Planning a Wedding? A Guide for the Modern Indian Couple

With many factors at play, planning a wedding today is a daunting process. From the financial implications of what will probably be the most expensive purchase you'll make in your lifetime, to a tight timeline that leaves only a few months (if not weeks) to plan something that will take most people years to pull off, putting together all the details of this once-in-a-lifetime celebration can be overwhelming. Even if you hire an Indian wedding planner, it's helpful to understand the Indian wedding planning process and how to plan an Indian wedding before you dive in. If you're tying the knot soon, we're here to help! In this wedding planning guide,  read below for tips on making the wedding planning process easier.

Pick a wedding date

Before you can start diving into Indian wedding planning, you need to pick a date. There are several factors that feed into picking a date:

  • 1. Parents want you to get married asap: You’ll often find that it’s the parents who want you to get married tomorrow. South Asian parents typically want their kids to get married as soon as possible. If you have parents who want you to plan a wedding in two months, make sure you understand everything that goes into planning your dream wedding before you commit to the date.
  • 2.You want to get married to move in with your significant other and start your life together: With parents, it’s usually marriage before moving in together – we’re not saying this is true for all families or that this is the right thing, but we’re just saying this is the reality a lot of  couples have to deal with. A lot of couples want to get married quickly to move in together. While this might be the right decision for you, please note that you can always get court married and still give yourself time to plan a larger, more thought-out wedding a few months or even a year later.
  • 3. Muhurat / Auspicious date: In Hindu weddings, the pandit or priest will look at your time of birth and recommend an auspicious date (and sometimes even time). Typically, auspicious wedding dates are between April – June and November – December with a handful of other dates across other months. August – October is often a drier wedding season. 
  • 4.Weather: Depending on where you are planning to host your wedding, you may want to avoid specific seasons. For example, a July wedding in Texas, especially with outdoor events, may be a no-go unless you account for tents and plenty of fans and water for your guests. 

Determine your wedding guest count

After you have a couple of wedding dates in mind, the next step for Indian wedding planning is to determine your guest count. You may formalize your guest count before you have a budget or work backward from your budget to determine the max guest count you can have. Some families and couples even pick a venue first to cap their guest count.

Finalizing your guest count, especially for South Asian weddings, can be a challenging and heavily analytical exercise! The easiest way to approach this is to start with an existing guest list from a close family member’s or friend’s wedding if you know there will be overlapping guests.

Alternately, have both sets of parents and the bride / groom come up with a list of family members, close family friends, and friends they want to invite. Before diving into table seating and writing down every single Indian wedding guest, for the initial wedding guest list, we recommend including the family name and number of guests (kids / significant others). From there, you should assign priority groups to each family (1 = closest family and friends you will definitely invite; 2 = invite in round two ; 3 = maybes or last-minute invites if you have headcount). For Indian weddings with multiple events like a mehndi, garba / sangeet, wedding ceremony, and reception, you may actually want to add a column for each event and indicate whether or not you will be inviting the family (or the number of people invited to each even if you don’t want to include children at the wedding reception as an example) to each event.

If you are nervous about a high guest count or planning an intimate wedding ceremony, you may want to lock down a venue first and then determine how many seats you’ll have at the physical wedding. Destination weddings are another way to cut down on the guestlist as usually fewer people are willing to take the time and money required to travel. Even if you start with a guest list, you may need to come back to it after selecting the venue and play around with the guest list a bit to make sure you invite only as many guests as there are seats at the table.

Finally, with the pandemic, we’ve learned that virtual weddings are here to stay. While you may not invite round two and round three priority guests to a physical wedding, if they still have significance in your life (or your parents have the need to invite their friend’s cousin’s colleague), you can always send them an invite for the virtual wedding ceremony or virtual wedding reception. 

Pick a wedding location before you dive into venues

Before you start searching for your perfect Indian wedding venue in Texas, figure out the location. Are you going for a destination wedding or a local wedding?

There are several benefits to hosting a destination wedding:

  • 1. You can cut down on your guest list to create an intimate wedding as fewer guests are able to travel more than 1-2 hours, especially if you are asking them to fly across the world.
  • 2. Your wedding becomes a vacation for your guests. Whether it’s Cancun, Italy, or Jaipur, your guests are traveling outside of their home and will be 100% engaged in wedding celebrations and treat their time away as a vacation. Who doesn’t enjoy vacations?
  • 3. You can select the setting you’ve always dreamt of for your wedding day. Do you want a whimsical wedding on the beach, a royal wedding in a palace, or a rustic wedding with nature? By picking a destination wedding, you get the privilege of truly picking the destination of your dreams.
  • 4. You get more bang for your buck if you plan a destination wedding somewhere like India where the dollar goes further. While your budget may be the same as an Indian wedding in Texas, you’ll be able to have a much more luxurious wedding in Goa, Jaipur, or Udaipur.
  • 5. You can have a lower budget wedding given the fewer guests, and if you plan a destination wedding in Cancun or Cabo, often the guests will pay for their own rooms, and the hotel has budget-friendly  wedding packages.

After you’ve figured out destination versus local wedding, go a level deeper. For local weddings, how far do you want to be from an airport, if you have guests traveling in? For destination weddings, how important is connectivity and travel time for guests? It’s helpful to narrow down to a city for destination weddings and a suburb for local weddings (e.g., wedding venues in Plano or wedding venues in Sugarland). 

Figure out a rough Indian wedding budget

The average Indian wedding in india costs would be affordable. While most families and couples spend above their budget and often don’t know what their budget is, it’s helpful to understand what works for you – a scrappy budget-friendly wedding; a reasonable but beautiful wedding; or a lavish affair with no expenses spared. Understanding your comfortable budget range will help you make decisions on high expense vendors like venue, catering, and décor. If you need help with figuring out what your budget should be for your Indian wedding,