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Guide to Getting Married During a Pandemic

Covid-19 has forced many couples to rethink and modify their wedding plans. We hope to offer a few useful tips to make the day special under these unprecedented circumstances

Every couple hopes for a beautiful wedding, with friends and family joining in the festivities. Unfortunately, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on most celebrations. eddings are no exception. Though the stringent lockdown restrictions have been eased, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in India is taking a slow approach in opening different economic sectors to minimise the impact of COVID-19. Given the present conditions, it may be wise to modify wedding plans to conform to the Covid related restrictions.

Understanding Social Distancing Norms During Unlockdown 1.0

The government allows weddings under the condition that less than 50 people participate in the ceremony, while also practicing the necessary social distancing protocols. With the latest update in the Unlockdown 1.0, the temples and other worship places will be open from 8th of June. Even though wedding functions are allowed to be conducted, couples and their guests need to follow social distancing and other safety measures as per the government guidelines. Some guidelines to keep in mind are the night curfew, and large groups.

Virtual Weddings As the New Normal

Weddings are one of the biggest events in an individual's life. The experience is not complete without the multiple events starting from haldi to vidai, often spread over days. The current lockdown situation has led determined couples to find innovative ways to get married while maintaining social distancing norms. For instance—people have conducted sangeet dance and photography using video calling apps (such as Zoom or Whatsapp), priests have solemnised unions over video calls, and there are even reports of people holding online marriages since the bride and groom could not be in the same location due to travel restrictions.

Through the use of social media, your relatives will be able to witness the event and shower their love and blessings to both the bride and groom. As long as the weddings have the necessary proof such as a limited number of witnesses, a wedding ceremony, and photographs, the wedding can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act. While the pandemic does take away from the joy of having a large number of loved ones around, it is certainly possible for couples to have an intimate and meaningful ceremony with the help of technology and creativity.

Managing the Wedding Budget

Virtual weddings are more convenient as per the current situation where the whole world has come to a standstill. They are also more affordable compared to large Indian weddings. Here is a rough estimate of the costs involved.

Table Showing the Wedding Expenses in India

Certainly, the budget is subject to the couple’s choice and preferences but our estimate provides an overview of the basic cost that will be incurred in a virtual wedding in India. As you might expect, the total cost is considerably less than the normal budget of 10 to 25 lakhs budget for a traditional Indian wedding. On a positive note, it would be fun to spend all the money saved on an interesting honeymoon once global traveling restrictions ease up.

Changes Due to Covid

The wedding attire and makeup typically make up a large chunk of a wedding budget. However, since the lockdown began in March, attire and other wedding decor have been difficult to arrange. However, since mid-May, online sale of non-essential commodities has commenced and you can now purchase bridal dresses and makeup. Since you can't go to a salon to get your hair or makeup done, online tutorials for getting the perfect wedding looks are also available online in case some help is needed.

Decorations such as flowers and other ornaments also take up a considerable part of the budget as well, but due to the lockdown and reduced number of attendees, you can cut this cost by making some of the ornaments yourself. Additionally, since a much smaller venue is needed under lockdown, it is possible to simply rely on creativity and help from loved ones to set-up the wedding venue.

Paying for the Wedding

Weddings during this period will be smaller and less costly. The primary costs that you will have to budget for is the food for the guests that will be coming, the photographer, the venue, the streaming arrangements, the decorations, and the clothing/makeup. Our research indicates that you can save over Rs. 100,000 in wedding expenses. A great way to cover these costs while also receiving cash based on your spending is through a great cashback credit card. These cards will provide cashback and rewards on your necessary purchases ranging from clothing to wedding decor. Since there is a lot of uncertainty as the lockdown restrictions ease, it is recommended to check with the venue and catering vendor about their booking cancellation and refund policies to avoid unnecessary future disputes and a loss of any deposits. If you are short of cash and need assistance paying for the wedding there is always the option to sign up for a short-term personal loan. However, before deciding on this, it is imperative that you talk to a financial advisor to ensure that this is a wise decision for you.

Keeping It Simple

With so much uncertainty, people are opening up to the idea that less is more. It may not be a bad idea to keep wedding plans simple. Hosting a small virtual wedding may not be ideal, but it provides loved ones with an opportunity to enjoy an auspicious occasion without the hassles of a traditional wedding. Experts are of the opinion that the pandemic may take months to die down, and economic recovery may take longer. Therefore, celebrating with a small intimate ceremony may be better than postponing this significant step indefinitely.

Sahmi Chowdhury

Sahmi is a Junior Research Analyst specialising in credit cards and insurance in India. He previously worked in the financial services sector at Brown Brothers Harriman and True Capital Management.