Who Pays for an Indian Wedding?
Updated: Sep 9, 2019
I was at my nephew's wedding recently and I noticed a lot of tension towards the end, as the final hotel bills were coming in and him and his wife did not look super excited. Which got me naturally wondering, who pays for all of this? Having worked over 1000 and billed many clients for the same, I thought I'd give you some guidance.
Who pays for an Indian wedding? It's mostly split between the couple and their parents, 50/50. Sometimes however, if one side is insisting on more guests or extra fanfare, then those costs are adjusted. For example the groom's baraat expenses (e.g. elephant at $5,000 USD) or brides designer Sabyasachi lehenga ($10,000USD) would often born by them respectively.
How Much is an Indian Wedding in the United States?
The average cost in a place like California for a 300 person Big Fat Indian wedding, at a Marriott or Hyatt type of hotel will be around $250,000 USD. We have a full article just on that and how those costs are allocated.
Wedding planning is stressful and everybody wants to chime in with what's important to them. A wedding was even called off recently because the menu was all vegetarian.
Factors that Affect Bride and Groom's contributions
Wedding expenses are a sensitive issue, as they also get in outdated dowry and village customs when marriage was more transactional and financial. While we like to think, having grown up in America that everything is shared equally, this seldom is the case. A variety of realistic factors occur such as:
One side wants to throw a grander party than the other
Financial situations (e.g. You're a wealthy investment banker, your wife is still in medical school, or vice versa)
Family values around pomp and circumstance (e.g. simple versus flashy)
Fashion preferences (guy's outfit costs $600 but girls might cost $12,000)
Religion, customs (e.g. even if both parents can easily afford the expenses, one might still just want to pay the entire thing)
1. How can I reduce my Indian wedding expenses? While I don't recommend you charge a cover to enter your wedding, I think the best advice is to not get carried away on over ordering your buffet and also keep you fashion budgets down.
There is no need to spend $10,000 on an outfit you'll wear once if you can't EASILY afford it, and hotels also scare you as if you'll run out of food.
But of the 1000 weddings I've worked, I've never once seen a buffet shut early. Caterers can always add more food easily and budget for a lot of it.
BEFORE THE WEDDING WEEKEND STARTS, ALL PARTIES SHOULD KNOW WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR WHAT. NO SURPRISES!
2. What if only one of us is paying? You and your family and spouse can have your own equation, that's fine. We have seen weddings where it's split down the middle, to the penny, and also where one dad, either the groom or bride's just cut the whole check.
We've also seen weddings where the bride picked up the entire tab herself. Everything is fine and whatever works for you, there is no hard and fast rule! This is marriage, you'll understand shortly.
3. How Much is Indian Wedding Food? We have a full article on this. But usually around $60-$80 a head in a place like California or New Jersey for the buffet, per event.
That's why when you add the entertainment, hotel and alcohol, your average guest cost quickly becomes about $150-$200.
4. How Can I not have money be an awkward thing at my wedding? Set the expectations early with your husband or wife. "Hey, we'll split everything down the middle?" OR "Hey, I'm only inviting 40 people, your dad's list is 300, can we discuss this?" The worst thing that can happen with regard to finances is surprises and misaligned expectations, but if everyone is prepared than it should go smoothly.