What’s Included in an Indian Wedding Venue’s Outside Catering Package?

The venue is often the biggest purchase of any Indian wedding. What that means is you’re going to allocate a percentage of your budget to the venue, DJ, decor, photography, cinematography, clothes, jewelry etc. Typically about 35-40% of the total wedding budget goes to the venue. That’s a big chunk! In fact, it’s the biggest chunk!

And, getting a venue can be kinda complicated too – with all the policies, terminology, and pricing. One aspect of the venue that we see couples get confused about for Indian weddings is what comes with the ‘outside catering package’ as it’s called. We’ve covered that in detail below, so you know what to expect.

But first, it will be helpful to distinguish between the ceremony package and the reception’s outside catering package.

{Ceremony Package vs. Outside Catering Package}

Most Indian weddings have the ceremony and reception at the same venue. But some don’t, so the venues separate the fees and services for the ceremony vs. the reception. When a venue’s catering manager refers to their outside catering package, they’re referring to the cocktail hour + reception. It includes the fees, services and policies applicable to the cocktail hour + reception. The ceremony package is separate and typically includes the ceremony fee. If you want to serve lunch afterwards, there are additional fees.

These are the 4 primary fees to expect:

Note: we call it a lunch services fee and a dinner services fee, because the venue is not providing any food. But they will provide all of the drinks.

Other Possible Fees
Hotel room block – separate fees/contract
Hospitality room/breakfast – additional fees
Cake (if you decide to get it through the venue)

{What Do Venues Provide?}

Couples and their families often ask me what they’re getting for the per person fees that venues charge, when the venue isn’t supplying the food. It’s a great question because unless you know those fees can seem really high.

The first thing you should know is that venue outside catering packages are designed to provide you most of the things you’ll need. They’re setup to be convenient and that’s what distinguishes them from venues that provide the space only, where you bring in everything else. Outside catering packages provide a lot of services.

Services typically included in an Outside Catering Package are:

  • spaces for cocktail hour and the reception
  • a suite for the couple on their wedding night (at hotel/resort venues)
  • tables, chairs, china, linens, napkins, flatware, glassware
  • risers for sweetheart stage
  • champagne and/or apple cider toast
  • standard wood parquet dance floor (not the white, colored, lit dance floors)
  • servers and bar staff
  • buffet set up
  • bar set up
  • all tear down

Note: this is what MOST venues include. Every venue has their own package, so make sure to thoroughly understand what is/is not included at the venues you’re interested in).

Outside catering packages are charged on a per person basis and have a Food & Beverage Minimum (click the link for our guide about Food & Beverage Minimums).

{Ceremony Package}

The ceremony package usually includes:

  • the ceremony site
  • chairs setup and tear down
  • risers
  • water station
  • mic and speaker

Note: Like the outside catering package, this is what MOST venues include. Every venue has their own package, so make sure to thoroughly understand what is/is not included).

Ceremony packages are a one time flat fee. If you want to serve lunch after the ceremony, additional per person fees will apply.

{Food + Drink}

It’s called an outside catering package because you’re going to have the food catered from outside; not with the venue’s in house catering. Beverages are still provided by the venue but are charged separately. They’re not included in the outside catering package. In other words you’ll pay additional fees for beverages, whereas the items above come with the per person fees you’ll pay. You might like our guide on bar packages.

Typical Outside Catering Packages Include:

ballroom – the ballroom + cocktail hour space. The ceremony is extra.

Hotel Irvine Indian wedding reception.
Photo: Global Photography

tables and chairs – including the setup and tear down

linens – for guest tables, buffet tables, gift tables, and the stage. Most venues have a limited selection of colors included in the package, like ivory, white, and black. Most venues can get you additional colors but they cost more.

napkins – similar to linens, available in limited colors included in the package and the design and style is usually simple, like you see below.

Napkin design and layout comes with the venue package; photo: Lin & Jirsa

china and silverware – you can specify what items you want and at what time throughout the events. In this table setting below, they have everything on the table when guests are seated – water glass, champagne flutes, coffee cup, silverware for dinner and dessert. Some people might opt limit the setting to napkin + silverware.


risers – You’ll need a riser to make the stage as well as the skirt on top. Your decorator brings everything on top of the stage.

Photo: Randery Imagery

dance floor – venues include a wood, parquet dance floor. If you’re looking for white or any other color + customization, work with your decorator.

Photo: Greycard Photography

cake cutting – NOT the cake.

champagne toast – well…champagne or apple cider, your guests can choose.


bar + server staff – usually 1 bar for every 100 guests and 1 server for every 30 guests


suite for the couple – 1 night stay in a suite for the couple (day of the reception).

extra tables – all the tables and linens you’ll need for food, gifts, escort cards etc.

This photo illustrates venue ceremony packages nicely. You get the space, the stage setup, the chairs setup theater style, and the venue would have setup 1-2 water stations outside or in the back. All of the decor and at this wedding, the runway, are not included in the venue’s ceremony package.

The Garden Court at a Dallas Hotel setup for an Indian, Hindu wedding ceremony.

{Take Aways}

I hope this guide helped you understand what you’re getting for the fees you’re paying your venue for their Outside Catering Package as well as the Ceremony Package.

Did this article help you? Let me know in the comments. And follow ShaadiShop on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram so you can see our latest guides and tips.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! 🙂

Samta Varia, Founder & CEO ShaadiShop: Indian Wedding Venues

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ShaadiShop is a free service to help couples, planning an Indian or any South Asian wedding, find their wedding venue. We walk you through the whole process from discovery to booking. And, venues extend better pricing and amenities to our clients. Visit our main website or contact me to start your venue search today!

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