Best Indian Wedding Tips 2023-2024
Updated: Jun 27
Indian weddings are a class apart. A million ideas and suggestions are available online but having DJ'd and helped plan and produce over 1000 Indian weddings, I can tell you one thing... Indians want the familiar with the different. They want trendy but traditional. They don't want to keep up with the Jones's they want to keep up with the Patel's, Singh's, Shah's and Sharma's. Here are five Indian wedding tips that will help you maximize value and help put some things in perspective here.
Let's get to these Indian wedding tips...
1. Personalization of little things are way more valuable that fancy expensive gifts that go in the storage (or the trash).
2. Speaking to each guest on the day of the event and being present with your guests will trump any lavish item or service you can spend money on. It will also make for a more memorable event.
3. Drama is no drama (explanation below). Wait it's a south asian wedding... There will always be drama.
4. Interview and vet your vendors. Hire them with the ideology that you trust them to do their job without micromanaging them and allow your self to be a guest at your own event.
5. Discuss Finances with both families so it's not awkward and point 3 is taken care of. Make sure this is done as early as possible and everything that could be a pain point is talked about in early phases.
Why Do These Top Down Tips Determine Your Overall Wedding Experience?
Often times at Punjabi or Gujarati weddings... we kind of just go on autopilot. Hotel? Check. DJ? Check. Food? Check.
But aside from the logistics, what about the things we are actually there to experience and enjoy?
DJ Ajay and Michael have some drama on NBC's "The Office"
Use this list to get to know how to enjoy your Indian wedding as a guest at your own event!
1. The Little Things are the Big Things | Personalize your Desi Wedding
A hand written note (not the cut/paste generic one with only the name changed) that your hotel drops off in each room, based on guest, with how happy you are to see them. This can be done ahead of time and even managed through a site like www.vistaprint.com or www.sendoutcards.com
A well thought out daily whatsapp broadcast to all your wedding guests. A broadcast on whatsapp allows you to send out group messages with updates, notes and well wishes without that annoying reply to all domino effect. You can send a fun picture recapping last night's activities and refreshing everyones memories about timings for the current day.
A cold beer or water in the shuttle van that takes guests from the airport, with some lotion, mosquito repellant, sunglasses or candy (specifically for destination weddings).
These are the gestures your friends and family will remember more than extravagant gestures. Don't get me wrong if you want something then go for it!
Here is something a friend of mine did at their wedding in Thailand. They created custom passport wallets for each guest with their name on it. I still have mine for traveling.
They will remember you for years to come and it costs you two bucks per guest! Come on! (and no I'm not linking here, I just want you to know this is a steal for a valuable memory!)
But you see how this goes further than a picture of a bride and groom with a generic thank you message?
2. The ultimate Best Free Indian Wedding Hack: Talk for 3 minutes. TO EVERYBODY. Yes... Even to the uncle you barely remember.
If you're having a 3 day wedding, as we discussed in planning one, make sure throughout the course of events you make it a point to speak to each guest or couple for at least 3 minutes.
I know it sounds like nothing, but as opposed to a selfie/hi/bye moment, your guests will appreciate the gesture given how busy you are and remember that conversation more than any fireworks/music/drink display.
People love to feel welcome and often times we get so busy at our own weddings we forget to just breathe, say hi and trust the process. At my own wedding I got so overwhelmed with trying to micromanage everything I paid for that I lost grasp of the most priceless and valuable part of my wedding and that was just being.
Your guests will remember and cherish this moment more than any material item you can produce!!!
Remember these guests all play a critical part in your current state. Whether they are a random aunty or uncle that helped out your parents when they migrated from India and gave them that $100 loan to get their legacy started or if they are an old friend that you had amazing memories with in high school. Sometimes we forget that our parents created this legacy for us and our wedding is often a way to relive their success and their own wedding.
3. Drama at an Indian Wedding is unavoidable. So when it hits embrace and savor it.
Every family function can get a little complicated. Drama is ALWAYS there. In fact if you're not having any drama yet...oh don't worry, it's coming! Get ready for those Indian movie zoom angles.
We love our TV soap operas in the South Asian community and we carry those soap operas everywhere.
In-laws will be In-laws... and if you add in some cha chis or kakis or aunties from India that nobody has seen in 10 years... well then it may just stir up some traditional drama which might be normal for them. Point them in the direction of the daal and roti, smile and walk away.
