Indian Wedding Hacks | Ultimate Guide
Updated: May 8, 2020
Did Somebody say Indian Wedding Hacks?
What's up shaadi searchers!
It's no secret that Indian weddings are off the chain these days, with Priyanka Chopra and Sabyasachi and the Ambani's showing the world that even Beyonce can play an Indian wedding.
Regardless, for most of us in the middle-class, or just folks who don't like insane excess, I need to tell you something:
More money does not equal better Indian wedding.
You should of course spend in your limits and make sure all the extra stuff you're getting has a purpose (I'm a fan of great decoration for sure), but don't spend money on fireworks at 3AM or $2000 on extra plates of sushi nobody would want.
And don't come in on a helicopter for your baraat unless you made sure it's not going to blow away your $20,000 decoration ok?
That being said, having done over 1000 weddings, I want to tell you tricks that make your wedding so special in America or Thailand or India or wherever that your friends and family will be leaving with the biggest smiles on their faces.
It's easy to have a big fancy wedding, but it's a bit harder to have a fun, love filled, genuine wedding that people enjoy and fly home with smiles on their faces and memories in their heart.
1. Digital Marriage Invites are Fine. And preferred.
As we talked about in sending WhatsApp invites for weddings, these days nobody wants a big fat envelope they're just going to feel guilty about throwing away anyways. Digital invites are:
Required even if you do print and mail separate invites
Indian culture gets so caught up in physical printed invites, or sending walnuts and sweets that many people don't even eat these days. So rather than accumulate more stuff in your drawer, why not recognize EVERYBODY does digital these days. Heck, if you're worried about offending anyone, go ahead and visit their house and send the whatsApp next to them.
That doesn't mean you still don't have to:
make a website,
have a proper mailer,
and ensure accurate and timely communication,
but you definitely don't need crazy fancy invites despite what aunties and uncles say. (But make sure you call the traditional folks and remind them formally you want them to come).
If you still need to send physical invites or need it for spousal immigration, go ahead and make 20 copies and use as needed.
2. Talk to every guest for more than a selfie.
Give them each two full minutes until THEY get awkward and I guarantee they'll appreciate how warm you were.
This is the number one wedding hack I stake my career on, and I shout it to the rafters at every wedding to every couple. More than a great buffet or having John Legend sing at your reception, you need to make sure each guest gets more than selfie face time with you.
Rule of thumb, over the weekend...talk to each guest for 2 minutes.
After a minute they'll feel awkard thinking you have somewhere to be or see people asking for your attention, but they'll be so amazed that you took the time to make them feel like number one!
Learn to be presidential and do it!
3. Buy your Groom's gang outfit from Amazon, don't stress out people in India or try to buy internationally.
At my own wedding my friends from all over the world are asking things lke:
What should I wear to your wedding?
Do I really need to wear that?
Can you get it for me? I'll just wear a suit, ok wait, no, yeah, get it for me! Is everybody else wearing Indian?
What's my size?
I don't want it too loose, or too tight, or OMG!
Yes you and your squad for your baraat should coordinate your outfits. You may not care but you will wish you did during the wedding when your heart is in the moment.
No you shouldn't ask someone from India to figure out 12 kurtas and sizes and cargo at the last minute.
Instead these days, in America or India, simply buy cheap kurtas for your friends on Amazon, let them pick the color and size and either buy it themselves or give you 20 bucks later.
Or simply gift to them as a gift for coming yeah?
Another great option is to tell them to buy their kurta's, but you buy them bandis (vests) that all match, so you have some great photos!
4. Get a choreographer online to do your Sangeet dances.
Nobody ever practices their Sangeet dances on time, and you assuming they will is wishful thinking.
Instead. hire somebody in India to choreograph your sangeet performances at around $150-$200 per 3-minute dance or work out a deal. Then simply whatsApp or email the videos to your friends and your'e good!
I can't stress this enough as a great hack. Here are two we know, but you can find any online.
Your friends will have absolutely no excuse if you send them a front facing and back facing dance video for a 90 second to 2 minute dance. They can memorize it on the plane on the way to your wedding, but coordinate and non-half-as$ed dances make a huge difference in a great sangeet!
5. The NoSpam Shaadi WhatsApp
Points number five (this one) and two pretty much keep our blog alive, and we shout it from the rafters every week.
Here is the best hack I've ever seen for making sure guests are happy at a big fat Indian wedding.
