MARRY in India said PM Modi-Why are Indians marrying abroad

  • Parthip Thyagarajan, co-founder and CEO of WeddingSutra com tells why Indians are choosing to marry abroad and what the government/industry can do to reverse the trend.

Recently Prime Minister spoke about Marry in India. eSamskriti spoke to Parthip Thyagarajan CEO and Co-founder of on why marriages are happening overseas and what the industry can do to change things.


Q1. Weddings in India are mainly during the winter months. Abroad, are they held round the year? Is that one of the reasons why Indians are going abroad?

PT – Weddings happen throughout the year esp. for middle class families where it is about auspicious dates and convenience.  


High Net Worth (HNI) individuals prefer getting married in the winters for two reasons. This is when NRI relatives come to India. Two, weather is good for foreigners. It is when the university friends of the bride or groom, who studied abroad, can easily come. And International guests who include close business and professional contacts. 


One of the reasons, Rajasthan has become the destination hotspot because of its good weather that runs from November to March. This makes Palace and luxury hotels eminently suitable for a destination wedding.


Weather is one reason why people go abroad. If weddings are held between April and June ultra-wealthy are likely to consider Europe. The market is small because only 10% of upper class Indians have destination weddings, of whom 10-15% go abroad. Thailand is the most popular destination followed by the Middle East. For NRIs residing in Europe and beyond, Europe is one of the most popular destinations.


The interesting development is that Bengaluru has become the new destination hotspot, thanks to its good weather, for NRIs and resident Indians who wish to get married during summer months. 


Q2. Are the number of resident Indians marrying abroad so large that it found a mention in the PM’s talk?

PT- No they are not large as I mentioned earlier.


PM Modi’s statement was probably for NRIs to come and get married in India, for the super rich who are getting married abroad-spending big monies and for Bollywood stars/Cricketers who are the biggest influencers.  


The buzz created by two high profile weddings in Italy made it a much talked about destination. However, families want a single flight say 4-5 hours to the wedding destination making Europe not convenient to all.


Q3. Why are resident Indians marrying abroad?

PT – A survey conducted by WeddingSutra over the last week in which 100 top wedding planners participated, found that – 


1. Families seeking cost-effective options will always be interested in Thailand, sometimes Sri Lanka or Vietnam, and select hotels in Bahrain and UAE.
2. Luxury hotels in domestic wedding hotspots (e.g. Goa, Rajasthan, Kerala) become even more expensive in winter. This will propel more demand in locations near Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata.

3. If it’s destination India, families (including NRIs) want to go beyond Goa and Rajasthan but inadequate room inventory for big weddings, and limited air connectivity to hill stations/offbeat destinations make it a challenge.

4. In the South, Kochi, Mahabalipuram and Bengaluru have witnessed tremendous growth. In the North, Uttarakhand (Rishikesh/ Dehradun/ Jim Corbett/Mussoorie) is hosting many more intimate and big weddings.
5. Foreign destinations that will garner more interest in 2024-2025 include Qatar, Singapore, Egypt and Azerbaijan.

Thai employees of an Indian MNC at their Director’s wedding in Jaipur. Pic courtesy Aparna S.

Q4. How is Rajasthan as a wedding destination?

PT - Jaipur has lots of weddings. It has lots of luxury hotels esp. in areas like Kukas (10kms from Amber Fort and about 4 hours drive from Delhi). Jodhpur has few hotels and the magnificent Umaid Bhawan has limited room inventory. Udaipur, The City of Lakes, has some very good hotels but logistics not easy.


Jaisalmer came on the wedding destination radar of Bollywood stars only after it got air connectivity (has only for 6 months). Suryagarh Hotel is very popular thanks to having hosted some super high-profile weddings. Taj is opening in Jaisalmer shortly.


Jaisalmer got even more popular post covid. A destination becomes a wedding one when it has the right mix of hotels. One that caters for the big Indian wedding (300-600 guests) and others that caters for up to 300 guests. It is here that Jaipur does well. Jaisalmer will become more attractive after Taj and a few more hotels begin operations.


Options are few in Rajasthan for those who want 4 star pricing. The same is true for Goa and Kerala too. 

Jag Mandir, Lake Pichola, Udaipur. Courtesy Media Office, The City Palace, Udaipur.

Q5. When you say inadequate room inventory, can you elaborate with an example.

PT- A destination wedding could be big (300-600 guests) or an intimate wedding where families look for 50-100 rooms and one hotel where they can do a buy-out. There are very few hotels with scenic outdoor spaces and magnificent interiors in India, unlike Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Oman, where can one find hotels with 150 to 300 rooms. Even the most magnificent hotels i.e. Rambagh Jaipur, Umaid Bhawan Jodhpur and Falaknuma Hyderabad, have less than 110 rooms. 


