Live Stream party.png
shaadi.jpg
  • Ajay Manaktala

Indian Wedding in Mexico | the Ultimate Guide (2020)

Updated: Feb 9

Ajay Manaktala is an Indian-American from California who planned his entire Indian wedding in Tulum, Mexico.  He’s also a DJ and Indian wedding expert that has worked over 1000 South Asian weddings over the last 20 years all over the world.  From the Bahamas to Bangkok, Europe to India and of course Latin and Central America...he knows that wherever Indians are, Indian food and culture is still important. 


In this post he tells you everything you would want to know about planning an Indian Wedding in Mexico! Muy bien! 



Cancun (and surrounding areas) and Los Cabos are the most popular areas.


This post is part of our ultimate guide series and quite long so it’s structured in the following way in case you want to scroll ahead:


  1. Overview

  2. Best Time to Visit

  3. Pros of a Mexican Indian Wedding

  4. Cons of a Mexican Inddian Wedding

  5. Major Areas to get Married

  6. Major Venues

  7. Cost of an Indian Wedding in Mexico

  8. Priorities your Guest’s Will Care About

  9. Things that Can Go Wrong (Risks)

  10. Vendors


Overview


Congratulations on looking at Mexico as your shaadi destination!  It is an absolutely stunning choice and combined with the spice and color that makes up our desi weddings, you’re definitely looking at a good decision.  It’s also very popular with Sikh, Punjabi, Gujarati, and most other South Asian communities!


That being said, before you lock in on a place like Cancun or Tulum or Quintana Roo, you should understand why you want to do a wedding in Mexico. 



The major reasons for having an Indian or Pakistani wedding in Mexico are usually to do something on the beach, 

  • enjoy sundowner terrace vibes, 

  • and give your guest’s a nice time to enjoy themselves on top of your wedding.   

The costs are lower than an Indian destination wedding in the Bahamas or Europe but not much cheaper than Miami or Orange County any coastal city in the US, given all the extra logistical expenses.  But the entire destination wedding vibe really works in Mexico, the weather is usually great and the fact that Mexican food and customs are very Indian friendly definitely helps!

 

If you’re paying for all the guest’s rooms, then you’re basically giving your gang a free vacation and you do whatever you like.  Probably the only thing you still have to nail is making sure you get good Indian catering figured out.  


True Story! I still remember that SWEAT!

If you’re not paying for their rooms (this is more common), then you also need to make sure your Indian food, vendors and hotel selections are all top notch so people appreciate that you appreciate them flying in and taking the time. 


Lastly, this might be obvious to some but remember most Mexican cities in the Cancun area don’t face the sunset, they face the sunrise.  So for Quintana Roo (Cancun) weddings, you’re not going to get a sunset mandap shot unless you’re on some elevated terrace position, on a yacht or Cozumel. 


However the ocean is gorgeous in cancun but do note, it can get VERY hot during a beach wedding all your hair/makeup/resulting photos comfort can easily go for a toss. 


Best Time To Visit


December through April are peak season and best weather, but you can find good deals if the weather plays nice in October/November, though you risk rain and extreme heat!



Cancun and All-inclusive hotel costing is tricky for weddings because your guests room rates include food/drink.

Pros of a Mexican Indian Wedding


Mexico is one of my favorite places, I got married there and it’s just constantly bringing a smile to my face just thinking about it.  The weather, the food, the smiles, the ocean...it’s just...wow! Getting straight to the positives:


  1. Beautiful: The ocean in Cancun all along the coast is just like the postcards. 

  2. Reasonably priced: Most hotels operate on an all inclusive which can work out better in many cases where food and drink requirements are quite heavy (e.g. a special occasion like a wedding!)

  3. Fantastic facilities: Due to the heavy tourist industry and major hotel chains, hotels are constantly modernizing and bring the best of the best.  A large conference industry is also the reason for beautiful venues you can use for your desi wedding! 

