• Ajay Manaktala

Indian Wedding Cost in USA | Ultimate Guide | 2020

Updated: 5 days ago

I have spoken to thousands of South Asian couples after they got engaged and the obvious question on everyone's mind is "How much is this whole wedding thing going to cost?" So I put together this guide for our America based Indian bride and grooms (or parents) and figured you would benefit.



So how much does an Indian Wedding cost in the United States? The average cost of an Indian wedding in the USA is between $225,000 and $285,0000. This is for a big fat wedding of 300 people in a major metro like Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, etc.. Usually around 75% of the middle class weddings we see land here.




No fluff here, just tangible tips from the Indian wedding experts.

Most articles and existing information online will give you figures like "shaadi cost is between $50,000 and $500,000."

Well that's not too helpful is it?


The major cost components of an Indian wedding are:

  • decor,

  • entertainment,

  • clothes,

  • and F&B which are illustrated below.


Combine that with your guest count and location, you'll be able to quickly figure out where on the spectrum you'll end up.


Additionally, in this post I'm going to give you some pricing estimates and guidelines on the average cost of a Big Fat Indian wedding in North America, in dollars, for the ENTIRE 2-3 day function, as well as per day and per vendor.


HINT: It's not cheap.


After your hotel and F&B (food and beverages), most of your costs go into lighting, flowers, your Mandap (decorations) and entertainment.

Even in India, you can do a small local wedding for $500, or do a big crazy one for a million dollars.


I plan, consult, audit and DJ Indian weddings every week and have seen hundreds (if not thousands) of hotel contracts, decorator bills, photographer estimates and much more. If you have questions comment them below and I will answer the first ten in detail!


POST STRUCTURE:


1. Assumptions that we'll make on guest count, decorations, and type of Big Fat Wedding.


2. Primer on Hotels so you know the lingo. (e.g. F&B means food and beverage)


3. TOTAL INDIAN WEDDING COST again with more considerations so You Have time to Breathe.


4. Indian Wedding Cost Breakdown by Event (Sangeet/Mehendi/Ceremony/Reception)

5. Indian Wedding Cost by Vendor Infographic (Hotel/Decorator/Entertainment)

6. Notes & Extra Points to Consider

7. CONCLUSION


Wait they paid how much? (Me and SD at a wedding in Anaheim in 2002)

Indian weddings often times have the budget of a small business, so it's important we plan them properly so that everyone's expectations are set and they're no last minute surprises.


Society will audit mom and pop shops, so we started auditing Indian weddings because the average luxury Gujarati or Punjabi or Pakistani wedding wastes at least $10,000 on things that aren't required. You get so caught up in the overall expense you let things slide and only regret them later.



You ready to talk shaadi pricing? Lets go!



1. Big Fat Indian Wedding Costing Assumptions:


Guests: 300 People


Hotel Class: 4.5 to 5 Star and above (Hyatt, Hilton, Ritz Carlton, JW Marriott, New Jersey Sheraton, Golf Course, Pelican Hill etc...)


Are you paying for all the guest's hotel rooms, flights, etc..?: NO


Financial Demographic: Middle class indian wedding tier (e.g. one or both partners working in a corporate) or sponsored by parents.


Buffet: Non Veg plus Veg and Indian plus Western cusine.


Prices: An elite hotel, a in-demand DJ or a Celebrity Photographer or Decorator may charge higher than you see here. And of course costs fluctuate based on season, location, etc... But these prices are what you would pay a professional who does this for a living during wedding season.


Style: I'll assume you're a middle class family and not trying to go crazy Beyonce Ambani wedding. But yes we also see million dollar golf course weddings all the time.


$75 for rice!!?!?!

2. Hotel 101 for Negotiating Indian Weddings | (BALLROOM AND VENUE, FOOD, ALCOHOL, LODGING)


Most hotels agree to give you the ballroom and all power/technical requirements/setup time as long as you hit the minimum revenue (e.g. Food and Alcohol).


Obviously they're a million caveats here, but for 300 people, a Hyatt type of hotel near LAX in California would charge you about $80-$150 per plate per event.



Hotels rely on Indian weddings for big business.

The Ritz Carlton in San Francisco overlooking the ocean would probably be closer to $200-$250 per guest, per event. Ditto for Pelican Hill in Newport Beach, California. Remember, this is for food, venue and alcohol per guest, per event.


My brother proposed here for lunch, but $250 a head for a wedding? Fugged about it!

Tip 1: If you want your favorite Indian restaurant to cater, whatever you save on their prices will also get eaten up by the hotel telling you to pay for your caterer to use their kitchen. (Yes it's standard).


It's better if you find a hotel that has a good Indian catering team in-house.


