When Suhas Nataraj (name changed on request) got engaged last month, many of his family members and close friends attended it, virtually. They all were part of the videoconference engagement. As a medical professional who was on the frontline of the pandemic, Dr. Nataraj knew only too well the risk involved in having a traditional function with everyone present physically. “Only around 20 members, including my fiancé and I, gathered at home for a private function. We took utmost care even during preparations. Any items that were bought were kept out in the sun for 72 hours,” said Dr. Nataraj.

With COVID-19 cases showing no signs of decreasing, people are figuring out how to get on with their lives with all possible precautions in place. It has changed the face of weddings and engagements as the government has restricted crowds to no more than 50. Functions can be held only after getting permission from the jurisdictional police.

Event planners are adapting to this new reality quickly. Brochures, advertisements and websites highlight instance of thermal screenings for guests, hand-sanitiser stations, and even ‘cuddle curtains’. A product of a world dealing with COVID-19, a cuddle curtain — usually like a shower curtain with plastic sleeves — allows people to hug each other. Masks are a given.

Such measures are now being highlighted along with other services such as invitation card designing, bridal make-up, photography-cum-videography and catering. Many planners also provide assistance to Web telecast rituals.

Bare minimum

Manisha Porwal, an event planner specialising in weddings, said families now want the bare minimum. “Wedding dates are not being postponed, as it is considered inauspicious. Many are planning small private affairs now, in the hope of having a bigger event later in the year, when there is some semblance of normalcy,” she said and added that many theme-based and destination weddings had been cancelled. “I have planned weddings that were held on the terrace of the client’s residence, in a farmhouse. Though small, clients want the wedding to be beautiful and are investing in decoration,” she said.

While wedding planners are able to adapt, owners of marriage and convention halls have not been so fortunate. Satish B.R., the owner of Sri Ram Convention Hall, said almost all bookings had been cancelled. “There are hardly two to three enquiries. We have had to return the advance paid when clients cancelled the booking after the lockdown was imposed. All we can do now is wait and watch,” he said.

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