Indian Destination Wedding | Udaipur, Goa, Thailand, Kerala & Sri Lanka Costs
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Destination weddings have increased substantially amongst the Indian wedding industry, growing 30% each year. Thanks to cheap flights, Instagram, Priyanka Chopra and Beyonce/Ambani a lot of middle-class Indian and South Asian families are looking to make their big fat Indian wedding a fun holiday weekend. So I put this guide together to let you know the costs of various Indian wedding locations.
So how much does an Indian destination wedding cost? A normal destination Indian wedding will cost:
Udaipur/Jaipur Place type wedding: $300,000 to $600,000 USD
Goa: $150,000 to $350,000
Kerala: $105,000 to $200,000
Thailand: $150,000 to $400,000
Sri Lanka: $105,000 to $220,000
Yes I know not all these locations are India, but this article is about destination weddings that are common for Indian people.
These days it's very common even with flights and travel for weddings in Thailand and Sri Lanka to be cheaper than weddings in India.
They're many considerations that go into the cost of a destination Indian wedding.
In India, we often see clients paying for hotel rooms (and sometimes flights) of up to 400 guests.
In America we just assume folks pay and make their way and we handle the festivities.
I’ll explain all of these factors and tips to plan your Indian destination wedding in various locations.
Overview of Indian destination wedding basics
Major Things to Consider First
Pros/Cons of destination weddings as it relates to Indians and South Asians
Cost for Each City/Country
Pros and Cons of Each City/Country
Which Place is Right For You?
Tips to Reduce your Destination Wedding Expenses
Indian Destination Wedding Beginner's Guide
Indians and South Asians are known across the world for having elaborate weddings and as social media and mainstream media have highlighted our elaborate nuptials, we’ve started to yearn for beaches, mountains, palaces and lakes to perform our marriages on.
As middle-class desi’s get older we usually attend 1-2 weddings a year in our community and there is sadly often a “been-there, done that” mentality.
I remember after my own wedding that took a year to plan in Tulum, Mexico seeing my friends Facebook feed a month later. He was back in Mexico for another wedding doing it all over again. WTF Bro! You said I was special!
Regardless, one way to make your wedding truly unique, fun and memorable is to pack it up in a mini vacation. From the planning side, you reduce your guest list to only those you truly feel would make the effort to take the time and travel. From the guest’s side, it’s a great reason to take a few days off and explore a place and also celebrate your occasion!
Given the increasing costs of an Indian weddings these days in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and other areas (our company routinely DJs multi-million dollar weddings) destination weddings often just make complete sense.
If you’re thinking about it, that likely means the ocean or country is calling, and that itch isn’t going to go away any time soon!
In fact both my brother and I decided to do our respective weddings in Thailand and Mexico because we were there with our partners on holiday and realized ok yeah, this is the place we need to get married!
Major Things to Consider First
Before you even send one email or visit one hotel to do site visits, you need to have your major guest list figured out.
your 92 year old grandma can’t handle the heat in Phuket
Your Pakistani best friend won’t be able to fly to India
Your 65 year old uncle might botch his US Visa interview for a Hawaii or Mexico wedding
I’ve seen couples put down a $10,000 or $50,000 first payment deposit to a hotel and then have to cancel due to some important guests not being able to come.
People see beautiful pictures of a couple against some crystal clear ocean, but they don’t realize that Indian wedding clothes are insanely heavy and insanely warm. Imagine you or your husband spend $1,000 or $5,000 on your outfits, another $2000 on makeup and hair and $3,000 on photos and now you’re sweating like a fountain.
It will all go for a toss.
Now imagine all your family and friends who thought it was a beautiful idea, but now they’re insanely uncomfortable under a canopy and sweating in their suits and fanning themselves with your wedding ceremony printout.
Once you’ve picked a location you think is ideal…..please please please research the weather around your wedding time and ACTUALLY stay at that hotel for a night.
Your Cost will be the Same as a City wedding
Given that most Desi people who think about destination weddings already live in major metro cities, their costs will likely be the same as I’ll outline below.