The majority of your Desi wedding cost will go into your Hotel which is also the venue and food and liquor.

The hotel will likely be where you host your wedding ceremony, your Sangeet and your wedding reception.


HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON A INDIAN WEDDING HOTEL (#1 tip in this article I wrote: Ask your hotel for more freebies (e.g. extra room for florist, free breakfasts for guests, late checkout) than trying to keep decreasing prices.



Tip 2: If you're having a Punjabi or a Gujarati wedding or South Indian wedding without alcohol, then you can take out 20% from the figures below. Or you can reduce the cost (and give guests some variety) by having the mehendi or garba elsewhere, or keep some guests at another hotel, get a family friend to emcee, those are also ways to reduce, etc..)


So....


3. How much does an Indian wedding cost in the USA?


California: Around $275,000 to $400,000

Kansas: Around $100,000 to $150,000

New York City: Around $300,000 to $800,000

New York Suburb: Around $300,000

New Jersey: Around $260,000

Texas: Around $125,000 to $175,000


We don't ACTUALLY need a honeymoon right?

Before we go on...let me remind you:

1. Does bigger luxury wedding mean better? Of course not.

2. Have I seen weddings done for less? All the time.

3. Should your families have a big wedding if it's going to cause undo stress? No, it's a celebration not a sad time!



Back of the Napkin Calculations (FULL Details below)


DJ/Sound/Lighting: $20,000

Photographer for 2-3 events: $15,000

Decorator for all functions: $40,000

Food/Alcohol/Hotel Ballrooms for 300 people for 3 events: $100,000

Miscellaneous Hotel Rooms for close family/friends: $10,000

New Clothing for bride/groom and their parents: $10,000 across 5 changes.

Miscellaneous Expense: $10,000-?? (e.g. Flight tickets, gifts, jewelry, LED Walls, live singer, band, comedian, backup venue, shuttles, horse for baraat at Hindu weddings, celebrity appearance, etc...)

82% of people of wedding couples go over their Indian wedding expenses (Survey Size: 257).

4. DETAILED WEDDING COST BREAKDOWN BY EVENT


HOW MUCH IS THE SANGEET?


  • 300 People

  • Hotel Ballroom

  • Alcohol and DJ Only (no live band)


$24,000 (hotel/food/alcohol at $80 per head)

+

$25,000 (DJ/LIGHTING/DECORATION/FLORAL/STAGE/DANCE FLOOR)

+

$5,000 (Dad's Suit, Mom's Suit, Bride's Dress, Groom's Jodhpuri or Suit,)

+

$4000 (Photographer/Video)


SANGEET TOTAL COST: $59,000 to $65,000.


You want to take that valet parking out now don't you?

HOW MUCH IS THE MEHENDI?

  • 300 People

  • Outdoor Area in Hotel like Garden or Poolside

  • Alcohol and DJ Only (no live band)


If you're having a big fat Indian wedding your probably having a Mehendi and that will likely cost you 50% of your Sangeet as not everyone comes and it's more a brunch/chill affair.


$16,500 (hotel/food/alcohol at $66 per head)

+

$15,000 (DJ/LIGHTING/DECORATION/FLORAL/STAGE/DANCE FLOOR)

+

$3,000 (Video/Photographer)

+

$5,000 (Dad's Suit, Mom's Suit, Bride's Dress, Groom's Jodhpuri or Suit,)


MEHENDI TOTAL COST: $39,500



A mandap like this starts at $3000 and goes up.

HOW MUCH IS THE MAIN CEREMONY?


  • 300 People

  • Outdoor Area in Hotel like Garden or Poolside or Beach or Courtyard

  • No Alcohol, Minimal DJ Only, (no live flute or band)

  • Tiffany Chairs, Mist Fans, Shade and backup rain arrangements


Wedding ceremony's are generally usually just the space plus water bottles and light refreshments (tea/coffee or these days coconut water/ice cream/juices and more). Most costs here go towards the mandap (the altar), the outfits and decoration.



$3,000 (Light snacks and refreshments for 300 people)

+

$15,0000 (Floral, Mandap)

+

$5,000 (Dad's Suit, Mom's Suit, Bride's Dress, Groom's Jodhpuri or Suit,)

+

$1,000 - $2,000 (Pandit or Priest)



WEDDING CEREMONY TOTAL COST: $24,000 to $30,000.


My 15 minutes of fame DJ'ing on TV LOL.


ALSO: Is a Sabyasachi Worth the Price of a CAR?



HOW MUCH IS THE GRAND WEDDING RECEPTION?


  • 300 People

  • Grand Ballroom of Hotel

  • Alcohol, Elaborate Spread, DJ and/or Live Band, Dance Floor, Lighting, the works.

