Challenges Plaguing the Wedding Industry And How To Overcome Them

During this time, wedding-related businesses have encountered a host of challenges to sustain business as usual, however, on a brighter note, the industry has been quick to innovate, adapt and bounce back

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The $50-billion Indian wedding industry has definitely faced its worst possible slump due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, green shoots of recovery are now stemming and although, the wedding market has taken a hit, it hasn’t lost its sheen. All over the country, couples are opting for smaller celebrations with a limited guest list. To compensate for the diminished numbers, families are going all out to make the small celebrations as personalized and memorable as possible. During this time, wedding-related businesses have encountered a host of challenges to sustain business as usual, however, on a brighter note, the industry has been quick to innovate, adapt and bounce back. However, as the world moves forward, the industry is yet to overcome a host of challenges before it rises to its former glory.

Lack of investment in technology slowing online bookings for consumers

The future of most industries depends on its ability to adopt and embrace digital transformation. With COVID-19, most industries have embraced digital solutions and are building for the future. However, while there’s a huge appetite for growth in the wedding industry, the investment in technology in this particular industry has been relatively slow, thereby, delaying its trajectory to go digital for today’s and most importantly tomorrow’s fast-evolving consumer. Having said that, in today’s Internet age, some startups and tech investors are beginning to notice the massive scope of opportunities in this historically traditional industry. With modern couples taking more and more ownership of planning their own wedding, there’s a steady shift in preference for online channels for wedding related inspiration as well as discovery, mostly led by social media aspirations. While disruption is underway, there’s still a long way to go for the highly scattered wedding industry in India.

Lack of standardization and regulation of the industry

The wedding industry is a highly competitive one, involving several vendors and freelancers. Due to the absence of a formal system ensuring legally binding contracts for these wedding vendors, couples sometimes experience last minute cancellations or substandard delivery on initial promises made for products and services causing undue stress. This fragmented and disorganized sector is in great need for a standardized marketplace to bring in clarity regarding rates, 100 per cent transparency on services, quality deliverables and expectations, from both parties, so that each one benefits in the long run. In the current air of uncertain times, professional wedding planners and digital planning aggregator websites have set standard operating procedures to ensure seamless customer experience and ensure a level playing field for all vendors in the industry.

Smaller guest lists

During pre-COVID

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Congolese Model Challenges China’s Love For ‘Tall, Light And Skinny’

As a young black woman modelling in Hong Kong, Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga rarely saw anyone who looked like her in the magazines. Now the 22-year-old is trying to change that, one model at a time.

While the Black Lives Matter movement fuels debate and change in the fashion worlds of the United States and parts of Europe, industry figures say Asia’s beauty and body expectations remain dominated by an ideal that is pale, thin, and unrepresentative of the region.

As a young black woman modelling in Hong Kong, Harmony "Anne-Marie" Ilunga rarely saw anyone who looked like her in the magazines. Now the 22-year-old is trying to change that, one model at a time. As a young black woman modelling in Hong Kong, Harmony “Anne-Marie” Ilunga rarely saw anyone who looked like her in the magazines. Now the 22-year-old is trying to change that, one model at a time. Photo: AFPTV / Matthieu VERRIER

“I would walk into an agency and they told me that they prefer white models to black models,” Ilunga, who moved to Hong Kong as a child refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told AFP.

“I remember just being shattered. I was 17, it just broke my heart.”

Again and again, she saw that models in the wealthy global finance hub — home to roughly 600,000 people of non-Chinese descent — were expected to be “tall, light, and skinny”.

Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga opened a small agency in Hong Kong to champion models of all skin tones and sizes Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga opened a small agency in Hong Kong to champion models of all skin tones and sizes Photo: AFP / Anthony WALLACE

The same was true of the massive fashion market in mainland China.

“I started lightening my skin, using lightening products… Just so that I could fit into society’s norms,” Ilunga explained.

While the Black Lives Matter movement fuels debate in the fashion world in the West, Asia's expectations are dominated by an ideal for pale and thin bodies While the Black Lives Matter movement fuels debate in the fashion world in the West, Asia’s expectations are dominated by an ideal for pale and thin bodies Photo: AFP / Anthony WALLACE

After rounds of rejections, in 2018 she opened her own small agency to champion models of all skin tones and sizes.

“Representation matters so much,” she said, adding she believes fashion is an accessible way to change minds — and prevent other young women from feeling they have to change.

Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga says there is still resistance to black women in Hong Kong's modelling industry Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga says there is still resistance to black women in Hong Kong’s modelling industry Photo: AFP / Peter PARKS

Ilunga’s agency now has 32 male and female models on its books from places such as Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Philippines.

Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga (L) moved to Hong Kong as a child refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo Harmony Anne-Marie Ilunga (L) moved to Hong Kong as a child refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo Photo: AFP / Anthony WALLACE

They have enjoyed some successes — though she admits changing attitudes is hard.

One of her most booked models, she said, is an 18-year-old Burundian.

“Most are not local brands, but they are brands that are trying to promote internationally — that’s the thing,” she said of the kind of clients willing to look beyond white or Asian models.

Asia's beauty and body expectations remain dominated by an ideal that is pale, thin, and unrepresentative of the region Asia’s beauty and body expectations remain dominated by an ideal that is pale, thin, and unrepresentative of the region Photo: AFP / Anthony WALLACE

Ilunga said she has found male black models are more sought

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