How Instagram reels are transforming Indian weddings and shaping the industry

While covering a wedding recently, Pratheek Arun felt a bit uneasy. “The bride’s sister wanted to make a transition video of the bride at all the ceremonies, using a twirl for a transition,” recalls the 27-year-old videographer from Thrissur in Kerala. “At the wedding reception, she made the bride twirl on stage, doing multiple takes to capture the perfect shot.”
Arun, who has documented weddings for almost a decade, was uncomfortable shooting this sequence as “they prioritised creating something for Instagram, while guests waited to greet the newlyweds”. But such incidents are commonplace now. “Today, people often ask for vertically shot videos, alongside those shot in the standard 16:9 format. Some only want the vertical footage to post on social media, opting against the traditional wedding video for a close set of people.”

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Indian weddings have always exuded chaos, drama and opulence. However, there has been, until recently, minimal focus on how weddings are documented for non-invitees on social media. Typically, a photographer and a videographer would be enlisted. The wedding film of familial revelry and solemn ceremony came with a predictable soundtrack—unending instrumental music or film songs—chosen by the videographer.
Families involved had little to no input on the documentation of the wedding.

Made in video heaven

Weddings in the Instagram Reels era are increasingly about the bride and groom’s entry videos for social media, prompting many to redo those moments for the perfect shot. Hosts briefly dance with each set of guests as the camera follows them around. In a few cases, wedding ecards instruct guests not to click/share unauthorised photos, so people see only a professionally curated version of the wedding.

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While nuptials that are not tailor-made for social media still exist, Reels have largely transformed the landscape of Indian weddings. Short-videos haring is dictating not only how most weddings are captured, but also how they are conducted.

reels gfx

The largely unorganised wedding industry is benefiting from this trend. Industry insiders say many videographers have tripled their prices since 2021 to incorporate Reels as part of the package. In 2022, the wedding photography and videography market was valued at $7 billion in Asia Pacific and $20.4 billion globally, as per a Fortune Business Insights report from 2023.

While a reel ensures that the bride and the groom get to cherish a flawless recollection of their special day, sometimes it comes at the expense of bewildered guests. “I’ve felt like a prop in some people’s wedding videos,” says Aachal Agrawal, a 25-year-old ghostwriter and personal brand strategist. “At a friend’s wedding recently, instead of feeling like a beloved guest, I got the vibe that I was just part of the set design—like a fancy lamp in the background of their perfectly curated wedding reel for Instagram.”

So much so that as Agrawal’s eyes welled up during the exchange of vows, she wondered if she was genuinely moved or was unknowingly performing for a reel. Shawmava Mukherjee, a primary schoolteacher from Chakdaha, West Bengal, recalls being at a wedding where he was “constantly instructed to stay in specific places to create a nice pattern for the groom’s introduction video in slow motion”.

Being a content creator on the side helps him understand the shift. Yet, Mukherjee prefers the time guests could enjoy a wedding without being coerced into orchestrating moments for a reel.

In many weddings, meticulous coordination of decor with the couple’s attire takes precedence over even menu and guests, says Loveleen Arun, a luxury travel consultant.

“I have overheard wedding planners briefing the groom to ‘be teary-eyed’ as the bride enters because the camera is going to capture it,” she adds.

Sakshi Shukla, founder of a Bengaluru-based content studio, has just returned from a wedding with mixed feelings about the manufactured aspects of it. “The new trend where the focus is entirely on the bride and the groom is extreme and adds a lot of pressure to glamourise the wedding while chipping away at the rawness of a wedding celebration,” she says.

The phenomenon, however, seems quite natural to Vedant Kaushik, a Delhi-based YouTuber popularly known as Vedant Rusty, who has studied digital humanities. For many content creators, a wedding is just another occasion to post content and sign brand deals, but “for most couples, their wedding is the biggest moment of their lives. It is a time when people receive the most attention in their lives, so they do what they believe will make it memorable,” says Kaushik.

Follow in the 7 steps of celebs

After all, the pursuit of the great Indian wedding reel draws inspiration from the larger-than-life celebrity weddings. The trend likely started with a teaser of Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli’s wedding that went viral in December 2017.

More recently, Kiara Advani and Sidharth Malhotra shared a video of their wedding on social media, and the latest season of Koffee with Karan aired sequences from Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh’s 2018 wedding, adding fuel to this phenomenon.

Vishal Punjabi, CEO of The Wedding Filmer, a film production house behind the above-mentioned celeb videos, acknowledges their aspirational quotient, all the while claiming that these videos were spun out of genuine moments.

However, manufacturing the perfect moment can lead to disasters, he says. “I have heard stories of sets catching fire and cranes falling—all in the pursuit of the ideal shot. Many fail to realise that most traditional Indian weddings don’t naturally align with the reel-friendly format, pushing people to engage in unnatural actions for the camera,” he adds.

Creating reels has become a means for wedding planners and videographers to advertise and market their services, too. So, in many cases, they push the bride, groom and guests into creating wedding content, says Punjabi.

This trend is likely to thrive. Devashish Palkar, a mental health practitioner from Vadodara in

Gujarat, says “weddings will revolve more around the hosts than the guests, breaking old patterns”. “But it could also mean that fewer people will attend weddings out of a social obligation and will be able to refuse participation if they are not comfortable with this change,” he adds.

On the content side, “I won’t be surprised if BTS (behind the scenes) of wedding reels becomes a bonafide video genre soon,” says Dhruv Guruwara, COO of Bridal Asia, a platform curating bridal fashion, jewellery and accessories.

“Wedding bloopers will mean an entirely different thing then,” he quips.

Perhaps the next wedding invitation will request your benign presence at a couple’s wedding shoot.


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