Yes, your guest list may go down from 500 people in Bangalore to just 230 in Phuket, but once those 230 are there you’re going to want to show them a good time, plan a few other dinners for your old army buddies (or your dad’s army buddies), hire some decent entertainment, etc…
All of that stuff adds up along with travel, hotel, extra vacations, etc..
In fact, there was a recent wedding in Phuket, Thailand in which the host (a Hong Kong businessman) had 1100 people and even paid to renovate the hotel rooms and chartered planes to ferry people 50 at time!
While I don’t expect most families to do that, they’re so many factors that can let one wedding in the same hotel cost the family $100,000 while another spends $400,000 which I’ll explain. (This guy also hired Akon for half a million I imagine which I don’t expect anybody reading this to do. Bhangra and Bollywood are way better!)
Pros and Cons of a Destination Wedding
Holiday for your guests
Varied Indian and International cuisine (Thailand is one of my favorites for this)
People who Matter
Can sometimes be lower cost
Costs can quickly spiral (oh now you want to add a boat cruise for the 70 who came a day early?)
Logistical expenses (your lehenga will need it’s own suitcase for another $60, multiple flights to research, usually 3 trips to finalize the hotel)
Vendors may have to fly in (DJ, Photographer, Singers)
In the west, it's customary that the client pays all expenses and then they naturally handle all festivities. They're so many factors, tips and hacks that you can use in each of these locations that I will explain here, having planned or been to destination weddings in all of these locations.
Costs for Major Indian Destination Wedding Locations
1. Udaipur Palace Wedding, INDIA
Hotels here will charge you a rate per guest or per room. This rate usually includes 3 meals where the lunch and dinner would be the buffet meals at your mehendi or sangeet or reception.
Then you pay another 50 to 100% of your costs on decor, entertainment, alcohol, travel, etc..
300 Person Total Costs for Mehendi/Sangeet/Reception: Between $300,000 and $500,000.
Approximate rate for room/meals/venue per person per day: $300 (assuming 2 people per soom)
India Customs: It’s normal also that folks who are based in India often times pay for the rooms of all their guests *gulp*. In the south of India however this is less common and in America/Hawaii we don’t see it common at all.
Many Indians overseas get sticker shock when they see these prices. But given the insane demand in these places to have a wedding, combined with names like Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra, weddings here can quickly spiral beyond the $500,000 mark .
PROS of an Udaipur Wedding:
Gorgeous, you really have to go there to witness it
Masters at big fat weddings.
CONS of an Udaipur Wedding
Far for some people
2. Goa, India
I spoke to a few wedding planners as of August 18th, 2019 and in a nutshell, you’re going to pay like 20-25% less for a Goa wedding that a Udaipur wedding. It’s still quite a bit, but I prefer the beach to the lake anyday so for me it’s way better.
300 Person Total Costs: $150K USD to $350K USD
Approximate rate for room/meals/venue per person per day: $200 (assuming 2 people per soom)
Rooms will cost you around $200 to $350 per room per night depending on how nice of a hotel you have selected. Travel costs for vendors coming from Bombay or Bangalore or Delhi will also be extra.
Goa is cheaper than Udaipur and also has cheaper flights all across India. So guests who fly from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi etc.. will likely pay around $100 for a round trip ticket to Goa, which is nice. However transport is challenging there due to taxi unions and airport pickups and drop offs are very expensive.
Pros of a Goa Wedding
Something for everyone
Value compared to other destinations
Costs can quickly get out of hand
Can be very hot or rainy during low season
Hotels are massive
Kerala isn’t as well known for beach weddings as it is known for lakes, backwaters and river weddings. The appeal of a luxury resort is nice so if you’re fine doing your wedding in the entire resort property then this is a great value choice.
If you’re also from here then I would totally recommend it because your family will have contacts here and why would you uproot your gang to Goa when you’re already a coastal crew?
Increasing airport connectivity and seafood lovers will love this town, although Alappuzha has become very crowded and probably not the wedding/seclusion you would want to be in the middle of.
If you look at the Taj Kovalam (overlooks the beach from a distance), Leela Kovalam (their private beach isn’t so private btw) and Zuri (gorgeous but expensive on secluded backwaters) these are all fantastic properties.
