God’s Own Country entices couples worldwide with its scenic beauty and growing infrastructure for unforgettable celebrations.

Hills and rain await your joyous wedding, Land and seas prepare to celebrate the day!” American-Indian fusion singer Vidya Vox’s 2023 song Shubha Mangalyam, featuring multilingual lyrics in Hindi and English, begins with these lines in Malayalam. The lyrics as well as the visual content showcase a bride and groom, both seemingly non-Indians, on their wedding day, making it an ideal complement to Kerala’s destination wedding tourism initiative. It’s no wonder the album found its way to the question hour of the Kerala Assembly, where Tourism Minister P.A. Mohammed Riyas highlighted its popularity and the theme of destination weddings in Kerala.

Kerala, often referred to as “God’s Own Country,” is rapidly emerging as one of India’s premier wedding destinations. Last year, the state witnessed a remarkable surge in destination weddings, transforming this trend into a year-round phenomenon. According to the state’s tourism minister, an impressive 314 weddings were held in Kerala, following the tourism department’s announcement of a dedicated project to promote wedding tourism. Bolgatty Palace in Kochi has become the most sought-after venue, hosting 289 of these celebrations.

Special arrival lounge at Kochi airport

A destination wedding is a ceremony that takes place away from the couple’s hometown, often at a location that holds special significance or offers a picturesque setting. This could be a beach, a historic site, a resort, or a scenic countryside spot. Destination weddings often combine the wedding and honeymoon, and they can provide a unique and memorable experience for both the couple and their guests.

The allure of Kerala as a wedding destination is further evidenced by the influx of approximately 150 chartered flights since January 2023, each bringing wedding parties to the state. This surge in arrivals has led to the establishment of a special arrival lounge at Kochi airport, catering specifically to these chartered flights. Typically, these grand weddings attract between 100 to 300 guests, many of whom opt for the added extravagance of helicopter rides for the event.

Kerala’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and world-class hospitality makes it an ideal setting for destination weddings. The state’s pristine beaches, lush backwaters, and historic venues provide a picturesque backdrop for couples seeking a memorable and exotic location to celebrate their union. As Kerala continues to enhance its infrastructure and offerings to cater to this growing demand, it is poised to solidify its status as a leading destination for weddings, attracting couples from across the globe to start their marital journey amidst its enchanting landscapes.

First beach wedding destination at Shankhumukham

It was in November last year that the department of tourism launched its first beach wedding destination at Shankhumukham, developed under the public-private participation model. “In addition to private entities in the tourism sector, like the hotel and resort owners, the tourism department has directly opened a destination wedding centre at Muthuchippi Park near Sankhumugham Beach in Thiruvananthapuram as a pilot initiative. Furthermore, Waterscapes in Kumarakom, Alappuzha, Samudra in Kovalam, and Bolgatty Palace in Kochi, under district tourism promotion councils have also been developed as destination wedding centres, said P A Mohammed Riyas, minister for tourism, Kerala.

Anagha S. Shanu, a medical doctor from Thiruvananthapuram, and Riyas Ebrahim, an engineer from Kollam, were the first couple to get married at the Shanghumukham destination wedding centre on November 30, 2023. “We learned about the project through an FM radio station and contacted the district tourism promotion council, which arranged our wedding,” said Riyas. “It was an honour to be the first couple in this state government-initiated destination wedding project, and we are grateful to Riyas sir for this initiative,” added Anagha.

Last year, the Union Ministry of Tourism also launched an ambitious campaign to position India as a premier wedding destination on the global stage. This initiative aims to tap into the immense potential of India’s tourism sector, elevating it to new heights by attracting couples worldwide to celebrate their special day in India.

The campaign highlights around 25 key destinations across the country, showcasing how India meets diverse wedding aspirations. It emphasises India’s breathtaking landscapes, sacred traditions, tantalising culinary delights, and state-of-the-art infrastructure.

An unforgettable journey of love and celebration

According to industry insiders, Kerala hosted 125 to 150 upscale weddings last year. Swetha Gregory, a Mumbai-based event professional who has operations in Kerala, says these weddings typically have budgets ranging from Rs 5 crore to Rs 10 crore with the destination arrangements and the day planning only costing around Rs 12- 25 lakh. ‘Earlier, Goa and Rajasthan were the preferred choices for these grand wedding celebrations, but now Assam and Kerala are also becoming increasingly popular destinations for such events,” adds Swetha.

“We facilitate wedding functions for all faiths and arrange for religious figures to solemnise the ceremonies. Besides, we assist couples in obtaining certificates from local authorities and in registering under the Special Marriage Act for those who opt for it,” says Swetha.

Destination wedding centres are now integrated with tourism destinations, primarily along the beachside. However, some hill stations are also preparing for similar initiatives in the private sector. “The prime attraction for our wedding ceremony was the opportunity to have a photoshoot at Shankhumugham Beach during dusk,” say Riyas and Anagha.

Wedding planners are optimistic that Kerala could soon become a hotspot for destination weddings, as they have been receiving numerous inquiries from foreigners.

This initiative celebrates the fusion of Kerala’s heritage with modern elegance, creating a narrative that entices couples globally to embark on an unforgettable journey of love and celebration in India. Amidst Kerala’s beautiful backwaters, lush greenery, and historic venues. It’s no wonder couples are flocking here to make their special day even more memorable. With the state’s efforts to enhance its appeal as a wedding destination, it looks like this trend is only going to grow. So, if you’re dreaming of a destination wedding, Kerala might just be the perfect place for you!

Next Story