  • Tiffany Chairs, Extensive Decoration.


Wedding Receptions these days cost almost the same as the Big Fat Sangeet, but also a little more as they're generally more luxurious and grand with more elaborate dinners and fashion attire. It's also the culmination of the entire celebration!






$45,000 (hotel/food/alcohol at $150 per head)

+

$32,500 (DJ/LIGHTING/DECORATION/FLORAL/STAGE/DANCE FLOOR)

+

$5,000 (Dad's Suit, Mom's Suit, Bride's Dress, Groom's Jodhpuri or Suit,)

+

$3,000 (Photographer)


WEDDING RECEPTION TOTAL COST: $85,500 - $90,000


5. Detailed Indian Wedding Cost in USA Breakdown by Function and Event in USA


We used slightly different per plate costs so please don't try to reconcile with the examples above. Although they should be about the same. Also we didn't include the bridal party clothes here because some Brides go all out Sabyasachi while others wear family heirlooms.

Update October 2019: Looks like the Washingtonian Agrees!


How Much is a Sabyasachi Lehenga in Dollars?



DECOR: $25000 to $75000


  • Mandap: $5000 USD to $10000

  • Flowers: $5000 to $10,000 per Event.

  • Centerpieces $100 to $1,000 per table

  • Cutlery, Tiffany Chairs, Art Installations, Chandeliers, Archways, Lobby Decor, etc...


ENTERTAINMENT: $20,000 to $35000


A good Indian wedding DJ with sound and lighting and a baraat system will run you between 20K and 35K for the 3 days of the event.


This includes all equipment, transport, insurance, setups, performance fees, meals, and more.


If you hire a Bollywood singer or professional emcee/comedian you can add on between $5000 and $50000 depending on the acts.


For example Shreya Ghoshal would charge some cardiologist in New Jersey like $60,000 USD to sing at his son or daughter's wedding, plus expenses.



Neha Kakkar would kindly ask you sell that excess Google stock to pay her fee.

SEE OUR DETAILED POST ON INDIAN WEDDING DJ COSTS IN 2019 (where we give you deeper tips to reduce prices)




6. EXTRAS: ($10000 to ??)



Outside Catering with Hotel: $5000 to $25000

Hotel Rooms for Vendors or Whole Family or ALL GUESTS ($30,000 to $100,000)

Fireworks: $1000 to $5000

Helicopter Baraat: $1500

Celebrity Singer: $40,000 to $200,000

Hindu Pandit or Indian Wedding Priest: $1000 to $2500


5 Traits of a Good Hindu Wedding Pandit in America



Conclusion


Indian Wedding Cost Calculator


Phew, we did it!


So how much is a middle class Indian wedding in the USA?


For 300 guests, at a five star hotel across 2- 3 days, expect to pay between $220,000 and $275,000.



I know the above can come as sticker shok for some, but if it's out of your range to do a crazy party for 300 people perhaps look at other alternatives that better suit your budget?


$100-$200 is a lot per head at first, but when you realize it includes food, open bar, entertainment, and the space it all starts to make sense.


The good news is you can do weddings outside of California for less. The bad news is as of Jan 23rd, 2020, places like the Ritz in SF are actually closer to $275 per head. (So you'll be closer to 300K).





Also, A bigger Indian wedding doesn't always mean better but as many people like to know raw numbers, we've simply given pricing guidelines here.


As you can see it can cost anywhere between $200,000 USD and up to have your Gujarati or Punjabi wedding or any luxury south Asian wedding in America.


And again, for most of the ones I've seen, it's like an engineer marrying another corporate professional or a doctor run between $220-250K. Divide that by two families and the costs at least become a bit breathable for a couple making $150K a year or more, plus family assistance, etc..


But I do also see million dollar weddings monthly. So yeah...


Also fun fact, you still have to buy a wedding ring.



But regardless, whatever you decide to do it will be amazing now that you're more confident to shop around hack your way to the best deals for your big day right?


Good luck!


And as always drop your comments below, and for bride and grooms in the US who want the best Bollywood DJ's in the United States, contact us ASAP (3 Month Notice for bookings reccomended)


Indian Wedding Hacks To Reduce Budget


See our client testimonials from Indian Weddings over 20 years!


Ajay Manaktala is the owner of Special Occasions DJ & Lighting based in Los Angeles. He has over 20 years of experience traveling the world doing South Asian and Bollywood weddings. He is also a most viewed writer on Quora for Indian Weddings, an expert in event management and did his own destination wedding in Tulum, Mexico. In this post he walks you through the pricing of a Big Fat Indian Wedding in America, although you can easily adjust these prices for luxury weddings in India or Thailand.