So, your would-be life partner and you love to travel… and your dreams are full of visiting all those beautiful destinations across the world. Then, why not make the beginning of your new life truly special? Say your vows at a beautiful international destination that you’ve always loved, or some place that has been on your partner and your bucket list.
Interestingly, a number of international tourism boards have also sensed the pulse of the Indian wedding market and are aggressively promoting their respective countries as ‘the’ place to tie the knot. What’s more, life’s getting a whole lot simpler with wedding planners organising every little detail to perfection, and luxury travel companies designing wedding packages to various destinations across the globe. So, you’re now left with no excuse to not have a memorable international destination wedding.
While one does read about celebrity weddings taking place in places like Vienna, Florence and Venice, most Indians prefer international destinations that are closer to home. Here is a list of the most popular of these destinations for Indian weddings:
Macau: Host to a number of grand award functions and events, Macau is one of the preferred wedding destinations for that big fat Indian affair. Located on the southern coast of China, Macau is unique and exclusive, yet easy to access, and truly enjoyable. Fondly known as The Las Vegas of Asia, Macau has an array of luxury hotels, each better than the previous one. This exotic wedding destination presents a perfect blend of European and Portuguese cultures. Five star hotels, personalised invites, stunning floral décor, and lots more… Macau is where you need to be for an extravagant wedding ceremony with party-happy guests. Don’t forget to include Cirque du Soleil as part of the itinerary for your guests, to make Macau truly memorable. Macau Tourism has appointed Ahmedabad-based Red Events Weddings as the official wedding planner for organising Indian weddings there. In fact, the wedding planning company has also been appointed as the official wedding planner by Malaysia Tourism and Thailand Tourism for organising Indian weddings at the respective destinations.
Thailand: Apart from its capital Bangkok, Krabi, Hua Hin, Phuket, Pattaya, Rayong, KhaoLak and Koh Samui are some of the most loved wedding destinations topping the list of locations for Indian weddings in Thailand. What was just a honeymoon destination at one point of time is where the couples now prefer to say “I do.” And, then have an extended stay by going to a peaceful island nearby. In March this year, Thailand organised an annual familiarisation trip, which had a total of 17 wedding planners from Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Bengaluru to witness the beauty of the place and encourage an increasing number of wedding celebrations here. Thailand hosts about 300 Indian weddings every year, and it plans to increase these figures with such initiatives. Believe it or not, the overall cost of having a wedding in Thailand can, at times, turn out to be pretty much the same, or perhaps even cheaper, than organising a wedding at a lavish locale in India. Be it in terms of proximity, value for money, or beautiful and exotic venues, Thailand is a winner all the way. What’s more, it is a great choice, even keeping in mind factors such as the time zone and weather conditions, ease of getting visas, and, of course, organising recreational and outdoor activities for guests.
Bali: Elizabeth Gilbert found love in Bali, in Eat Pray Love, making this picturesque place the eternal symbol of modern-day love. Explains why this island spells such romance and mush in the remotest of its corners. You can go from an intimate affair to a big fat Indian wedding in Bali. Home to most of Indonesia’s Hindu community, Bali is popularly known as the Island of the Gods. There is a slight overlap in Indian and Balinese culture, making it quite a home away from home. As soon as you step into Bali, you literally feel like you’ve been transported into a place that’s beautifully slow and scenic. Think warm sea breeze, blue skies, mesmerising sceneries, happy faces, and lots more. Again, like Thailand, a wedding in Bali too can often turn out to be more cost-friendly than a plush wedding affair in India.
Turkey: Though the recent troubles have taken a toll on the tourism in the country, Turkey’s stunningly beautiful Antalya region is aiming at hosting several hundred Indian weddings this year. While Turkey has hosted a number of grand weddings, such as that of Yash Goenka – son of realtor, Pramod Goenka, with Natasha Narang – daughter of Ambassador Hotel’s Ramesh Narang, in April 2016, Antalya witnessed the unbelievably extravagant celebrations of billionaire politician Ajay Gupta’s son Kamal’s wedding with Palak Jain, daughter of Delhi-based businessman Ajay Jain, which was attended by the who’s who of the Bollywood and celebrity world. This wedding is supposed to be one of the most expensive Indian ceremonies in the world… and Turkey commands this glory!
Mauritius: Mark Twain was so right when he said, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven, and that heaven was copied after Mauritius.” The Indian Ocean island, which is home to a significant amount of Indian diaspora, offers beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise water, coral reefs, lush green mountains, sugarcane fields, and an abundance of natural beauty. You can opt for an authentic Indian wedding, or a catamaran affair, or a tropic Colonial nuptial… the options and themes here are endless. The Mauritius Tourism Development Authority (MTDA) has also organised familiarisation trips for Indian wedding planners to visit the tourist destination and explore the amount of venues and varieties this place has to offer.
Ras Al Khaimah: While Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the commercial capitals of the seven emirates, when it comes to destination weddings, Ras Al Khaimah is soon becoming the preferred destination. Located at a distance of just 35 minutes from Sharjah, 45 minutes from Dubai, and 2.5 hours from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah has showed immense interest in the big fat market of the big fat Indian wedding segment in recent years. In January this year, the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority announced that it was targeting the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), leisure and wedding segments in India. The desert, mountains and shores of Ras Al Khaimah make it a beautiful destination for weddings. What’s even more interesting is that in many ways, it is still a tad bit unexplored and quaint, making it perfect for couples who want to explore the unexplored.
Sri Lanka: Aptly called The Land of Serendipity, Sri Lanka has a variety of wedding customs and traditions to offer, right from those of the native Sinhalese people to Tamil Indians. From a golden sandy beach with an elephant, to a lake in the heartland of the island, to a cliff overlooking the splendid Indian Ocean… you will be spoilt for choice with regards to picking the final wedding location where you would want to host and celebrate your day of love. Last year, the Sri Lankan Tourism Promotion Board was aiming to achieve 2.5 million foreign tourist arrivals over a period of two years, and India was expected to be the largest contributor towards the same. Sri Lanka truly marries old world charm with unmatched natural beauty.
Malaysia: With Malay, Indian, and Chinese cultures predominating this Southeast Asian country, an Indian wedding more than fits into the mood and feel of this place. With exotic locations, such as Penang and Langkawi, Malaysia boasts of what dreams are made of — lush rainforests, scenic beaches, a rich cultural heritage, and luxury (in the form of plush hotels and resorts). What’s more, it is highly multicultural in nature, which makes it an ideal wedding destination for one and all. It’s one of the more cost-friendly destinations, be it for a wedding celebration or just a honeymoon package.
By Benaifer J. Mirza