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  • Ajay Manaktala

Indian Wedding Planning Mistakes You Need to Avoid (2020)

Updated: Apr 24

Ajay Manaktala does Bollywood events in Los Angeles and has personally DJ'd over 500 Big Fat Indian Weddings, including over 50 destination weddings. He knows the ins and outs of Indian weddings in the USA. For specific questions anything shaadi related please comment below.

"Wow I did not realize photos take this long. It would be nice if we enjoyed the reception instead since it's costing us $100 per minute"

Planning your Big Fat South Asian Wedding?


You’ve got the dress bought, the venue booked and the guest list figured out.


What else is there to do for your Gujarati or Punjabi or South Indian (or whichever) wedding?


Well, in short…plenty!  


Made in Heaven shined the light on our crazy Indian wedding industry and in this post I want to shine the light on mistakes I see couples make EVERY WEEKEND.


Having done hundreds of weddings including planning my own, I guarantee you'll catch something on this list.


1. Not Letting Your Guests Rest!


So many times we think we constantly need to keep our guests busy. Welcome snack at 3PM, wedding at 4PM, drinks at 6PM, receptions at 8PM, etc…but guess what!


Guests need time to catch up with one another also!


Not to mention that things go late as they always do.  


Massages and rest time between Mehendi and Sangeet or upon check in are the X factor in making your wedding memorable. Cost effective and an amazing touch (Pun, get it!)

Don’t be shy to pad an extra 30 minutes here and there depending on how large your party is.  Generally guests will always appreciate not being rushed and not worry about chatting while your events are going on, as they had ample time to chit-chat. 


This is also a very big destination wedding mistake!


2. Thinking the Heat will be Fine


We understand, you have this beautiful mandap by the beach, but it’s also 98 degrees outside.  


What to do?  


Put a canopy or curtains to increase the shade but also worry about the photographs having less light?  


These are all wedding day decisions you need to make and think about.  


I’ve seen grooms spend thousands of dollars on a very gorgeous Sabyasachi outfit only to be covered in sweat 10 minutes after putting it on.  


Do you want to sweat in a $5000 Sabya?

Trying to plan your mandap near a hotel room or place where you can change is a great way to be fresh during your 90 minute program. Me at my Brother's wedding in Thailand!

DO YOU!?!


Make sure you factor in the temperature when thinking about your venue, your guests, yourself and others.  


A sweaty groom in a million dollar venue, three thousand dollar sherwani and a thousand dollar photo isn’t helping anyone!


PRO 2020 WEDDING TIP: These days at baraats, it is VERY common to wear a nice Kurta then change closer to the altar into your wedding Sherwani. My own brother had his mandap in a hotel so he quickly showered up there AFTER HIS BARAAT!


Indian Wedding in Cancun. Yup.

Five Destination Wedding Mistakes to Avoid (Indian Wedding)


3. Sending Too Many Emails


You ever gone to a wedding, and the months leading up to it you got an email every other week?


  • Save the Date,

  • here’s the invite,

  • book your rooms,

  • what to wear,

  • check out our website,

  • pick your meal,

  • did you book your rooms yet!?!


Oh. My. Goodness!  


Bro enough with the messages, we get it!

In this day and age of digital detox people are busy and while they’re happy to attend, most of us ignore everything but the save the date and hotel reservations and figure out the rest a week or two before.  


Try to minimize your emails, or simply get your website/RSVP/hotel rooms all done via one mail/website from the beginning.


DON'T SEND TOO MANY RSVP EMAILS FOR YOUR INDIAN WEDDING!


Your guests will appreciate it!




4. Too Many Venues Outside Main Hotel


It sound’s nice that you start at the beach, then move inside to the hotel lobby, then whisk them away to a beautiful restaurant on the cliff you guys love and then again take a bus to ballroom for a reception.  


But you ever tried to simply get 20 of your friends to all be ready for a dinner while on vacation!


Don’t try to do too much, as when you try to move more than 100 people someone is in the bathroom, not on the bus, on a phone call, whatever.  


Rule of Thumb: Never have more than two venues in a single day. 



5. Giving the Bride and Groom time to Socialize. 


Guess what? Everybody wants a selfie, and also a nice family portrait photo. As bride and groom, you both need a good hour to socialize and mix in the room.  


