Chairs setup theater style at a banquet hall for an Indian wedding ceremony

What Factors Influence Venue Fees For an Indian Wedding?

For an Indian wedding, the venue is the single largest chunk of your total wedding budget. The next big buckets are food, decor, cinematography and photography. Plan on spending about 35% of your total wedding budget on the venue. In my work at ShaadiShop, booking venues for Indian weddings, I tell clients that 35% is the average percentage, not the percentageof your total wedding budget to expect to spend on your wedding venue. That means that for some people, how much they spend at their venue will be higher than 35% and for others it will be lower.

What does that 35% cover? We’re talking about a typical Indian wedding day:

  • baraat
  • wedding ceremony
  • lunch after the ceremony, with non-alcoholic beverages
  • cocktail hour
  • reception (with a hosted consumption bar)

If you’re also having your sangeet/garba or dholki at that venue and you plan on serving additional meals, such as breakfast, then your costs will be higher and so will the percentage of your budget.

If you’re wondering why the venue takes up the largest chunk of your budget, I encourage you to read this. It’s a detailed guide on what is (and what is not) included in most venue outside catering packages. Since Indian weddings are catered outside – meaning by external restaurants, venues have developed special packages to accommodate our community’s needs. When I work with couples and their families to find their wedding venue, pretty much every single client asks, “well if they’re not providing the food, why do they charge so much?” This guide will help you understand what you’re paying for the value you’re getting.

{Indian Wedding Budget Infographic}

 Did you just start planning your Indian wedding? Not sure how much stuff costs? Download ShaadiShop’s Indian Wedding Budget Infographic. You’ll see the average cost of everything you’ll need – from catering and photography to mehndi. Note: the infographic shows you AVERAGES. If you plan to go big with decor, you’ll pay more, if you plan to keep things simple, it’ll be less.

This infographic is for benchmarking.

{Factors That Influence Indian Wedding Venue Pricing}

The factors that influence a venue’s costs for an Indian wedding are:

  • the booking window (how far in advance you book the venue)
  • the time of year (Summer, winter, etc.)
  • the day of the week (Friday, vs. Saturday vs. Sunday)
  • number of guests
  • number of events
  • if you’re also booking hotel rooms (at hotel and resort venues)
  • hours occupied at the venue (for non-hotel/resort weddings)

{The Booking Window}

This refers to how far in advance you book the venue for your wedding. Some venues don’t book weddings and social events more than a year in advance. The reason is because they are trying to optimize their revenue and they might acquire corporate business or larger events.

ProTip: In general, the shorter the booking window the more negotiation power you have. At ShaadiShop, we book venues for Indian and all South Asian weddings. I just worked with a couple that had a 4 month booking window (that’s really short, as most Indian weddings have a 10 month booking window). The chances of a venue booking another large social event with that short notice are pretty slim. Therefore the venue was more willing to negotiate.

{The Time of Year}

The time of year influences pricing when you’re booking your wedding too. In Southern California, the summer is peak season for all venues, but especially at ocean and waterfront venues. So expect higher food and beverage minimums and less willingness from venues to negotiate whereas at other times of the year they’ll be more open to it.

{The Day of the Week}

Because ShaadiShop specializes in booking venues for Indian weddings, I get a lot of calls from couples who ask me about getting married on Friday or Sunday vs. Saturday. And yes, most venues’ pricing and food and beverage minimums are lower on Friday, Sunday as well as other days of the week BUT (and this is a BIG but), I don’t want you to think they’re charging 50% less. If that was the case then you’d see a lot more weddings happening on Fridays and Sundays! When I say less, we’re talking about $5-$7 less on per person fees.

The per person fees are the outside catered lunch and outside catered dinner. The consumption bar charges don’t change based on weekday.

Some venues also reduce their ceremony fee – that’s on a case-by-case basis. So you have to ask yourself is the price difference worth the trade offs of having fewer people who can attend your wedding because it was during the day on a Friday? or who will leave early because your reception was on a Sunday night?

Please note: venues are on top of their game. They know that a lot of Indian weddings take place on long weekends, so normal, reduced Sunday pricing does not extend to Sundays on long weekends.

{Number of Guests}

The number of guests is important because it influences whether the venue’s revenue will reach or extend beyond their food and beverage minimum. A food and beverage minimum is simply the minimum revenue a venue expects to earn from food and beverage services provided. The more guests you have, the more revenue. If your event is at or almost at the venue’s capacity that’s great news for any venue and they’ll be more interested in working with you to secure the business.

Side note: Don’t get confused by the words – food and beverage – some people think it means the venue is providing or taking care of the food – they’re not – you’ll get the food from your Indian/Pakistani/Nepali/Sri Lankan restaurant caterer. The venue is going to provide all beverages though.  Food and beverage minimum is just a term and it means the minimum revenue they expect to earn on food and beverage services provided for a single event.

