Updated July 2020
This article addresses overlooked costs at Indian weddings. These are things everyone needs but often forget to include in the wedding budget.
Parking at the Venue
This assumes that the hosts are paying for guest parking. Some venues include complimentary self parking as part of their outside catering package. Other venues offer discounted event rates. Parking is usually charged on a per vehicle basis and can vary drastically by venue. In downtown of large cities expect parking fees to be $50-$60 per vehicle.
If you are not going to host parking and leave that cost up to each guest AND your venue includes complimentary parking in their outside catering package that may be a place where you can negotiate.
Breakfast at the Venue
Most couples serve breakfast for guests that are staying at the host hotel. Breakfast is not nearly as formal as the other meals. The caterers charge a fee and so do the venues. Why? The venue still has to open up a room, set it up with plates, silverware etc. and staff the room to remove trash and dirty dishes. Many couples underestimate the costs for this and try to avoid it by offering finger foods only. The venue is still going to charge for beverages which they will not allow to be brought in from an outside caterer.
This cost can add up so don’t forget to think about it and bring it up with your venue early on. Indian weddings have developed a bad reputation in this regard, amongst venues because families want to serve breakfast to guests but don’t want to pay it.
It’s customary to leave a small token for guests attending the reception and if you’re having a 250+ person wedding, that can add up, even if it’s something small. It’s not just the cost of the item itself, but also the presentation of the item. This couple gave away these high heel keychains wrapped in plastic with custom labels.
Signs and Displays
It’s pretty common to have signs at weddings re: Instagram hashtag, where to sit, escort cards, photos of the couple. Depending on quantity, size, and materials used these signs can add up in cost.
Many couples arrange a shuttle to take guests to-and-from venues. Depending on the type of shuttle, number of trips, and distance, shuttles can cost anywhere from $700-$2500 or more!
Welcome bags are a lovely gesture and all those snacks, water bottles, fancy bags, and custom labeling add up! Additionally, the hotel may charge a per bag fee.
Thank You Cards + Stationery
South Asian wedding invitations are big, elaborate and heavy. That means more postage costs. It can be anywhere from $2-$8/piece. This also goes for thank you cards, after the wedding.
It’s general practice to tip vendors 15% of the total bill and even more if they did a stellar job. If your DJ cost was $5000, that’s $750. South Asian weddings have several vendors, so tips can really add up.
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Cover image: Gaciel Santana Photography