Indian wedding at Hotel Irvine with vegetarian catered Indian food.

Indian Wedding Lunch Costs

This article addresses Indian wedding lunch costs. Anyone planning an Indian wedding knows that food is really really really really important. Guests remember the food, comment about it later and it’s a key aspect of your wedding guests experience.

When we talk about serving lunch and Indian wedding lunch costs, what we mean is a full sit down lunch buffet, like y that is usually catered by a third party outside caterer; as you see in the photo below.

{Terms Used In This Article}

Time Gap Day

Back-to-Back Day

  • morning ceremony
  • lunch immediately after ceremony
  • a break = guests leave the venue
  • evening – guests return for reception
  • afternoon ceremony
  • cocktail hour immediately after ceremony
  • no lunch

{Wedding Day Decision: Serve Lunch?}

The difference between the time gap day and the back-to-back day is the former has an included outside catered lunch after the ceremony. The lunch has cost and time implications. Venues generally charge approximately $10-$20 less per person than their reception fee. Estimate around $15,000 in additional venue fees, at the least expensive venues for a wedding with 300 guests. Don’t forget, there’s also the caterers fees as well. As far as time goes, the lunch usually lasts about 1.5-2 hours after the ceremony.

The biggest advantage of the time gap + lunch day, to the couple and their families. The time gap day gives them more time to get ready in between the ceremony and reception. And more time for a pre-reception photoshoot and any other rituals that they may want to observe.

So it comes down to a time vs. budget decision. What’s more important to you?

Time gap v back to back.001

{Parking Costs}

Another important thing to think about is parking. At many Indian weddings the parking is hosted – where guests don’t pay for parking. But if you’re having a time gap day, then presumably a lot of guests will leave the venue after the ceremony and return in the evening for cocktail hour and the reception. Does your venue charge for parking? And if so, do they offer what’s called in-and-out privileges so that you won’t pay for parking twice? Most venues offer discounted parking rates for events. Whether or not they will charge double for parking varies because a lot of venues don’t own the parking operation at their property. At a lot of venues the parking structure and employees – that whole operation is owned by someone else.

Venues really try to be reasonable about this and some will only charge once and extend in and out privileges for your event even though they usually don’t. FYI, parking rates vary based on hosted/non-hosted, self vs. valet, overnight vs. day and once you get int metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles a lot of venues have a lot more detailed parking policies.

{OK to Not Serve Lunch on Time-Gap Day?}

It’s your wedding and you can do whatever you want, but it’s generally considered poor form to not serve anything. The back-to-back days go straight into cocktail hour after the ceremony, so they avoid the lunch event altogether.

If you can, before you start talking to venues, decide on what type of day you plan to have – time gap or back-to-back. And again, you can refer to the ShaadiShop website or contact me for info.

{Getting Creative With Indian
Wedding Lunch Costs}

Discount for Kids

Some venues will discount kids meals. I’m currently helping a couple with their venue and they’re having a time-gap day and plan to serve lunch and dinner on their wedding day. They’re expecting to have about 50 kids at each of the meals. So a couple of the venues we talked to discounted the kids fees.

Protip: you might like our guide with creative idea for keeping kids entertained at Indian weddings).

Heavy Snacks vs. Sit Down Lunch

Some venues offer a different option vs. serving a full-on sit down lunch. Instead you can serve heavy snacks in the ceremony area, immediately following the ceremony. So it becomes like a cocktail hour. Guests can mingle and the venue will setup a few high tables and maybe a handful of tables if the venue has the space for it, but they won’t setup tables and chairs for everyone. One venue we work with for example sets up tables and chairs for half the guests. There are trade offs to this option, namely:

  1. A proper sit down lunch with tables and chairs is more comfortable.
  2. You save some money because they won’t charge you for occupying a whole different part of the venue for lunch.

So this is where other budget considerations come in, such as do you rent chiavari chairs for the ceremony, which cost $5-$10/per chair or do you allocate those funds towards a lunch? And then you start to think, well what if I selected a venue that already has a gazebo or a structure that I can easily decorate for a mandap/altar instead of making the whole thing. Will that save me some cost? And is that a better use of my budget? (BTW, on ShaadiShop we tell you which venues already have a gazebo/structure for this exact reason…see the screen capture from our website below).

The info South Asians need, in 1 place, on

{Indian Wedding Lunch Costs:
Budgets vs. Time}

One of the reasons why couples prefer the Time-Gap day is because it gives them more time. In a back-to-back day the couple and their families have a lot less time to transition from the ceremony to the reception for things like taking photos after the ceremony, the vidai, welcoming the bride, and more practical things like getting ready for the reception and doing a couples photoshoot before the reception starts. Check out our post on how much time to allot for some of these things on your wedding day.

{Indian Wedding Lunch Costs Take Aways}

This article, Indian Wedding Lunch Cost shares information about the time and cost implications of serving lunch. It can add thousands of dollars to your budget as the venues charge a per person plating fee + beverages and there’s additional expense with the outside caterer.

In general, Indian weddings with a morning ceremony are usually followed by lunch afterwards. And Indian wedding ceremonies that start in the afternoon, are usually followed immediately by cocktail hour – hence no lunch costs. Learn more about outside catering packages in our guide.

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Cover Photo: Global Photography