What Does a $50K Budget for an Indian Wedding Buy?

Updated April 2020

For an Indian wedding in the United States, a budget of about $50K is pretty common. What does a $50K budget for an Indian wedding buy?

What we find is that because it’s a round number (and a considerable amount of money), $50K is often a starting point that we hear from couples. But we also find that the budget is often fluid. It changes as couples gather more information, because the fact is when most couples start planning their Indian wedding they have no idea how much things cost.

That’s why published this article to share the realities of what a $50K budget for an Indian wedding buys.

{What Things Does One Need for an Indian Wedding?}

What are all the things you need within a $50K Budget?

  • Venue for the wedding ceremony and the reception
  • A sangeet/pre-wedding celebration if at a low cost hall or at home.
  • Decor for the sangeet/pre-wedding event, wedding and reception
  • Catering for the sangeet/pre-wedding event + reception dinner
  • Photography and cinematography
  • DJ + lighting for sangeet/pre-wedding event, wedding + reception
  • Clothes and jewelry
  • Invitations
  • Hair, makeup, mehndi
  • Baraat
  • Gifts

{How Much Does an Indian Wedding Cost?}

Typically the biggest portion of your budget is spent on the venue – around 35%-40%. The other biggest “chunks” are for food and decor. Of course, how much things cost depends on what you do.

You can have a 300-guest wedding for $50,000. Some things you may want to consider are:

  1. Read below for the types of venues to focus on.
  2. Not having a sangeet or only inviting family and closest friends.
  3. Have the sangeet at your home or at a banquet hall that will let you BYO alcohol or don’t serve alcohol. Avoid the sangeet at a hotel.
  4. Work with lower cost vendors.
  5. Skip serving lunch after the ceremony. Start the ceremony in the late afternoon, that goes straight into cocktail hour.

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.

{What Venue Price Range Should You Consider for an Indian Wedding With a $50K Budget?}

Assuming 300 guests – have the wedding ceremony and reception at a budget to mid-level hotel; or a banquet hall. You want to look at venues that are $45 or less per person – including service charge and tax.

What are the right venues for this budget? In terms of hotels, these are generally no frills, 3-star hotels, located in inland regions. In terms of banquet halls, look at Indian restaurants. Since they’ll cater the food and provide the alcohol they may be able to get you better deal. Look at community centers and halls where you are allowed to BYO alcohol.

{Can I Serve Lunch After the
Ceremony Within $50K?}

Probably Not. It adds at least $4000-$6000 of additional cost. We advise skipping the post ceremony lunch and instead opt for what we call, the “back-to-back Indian wedding day“. This is where the ceremony starts in the late afternoon, immediately followed by cocktail hour and the reception. Alternatively you could decide not to have a sangeet and use those funds to serve lunch after the ceremony.

{Where Does the Sangeet Take Place at an Indian Wedding With a $50K Budget?}

Most couples choose a minimal cost venue for the sangeet, such as at home, a community hall where you can BYO alcohol or not serve alcohol at all. The other venue type to focus on is an Indian restaurant banquet room.

For a $50K budget you want to think of keeping your sangeet costs to a maximum of $5000-$6000 – but ideally $3,000 in order to have funds for all the other things you’ll need. And you may want to consider not inviting all of the guests to the sangeet. Perhaps keep the sangeet for family and closest friends only.

{Do You Have Negotiation Power
With The Venue?}

Maybe. It depends on may factors: the booking window, other events happening at the venue at the time, number of guests, day of the week. Venues love weddings with an open bar because alcohol is profitable, so if you have a short booking window (5 months or less) + an open bar they’ll be more inclined to negotiate than if you’re booking 12 months in advance with no bar.

  • 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.

{Does a $50K Budget Buy an Ocean View Venue?}

Unfortunately, no. Oceanfront and waterfront venues start at $55++ per person for the place setting fee for the reception. Keep in mind that $55++ really comes out to closer to $75 per person once you factor in service charge and tax.

Let’s run through some numbers: $75 per person*250 guests = $18,750 for the outside catering place setting fee for the reception. Remember that’s the starting price for ocean view venues. And that doesn’t include alcohol nor the ceremony fee. If you add in those items, that takes you to about $28,000.

That leaves $22K for everything else – food, clothing, sangeet, photography, cinematography, decor etc.

{How Do Hotel Room Blocks Work?}

We’re so glad you asked. Here’s our guide all about that. You probably want to limit hosting rooms to a few select family members and let most guests pay for their rooms.

{I Can Save on Decor If I Go
with a Nicer Venue, Right?}

Well…yes and no. Regardless of whether you get married at The Ritz-Carlton or a Hampton Inn, every Indian wedding still needs:

  • a mandap or altar
  • centerpieces
  • sweetheart stage decor
  • some lighting for the ballroom

You might not need to pipe and drape the space at a nicer venue but most people don’t even think about pipe and drape when they think about decor – they’re thinking about the mandap/altar and reception centerpieces.

And one could argue that at a nicer venue you actually need more decor to match the caliber of the venue. On the flip side a less expensive venue may need more decor to make it look nice.

The bottom line is the more flowers, the higher the cost. Prioritize decor with more draping and least fresh flowers. We are NOT saying, you CAN’T have any flowers, we’re simply saying minimize flowers. See the two mandaps below for a comparison of a heavily draped mandap vs. a heavily floral mandap.

A $50K Budget for an Indian Wedding Buys a draped mandap vs. a mandap heavy with flowers.
Mandap overlooking Coronado Bay at Coronado Island Marriott. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography
For a $50K budget Indian wedding, focus on a mandap with less flowers and more draping.
The Mansion Gardens at the Silverado Resort & Spa. Photo: MP Singh Photography

{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 and negotiating with venues.

{Do You Have Any Venue Negotiation Tips?}

Sure do!

{Can I Find Vendors That Will Work
Within My Budget?}

Absolutely! There are so many vendors serving the Indian wedding industry and they all have their own target markets and clientele that they serve. See our comprehensive lists of Indian wedding vendors across the United States and Canada.

{Summary and Take Aways}

We wrote this article to share answer the question, what does a $50K budget for an Indian wedding buy? We assume the following:

  • 250 guests at the reception
  • open bar at the reception
  • you’re having a sangeet or garba

Venues. Based on these assumptions, focus on venues that are $47 or less per person for the reception fee, including service charge and tax. That means venues with a base price of $35 or less.

We recommend skipping lunch after the ceremony will be very tough as there are venue and catering fees that add at least $6000 to the total. In these weddings the ceremony starts in the later afternoon like 2:30pm or 3pm and right after the ceremony is cocktail hour, followed by the reception.

Vendors. Focus on the more budget-friendly vendors.

Decor. The more flowers, the more expensive the cost. Prioritize draping over flowers.

Hotel Room Block. Limit hosting rooms as much as possible.

Parking. If the venue charges for parking, pass that cost onto your guests.

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