There’s something incredibly special about Indian weddings – a jam packed, colourful, three day extravaganza filled with lavish décor, mouth-watering food, dance and loads of relatives you’ve never ever met! However despite our weddings being fun to plan and attend, there’s no escaping the dreaded wedding budget. It’s no surprise to hear that the cost of an Indian wedding has almost doubled in the last few years and whilst you and your partner would love that day to be about you, we know that ain’t going to happen.
Wedding watchers believe there are many contributing factors to these increasing costs. There is a rising popularity for couples opting for destination weddings, couture bridal wear, pre-wedding photo shoots and not to forget the fact that traditional hens and stag parties are now turning into weekend long parties or overseas getaways. The way in which couples choose to approach their weddings has taken a dramatic shift from the days of hiring your local community hall down the road to massive function venues in hotels, resorts, vineyards and even castles. It’s all about the ‘wow-factor’ and creating something magical for not just yourself, but for your family and friends as well.
Yes, it’s true. Planning an Indian wedding doesn’t come cheap and it’s difficult to stick within budget. Some couples often have to seek financial support from their parents or dip into their own savings accounts in order to cover costs. But, the truth is that your perfect day shouldn’t have to be a financial struggle.
Indian weddings come with a number of other challenges too. It’s often difficult to convince your families that this day is about you and your fiancé. They may prefer to focus on the religious aspects whereas you on the other hand want to make sure everyone has a memorable time. Try to strike a compromise. Nowadays, couples are more inclined to take charge of their own weddings but do ensure that families have their input. Nothing will happen unless you have their support.
It is possible to plan the perfect wedding on a budget. It is also important to remember that weddings shouldn’t be about showing off how much money you have or about making comparisons about whose wedding was better. Traditionally, Indian weddings are about the joining of two families and spending it with your loved ones. That is all that it should eventually come down to.
Our advice is to draw up a wedding budget by breaking down all the costs. Break down the events, costing’s and components. Create a spreadsheet and identify areas where you can save.
Never fear maharanis! Today we’re going to help eliminate those hidden costs and help you get the most for your money.
- Host your pre-wedding puja’s, religious ceremonies and parties at home
Your pre-wedding functions don’t have to be over the top and over budget. To begin with, it may be wise to invite only your closest friends and relatives. If your house is too small to hold an event, host it at a friend’s or family’s place or a well equipped venue. Seek assistance from your relatives and friends to facilitate with décor and if need be, song and dance routines.
- DIY or purchase decorative items
Indian wedding décor comes at a cost and it’s quite tricky to budget for this. Decorative items such as candle votives, candelabras or mason jars are not difficult to source and are more affordable than hiring. Pinterest is useful for this. It’s a great tool for seeking do it yourself wedding inspiration and you can narrow your wedding decor likes and dislikes. However, be very careful to not go overboard with the DIY. Trying to include every single DIY Pinterest idea will make your venue look tacky and over the top. Remember, less is more depending on your styles and tastes.
- Small bridal party or none at all
A modern day dilemma that Indian brides face these days is whether to include a bridal party (aka bridesmaids and groomsmen) on the wedding day. Did you know that it isn’t even an Indian tradition? Supposedly it was passed down from Ancient Roman times.. Say what?!
Anyway, yes times are changing and modern western values are becoming a norm for our weddings. Think really hard about whether having a bridal party is going to make a difference at your wedding. Your family and besties are always going to be around to help on the day and you definitely don’t need a label for them.
- Don’t go overboard with flowers
I always wanted a Karen Tran inspired wedding, but then reality kicked in. Today, florists are very accommodating and if you have a picture or theme in mind, they can suggest floral arrangement options that fit within your wedding budget.
Choosing floral arrangements which are smaller or at the less expensive end of the spectrum as your centrepieces isn’t always a bad thing. Your wedding venue may be able to include centerpiece, floral arrangement packages or offer recommendations to florists or stylists that they have affiliations with. But do your homework and shop around. Remember too that always choose flowers that are within season. This makes a huge difference in your budget.
As for bouquets, it isn’t customary.
- Get married on a weekday
Did you know that some venues charge extra for a weekend wedding? The season also makes a difference. Summer is peak wedding season with Spring coming in at a close second.
- Opt for local wedding vendors
Interstate or overseas wedding suppliers are always going to charge more for travel, time and transport. But, we are all for choosing quality suppliers and so if there’s a vendor whose work you absolutely love, don’t compromise. Let them know what your budget is from the get go.
- Keep records and start a savings account
Create a spreadsheet to break down the costings or purchase a planner or notebook.
This will ensure that your sanity is in check and that you’re not wasting unnecessary money. Stationary aficionados like us will know that Kikki K produce beautifully presented notebooks and planners that keep you inspired. Use the planners to keep on top of your budget and keep track of deposit due dates as well. Your trusty mobile phone also has a calendar maharanis!
Set up a wedding savings account if you’re super conscious of your budget and spending. Every week leading up the wedding, set aside a small amount of money for the big day. It doesn’t matter how much it is, just remember that a small amount goes a long way. If you can avoid it, try not to rely on the credit card.