{Number of Events}

At the beginning of this article, I talked about expecting to spend about 35% of your total wedding budget on the venue, for the typical Indian wedding including a baraat, wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. But as we all know, the wedding day is certainly the most eventful day at an Indian wedding but it’s hardly the beginning of the celebration. If you plan to have your sangeet/garba/dholki at that same venue, well they love that. You’re giving them more business so they’ll be more willing to work with you to customize pricing to make it work. Some venues will give you a combined weekend food and beverage minimum instead of making you meet two separate minimums – one for sangeet and another for the reception.

The more business you give them, the more able they’ll be to work with you. The reason why you don’t see every wedding host their sangeet at the wedding venue is because even with negotiation, it’s often still cost prohibitive to have the sangeet and whole wedding day at the hotel or resort.

{If You’re Also Booking Hotel Rooms}

Hotel rooms are the bread and butter of any hotel or resort. For Indian weddings you pretty much always have relatively large wedding room blocks and they’re for at least two nights. The more rooms you have in the room block, the more they’ll take that into consideration when preparing their proposal and the more willing they’ll be to work with you. This is why when I work with couples to help them get their wedding venue, I always ask about whether they’ll need a room block and if so, an estimate on the number of rooms and nights.

Understandably, most couples don’t know the answer when I first talk to them in our initial consultation for their wedding venue, as they’re just off with the whole – planning a wedding thing – and that’s ok. It’s something we help couples with as we’re there throughout the whole venue process.

Note: you’ll have two separate contracts for your wedding:

  • the catering contract which includes all venue spaces for the ceremony, cocktail hour reception, outside catering, bar etc.
  • the hotel room block

And this only applies for room contracts NOT courtesy room blocks. Contracts are just that – they lock you in to guarantee a minimum revenue (aka minimum number of rooms booked, based on the hotel’s attrition rate) regardless of the number of rooms that actually become occupied. Courtesy room blocks are the lowered rates they give you on a handful of rooms that you usually share with your friends to book on a first-come first-serve basis. For more info on hotel room blocks for Indian weddings, click here.

{The Venue Booking Process}

What happens with most couples that I work with is that they are (understandably) focused on the wedding day, so we start with that and the rest of things they’ll need for the weekend come after. If you’ve read any of other articles, you know I often say that the venue anchors everything else for your wedding. In particular, the wedding day as it is the biggest day of events. This is a good approach, otherwise this can all get pretty overwhelming, pretty fast. So don’t worry if it’s an iterative process and you explore several venues. That’s completely normal!

{Non-hotel/resort weddings – hours occupied at the venue}

Golf clubs and banquet halls have another factor that’s important in influencing their pricing – the number of hours the venue is occupied. Most of these types of venues give you between 2-3 hours for the ceremony and 5 hours for the reception, including cocktail hour. Anything above that requires a venue buy-out.

For most Hindu and Jain weddings, golf clubs and banquet halls will ask you to buy-out the whole venue because these weddings require the venue the whole day. Even for weddings where there won’t be a big time gap in-between the wedding ceremony and the reception, still require a buy-out because the number of hours you’ll need the venue is longer than their pre-set packages.

Because nikah ceremonies are usually 30-45 minutes, Muslim wedding clients can often buy one of the pre-set packages and avoid the total venue buy-out.

ProTip: Value vs. Price It’s natural to be focused on price when you’re looking for a wedding venue or anything else for your wedding. Indian weddings are expensive and so naturally you’re going to do anything you can to keep your costs the lowest as possible. When I help couples with their venue I also point out value and whether you’re working with me, or not, I encourage you to do the same. Some venues might cost more on paper, but when you stop to consider what you’re getting for what you’re paying, then sometimes things aren’t so black and white.

You already understand that a venue is not a venue is not a venue, so I’m not going to talk about that. What I’m focusing on here is the amenities and customer service that each venue provides. For example, for Indian weddings some venues include the non-alcoholic beverages in their per person fees. That’s a great value for Indian weddings as usually at least 25% of the guests will only consume non-alcoholic beverages. Some, very few, but some, venues include chiavari chairs with their outside catering package. At $5-$10 per chair and the average Indian wedding reception of 350 guests, that’s anywhere from a $1750-$3500 savings, not to mention one less thing that you have to take care of!

Also consider experience. What value do you place on a venue whose staff has Indian wedding experience? Attentive and responsive? When you’re weighing venues and comparing them, don’t forget to think about the amenities and these more subtle factors too.

{Take Aways}

  • There are several factors that influence venue pricing for an Indian wedding – the more info you have the better prepared you’ll be to negotiate.
  • The more business you give to the wedding venue in terms of number of guests, number of events, and hotel rooms booked (assuming you’re looking at hotel/resort venues) – the more they can do for you in terms of pricing and amenities.
  • Venues have special outside catering packages designed to meet the needs of Indian weddings.
  • Don’t forget to look at the amenities and services you’re getting when you’re comparing venues.

From all of us at ShaadiShop  congratulations and cheers to 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!



Cover image: Global Photography – Yogi Patel

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