Definitely cheaper than Udaipur and Goa, with watery vibes as well is Kerala. Many guests also decide to do a houseboat tour or go onwards to Varkala or Goa for those hippie beach scenes.
Cost for 300 people across 2.5 to 3 days can cost: Around $150,000 on average. If you have Navy contacts then it might make sense to see if you can get those facilities on discount. I've seen amazing Kerala weddings done for about $60,000 also.
Approximate rate for room/meals/venue per person per day: $150 (assuming 2 people per soom)
Pros of a Kerala Wedding:
Different as it’s not exactly beach, not exactly lake (you can’t go into the waves really unless you’re at the Leela or elsewhere)
Value for Money
The right hotels know the right backwaters
Can get hot and humid
Certain areas like Alappuzha are very crowded and to be honest not at all honeymoon/peaceful vibes these days.
Many people don’t realize there is no beach.
Thailand has been lobbying hard for Indian business, and given the increasing big fat wedding costs we see as evident from this post, I personally love Thailand for weddings. Spicy food lovers will find world class Indian food, Thaifood, beaches, luxury city hotels and pretty much anything they could want.
The costs will also work out to roughly the same as India thanks to cheap flights and visa fees that often get waved every few years. It also has a visa on arrival for Indians and fantastic connectivity to Europe, North America and Australia.
Plus everybody who flies into Phuket or Bangkok or wherever for your wedding will most likely do a trip before or after to go island or jungle hopping. My own brother got married here and a bunch of us went to Phi Phi right after!
Major areas in Thailand for Indian weddings happen:
Hua Hin (Coastal, andthe Sheraton here is nicknamed the Indian wedding Factory but it’s gorgeous)
Chiang Mai (Jungle)
300 Person Total Costs: $150K USD to $400K USD
Approximate rate for room/meals/venue per person per day: $150 (assuming 2 people per room) means $300 per room.
On average, room rates will be about $200 USD per room with 2 breakfasts, and then each meal ends up being around $50 USD per head, per meal.
Hotels in Thailand like the Anantara, the Slate, JW Marriott (any city) will give you a contract or quote that has room and breakfast rates, then a catering rate which includes the venue that has a silver, gold and platinum menu options (e.g. 3 appetizers and 5 main courses versus 8 appetizers and 15 main courses).
Bangkok will be the cheapest, Phuket will be higher, and then the further you venture from Phuket for places like the Ritz Carlton in Krabi you’ll spend a lot more on shuttles, rooms, food, flying in vendors from Bangkok and more. I personally find Bangkok is great if guests want to do their own vacations after, or Phuket is beautiful because it’s big and has something for everyone.
Pros of Indian Wedding in Thailand
Indian availability of Anything
Fantastic connectivity to India, Australia, Europe and North America
Visa on Arrival for Indians and sometimes they waive the visa fee (check the news once a year).
Value for Money
Cons of Indian Wedding in Thailand
Massive hotel resorts can be hard for grandparents
Costs can quickly get out of hand if you’re paying for flights and extra activities (like a boat cruise for your Sangeet)
Crowded: I would only get a hotel where you can be guaranteed some privacy from all the European dudes in speedos who want to join your party.
5. SRI LANKA
I LOVE Sri Lanka for weddings, even though I personally find Columbo a fairly quiet city. You get gorgeous sweeping sunset views, insane deals on luxury villas and hotel rooms and easy access for Indians.
It’s honestly the best value for money I feel at the moment since for some reason a lot of people just don’t associate it with Big Fat Indian weddings. But I guarantee you every year this will continue to grow until the costs become prohibitive.
I came here for my best buddies wedding in December of 2015 and it was just so perfect for an Indian wedding, because it has:
Various pools for adults and kids,
balconies that go into the swimming pool but also have privacy,
a massive clean gorgeous beach that connects the hotel to sunset views,
and great facilities for Indian weddings made this a winner that I’m writing about it here without any commission or affiliation.
300 Person Total Costs: $120K USD to $200K USD