For as long as the tourism industry has existed, people have been looking for ways to avoid ‘touristy’ gimmicks and experience something more culturally ‘real’, but this new start-up has taken it to a whole new level.
Join My Wedding is a new business inviting tourists to buy tickets to real Indian weddings. That’s right, you read it correctly.
The start-up invites Indian couples to list their weddings on the website. Travellers can then browse and purchase tickets to the wedding of their choice. Most of the money goes to the bride and groom, with Join My Wedding taking a small cut.
Orsi Parkanyi, the co-founder of Join My Wedding, told CNBC:
“If you think about it, there’s nothing more cultural than a wedding because you have every cultural element present: The local people, local food, customs, the outfit, the music, basically every cultural element is right there.”
Aussie travel bloggers Carly Stevens and Tim Gowers of The Travel Status were among many drawn in by this unique idea. In November of last year, they attended the wedding of Delhi-based fund manager, Surabhi Chauhan, who had come across Join My Wedding when booking her wedding venue.
“The concept was pretty new. We were also getting to know people from other countries. We were very much excited and open about it, given the fact that it was new,” said Chauhan.
“We were chatting and coordinating, we had a brief introduction about each of us, what exactly we do, our respective profiles (and) what are the arrangements that will be there, the kind of attire they’re supposed to wear — all those conversations happened.”
Ms. Parkanyi, an established entrepreneur, said that the inspiration for the business came from her experience with missing weddings that she had been personally invited to.
She decided to build a business around Indian weddings due to how “world-famous” they are, and the stark reality that not many non-Indian people will ever get the chance to attend one. Considering the opulence and cultural richness of the ceremony, it makes sense that they can be easily commodified.
“Experiencing all the cultural elements at once, meaningfully connecting with the locals in India, that’s a huge motivating factor for the travellers,” Parkanyi continued.
“It’s a safe experience. You attend an event with hundreds of people, you’re a distinguished guest, people look after you.”
Stevens and Gower, who attended Chauhan’s brilliant wedding, experienced the two-day event for just AU$ 200. Day one involved attending the traditional pre-wedding ceremony for the bride’s family and close friends, while the actual wedding ceremony was on day two. 400 guests were in attendance.
“I remember walking in and thinking, ‘Wow, this is like a movie’,” said Stevens. “It was so professional — nothing like I’ve ever attended before.”
According to Parkanyi, more than 100 Indian weddings have been attended by foreign travellers since the start-up’s inception.
[Body images Courtesy of The Travel Status]