Sri Lanka holds first wedding exhibition since COVID-19 outbreak

(Photo: Xinhua)

Early Saturday, young Ranjani Gunatilake, who is planning her wedding in December, traveled to the Waters Edge resort in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo to attend "Wedding Boutique 2020," the first wedding exhibition held in the country after a COVID-19 curfew was lifted.

She has been looking forward to the event since she saw the advertisement on social media a few days ago.

Ranjani is a client manager in a business process outsourcing company in Colombo. Her fiance, an IT professional, is currently stranded in Malaysia because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. "My father passed away and my mom is not in good health. Therefore, only I could come to the wedding exhibition to customize my wedding plans and do my shopping," Ranjani told Xinhua.

Fortunately for Ranjani, the pandemic situation in Sri Lanka is now stable and the government lifted the curfew last month and has gradually relaxed the restrictions on holding weddings.

A wedding occupies a very important place in the social life of Sri Lankans. Holding a decent wedding is a top priority for a family. And preparing for a wedding is a major responsibility for the bride and groom's families as many items need to be purchased.

There are only a small number of wedding companies in Sri Lanka that provide a "one-stop-shop" service and many families head for them.

The "Wedding Boutique 2020" exhibition held on Saturday and Sunday had many eye-catching and dazzling wedding products on display. There were also wedding planners, floral designers, makeup artists, hairstylists, professional tailors, jewelers, catering service providers, fancy cake makers, photographers, sound systems and lighting experts, among others.

Among the busiest at the wedding show were the creative designers who could provide comprehensive services and guidance for planning a wedding.

The wedding photographers' counters were also surrounded by people. A young couple were seen holding an album as the photographer and salesman pointed to their ideal wedding picture.

In front of the jewelry counter, the supplier tirelessly helped newcomers to choose their jewelry.

At a wedding hairstyle and beauty counter, there was a mannequin in a bridal dress wearing an attractive face mask.

"This bridal mask was specially designed for the bride after the outbreak of the epidemic," Sri Lanka's famous hairstylist Ramzi Rahaman told reporters. "I am very keen on designing masks. Masks have become a fashion statement," he added.

There were some large screens at the exhibition showing colorful weddings in various styles. A manager who participated in the wedding boutique exhibition said that an Indian-style wedding in Sri Lanka would cost between 3 million and 6 million rupees (about 16,000 U.S. dollars to 32,300 dollars), while a grand Sri Lankan-style wedding will cost at least 2 million rupees (10,765 dollars).

The manager said that Indian-style weddings are ordered by rich Indians who come down from India with hundreds of guests. Sri Lankans, on the other hand, prefer their own local style, he added.

Most stalls at the exhibition displayed attractive 25 percent discount signs. Ajantha Wijesundara, manager of Raja Jewelers, said customers who place an order at the exhibition will get a discount of 20 to 25 percent. But if the order is placed after the two-day exhibition, the discount will be reduced to 10 percent to 15 percent.

Because of this, locals who are interested in planning a wedding come prepared to pay up.

"I will gather information today, go home and discuss with my fiance and mother, and maybe come to sign the contract tomorrow before the exhibition closes," Ranjani said.