Big fat Indian weddings raking in moolah for US hotels

Big fat Indian weddings raking in moolah 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.

"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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