British Columbia

New documentary explores booming Indian wedding business in Canada

A new documentary on the Indian wedding business in Metro Vancouver is set to air July 23 on CBC.

'I was stunned to hear the average cost of an Indian wedding is $100,000'

An Indian wedding couple dances with friends and family at their reception in Surrey, B.C. A new documentary exploring the growth of Indian weddings in Canada airs on CBC July 23. (Wrise Productions Inc.)

If you live in Metro Vancouver, there's a good chance that you've either been invited to an Indian wedding or attended one.

They're often lavish, extravagant, week-long affairs with anywhere from 600 to 1,200 guests.

Journalist Bal Brach explores the massive growth of the industry in a new documentary called "Little India Big Business," airing on CBC on July 23.

"I was stunned to hear the average cost of an Indian wedding is $100,000 and most of the time, it's hard-working immigrant parents footing the bill for week-long celebrations."

Brach says Indian wedding vendors in the Lower Mainland are booking clients two to three years in advance. 

"It's an incredibly lucrative business, if you have the energy to compete."

Dave Singh of Well Groomed Designs helps a bridal client find the perfect outfit. (Bal Brach/Wrise Productions Inc.)

Remarkable success stories

Brach says she was most struck by the business startup stories of some of the vendors.

Dave Singh immigrated to Canada in 2008 and started his clothing business, Well-Groomed, in his basement.

"In his first year of business, Dave had 12 clients," said Brach.

This year, Singh is set to dress 400 brides and has clients travelling from all over the world to shop at his store. He's even opened other locations in Toronto and California.

"He's known as the 'Sabyasachi of Surrey,'" Brach said, referring to India's famous clothing designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee.

Harp Sohal, left, and Shannon Mann are the owners of Pink Orchid Studio, a hair and makeup business in Surrey, B.C. (Bal Brach/Wrise Productions Inc.)

Social media stars

Brach says social media has also played a big role in allowing wedding vendors in Metro Vancouver to have a global influence.

The women behind Surrey's Pink Orchid Studio are booked three years in advance, and they travel all over the world to do hair and makeup for Indian bridal clients, Brach said.

"These were just two cousins who had a passion for beauty and decided to pursue it. They now have their own cosmetic product line and they've amassed hundreds of thousands of fans through social media — it's incredible to see how far they've come."

"Little India Big Business" airs on CBC Television in B.C. and Alberta on July 23 at 7 p.m. It will be available online across Canada at Absolutely Vancouver

To hear the interview with producer Bal Brach listen to audio labelled New documentary explores booming Indian wedding business in Canada