Indian weddings for grabs, as innovative tourism ideas expand globally

Anusha Singh Wednesday 31st May 2023 05:48 EDT

Indian weddings are popular for their pomp and gaiety. Though they differ from region to religion to community to preferences, they include much more than a ceremony. The rituals and practices passed down from generations, coupled with emotions of families, make these weddings a spectacular and elaborate affair.

Outside South Asia there is a different fan base for Indian weddings, thanks to Bollywood. Many aspire to attend at least one Indian wedding celebration in their lifetime, especially hosted in India, though not many can, due to lack of opportunities.

Therefore, finding this gap in the market, Join My Wedding has set up a platform which has introduced Indian weddings for grabs. In this niche of wedding tourism, foreigners travelling through India, can book to attend a wedding, to get a feel of the culture, colour and celebrations involved – only for $150 USD. Those happy to accommodate tourists at their weddings, can register their interest on this platform and vice versa.

Asian Voice spoke to Orsi Parkanyi, Co-Founder of Join My Wedding. Explaining the idea behind this unique start-up, she said, “I grew up in Hungary, but lived in Australia for 11 years  when I was in my early twenties. During those years, I missed out on all of my friends' weddings that happened in Hungary. Around the same time, I spoke to a girl who told me about many amazing weddings she was going to attend that summer. She also shared that she had attended a traditional Indian wedding in India and it was the most amazing experience of her life! So, I thought to myself, what if there was a way for tourists to join authentic weddings around the world?

“Initially, it was difficult to find couples to register, but we approached Facebook groups with the idea and after the very first sign-up, and initial media features, couples started to register organically.”

The process.

There is a verification procedure in place, for both couples and guests. Join My Wedding personally talks to each couple and the traveller – sometimes for hours – to make sure that the need for safety is met.

All parties are connected over WhatsApp and the organisation is, heavily involved in their communication and the entire organising process. The start-up is at the moment focussing on India. In the future, they are planning to expand and be present more globally. They have had travellers from many countries including UK, US, Australia, Norway, Germany, Netherlands and France to name a few.

Wedding tourism is not at all a bad idea

Namrata and Nitin were one of the few initial couples to register their wedding on the platform. They did so with almost no expectations and definitely not with monetary interests. According to Namrata, the couple took a spur-of-the-moment decision and things just worked out because the idea of giving someone this experience itself was fascinating to both of them and something they would like to experience themselves in a foreign place.

Given the large number of guests in an Indian wedding, having a few more additional guests didn't feel like an added hassle. Sharing their whole experience, the couple said, “We were hoping to make a personal connection with the guests, but that was impossible with everything happening around. It was mostly our friends and family who interacted with them throughout and had a great time explaining the rituals to them, helping them get dressed in Indian attire and making them feel involved in every event.”

They further added, “Wedding tourism is not at all a bad idea, but should come with certain limitations. People should not exploit tourists and their interests for money. But that also does not mean, we should invite anyone and everyone free of cost. Having a ticket price will filter down the guests and only those who are really interested in indulging in culture will make an effort to buy it. It should be a fair process to both the parties is all I feel.”

Utsav and Preksha, on the other hand, have an upcoming wedding in December that they have registered on Join My Wedding.  For Utsav, the idea to register the wedding on the platform came from talking to other people. “I’ve been living in Australia for the last 5 years and own a convenience store. I have met a lot of people who talk about Indian weddings to me and tell me how Indian weddings are one of a kind. They want to be a part of it, but don’t have Indian friends who can invite them”, said Utsav.

Sharing the reaction of their parents, Utsav and Preksha added, “We consulted our parents about it and they were like it’s your wedding and it is your decision.

“We have created a website so that they can get all the information they want and will be providing them with all the contact details and a representative who will be available on call and by mail. Join My Wedding will help us with payments and marketing.”

Utsav’s opinion on this relatively new niche of wedding tourism is fairly unbiased and he considers it a great opportunity for young couples, “who can host guests and flaunt our culture.”

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