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  • Big Fat Indian Weddings Raking in Money for US Hotels

    With Indian-Americans splurging on big fat weddings, hotels in the US are actively wooing couples by doling out all sorts of attractions - from a designated path for grooms to arrive by horse to making their hospitality staff do a crash course in South Asian traditions.

     

    Venues that have the capacity to host Indian weddings are starting to do some big business with the Indian-origin population now one of the fastest-growing ethnic groups in America, the CBS News reported.

     

    From brides on rickshaws to Vegas-style floor shows, Indian weddings are part celebration, part spectacle and June has long been the most popular month of the year for weddings, the report said.

     

    Big Fat Indian Weddings Raking in Money for US Hotels

     

    Pictures: wedding dress styles

     

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    "For us, an average Indian wedding is spending USD 300,000 to USD 400,000," said Ani Sandhu, whose company planned a recent event at the Ritz Carlton Tyson's Corner in Washington, DC.

    Both sets of parents paying and a minimum of 250 guests, the money adds up fast, he was quoted as saying by the daily.

     

    "Any business wants to get a piece of that, especially hotels," he added.

     

    Major Washington hotels, including the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons, are actively trying to woo Indian couples. The Willard Intercontinental even has a designated path for grooms to arrive by horse.

     

    "As we see the rise in that population and the spending power, it's something you can't ignore," Apoorva Ghandi, the vice president of multicultural affairs for Marriott International, was quoted as saying.

     

    In the past three years, his DC area hotels have hosted 415 Indian weddings, bringing in USD 12 million in revenue, the report said.

     

    Marriott has gone so far as to institute an Indian Culture Day, a crash course on South Asian traditions, food and fashion for hospitality staff.

     

    Neel Patel and Nisha Kumar, two Indian-Americans, said experience was one of the reasons they chose a Marriott property for their upcoming wedding.

     

    "I was surprised there were places here that knew exactly what they were doing," Patel said.

     

    "An Indian wedding the groom has a procession outside," Kumar explained. "Is that allowed? Not allowed? Open flame, you need that permit."

     

    In addition to space for hundreds of guests, hotels need to know what animals are allowed in their jurisdiction.

     

    Elephants have been banned in some places but are still allowed in Maryland, DC and Virginia.

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  • Weddings are more expensive than ever, but they don't need to be

    The expected cost of a wedding makes many people resentful toward the idea of marriage, but the ceremony doesn't have to be a costly affair.

    According to top wedding websiteTheKnot.com, the cost of the average American wedding is now $30,000. With 70 percent of college graduates having an average of $29,000 in student loan debt, according to CNN, the added cost of an extravagant wedding can be daunting for young couples.

    For those couples who choose to go ahead and get married, they face social pressure to have a large and entertaining party.

    Weddings are more expensive than ever, but they don't need to be
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    Huffington Post reported: "Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests — plus they're doing so in a modern way, by planning from their smartphones, publicizing details on social media and more," Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot, said in a statement.

    The media is partly to blame for the bloated wedding price, according to Deseret News.

    “Every time some pop star gets married and it’s all over the cover of People Magazine, it inspires more girls to have destination weddings," said Sandy Malone, a destination wedding planner. "Just like little girls emulate what they see, so do young women who are watching the stars.”

    Guests are also beginning to dread attending weddings because of the high expected costs, according to MarketWatch. The article referenced an American Express survey that found "this year, guests are expected to spend an average of $592 per wedding, up 10 percent from $539 per wedding last year and a 75 percent jump in just two years."

    Being a member of a wedding party, which was once considered an honor, is becoming more of a burden, Financial Post reported.

    "Julianne Taskey, a 31-year-old Toronto resident who works in fundraising has been in six wedding parties; she spends about $1,000 to fulfill her bridal party duties," the report stated.

    While Taskey may be an extreme example, pressure for the couple to put on a lavish show for their friends and relatives and pressure for the guests to prove their affection by buying expensive presents and paying their own way to a huge destination wedding create a vicious circle. What if we collectively decided to say no more?

    "Weddings are not expensive. Whims are expensive," wrote Albert Burneko of The Concourse. "'Wedding, A' is not some discrete thing that you buy, but rather an agglomeration of discrete things that you heap or do not heap, entirely of your own volition, onto the performance of a fairly simple ceremony."

    Rachel Lu, a writer for The Federalist, has proposed what she calls the "cubic zirconia principle:" Instead of creating a magical and completely original wedding, which are generally more expensive, it should be acceptable to hold a simple and traditional ceremony. It should be socially acceptable to get a cubic zirconium ring instead of a diamond.

    "In order to make this work, it’s not just bridal couples who have to be reasonable. It’s guests, too," Lu continues.

    She suggested that guests not expect to be treated to a banquet at the reception, and to refrain from making critical comments of the wedding or the couple.

    "In the long run," she says, "it doesn’t matter that much what flavor the cake is, or whether the bridesmaids’ dresses make their ankles look puffy," she said. "Celebrate love. Give the bridal couple a good 'welcome to adult life' sendoff."

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