Beautiful Indian wedding ceremony decor

Indian Wedding Budget Tradeoffs: Decor vs. Venue

Updated March 2020

In our work helping couples find the perfect wedding venue we often hear this, “if I go with a nicer wedding venue then I won’t need as much decor.” A nicer venue – is just that – nicer, and it certainly enhances the overall look but a nicer venue still not a replacement for the decor that  every wedding still needs:

  • Mandap and/or altar
  • Centerpieces for the tables at the reception 
  • Wedding programs 
  • Lighting
  • Sweetheart stage
  • Additionally, you may rent chairs if you don’t like the ones the venue provides.

{Think Tradeoffs vs. Saving Money}

Where there can be an impact on cost is how ‘big’ you go with decor. If you’re at an oceanfront venue, then perhaps you don’t need a mandap with endless flowers. On the other hand that might be the look that you’re hoping for. But then prepared to pay more for oceanfront venues and mandaps with loads of flowers.

In terms of cost, you’re not saving – you’re just trading off. Instead of spending money on decor, you’re spending it on a nicer venue. Similarly, if you go with a less expensive venue, then it might need more decor to make it look nice. So again it’s about trade offs.

{You Don’t Want Your Wedding To Look Mismatched}

Some might argue that when you book a nicer, more expensive, venue then you want to maintain that caliber for the entire celebration. It will look odd to cut costs when you’ve booked at a nicer venue. What’s better: booking a nicer venue and cutting cost on decor or booking a less expensive venue and spending more on decor to make it look nice?

Oceanfront Indian wedding Mandap
Mandap and decor with lots of flowers. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography

Thus, the real cost influencer is how big you go with the items above. 

If you’re at a luxury resort or nicer venue then maybe you can cut down on the amount of draping and flowers. But you still need them. When it comes to decor, honestly, the sky’s the limit. We’ve worked with couples who spent $100,000 on just decor and others who spent $10-$15,000. It’s so subjective and rooted in your budget constraints and personal preferences. 

{How Much Does Decor Cost?}

This is a great question and your best bet is to talk to event designers and decorators. However here’s ShaadiShop’s South Asian Wedding Budget Infographic that breaks down the AVERAGE cost of each item you’ll need for your wedding.

You might also be interested in this, What’s the difference between a designer and a decorator for an Indian wedding?

{Examples of Mandaps, Aisle Decor, Flower Arrangements and Draping}

Mandaps: Everyone needs a mandap or altar but there are so many variations. Some people work with designers to custom make it, while others rent something pre-made. 

Draping: If you drape the entire perimeter of a ballroom….well then yeah that’s going to cost you.

Flowers: Flowers look stunning…and also increase costs. 

Below are examples of mandaps across the spectrum of staging, aisle-ways, draping, floral decor, and furniture. Read the captions.

The Garden Court at a Dallas Hotel setup for an Indian, Hindu wedding ceremony.
Fully customized runway + staging with flower arrangements along the perimeter. Large floral halos. Full backdrop draping with a custom decorated background of flowers.                           Decor: Prashe Decor. Photo: VEK Photo
Traditional 4-pillar mandap with an emphasis on draping more than flowers. Photo: Randery Imagery
Lots of aisle-way decor with statues and flowers + draping inside the mandap. Decor: Sheer Romance; Photo: Yogi Patel – Global Photography 
Indian wedding Hindu ceremony seating, canopy and mandap
Runway style aisle-way with flower arrangements and flower petals and draping in the mandap.Decor: Bloom Box Designs; Photo: Greycard Photography
Simple draping and flowers on a pre-existing gazebo at the venue. Photo: Lin & Jirsa
1-Hotel-Maya-Indian-wedding-South-Asian-ceremony-Hindu-Mandap-baraat-Vista del Mar-134
Emphasis on draping with minimal flowers + a chandelier. This venue has a structure already built-in for the mandap. Photo: Lin & Jirsa
31-1--Hotel-Maya-Indian-wedding-South-Asian-ceremony-Hindu-Mandap-baraat-Vista del Mar-134
The same venue as above, but you can see they did a lot more with flowers. Photo: Lin & Jirsa
Emphasis on draping and flowers in the aisle. Photo: Lin & Jirsa
Minimalist draping + a chandelier on a pre-existing pergola at the venue. Photo: Black Dog Photography
Totally custom lotus style mandap covered in flowers. Photo: Yogi Patel – Global Photography
Common backdrop style mandap; especially for indoor wedding ceremonies. Decor: Synx Events


When it comes to centerpieces there are so many types, varieties, styles, colors and materials. The classic centerpiece is an orchid immersed in a tall vase with candles all around it, like the photo from an Indian wedding reception below. But some couples opt for other looks.

The point is regardless of the venue you still need centerpieces. And to be honest if you’re at a nicer venue then nicer centerpieces match better with the caliber of the venue.

Charger plates and table settings at an Indian wedding reception in Newport Beach
Decor: Bedazzle My Events; Photo: AaronEye Photography
Decor: Sheer Romance; Photo: Yogi Patel – Global Photography

{Wedding Programs}

Some couples print full on program booklets and others simple 1 pagers. The costs are in the type of paper, copywriting, design, printing, binding, and your time. Accordingly costs can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

Indian wedding ceremony at Hotel Irvine. The pink program match the pink mandap.
These programs were made in India. Photo: Yogi Patel – Global Photography

{Reception Lighting}

Lighting is another thing where you can get basic perimeter lighting as well as custom gobos, pin spots and more! There’s so much that can be done with lighting and it enhances the overall look of the ballroom and looks great in photos! Just to give you a sense a lot of venues can sell you a basic room perimeter lighting package for $600-$800. And a custom gobo goes for about $150-$200. Talk to your DJ about lighting options. They’re really happy to help and customize a look that works for you.

