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Newly Engaged? South Asian Brides Beware

Wedding planning during the 4th wave of COVID-19

Prior to 2020, engaged South Asian couples typically started planning their wedding months, if not years, in advance.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic turned everyone’s plans upside down, including the recently betrothed. Thousands of weddings were abruptly cancelled or postponed, and no one could predict if or when things would go back to normal. 

With vaccinations in arms, and some restrictions lifted, a portion of weddings that were booked in 2020 finally took place in the spring and summer of 2021.  These events often ended up being smaller, simpler affairs, due to government restrictions or personal preference.  But the wedding plans of so many hopeful brides and grooms still remain in limbo. So where does that leave newly engaged couples?

The Saree Room spoke to Sairah Lila, CEO and Lead Wedding Planner at A Love Story, to understand the current state of wedding planning in the “4th wave” of COVID-19.  Sairah has been in the business for the better part of a decade, and is experiencing firsthand how the health crisis has affected the wedding industry as a whole. 

“Wedding season used to be late spring and summer, but now every season is wedding season.  The pandemic has created a massive sense of urgency.  Everyone wants their wedding to take place as soon as possible in order to avoid potential restrictions or lockdowns,” Lila explains. “This has put an incredible strain on wedding vendors and suppliers  - from venues, to decorators, to makeup and henna artists.”

While some couples have reduced the size of their weddings, their expectations with respect to quality and detail remain high - despite shorter turnaround times and overloaded vendors. Wedding planners have always been the key to ensure that a bride’s special day goes as planned, but they are truly indispensable for couples navigating the industry today.

“Newly engaged couples need to understand that there is still a backlog of couples trying to book their weddings, and that the industry may not catch up for years,” Lila says. Most of the venues and vendors I speak to are now booking well into 2023 and 2024 - this is unheard of. Couples are finding themselves in uncharted waters, and it’s my job to help navigate them through.”

Sairah offers some tips for South Asian fiancés as they begin the wedding planning process:

  1. Determine what’s truly important.  Have an honest discussion with your partner and families about what you value the most when it comes to your wedding. Will you and your parents be satisfied with a smaller wedding sooner, or are you willing to be patient to get the wedding of your dreams?
  2. Compromise. Remember that vendors across the industry are booked solid, so if you are considering a wedding within the next 18 months, you will have to make some compromises based on availability.
  3. Budget. Wedding costs have increased for reasons including supply chain disruptions and increased demand, so budget accordingly. 
  4. Get creative. Many couples are now opting for small civil ceremonies to legalize their marriage, and booking large receptions for a future date. Some are using unconventional venues or “pop up” arrangements - do your research and explore all your options!

South Asian wedding planning is an overwhelming endeavour on a good day, but COVID-19 has made it even more challenging.  Thankfully, with some creativity, and a good team by your side, you can still have a beautiful and memorable wedding experience. 

If you recently got married, tell us about your experiences, good and bad - and any tips you can offer potential brides and grooms!

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