  4. Family Friendly: Massive hotels are handicap accessible golf carts a plenty.  Also very easy for kids to stay occupied in mega resorts! 

  5. Amazing Food Choices: While your priority for your wedding day and one or two functions around it like the sangeet or garba should be on availability of Indian food, you want to make sure your guests also feel like it’s vacation on their trip.  Given the hotel packages, guests will have health options, chinese, Mexican, Pizza, Italian and pretty much any cuisine to choose from!  

  6. Holiday for All: A good chunk of your guests will either come in a day or two early or stay a few days later to enjoy being there. Destination weddings are also a great reason to take a holiday, so why not let them center the experience at your wedding! 

  7. Easy Connectivity: the majority of major US cities will have flights to major Mexican destinations, which is great for your guests and your vendors! 

  8. Cheaper than Hawaii: Given the larger area and options available, a Mexican destination wedding is definitely cheaper than a luxury Hawaii Indian wedding.  From flights to accommodation, you will not only save money but also get WAY more value for money as Hawaii hotels are usually not all inclusive. Also cheaper than the Bahamas (and better food options I feel). 

  9. Visa: If your Indian relatives have a US visa, which they likely will as they’ll probably fly through America, that would be good enough for them to enter Mexico! Source. 


If you spend more than 30 minutes outside dancing in a heavy wedding sherwani, you'll want to change before your hair and sweat goes for a toss.

Cons of a Mexican Indian Wedding 


  • Sunrise, not Sunset: (as mentioned above) In most Cancun area weddings, you get a sunrise, not a sunset.   This isn’t a big deal but I see it pop up over and over.  

  • Extra baggage costs on domestic US carriers: Discount airlines will charge you for baggage, and most have smaller allowances.  As we know in India weddings, it’s probably two to three suitcases per family member at minimum. 

  • Difficult for India Guests: It might be hard enough for your family to make the trek from India to the USA, now Mexico can be either a 2-3 hour drive from Texas or Los Angeles or another 6 hour flight depending on where you have it.  That can be a pinch on costs and time when someone has already flew 28 hours from Delhi or Mumbai. 

  • It Can Get Uncomfortably Hot: Hair/makeup/photos and everything will be ruined by sweat.  You’ll get a few great photos but a very miserable time if not planned properly.  Just like a Thailand beach wedding that sounds nice, weather can often make people irritated and sweaty. 

  • No Time for Excursion: Your guests may want to explore the nearby ruins or jungles, but as we all know weddings can be very busy with all the functions.  So you’ll need to factor in some down time, that way your guests can lounge by the pool and also get some nap time, jet lag recovery, catching up, gossiping, or anything else. 

  • Not exactly the BEST Indian food: Even though your contract and room rates will include all meals, you’ll still need to hire outside Indian catering as your aunties and uncles (and even some younger folks) will want to have Indian food.  You can ask any Indian wedding planner, and while everybody is there obviously for you, they’ll tell you straight up that food is probably the most important factor on how guest’s will remember your wedding as it crosses all age brackets.  We will all eat for sure! Many of the mega resorts may have a small few staple Indian items, but for extensive veggie friendly and wedding type of options beyond a non-spicy Chicken Tikka Masala, you’ll need to do outside catering.  While they’re some decent Indian restaurants in Cancun, it will be costly and probably less masala and spices than you're used to.  But again, I got married in Tulum at Shiva and while it was pricey, I loved where we went and aunties had no complaints!  


Food in Indian weddings is usually priority #1.

Major Areas


Most couples who opt for a wedding in Mexico will probably do a wedding in Quintana Roo which comprises of Cancun and all the neighboring areas.  Couples from California, Washington State and other western areas may also look at Los Cabos or the Baja coast. 


Quintana Roo aka Cancun and the Atlantic


Cancun


Pros: Massive hotels, like the Las Vegas Strip.  Gorgeous beaches. Amenities galore and you can get pretty much everything with the all inclusive packages. 

