100+ Best Indian Wedding Tips!
Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Grab some coffee! This is a long one!
We have spent the last 20 years DJ'ing and planning Indian weddings across Los Angeles, Orange County, a good chunk of the USA and even Mexico, Thailand and India.
From small weddings in restaurants when we first started out to a million dollar gala in places like Pelican Hill, we’ve seen it all and then some.
The wedding planning process is stressful enough and the Indian wedding planning process is a whole other level.
So since you might be feeling all over the place, we thought we’d join you and jot down 103 tips about literally ANYTHING Indian wedding related.
Let’s do this!
Indian Wedding Planning
Make your Guest list before you do anything. Your guest list determines who is likely to come and from where. That way you can figure out the best location, and then best hotel, and best vendor, etc…
Finalize your guest list a month after he proposes, and then plan your wedding within a year of that.
If your wedding is above 150 people, yes, hire a wedding planner!
Most wedding planners will charge between $10,000 USD and $20,000 but they will likely save you more money with their connections and ideas.
Ask your planner what they will do, and what they won’t do. Your planner will not help you shop for outfits or talk to tailors in India. They will fight with the hotel if they know they're taking costing liberties.
Make sure your vendors, whether video, photography, planners or makeup are all active on Instagram. Why wouldn’t you want to hire someone who is proud of their work?
If your wedding planner takes longer than a day to call you back, that’s not a deal breaker, but be mindful of that! If he or she also keeps saying “sorry I was with a client” that might be a warning sign.
If when you do meet your wedding planner who never seems to have their phone, and all they’re doing is being on their phone...well, you might want to switch them out.
India is not as cheap as you think anymore, for big fat weddings in Udaipur or Designer outfits. Shaadi business is big business! (Ok sorry, uncle joke!)
Remember major sporting events, holidays, Chinese New Year and Diwali.
WhatsApp Invites are preferred. I suggest you use them, nobody really pays attention to physical invites anymore. If you must, print out 20 for close friends who would kick up a fuss.
Want cash as gifts but don’t know how to say it? Try saying “No gifts, only blessings” in your invite and then have a box for “cards” at your wedding.
Ensure your hashtag is NOT CONFUSING!!! Was it #MeetThePatel or #MeetThePatels (plural) or #MeetPatels2019? I forgot?! Then all your images on social media will be scattered. Finalize it early and plaster it all over the place consistently.
Hotel for your Shaadi
Don’t pick a hotel that is too spread out. You’ll have old people who can’t do an “easy five minute walk” in the heat and don’t want to wait 15 minutes for a hotel buggy to take them back and forth.
Never agree on your hotel’s first contract.
Always ask your hotel for more stuff, like dry cleaning, free breakfasts, late checkouts, extra discounted room for your vendors, etc.. Hotels can always bake more things into your big $50,000 to $200,000 contract but they don’t want to reduce that amount. But they won’t risk if you simply ask them to waive that $200 bottle of wine you got carried away with and ordered during room service.
Remember that sunrise hotel and sunset hotel mean exactly that. You don’t get a nice sunset by your mandap if you have a sunrise hotel facing the east coast!
Ask your hotel if they do Indian catering, and if they, you should do a tasting of at least 10 items. If they do Indian catering, you can cancel any outside Indian catering as you’ll need to use this expense to meet your hotel spend requirements.
Don’t use hotel towels during your henna and mehndi, they will charge you almost $1,000 to replace big luxurious towels or bath robes.
Look into your hotels Instagram location and scroll down until you find pictures of other Indian weddings. Feel free to DM those folks and ask them about what they paid, how the experience was, etc..
If you expect 300 people at your Sangeet, you can do a buffet for 200 and have a few live station counters like a noodle bar, satay bar, teppanyaki, etc.. if your hotel or catering offers that.
Hotels rarely run out of food and you can change all of this a day or two before if you’re really worried about another 100 people.
Try to find hotels that are already heavily decorated so you don’t need to splurge too much!
If you find a ballroom where the ceilings are extremely high, your decoration will look a bit thin, so try to find a ballroom with lower ceilings! The sound will also carry a lot more as well!
Will your hotel allow a horse or elephant or even a BMW in the courtyard to drive up to your wedding area? All things you need to check!
Do you have a Plan B for rain backup venues?
Outfits - Ladies
If you’re traveling to India a few times before your wedding, please get your outfits from there.
For your mehndi, wear something colorful.
For your sangeet, wear something royal. Blues and Gray’s are ok.
For your wedding lehenga, remember any budget is fine and nobody ever told a bride her outfit was too plain or not pretty. You will look gorgeous.
Designer gals who have the budget to burn, remember most girls do Sabyasachi for the wedding itself and will do Manish Malhotra for the reception. Sangeet you can do something custom yourself!
Don’t buy online from India unless you trust the tailor and website and know the fabric quality by hand.
