The Indian wedding industry is estimated to be a whopping $50 Bn in market size. This comes as no surprise considering that weddings in India have always been about grandeur and celebrating in the most elaborate manner.
Weddings are one occasion in India where the smallest details receive the biggest attention. However, with the current generation the trend has gone from big fat weddings to small, curated celebrations that are high on experience and activities. Couples are willing to spend more on fewer guests to make sure every person attending has a memorable time. Increase in the number of destination weddings — inspired by celebrity nuptials — and more emphasis on quality have added substantially to the size of this market.
Realising this changing millennial mindset, many startups have taken upon themselves the role of assisting this generation in achieving their intimate and curated weddings. And, technology has been a key enabler in this — from finding the right match on a dating app to finding the right candid photographer and other vendors, tech enabled wedding platforms, have made weddings a breeze for the DIY generation that wishes to get things done themselves.
One such startup that’s using technology across the entire wedding management process is Chennai based Wedding Wishlist. Inc42 recently caught up with Kanika Subbiah, founder of Wedding Wishlist to hear her opinions on the multibillion dollar wedding industry and how the startup is making the most of this opportunity.
Inc42: What are some of the trends that have picked up and created a positive ripple across the entire wedding market?
Kanika Subbiah: Some of the trends we see going strong are:
Environment consciousness: An increasing number of couples are opting to go for an e-invite instead of printed invites. Hence, going paperless is gaining more popularity. More and more couples are also opting for a zero-waste wedding.
Wedding gift registries: As millennials get married, wedding gifting is getting a complete facelift for multiple reasons. Millennials are not hoarders. They only want things they will use and have no mental or physical space for recycled or not-useful gifts. They are high on experiential and memory value, and would rather get holidays and spa vouchers as gifts than physical products.
Even from the guests’ perspective, it is a welcoming trend.
Inc42: Why should families choose Wedding Wishlist, what are your various services — how is it better than organising weddings the traditional way and what are the cost savings for customers?
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Kanika Subbiah: Wedding Wishlist is India’s first gift registry platform for prospective couples. We wish to reach out to as many as couples that understand the need of technology to simplify weddings. The company started with gift registry and today has progressively made its way to become a complete platform for every couple who wants their wedding planning to be simplified and seamless in all aspects.
Why families are embracing the concept of a registry is simple. Nearly 1/3rd of an Indian man’s lifetime income is spent on weddings, and close to 15% of that money is spent on wedding gifts. With a gift registry, families can avoid waste and help the couple start their new life with all the things they need. With our diverse and user-friendly products and services, it makes it very convenient for anyone to access and make use of our services.
Our gift registry is a free service for couples. Guests can buy or contribute towards any gift from the couple’s registry. The wedding website allows couples to create a free portal for the occasion with function details, their story, gift preferences, RSVPs and more.
Couples and families get a customisable countdown for reminders and a budget planner to track, manage and record all expenses. We also provide invites and vendors for families to pick and choose from.
Inc42: Is gift registry still a new concept, what has been the response of prospective couples to this?
Kanika Subbiah: Gift registries are a norm in the West with over 95% of weddings using this option. In India, however, this concept is still new and fast gaining momentum. While a couple of years ago, Indian couples had no clue about this concept, today couples not only know of it but they are heartily welcoming it. The concept is a clear win-win for guests and the couple, and the merits are indisputable. The response has been heartwarming and we are racing towards 100 registries a month.
Inc42: How do you bring gifting companies on board and what are some of the most popular gifts that you see on various registries?
Kanika Subbiah: We keep collaborating with brands and on-boarding different gifting companies across categories that fit in with the needs for newlyweds. From home, furniture and appliances to personal care, holidays and even charities, we have over 200 brand partners.
The main idea is to curate a wishlist of items that the couple needs. Different couples have different needs — there are some who are moving into a new house after their wedding, their wishlist will obviously be different from the NRI couples or the ones who will be staying with their parents. However, some of the most common gifts are home appliances, holidays, gift cards, cash, home décor items etc. Not only this, these days couples are also adding charities to their wishlist.
Inc42: Beyond the gift registry, how have you used technology to improve the wedding experience in India?
Kanika Subbiah: We are a tech-based platform, at our end we constantly keep on updating our services (apps and web-based tools) in line with the current trends. Our aim is to use technology to deliver a more personalised experience to the couple and their guests.
Our platform allows the couple to send personalised communication to guests as well as send them thank-you notes with their photos integrated in the same, making for a beautiful experience. We also have two apps, one of which helps the couple build a close community with their guests, interact, exchange communication, images, track RSVPs and more. The other helps the wedding organisers/planners seamlessly plan the entire wedding logistics without even having the need to log into a system each time.
All these measures help simplify the wedding planning process and offer a personalised experience in an easy and cost-friendly manner.
Inc42: How do you think technology has helped the growth of Wedding Wishlist, and could you elaborate on some of the integrations at Wedding Wishlist?
Kanika Subbiah: Technology has been and remains a key growth driver for us. We keep ourselves abreast with the latest technological advancements, so we can integrate newer and fresh features for our customers. This helps us provide a gratifying user-friendly experience.
Inc42: What are some of the competitive advantages, given the increasing competition in the wedding-tech space?
Kanika Subbiah: Our biggest advantage is that we were the first movers in this space and while different companies offer select features like the registry, the vendor platform or the content, we are the only brand that is a one-stop platform offering every tech tool under one umbrella.
Inc42: From a revenue point of view, what is the average ticket size for your services per wedding?
Kanika Subbiah: Typically, the registry size for our couples vary from INR 1 Lakh, going up to INR 12 Lakh, with an average size being INR 2 Lakh. We’ve seen this number growing significantly in the recent past with an increasing number of guests contributing to the registry. On these, we make an average margin of 6-7%.
Inc42: What are the future plans for Wedding Wishlist? What features can customers expect in the months to come?
Kanika Subbiah: We have spent the last couple of years building a robust platform for all of the couple’s tech needs and are confident of the completeness of our offering. At this stage, we’re now focussed on driving awareness and education about our tools and services, and promoting mass adoption of the registry this wedding season.