1. Make a WhatsApp group
2. Change permissions so only you and/or your wife can send messages
3. Send one message daily on the week of the wedding, and then every morning during your 3 day affair update everybody with venue, details, if you're running late, etc...
One of the most common Punjabi or Gujarati wedding mistakes is too many emails that annoys people (they're going to ask you questions anyways, and stuff always changes) so make sure you don't do that.
Also on this blog: 10 Indian Wedding Mistakes You Cannot Make (USA)
6. Massages at Mehendi
This is pretty self explanatory, but it's such a simple expense that goes a long way.
Work out deal with your hotel or local spa to get staff to do massages at your Mehendi.
Many weddings rack up the expenses then think, let's cancel the $2200 in free massages for our 200 guests. Um..no. Cancel your 9th plate of desserts instead please!
Imagine your friends coming to your wedding, maybe the flight was early or hotel is busy, they have to wait a few hours for their room, but you say hey! we have free massages while you get your Henna done. Enjoy!
This is one of the biggest hits with guests and it's a really nice touch.
Pun, get it!
7. Know typical Budgets
Do you know if $140 per plate, per event, is a good or bad price in a five star hotel in New Jersey for your Big Fat Indian wedding?
Chances are you don't.
We do our own Indian wedding audit where we review contracts, but ultimately you need to ask people in your city or country about what they paid, what the cost per head is etc..
Get sample contracts, ask your friends who got married what they paid.
It's not taboo, it's common sense.
Don't get taken for a ride!
8. Ask your hotel for more stuff, not less money!
The number one hotel hack most people don't realize is hotel have revenue requirements. Whatever you agreed upon on that first meeting, isn't going to come down in numbers.
But if you over estimated your guest list or you don't want to add another $10,000 in buffet costs...then simply ask your hotel for freebies like:
Extra dry cleaning
Room drop offs (for welcome baskets and such)
Private pool time
Charges for florist room waived off.
Hotels will never agree to reduce revenue but you can get way more bang for your buck.
9. Wear a different kurta during your Baraat
Imagine you spend $500 to $3000 on your wedding sherwani, and you're already feeling odd for spending that much on an outfit you'll wear for 4 hours.
Now imagine that in those 4 hours you're sweaty, sticky, uncomfortable and all the photos of the occasion are also ruined because your hair is all gone and you just look like you were dunked in a pool.
Grooms do this all the time.
Wear a different kurta for your Baraat!
10. Ask your Photographer for Same Day images of you two.
The best photographers are ones who know the social media game. They also know those likes/comments ain't gonna be as valuable six months after your wedding, when they give you all 9000 images (yes, it's that many).
Most good photographers will whatsapp or email you about 50 images each day post your wedding, so you guys can quickly share the best moments and highlights with friends and family and rock that wedding hashtag.
(BTW: All images in this post taken a wedding in Thailand from India based Made in Mono)
11. Find Bridal Designers on Instagram
Do you want to spend $10,000 on a Sabyasachi (that also looks gorgeous) or do you want to spend $4,000 on something made just for you, that all the wedding blogs and websites will ask you about later?
If you have the time, you can easily search #indianWedding on Instagram and see who is wearing what. Designers in Hong Kong, Mumbai, Delhi and even Los Angeles can do some amazing stuff if you tell them what you want.
Is there anything wrong with Sabya or Manish Malhotra? No way, if you can afford the piece you want, do it!
But I have also, NEVER seen a bride who made something custom regret it. It's an extension of their personality and that's the way to do it!
Indian weddings can be overwhelming, and we've written hundreds of posts that have been viewed by thousands of people on their big day. But in this post our goal was to collect some of the best and most valuable, bang for your buck advice that really makes your wedding stand out.
Remember, you can't just throw money at a problem and assume it will be great.
You have to spend time to show people you value their time!
Follow some or all of these tips and hopefully you should have a great and love filled wedding!
I repeat over and over again, the best Indian wedding isn't the one that spends the most money. It's the one that spends effectively and focuses on making the guests feel warm and welcome.
Agree or Disagree? If you have questions drop them below, and if you need a killer Indian wedding or Sound/Lighting team in America or elsewhere, do drop us a note!
Ajay Manaktala is an expert at Indian weddings in North America and the world. Quora has recognized him as a most viewed writer on the topic, hundreds of brides trust him and his company every year on their special day and he knows how to make big Fat Indian weddings truly remarkable. While the glitz and glam of South Asian special occasions help, it doesn't make your wedding memorable unless you put your guest's convenience and care first.