• Ajay Manaktala

How To Plan an Indian Wedding in Los Angeles (Ultimate Guide)

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

This Ultimate guide will take a bit to read so grab that coffee and get comfy. After reading it you should be well poised to save money and have an awesome wedding.

Thinking about an Indian wedding in Los Angeles, Orange County or other parts of Southern California like San Diego and Riverside? 

That’s awesome!

Greater Los Angeles has roughly 120,000 Indian-American people and every weekend at least six or seven Indian weddings occur throughout the city’s major hotels, resorts, community centers and temples.  

Bride and Grooms who live in the city either grew up here, married someone who did or are working in finance, IT, medicine, media or one of California’s many industries.  As a result, Desi fever runs rampant!

In this post I’ll explain everything you need to know on how to have an awesome Indian or Pakistani wedding in Southern California.  I’ll also give you some tips/hacks you can use to get educated and save some cash!

I have DJ’d, planned or coordinated over 500 Indian weddings in Southern California the last 20 years and have seen it all.  If you have any comments or questions please feel free to drop them below! Our team maintains this blog very actively.

This post is structured in the following way, in case you want to skip ahead to any point:

  • The Very First Step You Must Do for LA Weddings

  • Why Plan your Wedding in Southern California? 

  • Main Cities in Southern California to have a South Asian wedding

  • Venue Primer and Basics

  • Main Hotels in Southern California to host Indian Weddings

  • Factors That Are Unique to Southern California for Weddings

  • How Much Does an Indian Wedding Cost in Southern California?

  • Priorities for your LA Guests

  • Food and Catering Vendors

  • Venue Considerations (Guest’s Point of View)

  • Decorators

  • Photographers

  • Videographers

  • Lighting

  • DJ’s and Entertainment Options (besides us)

  • Pandit and Priest's we Recommend

  • Pros of a Wedding in Los Angeles

  • Cons of a Wedding in Los Angeles

  • Related Questions

  • Conclusions

You ready fam? Let’s Go!

The Very First Step

If you’ve already settled on Los Angeles for your wedding location that’s fine.  But for the Indian and Pakistani folks who have family overseas, please go and finalize your GUEST LIST NOW.

You don’t even need to have the RSVPs sent out, but as we say over and over on this blog, everything in your wedding, including the city and hotel gets determined by WHO you're calling and from WHERE.

Indian wedding los Angeles advice
And this only happens after you know where the important people are coming from.

If grandma messes up her US visa interview in Mumbai and you already paid the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel a $10,000 deposit..well, let’s not let it get to that! People pick the place!

Why Plan your Indian Wedding in Los Angeles?

The South Asian Communities in Southern California are pretty much all of them, including:

  • Gujarati

  • Punjabi

  • South Indian (Telugu, Kannadiga, Tamil) 

  • North Indian

  • Bengali

  • Sri Lankan

  • Pakistani

  • Bangladeshi

  • Did we miss any?

As a result, the community is strong and you have so many options at your disposal, especially when couples from one community marry another.

LA provides easy access to

  • tons of Indian vendors,

  • easy airport access

  • plenty of sun/sand

  • luxury/budget accommodations.  

  • Decent amount of temples

Weddings in more densely populated Indian populated towns like New Jersey and New York (where I was born!) are also beautiful, but will usually be heavy on ballrooms and indoor venues due to the varied seasons.  

In California, the scenery and year-around climate play a huge part of the appeal so golf courses, oceanside cliffs, beachfront properties and even city weddings with mountain backdrops all have their own charm.

indian wedding los angeles
My brother proposed here!

Major Cities in Southern California for Indian Weddings 

As of August, 2019, a simple scan of our latest tagged photos on Instagram can reveal where most Indian weddings occur in Los Angeles and Orange County. 

Since LA is famous for its traffic, folks who have settled here are very mindful of how far their friends and family will need to travel to attend the wedding each day.

The major cities in SoCal that work for marriages these days are:

  • Palos Verdes: Cliffside and oceanside views, close to the heart of LA are part of the appeal. 

