As weddings shrink, hosts find an innovative way to include friends and family in the wedding feast
It would be no exaggeration to say that people remember a wedding based on the food that was served. The kalyana virundhu (wedding feast) involves a series of intense discussions between the family and caterers.
With COVID-19 forcing a cap on the number of guests and social distancing norms, this year celebrations shifted to small-format weddings at home and virtual platforms. Lately, families have been finding inventive ways to share the joy, and the feast. The muhurtha sappad (wedding feast) is now being packed for elderly relatives and close friends in the city who are unable to attend, much to the delight of virtual guests and caterers.
The idea was to ensure that older members of the family, who could not attend the wedding, could still participate via the wedding feast, making the experience more enjoyable.
Mathangi Srinivasamurti of Weddings and Marigold, a city-based wedding planning company, recently organised the home delivery of a wedding feast, which went viral on social media.
A wonderful gesture (clockwise from top) South Indian wedding feast, the staff at Arusuvai Caterers packing thefeast and meal packed by ArrVee Caterers.
She says, “Many caterers have begun to deliver food packed in disposable containers. But this particular home delivery went viral mainly due to meticulous planning and smart packing: the containers and hand-woven basket were given as return gifts,” says Mathangi.
Each basket had a meal for two packed in two hot boxes and four airtight containers. The bag also contained the traditional bakshanam (sweets and savouries) and thamboolam (bag with betel nut and leaves).
Apart from sending the link to the webcast of the wedding proceedings, the groom’s father, was particular about making guests feel included in the celebrations. Which is why he was keen on home delivering elaborate kalyana sappadu. Says Mathangi, “We had to ensure that the food reached 85 locations (total of 225 meals, 23 items in each) around the same time that the muhurtham ended, so they could watch the wedding in a relaxed manner and enjoy the sumptuous meal.”
Home-delivered wedding feasts are catching on fast. Retired banker MK Shankar, who had his daughter’s wedding during the lockdown, says that he could invite just 40 guests to the venue and so, with the support of his caterer Arr Vee Caterers, he sent the wedding meal to 20 more relatives.
Raghni Muralidharan of Renaissance Weddings says that she had conducted similar weddings in September.
“Serving a sumptuous celebratory meal is deep-rooted in our culture, which is why even during the pandemic, families take the effort. For the weddings that I organised, we shared the link to the live telecast with the guests at home and ensured the meals reached them on time. For smaller events, guests are happy to take away packed meals and eat it at home.”
Soumya Ramesh of Arusuvai Caterers, that has catered to about 12 weddings with home-delivered lunches, says it has become the norm these days. “We normally pack all items except rice and request the guests to keep rice fresh in their homes. But of late, we have started to pack premixed rice dishes such as sambar rice, rasam rice, vathakulambu rice and morekulambu rice, and to an extent avoid liquid food,” she says.
Bharath Varadarajan of Arr Vee Catering Services says that since July, the firm has catered to over a dozen weddings, home delivering muhurtha sappad to elderly relatives.
“Sending food to senior members of the family is such a wonderful gesture as well. I guess the trend is here to stay,” Bharath says and adds, “People are becoming aware of using less plastic for packaging food, and a young couple who are celebrating their kid’s ayush homam insisted that we use eco-friendly material even if it means more expenditure.”
Some of the five-star hotels in the city are also gearing up. Says Zubin Songadwala, area manager South ITC Hotels South and general manager ITC Grand Chola,““We have also hosted virtual weddings wherein we have packed food for guests and delivered it. We also have guests choosing from our Gourmet Couch menu for small gatherings — it is a responsible dining initiative with mindfully curated menus from our restaurants.”