Cons: Can be very crowded and your wedding might just feel like a small corporate event on the side. Not a lot of privacy as nobody does an entire hotel buy-out here. Gets hot and possibly rainy in low season. You will probably pass hundreds of tourists and hotel guests at every event. 


Tulum


I did my wedding here at the Kore Tulum resort and to be honest I loved it! 


Pros: Tulum is quieter than crazy party central Cancun, so it’s perfect for Indian weddings where people want to feel like it’s about them!  They’re Indian restaurants you can take catering from or do your private mehndi at, and it’s just a gorgeous town that is SO THE BOMB for anybody above 25 not looking for a spring break vibe.  Smaller resorts so you can possibly rent the whole hotel. 

Cons: For younger folks there is not much to step out and do.  It’s another two hour drive from Cancun airport. 



Playa Del Carmen


Pros: All of Cancun but a little less crowded. 

Cons: Not as bustling for party goers, but probably better for weddings. 


Cozumel: To be honest I know you can do cruise ship weddings around here, but I wasn’t able to find much online and we’ve never done an Indian wedding here.  If you have a smaller wedding of about 20 to 40 people, it might make sense. 



West Coast aka Cabo and Puerto Vallarta


Los Cabos and Cabos San Lucas


Most Indian weddings on the western coast of Mexico will happen on the Southern tip of Baja, which provides for gorgeous backdrops against sunsets but fewer options than Q.Roo. 


Regardless, a fantastic choice that’s really come up in the last few years.  Highly advisable for folks from San Diego and Los Angeles who don’t want a six hour flight (and time difference that probably means you lose a day traveling).


Pros: Sunsets, newer properties, easy for west coast families, some vendors if you need can possibly drive down (1100 miles) from Los Angeles in the worst case.

Cons: Usual availability of Indian goods. Far for east coast guests.  


Puerto Vallarta


Gorgeous beach town, arguably one of the finest beaches in the world.  Not really drivable from California but more accessible than Cancun for west coast families.  Probably cheaper than Cancun given logistics and time. 


Pros: Sunsets, newer properties, one of the top beach resort towns in Mexico.

Cons: Expensive, traffic in town, less international than Cancun.



Is this Mexico, California or India? Comment and we'll tell you.

Hotel Options


They’re a ton of resorts in Mexico, so it can be a bit overwhelming at first. 

A lot of hipper, younger couples want some off the beaten path place that nobody has been to...until they realize the fact that nobody has been there means nobody can work their wedding there. 

 

I was one of those backpacker/trendy ones myself.  



The Hard Rock Cabo is the one of the Shiny new Indian wedding venues on the block. And they're probably hungry to offer deals! (new hotels are always great deals cause they need to build a resume)

Then after 3 visits to Mexico I realized, ok...I need to find a resort that is a balance of intimacy and seclusion but also not filled like a cruise ship with baby boomers and screaming kids in swimsuits in the lobby.  


Remember that most hotels are massive Las Vegas style mini-cities so make sure you factor in old people having to walk between venues in the heat.

Some couples pick the location first, others just know the general area in Mexico and then settle in on a hotel.  So we’ve listed all of the hotels in each MAJOR area and you can get a sense for what works for you! 



Hotels We Like Because They Like Indian Weddings


We have no affiliations with these hotels so these are just suggestions. Feel free to take your own call.


Cancun Side

  • Moon Palace Cancun

  • Paradisus Cancun

  • Barcelo Maya Palace playa del carmen


West Coast Side

  • Paradisus los cabos 

  • Hard Rock Cafe Los Cabos (New)

  • Hyatt Puerto Vallarta



Cost of a Indian Wedding in Mexico


We have a massive post on this site that explains the cost of most Big Fat Indian weddings, as you can see from the illustration above.  