I recently asked a high end wedding coordinator what makes a good wedding, and her answer was simple.  


“People need to feel the warmth of the bride and groom.”  

A simple “thanks for coming” and a photo isn’t really warm is it?  


Wow I hope I'm not taking all their attention! Unless they seem fidgety, you're fine!

Try to make sure you can talk to each group of guests for at least a few minutes, so they know their presence was felt.  


HONESTLY: the BRIDE AND GROOM saying hi and hello for more than just a picture to extended family and guests is the best FREE HACK for any Indian wedding. It will be the one thing guests take home with them more than any sushi or fireworks or expensive gifts.


The gift of time is the most precious!




6. Not Letting There Be Lighting


As professionals in this space and the best Bollywood DJs in Los Angeles, we always get asked “why is lighting such a big deal?”


 Well, you ever seen a before and after picture of a ballroom?


Trust me, that initial “wow” factor when people come in versus a standard corporate ballroom make all the difference.   Make sure your decor is not over the top, but has enough going on to keep your guests from feeling like “something feels off.” 


This is a HUGE mistakes couples make because they think "oh the ballroom looks good as it is."


PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GO TO SOME WEDDINGS BEFORE YOURS and notice why you felt that wow factor when you walked in...NOTICE THE LIGHTS!


Corporate event to Lifetime Memory.

7. Too Many Speeches!


That’s awesome that your grandpa came from India and wants to speak. Oh and your cousin also?


Super.



Now your brother, your college friends, your high school friends, your sister’s best friend who introduced you guys…ok.  

Another speech? Oh boy.

Try to spread your speeches out between the reception, lunches, sangeet’s, and so on.  It will keep the momentum up for the other events while not closing your last event in a drawn out fashion. 


If people get offended they only spoke at the Sangeet then not the reception, then either tell them to pick one or simply move on. You ain't got time for that!







8. Bar Placement (YES IT MATTERS)


As discussed about here,  a lot of couples place the bar inside the ballroom which takes a lot of space.  


On the flip side, some people put it so far away they constantly only have 75% of their audience in the room at one time.  Make sure you think about it before simply making the decision.  



The best option is a large ballroom with a dedicated bar area built into the floor-plan, or immediately outside the ballroom doors to ensure an easy flow of movement

and togetherness. 


9. Emcee or No MC? 


Some couples think they need a professional MC.  Others just think the groom or his friend will do it.  


But guess what?


That best man may also be the best drunk man and not have the capacity to organize 5 speeches, two dances and figure out the timings for each.  


If you have someone in your family who is a public speaker or entertainer, of course, nothing beats going with someone know.  



Otherwise you should ask your DJ if they provide this service.  If not, try to hire a professional wedding emcee!  


You’ve designed your own personal Oscars ceremony for your function, so make sure all the attention is focused!



10. Balancing the Menu


Any Indian wedding will have people with diet restrictions.  


Even if your entire group of friends eat everything, other people won’t.  


Make sure you factor this in not just when deciding between non-veg and veg items, but also mock-tails, cocktails, juices, deserts and so on.  


It sounds so simple but trust us, it isn’t! Remember your non-Indian guests may not be as adventurous, so it doesn’t hurt to have a few pizza or pasta stations nearby as well.




Conclusion


Indian weddings are a class apart. However we get so caught up in the makeup, the hair, the outfits, we forget about the EXPERIENCE.


Do the steps above and I GUARANTEE your wedding will be much more memorable and exciting than you ever hoped for.


Thinking Fast and Slow was about the remembering self and the experiencing self right?


Be present and enjoy it all!


All the best and for your DJ/Lighting needs in California or beyond do let us know!



ALSO SEE:


Sample Indian wedding buffet menu with PRICES


Indian Wedding Reception Sample Timeline


READY TO MAKE YOUR INDIAN WEDDING UNIQUE AND MEMORABLE? Get a quote now on DJ/Sound/Lighting or even exclusive deals on the most creative folks in the business (decorators, photographer, planners)



Ajay Manaktala is one of the best Indian Wedding DJs in America who has personally DJ'd and produced over 1000 Indian weddings in his 20+ years of being in the sound and lighting business. Him and his company blog extensively on South Asian events on this blog as well as on Quora.