Just Got Engaged? The Very First Steps of Planning an Indian Wedding

Yay! You’re engaged! Congratulations! I hope you’ve had a chance to enjoy it! Now starts the fun-work…planning your Indian wedding! Increasingly as I help couples with finding their venue, I’m seeing the large 400+ guest weddings as well as people who are opting for something relatively smaller (smaller for Indian weddings), for around 250 people.

And Northern and Southern California are also pretty popular for destination weddings too. Regardless of whether you’re going to have the proverbial Big Fat Indian Wedding or a more intimate affair, you’ll find these Indian and South Asian wedding planning guides and steps helpful. I focused on these first steps because they’ll set the tone for your organization (and sanity) throughout the rest of your wedding planning process.

Note: I’m focused on the more nerdy upfront wedding planning steps, not the sexy fun stuff everyone thinks about such as deciding on decor and clothes shopping. But I don’t mind going against the grain. If you follow these steps, you’ll be glad you did, as they’ll be beneficial to you from start to finish.

Side Note: We’re currently looking for some proposal stories to feature on our blog, like this one. If you’re interested in submitting your proposal story, click here.

{First: Gather Info}

When people start planning an Indian wedding, it’s a natural instinct to start calling venues and/or vendors. I’d suggest to take a step back. Don’t waste your time on that just yet. Venues and vendors are going to have questions for you. And if you don’t have the answers they’ll need then they won’t be able to provide you very accurate quotes.

At the least, they’ll want to know:

  • where your wedding will be
  • date(s)
  • number of guests
  • timeline of events
  • your budget

{How Much Does an Indian Wedding Cost}

You might be rolling your eyes right now, thinking, “yeah but how am I supposed to know how much to budget I don’t know how much things cost? And there are SO many things we’ll need”.

I totally get it. And I felt the same exact way when I planned my wedding.  That’s why we created this: ShaadiShop’s South Asian Wedding Budget Infographic. It shows you ON AVERAGE, how much everything you’ll need for your wedding costs. I emphasize on average because by definition that means, you’ll spend more or less on some of these items but the average gives you a good benchmark.

Armed with this info, this will help you wrap your head around what to expect.

{Think About Dates}

When do you want to get married? Do you have to get the muhurat (auspicious date) from your Maharaj? What are the other considerations such as when do you both have time off? What season do you prefer? How much time do you need to plan your wedding? Do you want to get married indoors or outdoors?

{Avoid Holidays & Major Events}

This is our 2020, 2021 and 2022 South Asian Social Calendars showing you important South Asian holidays such as Eid, Diwali, Vaisakhi, and Paryushan as well as major events that might impact where you get married. For example, do you want to get married in San Diego during Comic Con or Bay to Breakers weekend in San Francisco? Not that you couldn’t and it might be fun with all the buzz but hotel rooms are going to be extra expensive that weekend, not to mention flights. Plus there will be heavier traffic.

The US Open of Surfing is held annually towards the end of July/beginning of August in Huntington Beach, California.

{When to Get Married in Northern and Southern California}

The spring and summer are very popular for obvious reasons. Just keep in mind that in May and June you still get some overcast mornings and it usually burns off by the afternoon. July and August are full blown summer in Southern California with hot, sunny days as well as everywhere in the San Francisco Bay EXCEPT the city. The best months for warm weather in the city are September and October. In California, we enjoy great weather year-round. You can have an outdoor wedding ceremony in October, November, December and January. Just make sure your venue offers a back up option in case of inclement weather that day.  For the last couple of years in Southern California, there have been 10-2 weeks in November that felt like it was summer!

The fact is, Indian weddings are happening year round. While there is a wedding season during summer and September through Thanksgiving, this year we booked Indian weddings for the first week of December and even New Years Eve!

But again I want to emphasize that for any outdoor wedding, you want to make sure that there’s a backup option in your contract in case of inclement weather.

{Save Your Time}

Your time is valuable and we’ve published several guides to help you save a ton of it by walking you through several logistics for Indian weddings such as:

If you skim through all or some of these before you start making calls, I guarantee you’ll be better off for it. These guides answer a lot of your initial questions and save you a lot of time.