If you remember that there will be drama of who got a bigger room, who didn't bring a gift, who pissed somebody off with what they said about monetary gifts etc... If you remember that it's normal you can shake it off like Taylor Swift.
If any guest wants to trouble you on your big day rather than dealing with it on their own... they ain't worth it!!
4. Interview your Vendors. Then let them do their job. (Photo, Video, DJ, Coordinator, Travel, etc..)
Negotiate. Compare. Ask for sample contracts and examples of work.
If you know a couple who got married at the same Hyatt a year earlier, ask them what their top 5 best and worst decisions were.
Not only do couples LOVE sharing their experiences but it will save you a massive headache.
I always ask clients who come in if they have looked at other DJs.
I want them to shop around, compare, and even know why they may or may not pay extra for our services. Chris Rock said "if you're good you'll always have work." The bottom line is you get what you pay for but also if you value it. Some people value a good DJ, some people value flowers more. Tomato... Tomatoe
In Indian weddings, if you like a certain photographer, DJ or coordinator, but they cost more than you are budgeting see if you can make it work if it's a service you really value.
Hiring the right professional even though they charge more will save you a ton of stress in your wedding planning process and will allow you to enjoy your big day. After all most Indian wedding's spend on average spend a little more than $250,000 on their wedding day. Do you really want to minimize return on that investment (your overall experience) by saving $2000 on a DJ?
Invest accordingly and let the professionals do what they have a reputation for. If they are good at what they do they will know that your experience and guest experience is number 1. INVEST WITH THE RIGHT VENDORS AND BE A GUEST AT YOUR OWN EVENT! (Yes I'm yelling at you... it's out of love)
5. Discuss Finances with Both Family's FIRST
Once you set the baseline of who pays for what, you will have a much easier time planning from the top-down. This conversation needs to happen and needs to happen early. Also expect some speed bumps when you have different cultures involved. Even if both sides are South Asian... Guju traditions are different that Punjabi traditions and so on. Be patient and ask everyone else to be as well.
In our culture money is something that isn't as openly discussed as others, and you shouldn't expect the entire cost of an Indian Wedding (between $50K USD and $500K USD) to cause any unhappiness. It is one of the biggest investments you will ever make in your life.
As a bride and groom to be, make sure you chat openly about what the expectations are, make sure the parents understand, and they're no surprises. This is usually a common pain point for in-laws and usually due to miscommunication.
Couples in India sit the whole families down together and put down a spreadsheet who is doing or giving what, so either it's clear that there is NO GIFT exchange to avoid drama, or that it's happening in this way. If someone wants to do something monetary as a surprise and familial gesture it should happen off event and not be a public display which could throw off the other side of the family.
Lastly... We need to address the PRENUP (Holla, We want Prenup - Gold Digger - Kanye) We have had several weddings on the verge of cancelling way to close to the event date because something like a prenup was held off way too long to chat about. If either or both sides of the family want a prenup then please sort that out before you hire ANY wedding vendors.
This will ensure a smooth planning experience and ironically save you much more money in the long run (say for example you don't lock on hotel rooms or vendors and then pay more as you book last minute). Or you decide to discuss the prenup a month before your wedding and end up cancelling everything.
If you have any experiences and would like to chat please reach out to me as I love hearing about everyone's experiences.
I've seen a lot of weddings, and I can guarantee you following the advice above ensures a smooth process as you checklist your way through 100 other things like fashion, hotel selection, food, etc..
These are free things (minus the passport covers which are a few bucks) but I promise you they're invaluable!
If you don't follow the advice above, here's the things that could happen:
You'll spend money on fireworks or a party favor but guests might feel they just stood outside in the cold because there was no budget for heaters for an outdoor event.
You spent all that money on a Singer, but the food wasn't good. One shrimp dish could have done it, and some vegetarians felt like enough vegetarian dishes were available.
Guests may complain they have no luggage space for the gift you gave them, or worse you may see them all over your ballroom as you are walking out at the end of the night.
One side of the family won't rsvp on the hotel needs, and prices will change and drama will ensue with the room block.
People wont say anything... but aside from a selfie they'll resent that you didn't give them any face time when they traveled to attend your wedding.
One side of the family will buy gold for the other, the other thought we discussed no gifts and now one family feels like they were neglected.