Updated March 2020
For an Indian wedding in the United States, a budget of about $100,000 with 300 to 350 guests is pretty common. What does $100K buy you? What types of venues should you be focused on? We’re going to cover all of this and more.
What Does $100K Include?
- venue for the wedding and reception
- the sangeet/pre-wedding celebration
- decor for the sangeet/pre-wedding event, wedding and reception
- food for the sangeet/pre-wedding event, lunch after the wedding and reception dinner
- photography and cinematography
- DJ + lighting for sangeet/pre-wedding event, wedding + reception
- clothes and jewelry
- hair, makeup, mehndi
What Types of Venues Should You Be Looking At?
Typically the biggest portion of your budget is the venue – around 35%-40% of the total wedding budget. For a 350 guest, $100K wedding, that’s approximately $35,000 on the venue.
Define venue fees: this means the venue’s fees. That does NOT include: food nor decor.
Let’s break down some costs and create a typical scenario (numbers may vary by venue):
Ceremony: $4000 including service charge and tax
Bar: $6000 including service charge and tax
Lunch after the ceremony: $15,000 including service charge and tax
If you don’t serve lunch that leaves $25,000 or about $70 per person including service charge and tax. For venues that are around $70 per person including service charge and tax, you’re looking for venues with a base price of approximately $50 per person.
Here are venues that you should consider. Don’t forget, venues are willing to negotiate and the shorter your booking window is, the better your chances are of getting better deals.
If you do serve lunch, then there’s about $10k left for the reception and you may have to consider increasing your budget. See below for some alternatives that couples opt for instead of serving lunch.
Note: the numbers above are estimates. You may set your bar limit to $4000 and the ceremony at some venues is $2000, not $4000. The numbers we included are averages.
Aren’t Fridays and Sundays Cheaper?
At many venues Fridays and Sundays are cheaper usually by about $5 for outside catering packages and $500 for the ceremony, compared to Saturdays. Remember, venues are willing to negotiate.
Sangeet: $15-$20K of $100K Wedding Budget
Think about spending around $15K on your sangeet. This means the sangeet will most likely not be at the wedding venue. Indian restaurant banquet halls and community centers offer a lot of value. The Indian banquet halls provide the food and alcohol so there are no outside catering fees. And community centers tend to be pretty inexpensive, while spacious and you can save a lot, by bringing your own alcohol.
If you’re incorporating multiple venues into your wedding weekend, then also consider the distances from each other and how guests are going to travel to each. Rent cars? Rideshare App? Are you going to arrange a shuttle?
The Hospitality Room at the Venue
This is something where most venues are willing to work with you. They will charge you for any beverages served and will work with you in terms of what types of foods they will allow without charging a fee. Please keep in mind that the moment you start introducing any food that needs to be kept at anything but room temperature, you’re going to start incurring fees.
To us, serving samosas and chaat sounds simple but you still need chafing dishes to keep the samosas warm, serving dishes, plates, silverware, glassware, beverages, staff to replenish the food and pick up trash etc. That all means materials and labor – which you have to pay for.
Venues are really cracking down on the hospitality room as unfortunately the Indian community has become known to abuse this by serving more and additional food that wasn’t agreed on.
Pre Wedding Ceremonies
Most couples host their pre-wedding ceremonies at home. If you’re having a destination wedding, then talk to the venue about renting some of their smaller rooms for these events, though there will be fees for renting the space and serving any food and beverage.
Food and Decor Costs for $100K Budget
The other big areas are food and decor. Of course, how much things cost varies. You can expect the reception catering to cost at least $40-$50 per person. That comes out to $14,000-$17,500 on cocktail hour and dinner. Decor varies wildly and is completely subjective.
There are different schools of thought on decor. Some couples think that if they select a nicer venue then they don’t need as much decor. Others feel that when you select a nicer venue then you feel compelled to stay in that lane by having everything elevated.
We think the first is a bit of a fallacy. Regardless of whether you select a budget friendly or higher end venue, you still need: a mandap and/or archway, you still need centerpieces, you still need wedding programs, you still need a sweetheart stage, you still need signage, and escort cards and lighting.
The sky is the limit on how grand you make each of these items but the higher end venue you’re at the odder it may look if the decor doesn’t match the class of the venue.
ShaadiShop’s South Asian Wedding Budget Infographic – this shows you average costs of everything you need. And you can use this to start playing with numbers and how much to allocate to each item for your wedding.
Where Are We In Terms of the Budget At This Point?
$35,000 – Venue (no lunch)
$15,000 – Sangeet
$17,500 – Cocktail hour and Reception Catering
Total Spend: $67,5000
Now if you want to serve lunch, add $15,000, which takes us to $82,500. That leaves $17,500 for decor, DJ, photography, videography, clothes, hair, makeup, mehndi, and other miscellaneous items. You can expect photo and video to cost at least $8000 and the DJ to be at least $5000.
As you can see the costs add up very quickly. And that’s why many couples opt to skip serving lunch and have a late afternoon ceremony that goes straight into cocktail hour.
What Are Some Ways To Save Cost On Lunch?
- Have a late afternoon ceremony that starts between 2-3pm.
- Serve a light lunch in the ceremony space. The thing where costs add up for venues is when you occupy a space at the venue. Dome couples serve lunch in the ceremony space and sit in the same chairs. But that means no tables. So it’s akin to a cocktail hour. You will still have a per person fee but it may be lower.
- Place pouches of dry fruits and nuts on each chair
- Serve finger foods. At one wedding we went to, there were single samosas in bowls that each guest could grab as they made their way to the ceremony.
- Arrange lunch for family only. Some hosts arrange lunch at a local restaurant for family-only. That way you’re extending hospitality to all the family members without paying for lunch for every guest.
Don’t I Have Negotiation Power if I Take All My Business to One Venue?
Yes, you do and venues are willing to negotiate. Keep in mind that the time of year, the booking window and type of venue matters.
- A summer wedding at a popular resort = less negotiation power
- A primarily business hotel wants more weekend business = more negotiation power. Naturally, business hotels are less popular for Indian weddings.
How Do Hotel Room Blocks Work?
We’re so glad you asked. Here’s our guide all about that.
Do the Families Host Hotel Rooms?
Typically just a handful for relatives and maybe a few close friends as well. Most families have their friends cover the cost of their hotel room for the weekend.
Where Can I Seek Value When I Consider Venues?
Some venues (hotels/resorts) include:
- two night stay for the couple vs. one night
- rooms for the parents
- soda in the per person fee vs. charging on consumption
- chiavari chairs
These are the primary value packed amenities that some venues offer and things you should consider when you’re comparing venues.
Do You Have Any Venue Negotiation Tips?
We hope this article has been helpful to you. We wrote this because the $100k, 300-350 guest Indian wedding is pretty common. If you have comments, questions or stories you’d like to share, feel free to post them in the comments below. Follow ShaadiShop on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – whatever your preferred media is, as we frequently publish articles for venue sales and catering teams.
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