  • Cerritos: Inside the city and suburbs, close to downtown LA, and in the heart of Little India make mid-range weddings very appealing (e.g. you can host your mehendi or smaller functions in the restaurants here)

  • Anaheim (massive hotels with massive ballrooms via Disneyland make this a big fat wedding option that won’t destroy the bank)

  • Irvine (beautiful weather in OC, great venues that have excellent Indian wedding expertise are all part of this charm.  A little less crowded/metro that Anaheim). 

  • Lax Airport Area: Right next to the airport, great ballroom facilities and Indian vendor accessibility 

  • Long Beach: Near the massive Long Beach harbor, your guests can also take a small cruise or you can even host your wedding on the Queen Mary, a massive cruise ship that is parked as a ballroom venue to be rented.  Beautiful city lights from the bay. Very popular. 

  • Laguna Beach: Cliffside and Beachside Sun/Sand and extreme luxury

  • Newport Beach: Basketball stars frequent these golf course/luxurious venues.  

Venue Primer and Tips to Save Early

Hotels in Southern California rely on big business from weddings and conferences.  They’re used to the game and are probably used to you not knowing how to proceed. We have a whole article on how to get more out of your hotel, but before you contact any hotel in California, it helps if you do the following:

  1. Know your EXACT headcount before even getting a first quote.

  2. Know how many events you plan to have (sangeet, garba, mehendi, reception, wedding ceremony).

  3. Know if you have out of town guests who need rooms or family rooms, etc.. 

  4. Ask other people who got married there for their contracts. Yes it's normal and not rude.

  5. Don't fall for the book rooms before they sell out trick. Hotel rooms are rarely full 9 months before, and you don't want to be on the hook for 30 rooms and no guests to fill them (as many out of town guests back out up until weeks before the wedding).

  6. Ask about hidden charges like entertainer power consumption, insurance, outside catering fee, etc… In other countries hotels don’t do this, in Los Angeles due to California laws you could get hit with 10% extra charges you didn’t factor in. 

Best Indian Wedding Hotels in Los Angeles as of 2020

You're really spoilt for choice with so many hotels in Southern California, so we divided it up into places we see Indian weddings happen on the regular.

Luxury Segment

You're looking at weddings with a TOTAL budget between $350,000 and $1,000,000.

1 .Terranea | Palos Verdes | Los Angeles Side | Cliff and Ocean Views

Terranea is currently one of the top luxury wedding venues in Southern California. 

I would say a typical 300 person wedding here has a TOTAL budget of between $400,000 and $800,000.  When you add in all the clothing, food, extra hotel rooms and room service, things get out of hand. But if you can afford it, it is the epitome of luxurious Indian weddings for a reason.  Decoration alone can run you $80,000 or more.  

Pros: Beautiful, scenic, ocean views, luxurious, Indian wedding experts.

Cons: Cost, no beach access (cliff only)

2. The Resort Pelican Hill | Newport Beach | Orange County | Cliff and Ocean Views 

Similar to Terranea, couples who are based in Orange County and want to be a bit further from Los Angeles opt for the Pelican Hill resort, which also features a golf course.  Very expensive property yet the occasional celebrity or Kobe Bryant spotting make this a favorite for guests! 

Pros: Beautiful, scenic, Indian wedding experts, beach access (little bit of a walk)

Cons: Cost, might be far for Los Angeles guests. 

3. Ritz Carlton | Santa Barbara | Beachside

Santa Barbara doesn’t have a massive Indian community, but we’re seeing many couples who are living in the valley (Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, etc..) opting for weddings here.  It’s not exactly a destination wedding, but not exactly a staycation. Many guests will opt to make it a weekend, others might drive home each night! But this beach side property hits all the right notes and it’s not exactly done too many times.  Which is why we love it!

Pros: Beautiful, beachside, best of cliffside and beach side.

Cons: Not exactly LA, vendors will likely need accommodation for multiple day events. Many guests may drive back and you could increase costs by 10 to 20% just on needing rooms.

4. Hyatt |  Huntington Beach | Orange County | Beachside

The Hyatt Huntington Beach is the best of many worlds.  It has beach access (it can get quite hot however), it’s a massive resort, many rooms can view the ocean and it’s an expert at Indian weddings, which hosts the altar right by the sunset.  Set in the bustling community of Huntington Beach it’s a very popular local and tourist destination and surfers are here all the time. 