If you want to make something custom for all your bridesmaids, try looking on Amazon as you may get the same effect than asking someone in Cerritos or New Jersey to do it and spending $2000 just on 15 of those outfits.
Bridal Lehengas and headgear are INSANELY heavy, so you will be tired after about 20 minutes. Plan accordingly.
Amazon Prime USA: Our Favorite Budget Saris for Wedding Guests who Need One Time Indian Clothes
Amazon Prime Sangeet Outfit for a guy 5'8 who is also 165-175 pounds.
Amazon Prime Simple Ladies outfit for Mehendi
Amazon Prime Beautiful Outfit for Sangeet or Reception for Female Guests
Outfits - Men
Wear a different, stylish Kurta, that would cost around $100 to for your Baraat. A lot of clueless grooms just get a nice sherwani and think they’re sorted. NO NO NO. You’re going to sweat about 4 pounds during your baraat and then you are going to look all kinds of flustered when sitting in the mandap while your wife looks spotless.
Do not just buy a simple black or solid color outfit and think you’re done. It’s your wedding, you can be creative, unique, and get out there! Black is safe and looks great..but this should ideally be the one time in your life you spend more than you ever have on an outfit. I mean if not now, then when? Even if it’s not you, that’s fine. But the last thing you want is your cousin or best friend showing up and it’s hard to tell who the groom is because you’re not even the fanciest dressed one! Trust me I hate dressing up also but you’ll be happy when you’re walking down the aisle and KNOW you’re the best dressed with the threads!
On that note, try to pick a place for your mandap where after your Baraat, you can quickly go change or freshen up into your wedding sherwani!
Yes, I know you’re busy at KPMG or Accenture or Goldman Sachs and you have a big fancy finance or tech job. But trust me, you’re going to overpay for whatever you get in California. If you CAN afford the time to go to India for a week or two six months before your wedding, get a KILLER outfit done with silks/fine garments that will cost probably 70% of what you’d spend in America but be TWICE AS AWESOME.
Ask your wife to help you decide on your outfit. It’s going to be important for her that you both sort of match on each event (sangeet, mehendi, wedding, etc..).
Buy your parents clothes if you can afford it, and if your parents say “I’ll just wear this old thing or that” they’re just being first generation humble and simple. Let your mom feel like a princess to take her to Cerritos or Hicksville or wherever your big India town is. I also know many grooms take their mom to India for wedding shopping and it’s also quite emotional for the mom as it’s a bonding experience with her son. Enjoy it!
If you want to make something custom for all your groomsmen, try looking on Amazon as you may get the same effect than asking someone in Cerritos or New Jersey to do it and spending $2000 just on 15 of those outfits.
OUR Free Indian Wedding Cost Calculator
Dances and Sangeet
Use a virtual choreographer like Priya or Pooja (above) or just Google or Instagram #bollywodoChoreography who will charge you for a front facing and back facing dance video which you can then just send to your friends. They'll then be practiced and ready to go and you won't waste precious time rehearsing at your wedding!
Keep your Sangeet dances in total below an hour. If your Sangeet is more than 300 people than keep it down to 45 minutes.
Remember that even a 2 minute dance will have a total time of five minutes to set up, hug everybody after their dance, and just enjoy the moment.
Many brides change for their own sangeet dances, you can too if it gives you more flexibility.
If your parents don’t want to dance, at least factor something easy at the end for them to simply join and clap with you at the end!
Don’t add last minute dances! Nobody ever practices on time!
Ask your DJ for song suggestions.
Make sure your emcee or DJ has a sheet a day before that lists:
all the dances,
the order they’re in
How people are related to the bride or groom (e.g. cousins, college friends, etc..)
Food and Catering
Indian food will be needed at your wedding. You can’t get 300 Indian or Desi people together and think mashed potatoes and spaghetti is all it takes. People like their home tastes so if you’re able to, please do it.
I’ve seen million dollar weddings where everything was great but aunties and grandma’s looked so upset to eat an alfredo bland veg pasta.
Use separate counters for vegetarian and meat, always. Or keep the meat at it’s own table. Some kid will mix the spoons and then Praful Bhai from Ahmedabad will chomp on a piece of shrimp and it will kill your whole mood on your special event.
Have Jain counters (2-3 items is enough) if you need to.
For destination weddings, always bring about 200 masala chai tea bags for people who might not like hotel tea or coffee in Hawaii or Mexico. These are LIFE savers and steal the show, and cost a few bucks.
Yes we like it spicy, but remember the white people and try to keep some neutral flavors. Anyways, the kids might want pizza or spaghetti as well so you’ll kill two birds with one stone here.
Remember not to eat something if it risk spoiling your white dress or white shirt. This happens at weddings all the time and it’s so sad! Even a spill of ice cold whiskey can be a bummer on a $400 white dress shirt.