By Dimithri Wijesinghe
The wedding industry saw a new beginning when the Christell Luxury Bridal (Christell Luxury Wellness) aesthetics centre held its first ever wedding expo – ‘Everlasting Confidence’ on 24 and 25 September at One Galle Face.
The event featured some of the wedding and beauty industry’s most reputed brands which helped engaged couples in planning their wedding day. In keeping with the theme of the expo, the brands all made a note to take a step further in their professional guidance to also assist the couples in securing their ‘happily ever afters.’
Making note of this more sustainable approach to weddings and marriage, Prof. Ramani Arsecularatne, speaking to The Sunday Morning Brunch, shared that the underlying intention of the expo was not only to ensure that these couples had a stunning experience on their wedding day but also to instil in these brides and grooms-to-be “a lasting confidence for a healthy and blissful married life”.
Attendees were given the opportunity to experience an impressive agenda; skin and hair care consultations by Prof. Ramani Arsecularatne and Dr. Shanika Arsecularatne, hair and makeup advice by industry veteran Ramani Fernando, and grooming and etiquette workshops by Fouzul Hameed.
Additionally, attendees were also able to consult and even book a number of participating vendors, which included The Cutting Station, Ramani Fernando Salons, Jetwing Hotels, Danushka Senadeera Photography, One’Dulani Photography, Dammika De Alwis Studio, Tiesh, Raja Jewellers, Buddhi Batiks, Hameedia, O:LIVE Couture, Dr. Shaamil Navaratnaraja, Lassana Flora, Heshantha Fernando, Weddings by Suranga Fernando, and LOVI Ceylon.
Brunch took this opportunity to perform an autopsy of sorts on the wedding industry at present, following the past years of turmoil.
Some of the attending engaged couples shared that many of them had hoped to marry last year or even the year before that. However, the country’s situation, both because of the pandemic and then because of the political and economic crisis, did not permit it.
Those who had postponed their weddings shared that they did not regret their decision as it was more important to them to have all of their loved ones present on their special day, especially those who no longer lived in the country and that it was worth the wait to be able to celebrate properly with their loved ones.
However, the financial situation has taken a terrible toll, with many couples sharing that even though they already had very limited budgets, they had been forced to adjust drastically and scale down considerably owing to the rise in costs. This is partly what has brought them to the expo, to grasp an understanding of where the industry stands when it comes to rates and also to find the best possible options available to them and their needs.
These couples said that they had learnt a lot in their brief consultations and would be taking with them a wealth of knowledge and may even make some bookings with the vendors present to ensure that they were ahead of the curve regarding both rates and availability of vendors.
Brunch also spoke to several of the vendors at the expo, all of whom highlighted the restrictions the economic crisis had placed on their businesses, from soaring material costs to the fact that items such as flowers were no longer imported, placing a strain on the local supply. They also noted how difficult it had been to come up with creative strategies that could keep customers happy and businesses running in the face of exponentially increasing costs.
Lassana Events Senior Event Executive Akhilesh Joseph shared that the costs between client and vendor had been their main concern as an event planning space, as they provided for all aspects of the wedding. “Each couple’s budget has gone down in their budgeting of wedding allocations because they are considering things such as decor as not so essential. On our side, transport costs are an area with which we struggle greatly during these times,” he said. However, he noted that Lassana, as a group, was benefiting from some of their sustainable practices, having a fresh flower farm where they sourced their flowers from, which they were now able to expand.
“We have our own fresh flower farm under the Lassana Group, so we are able to source our flowers, but we are looking to expand further. Since we have this basic foundation with the farmlands, we wish to move into essential items as well, like fruits and vegetables.”
Similarly, Weddings by Suranga Fernando Founder Suranga Fernando also noted the lack of materials as a challenge: “Covid hit us directly and the industry was in a very bad situation, but it slowly picked up. However, with the crisis, clients are facing a very difficult situation as everything is so expensive. We are unable to find materials, since we can’t bring down flowers, food, and beverages and also specific foods are unavailable here, so this inability to find materials has been a challenge,” she said.
The vendors collectively shared that they were happy to be a part of this expo as this was a good opportunity to engage with their clientele. Since the country’s situation was a shared experience, they encouraged couples to reach out and speak with them as they were prepared to customise their services to suit the needs of their clients, keeping in mind the present situation.