{Set up Your Pinterest}

Ok that was A LOT of info. It’s time to take a break for something a bit more fun…how about setting up your wedding planning Pinterest boards?!? You’re probably relying on Instagram too, which is great. I like the organization aspect of Pinterest and I suggest creating these boards for yourself:

  • Venues
  • Clothing
  • Wedding Party outfits
  • Sangeet/garba/dholki decor
  • Reception decor
  • Jewelry
  • Cakes
  • Dessert bar
  • Signs and accessories

{Second: Set up a Mechanism To Stay Organized}

So this isn’t something most people do but if you’re a Type A person or a professional project manager of some sort, you’ll appreciate this. Get organized before you start planning your wedding.

  1. set up a new email account (you don’t want all those wedding planning emails clogging your primary inbox).
  2. set up a mechanism for keeping track of To Dos and things you can cross off your list.

I love and recommend Trello. I use it for everything to stay organized.  Trello is a virtual To Do List. And it has some awesome features that make it way more user-friendly than Google Sheets/Docs.

  • free
  • super easy to use
  • you can collaborate with EVERYONE – parents, in-laws, vendors
  • add attachments, notes
  • interact with specific people
  • assign tasks

I like Trello WAY better than Google Sheets to list out what needs to be done and interact with the various people involved in each aspect of planning the wedding. You can download the free app as well, so that you can update Trello wherever you are – add tasks notes, attachments etc. on the go.

Note: I don’t recommend Trello for comparing venues. I think you’re better off with a spreadsheet for that. By the way, when I work with couples to find their wedding venue, that’s something we setup for our clients, to help them compare and contrast venues. A spreadsheet will be more useful for that one thing, compared to Trello.

{Ladies, this is For You}

Ok, we got super technical with Trello, time for another break to focus on some fun. Ladies, this applies mostly to you. Start your skin care regimen months before your wedding, for the best outcome on your wedding day. It’s very common for South Asian women to have dark under eye circles. Here are some natural remedies that you can start doing months before your wedding.

Want that flowy, shiny Bollywood style glam hair on your wedding day? Here you go. Totally natural, DIY things that won’t take up too much of your time.

Most brides wear lashes on their wedding day, but here are some things you can do for stronger, lusher lashes to look even better for all your pre and post wedding celebrations.

{Third: Find Your Venue}

The first step for most couples in planning an Indian wedding is to select the venue. It anchors everything else for your wedding, not to mention that it’s the biggest chunk of your wedding budget (about 35%). My team and I would be happy to help you with your venue selection. ShaadiShop is a free service designed to make finding your dream venue easier and painless.

We’ve written some venue guides too; things that will help you understand:

{What’s a Food & Beverage Minimum?}

There’s a term that you’re going to come across: food and beverage minimum. Don’t worry, we explain it in terms of an Indian wedding. Just click here. After understanding about Food & Beverage Minimums, you might wonder about serving your meals plated or family style instead of buffets.

{Fourth: Find Indian Wedding Vendors}

Once you have your venue, it’s time to start looking for all of the vendors you’ll need for your wedding. There are a lot of vendors that specialize in Indian weddings. Depending on your vision and budget, various vendors will be suited for you. No doubt you’ve been talking to your friends and family to get recommendations – that’s great. And you cab refer to the vendor section on our blog as well.

You’ll do all your due diligence of reading about vendors, getting recommendations and understanding the various options for each item you’ll need.

A rule of thumb when selecting Indian wedding vendors (not exactly rocket science), is that you should have a rapport with them – both you and they should feel comfortable and you guys should click. Without that some things are likely to be missed or go awry.

{Fifth: Clothes and Finer Details}

Once you’ve got a good handle on vendors then focus on clothes, jewelry, hair, makeup, mehndi, as well as details like signs and welcome bags that will make your wedding an experience to remember!

We’ve written guides for shopping too:

Photo: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema

{Take Aways}

Before you start calling vendors, I strongly recommend that you take some time to skim through the guides linked above. You’ll have a framework for making decisions and understand the considerations and best practices.

I know this upfront work may seem time consuming, but you’ll be much better off for it, throughout the duration of planning your wedding.

while wedding planning can be overwhelming, a lot of it overwhelming because you don’t know what you don’t know. These guides and articles on our website are here to bridge that gap, to make the whole process easier and more efficient.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to setup a system to stay organized.  I recommended Trello but everyone is different. The important thing is to setup something. So many people rely on their Inbox and documents and emails can get buried and lost that way.

Was this guide helpful for 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

 The Largest Indian Wedding Venue Marketplace

Looking For a Wedding Venue? Start Here.

ChristianHinduJainMuslimSikhOther2 Ceremonies

YesNoConsidering it


YesNoLocal Destination