Where Should I HAVE My Indian Wedding? | USA or India?
Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Ajay Manaktala is an Indian wedding expert, has been on NBC's the office playing an Indian DJ and even plays one in real life. With over 20 years of experience planning high end luxury Indian weddings, he knows the ins and outs of our sometimes crazy industry. In order to give you some sanity in this time, you're probably thinking about where to have your wedding as a first major Indian wedding planning step. And part of that will be understanding this post on whether you should go to the homeland or keep it red white and blue.
Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas just asked that question and my guess is so will you!
In this post I'm going to help you weight the pros and cons of deciding where to have your big fat Indian wedding.
In today's round we have the USA versus India!
Welcome to the great Indian wedding.
So should you have your Indian wedding in India or America?
How to decide!?!?
Over 20 Million Indian people live overseas and many grapple with this question everyday.
We thought it best to share a few tips on how to decide where you should do your wedding.
So where should you get married and tie the knot!?!
1. India is Not as Cheap as you Think
Bride and Grooms who grow up in the US/Canadahave sticker shock when they realize the costs of an Indian wedding (at least a five-star-hotel-style wedding) ultimately even out.
Sometimes the costs in India are even higher due to availability of fancy hotels and demand.
(Not to mention the fact that the wealthiest Indian family just hired BEYONCE for their wedding).
Sure the food might be 40% cheaper, but the average Indian wedding dress (hello Sabyasachi) cost way more than the Western counterpart.
Hotels are jam packed with local and foregin brides looking to block their wedding dates.
An average Jaipur palace wedding can go above half a million US Dollars. So think long and hard before simply deciding on price. My own brother moved his wedding from Goa to Thailand because even with flights, the costs were more pricey in Goa.
2. Where are most of your guests coming from?
If most of your guests are from North America and only 10% from India or Pakistan, have it in America.
If most are from India, then flip that, now that India does Visa on Arrival.
While ultimately we like to think of our wedding as being for ourselves, we generally care more that the right people are there at the right time.
That leads me to my next point:
3. Not Everyone can get a Visa to America or India
My own sister-in-law who is from a well off family and a doctor got rejected once for a US visa (happy to say she got it later).
Imagine if you planned the perfect wedding and then your cousin couldn't come to it because he had a bad US visa interview.
And trust us, it's way easier to get rejected for a US visa than people think. This happens more often than you realize. It's much easier for foreigners to get visa's in India (except in the case of Pakistan, where it's trickier) than the other way around.
India luckily does offer Visa on Arrival now but again, we suggest all that is handled before hand.
4. Maybe Have Two Weddings? Or at least Two Events in Two Countries?
You can rent out a ballroom in a major Indian city and feed 300 guests for about $20-$30K USD (obviously some more, some less).
Maybe it makes sense to do your overseas wedding, and then add another event in India for your extended family?
Or vice versa?
It sounds silly now, but trust us as the day gets closer and all the family things steamroll together, it's an option.
5. Time of the Year for your Shaadi
December is a horrible time to fly anywhere.
The last thing you want is a wedding in either country and those who waited till November to book a December flight realize it's $2000 USD, not $800 like it was four days ago.
Make sure you factor that in, and also knowing hotels for big weddings in India get booked at least 8 months in advance.
Guests will wait to book flight tickets, and then bail when it's double the cost in high season.
6. What are the differences between an Indian wedding in America versus an Indian wedding in India?
If not clear from above, the other major differences are:
You'll likely have to invite everybody in India who your family has ever spoken to, (unless Goa or Destination in India wedding)
India has easier fashion choices than America (and better styles)
Food options are way better in India for Indian food, where it's just called food.
Per plate costs will probably be cheaper in most Indian hotels, but what you save will go to extra guests coming.
6. Planning an Indian Wedding in America
In India, you can literally cut somebody a check, and then check your emails weekly for pinterest boards and mood boards and have them handle your entire wedding. If you're not too picky, you could honestly just walk in and be like "wow, fancy, cool...grab me a drink."
In America the wedding planners like to do meetings, consultations, and get your opinion on almost everything, which to be fair, is totally understandable given the risk of you being unhappy with the centerpieces, when wedding decor costs the same as a Tesla.
Long story short, wedding planning is a lot more inclusive process in America (and more expensive) so if you're very hands-on and have the budget, then it makes sense for that too.
What wedding Priorities are important for your FAMILY?
The traditions and religious customs?
The ease of Indian vendors for all of that?
Doing a wedding in any major US city will have plenty of options, and ditto for Toronto/Vancouver and the middle east and South East Asia.
A lot of people choose to have a wedding in India (again, talking to the NRI crowd here) because they think there is just a lot more choices.
But with flights so cheap and plenty of time to shop, you really need to think long and hard about why.
If your groom's entire family is in India and you can manage getting 50 over there, perfect.
If not, then maybe have two events in either country?
Regardless of whatever decision you make, you will have a great time.
But before just thinking "we'll do it India!" or even "we'll do it in Hawaii" make sure you sit down with both parents and flesh out the pros and cons of each. You won't be sorry!
Destination Wedding Mistakes Indian Couples Make ALL THE TIME.
Have any other questions or comments about the same? What did you do for your own wedding? Any regrets or very happy experiences? Let us know by commenting below or message us on Facebook or Instagram!