How to Plan an Indian Wedding Step by Step | 2020
Updated: Jan 22
Ajay Manaktala is a Big Fat South Asian wedding expert, having done over 500 Gujarati, Punjabi, South Indian, mixed and even western weddings. He knows the ins and outs of what makes a fantastic Desi wedding beyond just spending a lot of money.
In this post, he explains the proper way to plan a Indian wedding because most articles online kind of just fluff their way through the obvious checkpoints.
These are simple steps for ease of listing but we debated long and hard on the order of them and hope you see why. Things like Pandit selection were left out because that is obvious and your parents will likely take care of that one.
Planning an Indian Wedding?
You're in the right place.
Indian weddings are approaching a $50 billion dollar industry annually, and it's easy to get overwhelmed. I've read so many articles that either are one big boring blog of text (yawn) or simply say "get excited!"as your first tip.
I want to know exactly what I need to do, in checklist for, and WHEN I NEED TO DO IT!
So for the sake of simplicity, here are the 10 steps you need to do and the ORDER they should be done in.
Hope this makes sense!
How to Plan an Indian Wedding Step by Step
1. Figure out Guest List
Time: 1 Month
These questions will make you realize why this has to be first even before your city or hotel:
Can your aunties from India travel to America? (People get rejected for Visas ALL THE TIME)
Is Thailand too hot for old people?
Will your Pakistani friends be able to travel to India easily?
Would grandma have a hard time in a massive Hawaiian hotel waiting for a golf cart to take her to her room in the heat?
Is Las Vegas a good idea if everybody is going to get busy gambling?
Who expects to stay at home with us during the wedding week?
2. Figure out WHERE AND When (month or week)
Time: 1 Month
Once you determine who is coming from where for your wedding, you can finalize the location.
If it's not a destination wedding, it should definitely happen in the home town of either you or your partner. (e.g. If you're from Jersey and she's from San Francisco, don't have it Austin, Texas but sure, have it in Mexico or Hawaii).
As you now know all the people who will be coming you can make sure your location is convenient for everyone.
3. Hire a Wedding Planner (you should if above 150 people)
Time: 1 Month
Unless it's a small wedding, you should definitely spend the $15K or $25K or whatever they charge.
Most wedding planners will save you hotel costs and get you a million freebies, so I would say yes do it. I rarely see a wedding planner who doesn't save their couple large costs or get better deals.
4. Find a Venue (and visit location if out of town)
Time: 2 Months
With or without a wedding planner, you should now be on the lookout for Indian wedding friendly hotels in your chosen city that are also available around the time you want.
5. Finalize Order of Events & Sign Hotel Contract
Time: 1 month
You now know:
Who is coming
When your wedding will be
What hotel you want it at or community hall
You should know figure out the date and times for the Mehendi, Sangeet, After parties, receptions, and um..of course, the Wedding.
6. Finalize the Dates & Send Save the Date
Time: Two Weeks
Now you know that your Mehendi/Sangeet are on Friday the 15th and your wedding and reception are on Saturday the 16th.
You also need to figure out how many days you want each family member to come in earlier or stay later (if a destination wedding or international guests are traveling).
7. Start planning all your outfits
Time: 2 to 4 Months
You can go to India or any Indian area in Houston or Los Angeles or New Jersey, and people will happily take your money and sell you stuff that will of course look gorgeous.
Otherwise, please plan ahead.
Enjoy the process with your mom and friends and don't wait until the last minute. I know you're busy but you're getting married.
How Long Do Indian Wedding Outfits take to Make?
If you want something custom made, custom fit and personalized for you, it will take at least three to four months to get it done properly.
8. Meet vendors such as DJ, Decorator, Lighting, Catering,
Time: 2 to 6 Months
Now you have to figure out who you're going to spend all that money on. This happens from month 2 to 9 basically. In this phase you'll finalize:
Catering (if not using hotel, which you should if they have a good Indian chef)
DJ sound and Lighting (if you're in California hey we're the *cough* best ones)
Decorator (your biggest expense)
Photographer and Cinematographer
Finalize a Pandit if there is a major one in mind, otherwise ask your parents to pick who they want or know from the family/community.
9. Send Official Invites
Time: 1 Month
As we talked about here, whatsApp and digital invites are preferred these days. Make 20 invites for the traditional folks who may get offended if they don't get one (shaking my head) but you should now:
Make an Website
Have your email list of attendees finalized
Have collected RSVP's
Ensure you don't send too many emails.
10. Get Ready for your Big Day!
You still got a lot to do!
Mood Boards with Decorator
DJ and Lighting Selection
Photographer and Pre Wedding Shoots?
Send deposits and organize finances
Organize and practice the easiest Sangeet dances for you and your Busy friends!
We did it!
1. Guest list
2. Where and When
3. Wedding Planner or No?
4. Finalize Venue
5. Order of Events and Contract Negotiation (Your Biggest Expense)
6. Finalize Dates (e.g. 2 or 3 Day wedding?) and also send Save the Date
7. Sort out Outfits and Travel to India if you Really Need to
8. Shop and Finalize all your Vendors
9. Send Invites
10. Get Ready for the Big Day
Indian weddings are loaded with so much info online, but use this as your ultimate checklist and guide and you should be ok.
SIMPLIFY YOUR PLANNING INTO ACTIONABLE STEPS, YOU GOT THIS!
Did we miss anything? Do drop us a note in the comments below!