Don’t Be Fooled by Wedding Packages


Normally with Indian weddings that occur within the United States the hosting families pay for everything.  So the cost is about $150 per head, per event for a major US city and up to $250 per head in SF or LA or NYC.  Weddings in temples and community centers and halls can also be done for around $85 to $100 per head in smaller cities. 


With Indian destination weddings in North America normally the hosts pay for the food and expenses, but the guests pay for their flights and room/breakfast.  

The costs work out roughly the same of an LA or San Diego wedding as logistics take up any savings of a smaller out of town guest list...plus couples want to go all out on decor and food/liquor since their guests have made the trek out. 


ALSO SEE: Indian Destination Wedding Ultimate Guide (Any location)


With Mexican all inclusive resorts however, the process is trickier because your guest’s all-inclusive-rate is actually sort of paying for their meals and lodging at your wedding too.  

I mean if your room rate is $350 per night for 2 people and that would have included dinner...now the dinner is just at a private area or banquet room. 


So really the extra costs that seem super cheap (e.g. a $15,000 3 day Indian wedding package) is just to organize a few private spaces for you guys and then give you food/snacks that you already paid for once in your room rate.   

So what’s the cost then?


So overall, the direct answer is that an Indian wedding in Mexico would cost around $200,000.  It just depends on who pays that amount. This is for 200 people at a luxury resort.


  • If every single room is handling their own room rate, then you’re probably going to still pay around $45,000 for the extra wedding festivities and logistics. 


  • Smaller weddings of around 70 people where most guests will handle their own expenses and even parents buy their own flight/hotel rooms can probably pull of a wedding for around $25,000.  In fact really small weddings of less than 50 who don’t even need Indian music beyond a few tracks off the iPhone can get away with $15,000. 


Back of Napkin Calculations


  1. 20 Round Trip Flights for close family members from LAX or NYC to Cancun: $400 each: $8,000

  2. 100 rooms at $350 a night (sample wedding rate), times 3 Nights: $105,000

  3. Hotel “Indian Wedding Basic Package” $10,000

  4. Additional decorator and fire dancers and entertainment: $10,000

  5. Photographer and Video: $5,000

  6. Mandap/altar you want instead of what the hotel offers: $5,000

  7. Indian DJ and Indian Catering: $20,000 across 3 events for 150 people.

  8. Indian clothes for friends and bride/groom: $5,000 to $10,000. 

  9. Indian Pandit Fee and Expenses from Mainland: $2500. 

  10. Pre-wedding hotel stays and earlier trips to scope out venue and vendors: $4000

  11. Airport Shuttle Vans at 30 pickups and 30 drops: $7500 

  12. Offsite Yacht Cruise or Other Excursion for Guests to see the city: $5,000 to $15,000. 


During my own wedding we worked out a killer deal where the hotel provided the room, breakfast and meals and then I still ended up spending another $80,000 in: 


  • family expenses, 

  • decorators, 

  • Planners and day of coordinators, 

  • flight tickets,

  • $600 on towels we ruined during the mehendi, 

  • Mariachi band

  • Indian restaurant offsite for Sangeet


Pool parties are often a big highlight of a Mexican Indian wedding. Plan one in your schedule! (and rest time before and after!)


What Makes a Good Indian Wedding in Mexico? 


  • Beach Access: Why else are we here as opposed to back home then? 

  • Weather: All your money, time and effort will be wasted if everybody is in their suits sitting in 95 degree heat during a wedding ceremony they can’t enjoy.  Do it in the shade or build a canopy. 

  • Pool Party: Can your hotel or venue host a private pool party for you and your guests! You don't want random tourists crashing it, but you do want to feel like you're in the thick of the action! Harder to do at mega resorts. Great for mehendi options and welcome lunches.

  • Food (Mexican and Indian):  Indians love Indian food and second Mexcian food.  Third maybe Thai which even some Mexican hotels do offer! 

