Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Pioneering excellence in India's booming wedding industry

ICWF sets the standard for excellence and collaboration in India's multi-billion dollar and rapidly growing wedding Industry

Published: Nov 28, 2023 07:49:34 PM IST
Updated: Nov 28, 2023 09:09:40 PM IST

India’s wedding industry is like no other. According to one estimate the annual spending on weddings–from matchmakers to caterers to film and construction crews–is over Rs. 3 Lakh Crores. That would put the industry, the fourth-largest “behind energy, banking and insurance but ahead of cars, steel and technology”.

To commemorate the business of weddings, the International Convention For Weddings Fraternity (ICWF) convened industry stalwarts, visionaries and pioneers in a one-of-a-kind event at Gurgaon. ICWF aims at creating opportunities for entrepreneurs around the world to benefit from each other to nurture the wedding community in India. In fact, the outfit has also recently announced a fellowship to enable industry executives who wish to upskill themselves. It provides financial assistance to aspiring young minds across a host of wedding-related subjects.

And such is the popularity of the industry that earlier this year the Events and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) of India joined hands with Deloitte, a consulting firm to create a draft of the country’s first-ever Wedding Tourism Policy. The policy was submitted to the relevant officials within the government. The Honourable Prime Minister, too, has made a statement to recognise wedding tourism.

Over the years while the industry grew, there was still a void—a lack of a well-established, formal haven where industry luminaries could gather beneath a shared umbrella, exchanging ideas and insights. "I used to attend myriad conferences on diverse subjects, but the concept of a wedding convention remained elusive. That's when the epiphany struck—let's cultivate a community," said Pritesh Sharma, Co-founder, ICWF. The first edition of ICWF was held in 2013 and a decade later it is still going strong.

ICWF was also conceptualised on the pillars of fun and camaraderie. "The journey, to begin with, is actually more a journey of friends”, said Samit Garg, Co-founder, ICWF to illustrate this point. “ICWF in the very beginning gave us a reason to just meet to be together and to do some fun stuff but you know as we moved along we realised there is so much more purpose that we can fuel into this vehicle.”

Over many decades, the industry, too, has transformed from an offline-only brick and mortar store format to having a strong online presence. Vikaas Gutgutia, Founder and MD, Ferns N Petals stressed the need to change with times while offering a unique experience to the final consumer. Today, his outfit, among others, has an online presence which has been a “game changer”.

Similarly, the need for spawning innovative and sustainable solutions was reiterated by panellists. “Collaboration, respect for designers, innovation in design, sustainability and waste management are key to the survival of this industry,” opined Vandana Mohan, Founder, The Wedding Design Company.

The event also focused on keynote sessions around how technology has been a game changer in the wedding industry and insights into innovation in wedding design. It also had panel discussions around subjects ranging from art, entertainment, culinary experience to fashion, design and music. “Any piece of amazing creativity comes to you only when you are prepared. It’s like a butterfly. You just have to stay calm until the time the butterfly comes and sits on your lap”, said Amit Trivedi, the acclaimed music director while stressing the need to persevere.

Claus Raasted, Director of Extraordinary Experiences, echoed Mr Trivedi’s sentiments while stating that “Innovation happens when we allow strangers to get into our minds, when we look outside our comfort zone and expertise and look at what might be out there”.

It was a two-day event that concluded with the Great Indian Wedding Awards (GIWA). GIWA recognises excellence and creativity in Indian weddings. Ernst & Young played the role of advisors and official tabulation partners. The eclectic jury had to contend with the highest number of entries received in the history of GIWA.

The award categories included outstanding performances in a wide range of categories ranging from receptions, destination weddings, magic moment in the wedding, best engagement ring ceremony and many others.

Saurabh Walwani of The Global Design Company, a winner in one of the categories, said that “If for Bollywood it’s IIFA, for the wedding industry it’s GIWA. There’s nothing bigger than this. This is the best feeling in the world”. Sunny Chotwani of the same outfit likened the awards to the Oscars of the wedding industry. With the kind of splash it made in its eleventh edition, the International Convention of Wedding Fraternity is in a league of its own.

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