Indian Wedding Reception Design Guide: 6 Steps

One of the fun parts of any Indian wedding is designing the reception decor and layout. Venues that are Indian wedding friendly accommodate the many needs – large guest capacity, flexible layouts, have space for a dance floor, sweetheart stage, bars, and a DJ booth.

Some venues have a built-in stage, dance floor, bars or decorative features. Some venues, like many ballrooms are like a blank canvas waiting for you customize them. This article is your Indian wedding reception design and layout guide.

{Ballroom Shape and Size Matters}

Banquet tables come in all shapes and sizes. Most venues have rounds and king’s (rectangular) tables. Rounds typically seat between 8-12 guests and king’s anywhere from 8-22! The size and shape matters for acoustics too. If you haven’t already, you might like our post about ensuring the acoustics are optimal at your wedding reception.

There are SO many options for table shapes and sizes!

{Reception Layout Design…options options}

tables/chairs | dance floor | stage | bars | photo booth | DJ Booth | Cake Table

{What’s What?}

 If you don’t know what tables are offered at your venue (why would you know that???), we’ve got you covered on ShaadiShop. Your catering manager will help you with layout designs.

{Reception Design Examples}

All guests are seated at King’s tables; looks like 20 per table; Photo: Braja Mandala Wedding Photography
Rounds + King’s tables at an Indian wedding reception; Photo: Randery Imagery

First let me share how most Indian wedding receptions are laid out. The photo below sums it up really well.

A. The sweetheart stage is front and center with the dance floor centered relative to the stage.

B. You see the DJ booth on the far right.

C. And if you look closely, you’ll see the cake table in-between the sweetheart stage and the DJ booth. No matter how beautiful your custom designed wedding cake is, we strongly urge you to keep it to the side. Don’t let these mishaps, happen to you.

D. The bars are usually on the opposite (exits) end of the ballroom.

round banquet tables at an Indian wedding reception; SUPER spaced out; Photo: Jonathon Cossu Photography

Step 1: Based on your guest count, think about how many tables you’ll need.

Step 2: Using the examples above as well as thousands available online, think about your ideal layout. Most Indian wedding receptions have these items:

  • tables and chairs
  • dance floor
  • sweetheart stage
  • 2 bars (ideally inside the ballroom)
  • DJ booth
  • cake table

Rectangular aka King tables are really popular. Often family members and the wedding party are distinguished by seating them at King tables and closest to the sweetheart stage, like in the photo below.

Indian wedding reception
Notice the rectangular tables closest to the dance floor, with the circular banquet tables further away fro the sweetheart stage. Photo: Callaway Gable

This matters because the number of people at the rectangular tables determines each table’s size which will determine the layout for all the other tables.

Step 3: Chairs. Should you invest in chiavari chairs or use the hotel’s standard banquet chairs? Almost every couple we help find their dream venue, asks us about the venue’s chairs. No doubt, chiavari chairs look spectacular. You might be wondering why venues don’t offer these as their standard chair when SO many couples want them. It’s because:

1. They’re not that comfortable. After a while those knobs in the rods start digging into your back and with no back padding – it’s just not comfortable.

2. Chiavari chairs are delicate. They get scratches and dents on them more easily than the banquet chairs you’re accustomed to seeing at venues. Venue banquet staff are trained and expected to be efficient in setting up and tear down and handling delicate chairs makes that harder.

3. Each venue owns a number of chairs relative to their banquet space capacity. And there’s simply not enough storage space for them to store standard banquet chairs and chiavaris.

4. A venue’s lack of chiavari chairs doesn’t deter couples from booking that venue; they simply rent the chairs from somewhere else. If it started to impact bookings, venues would be more likely to change their policy.

Chiavari chairs setup for an Indian, Hindu, wedding ceremony outsoors
Photo: Wedding Documentary

Now that you know why most venues don’t offer chiavari chairs, what you should know is that they cost anywhere from $5-$10 per chair to rent. The average Indian wedding reception has 350 guests. 350 guests * $10 per chair = $3500! For some couples, that’s a lot to spend on chairs; especially when the venue includes their standard banquet chairs in the outside catering package. The reason we have this as step 3 in this guide is because chairs impact the overall look and guest comfort as well as your total wedding budget.

Step 4: Lighting Decisions. Lighting at a wedding reception really transforms the room, as you can see from the photos above. Let’s look at two of the above examples side-by-side.

In the left image, you see that they added what are called uplights along the outer perimeter wall. Also, they’re a neutral color. In the right image, you see the fancy designed lights, in addition to uplights along the perimeter. Moreover, they’re a bright purple hue. The reason we made lighting step 4 is because, as you can see, it really impacts the overall look and also your budget. At Indian weddings, pretty much every Indian DJ provides lighting services. Talk with your DJ about various packages. DJ Raj from Sound Nation, one of Southern California’s longest running Indian DJs suggests this, as the minimum for Indian wedding reception lighting.

Step 5: Event Flow. Most Indian wedding receptions follow a smooth rhythm.

  1. The ballroom doors are opened and guests shift from cocktail hour and get seated at their designated tables.
  2. Then comes the grand entrances.
  3. Then the program starts.
  4. After the program, dinner is served.
  5. At some point the dance floor opens up.
  6. Dessert is served.
  7. A lot of uncles and aunties leave.
  8. Dancing continues until the end of the event and guests mingle, dance, and roam freely.
  9. New trend: serve midnight snacks.
  10. Afterparty somewhere at the venue.

This flow works well though I have been to weddings (not Indian weddings) where the reception started with dancing. After about an hour then the program started. It was fun and since everyone had just filled up on delicious appetizers during cocktail hour, it wasn’t like anyone was hurried to get to dinner.

Step 6: Reception Table Design. We saved the best for last — the way the tables will look. Dinner at most Indian weddings is served buffet style. Because of that, some people think the table looks bare without a plate because the plates are stacked at the start of the buffet. That’s why some couples opt for adding charger plates, like the gold plate in the photo below. That plate is there purely for decoration. When guests walk back to their designated tables with plates of food, hey simply place the plate on top of this gold one.  FYI, charger plates usually cost anywhere from $1-4 per plate, depending on size and material.

gold charger plates and purple napkins at Indian wedding reception
Photo: Lin & Jirsa

At this Indian wedding reception below, the couple placed the napkin and a thank you note in lieu of a charger plate.

Thank you note at an Indian wedding placed at each place seating

And at this wedding reception, the couple opted to have no plate displayed on the table and the napkins are folded artfully inside the glasses.

{Take Aways}

For most, the reception is their biggest wedding event. Of course you want it to spectacular and memorable. And it can all seem so overwhelming! I hope this 6 step guide helps you realize that there can be some calm around the chaos. broken it down into 6 chronological steps to help you get some calm around the chaos. Don’t worry. Planning your wedding is an iterative process. You  gather info from resources like ShaadiShop, and social media and as you learn new things, you’ll start to recognize the patterns, prioritize the things that matter most to you and make trade-offs.

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

 South Asian-friendly Wedding Venues

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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