calculations, arranging the venue for the wedding, designing and printing of wedding cards and even shopping and accommodation of guests.
It is based at the Paryatak Bhavan of AP Tourism Plaza and offers a ‘complete marriage package’. Offering exclusive services like weddings at holy places like Tirupati and Annavaram along with travel services makes Marriage Tourism unique. It is planned to be a ‘one-stop solution’ for those looking for wedding planners.
Dantu Nagarjuna Sarma, chief executive officer of Marriage Tourism says, “Our planning depends on our customer’s wishes. For example, many people consider Chowmahallah palace to be an expensive venue. But, it also comes under AP tourism and we can book the venue for low-budget weddings as well. We plan weddings with budgets ranging from Rs 2 lakhs to about Rs 1 crore.”
With its tagline of ‘engagement to honeymoon’, Marriage Tourism is joining the fore by boasting of a Rs 20 per cent reduction in wedding expenditure’ when compared to private wedding planners. Says Nagarjuna Sarma, “About 20 to 30 per cent of the wedding budget is wasted due to lack of knowledge and professionalism. Through our expert services, you can have the wedding of your choice within a budget of your choice.”
While Marriage Tourism seems to be picking up with their ‘cost effective’ tagline, the city’s wedding planners who have been in the business for years now, are a little skeptical. Says Rakhi Kankaria, founder and director of Rachnoutsav Events, “There is no single heaviest component of the cost quotient. It depends on the venue, the number of people invited and most importantly, the client’s wishes.”
She also believes that a heavy reduction in costs will lead to a compromise in quality. “Our planning perspective comes from experience. We come up with a package that is best-suited for the family’s background and social status,” says Rakhi Kankaria.
Chaitanya Kulkarni of Alankaran Wedding Planners says, “You can book government properties like Taramati Baradari for just Rs 30,000 or Ravindra Bharati for Rs 11,000. But places like Shilpa Kala Vedika cost about Rs 2 lakh. Further, we have to pay 30 per cent service tax as well. Our pricing is thus obviously higher.”
How does Marriage Tourism propose to pull the rabbit out of the magic hat? Nagarjuna Sarma explains, “We have a client whose budget for food was only Rs 1.5 lakhs. Caterers across the city gave her quotations of over Rs 2.5 lakhs. We organised the same in about Rs 1.10 lakhs. This is because a caterer hires ‘cooking masters’ on contract. We employ ‘cooks’ who work for daily wages. There are similar differences in other fields as well.” However, he does agree that the quality of the decor arranged by high-end planners is superior. “We do not comprise on quality, but we’re less ‘fancy’.”
Marriage Tourism has successfully handled two weddings and has been booked for six more in August.