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The big bridal bazaar
- Wedding season waiting to explode, trousseau to travel trade

Bed linen bordered with brocade, opulent antique-finish lehnga, grand Mughal stones, exotic travel plans' there's no mart quite like the marriage mart in town.

No wonder, The Bridal Show, a one-stop bridal-buy destination, is trundling into town this weekend.

'Similar events that sell 'Calcutta' as their USP are flourishing all over India. So why not just come to Calcutta' This is the right event for the right consumer at the right time,' says Rohit Saraogi, CEO, Media Creations, the agency organising the City Centre show from Saturday.

If this is a three-day affair, the three-month marriage market is all set to explode from November to early-February in Calcutta.

One reason why Shagun on Shakespeare Sarani emerged the 'first wedding mall in the country' last year, only to record a 'rise of 70 per cent during the shaadi season'. And why shoppers pour in from here (Calcutta), there (Bhubaneswar and Guwahati) and everywhere (Delhi and Dubai).

But what makes our wedding racks so attractive for families to flock to' The answer ranges from artistic appeal to budget buys. 'Calcutta scores because of its craftsmanship. Also, when it comes to jewellery, no other place will offer such a great ratio of gold purity and finished look,' feels Chandrakanta Roy Chowdhury of MP Jewellers.

But Vikram Chowdhury, who manages designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee's bridal segment, pegs it on the price points. 'People find it cheaper to fly down from Mumbai, buy their outfits and go back,' he argues.

Marriages made in designer clothes dictate the fortunes of even fashion gurus. 'Wedding shopping accounts for 80 per cent of our total annual sales,' admits Vikram.

Tradition remains the dominant weave of the trousseau trend ' bright colours, heavy saris and embellished kurtas ' but the jewellery needs are veering more towards the trendy.

For couture jeweller Raj Mahtani, the wedding market comprises 'more than 70 per cent' of his total turnout. 'People buy more because hand-me-downs are not considered cool any more. Girls want to make their own fashion statement, so why should she wear something her grandmother did years ago'

Even lifestyle stores like Decofur record an easy growth of 40 per cent during the wedding weeks post-Diwali.

And post-marriage plans are going through the roof, with Madhulika Saraf of Gainwell Travel and Leisure picking single destinations like Australia and New Zealand, spa vacations or a Mediterranean cruise as the preferred ones for 'just-married' Calcuttans.

The honeymoon budget: Rs 8 to 10 lakh.

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