Here’s a comprehensive list of vendors for Indian weddings in:

Keep checking back as we build lists for more regions.

The ballroom with purple lighting, setup for an Indian wedding reception.
Photo: VEK Photo

Check out some of our guides and tips on lighting from photographers that specialize in Indian weddings.

Wedding Reception Lighting
Sweetheart Stage Lighting
Pastel Colored Lighting 
Basic Lighting If You’re On a Budget

{The Sweetheart Stage}

This is another essential decor item that can be as simple or as decorative as you want. Most couples set up the sweetheart stage to look like a living room with a plush sofa, couch or chairs, side tables and a pretty backdrop. As you can see from the photos below there’s a lot of creativity and art in this and they can get very decorative with lots of flowers, draping and lighting as sell as very simple and minimalist.

PC: Harvard Photography
Notice the elevated sweetheart table for the bride and groom

{Other Wedding Decor Items That Increase Costs}

  • upgraded chairs
  • upgraded linens
  • charger plates

Upgraded Chairs: Most venues include chairs in their base fee. But they include what they call their standard banquet chair, not the chiavari chairs or other fancy chairs that couples love. You might be wondering why venues don’t offer chiavari chairs when they’re in such high demand. And there’s a few reasons:

  1. chiavari chairs are very delicate and damage easily. And venues hosting lots of and large events need sturdy chairs.
  2. standard banquet chairs are more versatile as they’re appropriate for social events as well as corporate events.
  3. standard banquet chairs are more comfortable than chiavari chairs.

Below, the first two photos below show the venue’s standard banquet chairs setup for a reception and a ceremony. The third and fourth photos are of chiavari chairs at a reception and a ceremony. The last photo is of a ceremony with white, wooden garden chairs. Those are the standard outdoor ceremony chairs provided by most venues. Though they don’t have a full back they tend to be more comfortable than chiavari chairs because the back panel is smooth vs. the rods with grooves.

Note: a handful of venues are starting to offer chiavari chairs in their wedding packages. We can tell you which ones when you work with us to find your venue.

{Things To Know About Chairs: Cost and Comfort}

Cost: If you decide to rent your own chairs the venues don’t reduce their pricing. Because the venue owns them, they include them and the cost is pretty nil. But your cost to rent chairs will be anywhere from $5-$10 per chair. For the average Indian wedding with 350 guests that’s anywhere from $1750 to $3500 in additional decor cost.

Comfort: Notice the standard banquet chairs have the full padded backs whereas the chiavaris have the rods. For a 1 to 1.5 hour ceremony it’s more comfortable for your guests to sit in chairs with a padded back. But many couples opt for the chiavari chairs because they really do look nicer and look great in photos too. So again as far as decor costs go, it’s so subjective and dependent on your priorities, preferences, and budget.

Beautiful ceremony site – notice the chairs – those are their standard chairs


{Upgraded Linens}

Most venues include linens, napkins, table and stage skirts in their reception packages. However most only offer a handful of universal colors such as white, ivory, and black. For any other colors most couples rent them.

The first photo below shows an Indian wedding reception where the couple decided to use the venue’s standard ivory linens. The second photo is from an Indian wedding reception with upgraded royal blue linens.

Line costs vary by color and fabric. Your best bet to determine costs is to talk to a decorator.

Here’s a comprehensive list of vendors for Indian weddings in:

Keep checking back as we build lists for more regions.

Charger plates and table settings at an Indian wedding reception in Newport Beach
Photo: Aaron Eye Photography

{Charger Plates}

The photos above are also examples of Indian wedding receptions with charger plates. Charger plates are the gold and silver decorative plates that you see in the photos above. They’re purely for decorative purposes. Most Indian weddings have buffet style dinners and guests take a plate from the stack at the buffet. And when they get back to their table will place the food plate on top of the charger. Most charger plates start at $1 per plate but again it varies by size, color, and material.

{Take Aways}

So we’ve discussed:

  • mandaps/altars
  • chairs
  • centerpieces
  • wedding ceremony programs
  • sweetheart stages
  • lighting
  • upgraded linens
  • charger plates

The point is that regardless of the venue you still need all the core decor items. So when I hear couples say, “I want a nicer venue so I don’t have to do that much with decor” it’s kind of a fallacy. The only thing that a nicer venue might save you money on is not having to pipe-and-drape the perimeter of a ballroom or not needing a tent. But those aren’t considered core decor necessities anyway. You still need a mandap, centerpieces, lighting, sweetheart stage, etc. regardless of the wedding venue.

In fact one could argue that it looks mismatched when a wedding is at a fancy resort but the decor doesn’t match the venue’s caliber. But the opposite isn’t weird. If a wedding is at a lower cost venue with really nice decor that looks great.

The thing that impacts decor costs is how bananas you get with flowers, draping, decorative pieces, and lighting. The more of all of these things the more your costs go up.

The same applies to the most commonly upgraded items: chairs and linens. Venues provide both. It’s just a matter of whether you like the chairs and the linens they include or if you want to rent your own. Remember venues don’t reduce their pricing if you don’t use theirs. They include chairs and linens because they have them and the cost to them is pretty small.

Cover Photo: Yogi Patel – Global Photography

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