$199 pp for a Thailand wedding!

Written by Aparna Ramalingam | Chennai, Dec 29 | Updated: Dec 30 2007, 05:20am hrs
A theme-based venue, imported wines, lillies and orchids are must-haves in splashy Indian weddings. This shaadi bug, now, has moved to the neighbouring countries as well, with young Indians preferring to celebrate the big moment on the sun-kissed beaches of Thailand or in the hills of Kandy in Sri Lanka. And interestingly, one doesnt have to be super rich to do that.

While destination weddings have been in vogue for a while, the cost factor and aggressive marketing by tourism boards have made Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius and Sri Lanka favourites in particular.

Director of Shaadi in Thailand, Thai Indian Arthit Sehgals foray into the wedding business was quite by accident. A couple of years ago, during a family wedding in India a relative remarked to me that she had paid Rs 46,000 for the ghodi (horse) for her sons wedding. It struck me that I could offer better services abroad, recollects Sehgal.

Recently, Tourism Malaysia organised a familiarisation trip for eight wedding planners from India to Malaysia.

According to Tourism Malaysia director P Manoharan, Weddings in India are a huge affair. Malaysia with its extensive hospitality options offers choices which are competitive. Nearly 20 Indian couples have got married in Malaysia so far.

Rising income levels in the country has also been the other reason for the boom in foreign-shore weddings.

Weddings in cities like Jaipur and Agra are passe now. Many Indians are exploring options abroad, says Sehgal. His company offers services starting at $199 per person for a two-night-three-day affair. Services include hotel accommodation and food, local transport, floral decorations, party hall, bhangra and pop, mehindi and even a pandit to complete the rituals. He has done 26 Indian weddings so far with an extremely schedule at the moment. I have to organise eight Indian weddings in Thailand next February, he says. Increased flight connectivity and the rupee appreciation are also helping the cause. The other factor is the absence of quality venues and accommodation within the country.