  • Time to Relax and Do Their Own Thing: Guests are also on vacation.  So they probably don’t want to spend their only free time rehearsing for a sangeet.  Make sure they have time to chill by the pool and catch up with one another. 

  • Fashion: It’s hot as heck sometimes, so make sure you balance Indian clothes with climate but still rock the tradition.  Pack extra as every Indian wedding will need backup Kurtas and other changes. 

  • Entertainment, Music and Band: mariachi band is a cool novelty, otherwise try to find an English or Top 40 band also if you didn’t fly in a proper DJ. 

  • Reception Venues and Decor: If your wedding is just a corner of an already used lunch or dinner hall, then it won’t really feel like it stands out.  You’ll have to hire some decor and go a bit beyond what the hotel already provides to really make your photos and occasion come to life.  You definitely don’t need to go crazy the way we do in Los Angeles or New York, but please do look into lighting, centerpieces, flowers (oh the flowers!) and other decorative pieces.  (Like printing out those little wedding pamphlets during your pheras or vows). 


Sargassum is a super real Atlantic problem that darkens crystal clear water and keeps people off the beach.

Risks and Things that can Go Wrong


Seaweed and Sargassum Ruins Beaches for 3-5 months


Every 4-5 years in Tulum and other parts of coastal Mexico the crystal clear water gets ruined by a bunch of seaweed which really kills the entire beach


It’s literally football field of seaweed that cover the entire stretch of beaches, sometimes knee deep. 


This might be El-Nino or other weather systems but it’s worth checking on. It can honestly prevent anybody from enjoying the beach, which is one of the main reasons you are doing your wedding in Mexico!


It can also affect your photos and videos! Ask your hotel about Sargasm to see if the government and/or navy is helping them clear it!


Apparently it gets worse now, the first time this happened was during my wedding so I feel you!  


Occasional Hurricane


Not a major risk but it does happen and is unpredictable. Check with your hotel contract on refund policies and backup contingencies. 


Zika Virus


Or Other CDC Warnings: MY Brother recently got married in Thailand his friend was pregnant at the time.  So the doctors said don’t travel! A few others also dropped out due to this. I think Mexico is now in the clear but always good to keep your ears open for this. 


Vendors for Indian Wedding Mexico


Now that you have a sense of Indian weddings in Mexico and what they take, lets give you some recommendations on who to hire locally and who to fly in! We are continuously updating this list as we work more and more weddings in Quintana Roo and Baja.


Last Updated Jan 28th, 2020


Decorator and florist

Blossom Cancun


Restaurant and Catering

Shiva (Tulum, clay oven)

Patravali


Videographer

Mike Cantarell


Event Planners

Xanath Banuelos


Fireworks

Special Events Mexico


Hair and Makeup 

Styling Trio


Dhol Player

Drums In Paradise!


Pandit/Officiant

To Be Determined. For now please check our list of US pandits.


Underwater photography is a great touch a day or two after everybody has left.

Photo 


They're so many expert photographers in Mexico and foreigners who settled there that do wedding photography I don't think you need to spend more on bringing an out of town team. However, if you have your heart set on someone (like the Wedding Filmer) please go ahead! They can also source their extra gear locally!


Playa Weddings and Underwater Photography (That's me!)


Jorge Rodriguez Photography


Jonathan Cossu



Conclusion


Or should I say...CANC-lusion? Ok sorry. 


By now you should have a good understanding of the costs of wedding in Mexico and also a real picture of what the pros and cons of it are.  You should also know details and hacks.


I hope the above was helpful? We spent weeks trying to give you the most helpful information and debating what to include and what not to. If you have further questions you can comment and we'll likely reply during the weekdays!



https://www.sodjla.com/contact-us

We also help plan and DJ South Asian weddings all the time so if you need a DJ/Emcee or more for your Big Fat Indian wedding in Quintana Roo, Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas please contact us immediately!


Have a wonderful fiesta in Mexico!


Gracias!