Therefore, for families looking to host a big wedding with room requirement of 150-200 there are inadequate options available unlike the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


When it comes to Intimate Weddings there are a few luxury/palace hotels which are eminently suitable but they will not meet the requirement of those who are unwilling to spend over 50k per room night. There are a few heritage properties in Rajasthan but most of them have 30-40 rooms. Typically, for an intimate wedding minimum rooms required is 50.


There you go with the room inventory challenge for intimate and big weddings particularly in Rajasthan, Goa and Kerala which are the destination wedding hotspots in India.

Marriage at Jag Mandir. Courtesy Media Office, The City Palace, Udaipur.

Q6. Can you give a sense of cost of having a wedding in Thailand vs. Udaipur?

PT – It is very difficult to compare cost which depends on the number of rooms, month and menu. Some Jaipur weddings costs are comparable to Thailand but Udaipur wedding are higher esp. if considering properties like Udai Vilas, Lake Palace, Jag Mandir and The Leela which are the most preferred wedding destinations. 


Q7. Which are the top ten wedding destinations in India?

PT – Let us look at it region-wise. 


In the east it is Siliguri. In the west, popular locations near Mumbai are  Lonavla, Alibaug, Karjat, Pune, Nasik and Mahableshwar. In the north there is Rajasthan, some locations in Himachal and Punjab, Karnal (Haryana) has a beautiful property in Noor Mahal, Aero City Delhi hosts a lot of weddings and ITC Grand Bharat close to Gurugram. Agra has hosted a lot of weddings and has further potential for luxury weddings.  In the South Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu) has done very well since 2017 and there is Coorg in Karnataka. In Kerala there is Kovalam, Bekal, Kumarakum. Kochi is hosting some grand weddings. 


Kerala is on the whole doing well. The state government is investing a lot of effort by promoting beach and backwater destinations. In undivided Andhra, there is Vizag which has immense potential.


Finally, it is all about adequate hotels in that region which have anywhere between 60-200 rooms, and good connectivity, the closest airport being not more than 2 hours drive.

Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Baroda lit up for a wedding. Pic by S Nayyar.

Q8. What can the Central and State governments do to encourage more weddings in India?

PT – It is still a very small market. Different communities have different requirements. So it can be difficult to bring about changes.


Nevertheless, the governments could encourage more wedding hotels with different hotels serving the needs of different sections of society. I am not sure if the ‘I Do campaign’ alone and more spending on advertising would help. 


Destination weddings need to be really promoted by hotels. The government can encourage and make it Easier for businessmen and business houses to set up wedding hotels in beach, hill stations and special destinations. Improving air connectivity, support to airline industry and better standards in railways will encourage travel within India with your near and dear ones. This shall contribute to growth. 


Q9. Do you think promoting pilgrimage towns as wedding destinations have potential for e.g. Varanasi, Ayodhya, Tirupati, Trichy? 

PT – Yes.  


For decades many Indians had weddings at spiritual destinations esp. NRIs and those in transferrable jobs and living outside their hometown/state. And the whole destination wedding trend started at locations like Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and Palani in Tamil Nadu. The challenge is they will be not suited for luxury weddings but there will be the middle class/upper middle class who might be ok with less than luxury accommodation.


Since Kashi and Ayodhya are being re-developed there is potential to develop them as destination wedding locations. Offer families an option to get married in the Shri Ram Mandir complex if not the main temple.  


Unlike weddings in the west which are a one evening day affair our weddings are spread over three days. Actually, destination weddings are part of our culture because the family is supposed to go out of their house into what is called a Chhatram (a marriage place) The reason why destination weddings are doing well is because it is part of our tradition.


What gets highlighted in the media are luxury weddings and not those which are celebrated with traditional protocol in places which are not so grand.


To read over 30 articles on Indian Wedding Ceremonies


To see all albums on Rajasthan

Ideas for Tourism Policy India  


To see albums of Palace Hotels in Rajasthan

1. Jodhpur Umaid Bhawan Palace

2. Udaipur City Palace

3. Barmer Lallgarh Palace

4. Devigarh near Udaipur

5. Gajner Palace near Bikaner 

6. Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Baroda

7. Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Gujarat

8. Shivavilas Palace, Sandur, Hampi, Karnataka 

The Jag Mandir pictures 2 are courtesy the Media Office, The City Palace, Udaipur and not as shown in watermark. 

Koda Kodi. NRI wedding out of India. Pic courtesy Karishma Manwani. 

 London based wedding planner Karishma Manwani adds, “Residents Indians opt for destination weddings abroad when they want to have an intimate affair with only their closest people. Indian weddings can quickly become large affairs if done in their hometown and the younger generation doesn’t always want this. Having a destination wedding in Europe allows them to not invite everyone they know to the nuptials. Additionally, the architecture, scenery and weather of Europe make it a very attractive destination for Indians.”


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