The past year has been one of extreme uncertainty and precariousness. The outlook on travel, weddings, and leisure has changed entirely, and we’re all aboard a ship that hasn't been explored before.
Indian families were embracing the concept of destination weddings outside the country to add to the glamour and extravagant nature of the celebrations in the past couple of years, but the pandemic brought a halt to this movement.
At the moment, domestic destinations are in. Perhaps it is the fear of infection or the desire to explore one’s own country, but regions of India are being explored a lot more in these trying times. From traditional locations like Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur which never go out of style to interest in unexplored venues like Mussoorie, Jim Corbett National Park, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Kerala, India is at the peak of intra-national weddings.
These regions within the country have large open spaces, varying weather through the year, and come as a whiff of fresh air to the market of familiar destinations.
A few decades ago, it was the norm to see families of the bride and groom planning every detail of the festivities and taking charge of themes, decor, outfits and everything else. However, as time progresses, couples are becoming more and more involved in the organisation and management of their own wedding. They want it to be a reflection of who they are and the personality of their bond with their spouse. The venue they pick plays a significant role in this.
The location of a couple’s wedding has increased significance, and more often than not,it now has a story to go with the choice.
I’ve worked with couples who choose local destinations to tie a stronger bond and memories to their roots, some who pick locations based on activities and sports they enjoy together, as well as a few who base their wedding location on where they first met and fell in love.
While typical wedding albums would comprise of couples smiling in a few dozen curated posed clicks, today couples are a lot more exposed to the different kinds of images possible. From traditional, artist, natural and editorial photography to documentary and vintage shoots, the youth is aware of their options and what they want. In my experience, couples are moving more towards natural and artistic shoots that capture their love and personalities in a relatively uncurated, organic manner.
Since destination weddings and pre-wedding shoots are not always economical in nature, partners are choosing to make an experience of the whole affair, as opposed to simply an event preceding their wedding day.
Prior to marriage, Indian families are quite uptight about not allowing the couple to travel together, but pre-wedding shoots have been a well-accepted concept that allows them to take a little trip where they strengthen their bond and get to know each other in a private space, away from all distractions.
During the pandemic, these shoots had a slightly different dynamic logistically, as clients opted for shorter duration flights, and our team had to be cut down to allow only a few crew members. Wedding planners too have been recommending destinations in sync with our needs as photographers, with beach weddings at places such as Kochi and Goa being ideal spots for an outdoor, intimate wedding.
Here are a few of the most sought-after wedding destinations in the post-pandemic era.
A cloud of heaven by the ocean, this country has all the dreamy backdrops you can think of. Opening up to travellers with basic requirements such as a negative PCR test result and constant hand-washing, this place makes for a great wedding location to travel to.
The pandemic’s most popular holiday spot, the cool blue waters and spacious villas of Maldives make it a fanciful wedding location. Tourists travelling to Maldives simply require a basic negative PCR test, as the villa design of resorts naturally make social distancing a lot easier than elsewhere.
Uttarakhand recently opened up to tourism and let regulations loose for their incoming travellers, mandating only a negative PCR test, and constant sanitisation. Nonetheless, wearing a mask at all times is almost a part of everyone's basic dress code.
A classic for Indian weddings, this state has a number of famous cities that allow for a lavish celebration. Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur are a few of the most well-known spots to plan nuptial extravaganzas at, and are additionally homes to some of the most royal hotels in the country. The palatial feels tend to be the prime attraction at these traditional venues, providing a naturally inherent grand setup.
Rajasthan is and has been open to tourists for a few months now, and as long as safety protocols are followed, everyone is welcomed there.
The past year has truly proven that change is the only constant, and we never know which of these regulations and situations may differ as quickly as tomorrow. While my team and I captured one of the first pre-wedding shoots in Maldives during the pandemic, it was then a quiet, far abode for most.
Only a few weeks after our visit, however, Maldives became a hub for travel during the pandemic, something we may never have anticipated.
So for those with hearts close to home, we have some phenomenal destinations in India, and for those with an international zest, the world is your oyster.
Shrey Bhagat is the co-founder and one half of the creative brains behind Knotting Bells and has shot over 250 weddings.