Pros: Gorgeous property, can accommodate up to 600 guests, experienced in India weddings, scenery and beach access. 

Cons: Busy area, not exactly secluded, can be costly but better value per guest for larger weddings. 

5. Monarch Beach Resort | Orange County | Near Beach | Golf Course

A gorgeous property near Laguna Niguel that has a private golf course and nice ocean views. You can cross the highway towards the beach but it’s a bit of a walk.  But beautiful place for Indian weddings in South Orange county, probably 5 to 10% less than Pelican Hill. 

Pros: Gorgeous property, can accommodate up to large groups, experienced in India weddings, scenery

Cons: You’ll likely be too busy to enjoy the beach, costly,

Hotel Chain Segment

You're looking at weddings with a TOTAL budget between $100,000 and $300,000.

1. Hotel Irvine

Hotel irvine indian wedding cost
Beautiful suburb wedding in Irvine.

In the last four years you can see a lot of weddings happen at the Hotel Irvine. 

Decent prices, great facilities and accessible zoning and space for baraat processions make this a safe bet!

Pros: Expert at Indian weddings, wonderful location

Cons: No ocean views, used quite often. 

2. Long Beach Hyatt

I’ve been DJing weddings here for the last 20 years, and this place really stands the test of time!

Pros: Fantastic for larger weddings (above 600 people), nice location, things to do around (guests can get rooms for less than $200 and explore long beach sights)

Cons: Been done many times, hotel needs a light upgrade 

3. Hilton | Anaheim | Next to Disneyland

A city favorite in Anaheim, next to Disneyland, in Orange County.  Great for mid-range weddings also. 

Pros: Great for large groups, disneyland is around the corner for families, 

Cons: Bustling area, very busy with tourists, similar to any city’s major hotel weddings

4. Westin Mission Hills | Ventura County | Golf Course | "The Valley"

Lovely option set in the greenery, for some gorgeous photos. Many guests use this option as a staycation set in California’s valley. 

Pros: Great mid-range option with sweeping hills and greenery

Cons: Valley is far for some. 

Value for Money Segment

Great choices for weddings with smaller groups or less than $100,000 budget.

1. Seven Degrees (beachside access and just a great deal for what you get)

indian wedding venues laguna
Very artsy and chic.

Pros: Great for younger couples and smaller groups, very chic and modern

Cons: Can’t accommodate much more than 150 people. Sit down seating. 

2. Venue By Three Petals

Pros: Great budget place in the city in South Orange county.  Experienced in Indian weddings.  Lots of built in amenities so you can save.

Cons: Not really a hotel experience, capacity says 450 but for Indian events likely 300, limited customization.

3. Edwards Mansion

A cute vintage place in Redlands, for couples who like antique decor and don’t want to go overboard on extra decoration. 

Pros: Reasonable price, easy transportation access, great value for money.

Cons: Only event space, limited preparation facilities. The antique look is not for everyone.

4. Sheraton Cerritos

Well versed in India venues.

Pros: Great access to Cerritos Indian vendors and community, experienced in India culture and weddings, modular ballroom to scale easily, great value and one of our favorites just because it's a wedding factory!

Cons: Not much scenery as hotel is in a residential area. Guests will come for function and leave back home.

Factors that Affect Indian Weddings Specific to Southern California

  • You will suffer from the paradox of choice with Indian restaurants and decorators and yes, even DJs such as us.  This can get confusing. In a place like Austin or Las Vegas you might have fewer options but I think this honestly makes it easier to just enjoy as everybody does a great job.   You very rarely see the Number 3 Yelp reviewed decorator or catering do drastically different than the number one, but we get it, and we pride ourselves on the same.

  • Even though Southern California has fantastic weather, between November and February it can get fairly cold.  Although that shouldn’t affect your overall wedding plans too much, you should be mindful of a few things specific to So-Cal:

  • Most massive hotels have a booming ballroom business.  For example Anaheim hosts many conventions and their hotels often reflect that in their pricing and availability. You also don't want your wedding in the middle of Comic-con or some other raging convention that is also creating a lot of noise.