HOUSTON – Any given Saturday at hotels across Houston, the sight of a ballroom undergoing a transformation is very common.
And Indian weddings are getting bigger and bigger; everything leading up to the event has to perfect.
“Indian people love to socialize and this is the biggest event they’re going to throw,” Pramel Shah of Prashe Décor said.
But the bright colors, lights and action that define these celebrations of love comes at a price. These days, business is booming.
“Planning an Indian wedding is like a roller coaster ride!” wedding planner Rathi Menon said. “This is a job where every new wedding brings on a new experience so I can never say that I’ve learned it all.”
The Indian wedding business is a $40 billion industry. In fact, according to Menon, a good event here in Texas has an average price tag of $100,000 to $200,000 and those numbers are trending upwards.
“It’s become a competition, how can I out due my best friend’s wedding,” Shah said.
So, how exactly do you go about winning this type of competition? Well, renting an elephant is a pretty way to start.
Conroe resident Bill Swain has three elephants that he rents out for weddings and other social events across the state. Swain said the starting price for an appearance is $4,000, which is a hefty sum for a pretty unique ride.
“The barat moves at a really slow pace so that’s the only difficulty with her (Page the elephant),” Swain said. “On really nice grounds, I can’t help it if she eats those trees.”
Next up on the must-have list for weddings – the bridal gown.
“An average bride will wear at least an average of $2,500 to $3,000 for the wedding,” vendor Almas Tejani said.
Tejani, who owns Almas Tejani Desi Couture in Sugar Land said the more detailed the handmade gown, the higher the price. Some gowns can go very high, with the most expensive Tejani has seen being $9,500.
“These days, brides want to go with different styles on their wedding day,” Tejani said.
The same holds true for decorations; flowers, centerpieces, idols, table cloths you name it can range anywhere from $13,000 for a simple package to $185,000 for the more elaborate set-ups.
“Sometimes the brides have come three to four weeks before the event and wanted to change the whole theme,” Nalini, of Décor One, said. “It happens a lot.”
“People are just blown away by the colors and the culture and how are those things are fused together to make it such an amazing incredible weekend,” Shah said.
“You kind of grow up with this fairy tale thing from the beginning so everybody does want to go all out,” Purvi Patel, of Prashe Décor, said.
You’re probably wondering why they would ask me, a Hispanic sports reporter to do a story about Indian Weddings. Well, it just so happens I have some experience with this topic.
I got married last October to my beautiful Indian bride, and yes, while the numbers along with stress of planning a wedding does get overwhelming, it’s always important to keep one thing in mind.
“One advice I give the couple is try to not forget what it’s all about,” Menon said. “Don’t let go of the ultimate vision, you’re joining two families together.”
“Ultimately, it comes down to making a dream come true for somebody,” Patel said.
And in Houston, that seems to be a weekly occurrence.