- Save on catering
Wedding food is a delicate topic when it comes to Indian weddings. Most Indian couples don’t even know where to begin! After venue hire, food and beverage is the next biggest expense. We don’t believe that you should cut costs on catering. After all, what is an Indian wedding without our delectable curries right?
What you could do though is reduce the amount of food and alcohol you serve. We do go overboard with our food and drink sometimes, so have a chat with your wedding venue coordinator or caterer and opt for the basic food and beverage package. Any additional items can be accounted for once you know your numbers. Who knows, if there’s a little money left over in the budget, you might even be able to serve a signature cocktail!
- The wedding cake
Unless you are the type of bride who has always dreamt of the epic 10 tier wedding cake, then avoid this step. Our suggestion is to ask your cake decorator to design a cake that’s big enough to serve for the number of guests attending. For example, for 200 guests, a 2 to 3 tier cake should be sufficient. Cupcakes are becoming increasingly popular too and may work within your budget.
- Host your wedding and reception at the same venue
Venue hire is another big wedding expense. Factor in the travel costs for your vendors, friends or family members and you have a big dilemma if you’re trying to save. That’s why opting for one venue to host all your functions could work in your favour. Discuss your budget and determine which venue can offer you the best packages.
- Choose a beautiful venue
Your venue should speak volumes about who you are as a couple. It should reflect your styles and tastes, but also work within your budget.
A beautiful venue space can be transformed into something pretty special with lighting, florals and exquisite décor items. However, you kind of have to practical on the day of the event if you are limited with budget. A venue that is visually appealing and has sweeping views is a good option and you can create ambience by dimming the lights in the space. Candles or tea lights can also create a romantic atmosphere.
- Involve family and friends
Delegate tasks to family and friends. Accept help when it is offered, but be organised. The last thing you want is a disgruntled uncle or bridesmaid who hasn’t been given clear instructions. Not only can this save time, but money too!
Every bride has that aspiration to be the ultimate Sabyasachi bride. Ask yourself if you will feel fine in a non-designer label. Will you be able to survive without a Manish, Tarun or Sabya design? It’s okay to dream and sometimes if you’re lucky, your nearest and dearest will help make them come true. It’s all about being accommodating though and sticking to that budget.
There are alternative options. Do us a favour though; avoid the rip-off designers out there. You will regret it! Elegant and classy Indian bridal wear isn’t difficult to source and if you need help sourcing local designers, drop us a line here.
Remember that there are multiple occasions and you need new outfits for every event as well as matching accessories!
- Wedding invitations
Before we go on further, full respect to wedding stationery creatives out there who spend hours on crafting beautifully designed invitations.
Once again, remember that we have multiple events to cover in an Indian wedding, which means loads of information to cover on the invitations!
Why not create a wedding website? Have your formal invitation, but save on costs, by including all the nitty gritty details such as maps, directions, transport and accommodation on your wedding website. The beauty of it is that it doesn’t have to cost a thing! We have come across some amazing free resources out there to help get you started such as Wix and Minted.
Send your guests a ink to the website on the invitation and also collect their email addresses. Sounds like hard work? Delegate the task to your bestie or family member.
- Wedding favours
Wedding favours add a nice personal touch to your wedding, especially if they’re DIY. If you are on a tight budget though, then think of something out of the box such as charity wedding favours. Make a difference at your wedding and give in celebration to your favourite charity. Some charities give you little envelopes to place on your guests’ tables at the reception. Check out their websites and there may be a section on how to give back at your wedding.
- How about a smaller guest list?
Here’s another touchy issue. I know your parents are probably insistent on inviting Uncle Raj or Aunty Renuka or some distant relative or friend you haven’t seen in years. The truth is that you don’t know who they are right? Catering can cost you a bomb these days and if you and your parents want to save on anything, this might be a good place to start.
- Hire a wedding planner
Believe it or not, but if you are completely lost and you have no idea where to start, hire the services of a pro wedding planner. Your wedding planner will work within your budget, take care of notes, create schedules, timelines and ensure everything runs smoothly. They will save you time and money.
An experienced wedding planner will offer you smart advice and provide you with some sort of direction and you will be happy to know that they will only work with trusted wedding suppliers.
Some of the more experienced, celebrity wedding planners will obviously cost an arm and a leg, so take the time to shop around for the best planner.
This gives you the freedom to concentrate and focus your efforts on enjoying the wedding day with your family and friends.
- Save on photography, videography and entertainment
I’m sure you have a photographer or videographer in mind who’s work you absolutely love but can’t budget for their packages. Ask them if they have an associate photographer or videographer. Rather than two photographers, opt for one
In terms of entertainment, hire a smaller band or just one DJ and pro Bollywood dancers – those are your friends right?
At the end of the day, you know your budget, your needs and wants. Try and save on costs where you can.
Have you got any more tips or suggestions on how you can save at your wedding? Let us know in the comments. Remember if you need any more advice on planning your wedding, please don’t be afraid to contact us!
Poonam is the founder and director of The Maharani Diaries blog. She has a passion for South Asian fashion and weddings. Drinking coffee is one of her favourite pass times and she also enjoys giving up her time for charity. You’ll often find her volunteering on the side for various community events.