Indian wedding at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa, in the Rose Garden.

8 Indian Wedding Logistics That Every Couple Should Think Through

When you start planning your Indian wedding, your head might be spinning with guest lists, decor, planning a shopping trip to India or elsewhere, venues, budgets, thinking of dates and more! As a result, some of the details get sidelined and in this article we will discuss 8 Indian wedding logistics that every couple should think through.

In This Article

The 8 Indian wedding logistics that every couple should think through are:

  • Where will the couple and their parents stay on the sangeet night?
  • Designating someone responsible for food for the couple
  • Hosting breakfast
  • Hosting hotel rooms
  • Meals for Family/Relatives
  • Transporting guests to/from venues
  • The welcome bags, signage, gifts and other items
  • Heels or Flats?

We want to bring these items to your attention early on during wedding planning so that if nothing else, they’re on your radar and master To Do list. If you think through these things, you’ll be so glad you did.

Where Will The Couple and Their Parents Stay On the Sangeet Night?

This is something that most couples don’t think about and realize this important detail after signing the venue or hotel contract where if beforehand could have been negotiated.

One Room For One Night Isn’t Enough

Most venues include one room for one night for the couple on their reception but that’s not enough. Most couples and ideally their parents will stay at or near the wedding venue on the night before – the sangeet night, as well. Staying at or near the wedding venue the night before is imperative for brides in particular, as they have to start getting ready 3-4 hours before the wedding ceremony.

Indian wedding sangeet at the Westin Long Beach
The night of the sangeet, ideally the couple and their parents will stay at or near the wedding day venue.

Impact of the Wedding Day Schedule on The Length of The Day

Speaking of 3-4 hours to get ready, the wedding day schedule makes a big difference in this logistic. For time gap days, where there is a break after the wedding ceremony, the bride typically starts getting ready between 5am-6am. Why? Because if the baraat starts around 10am (which is common) then the bride needs three hours to get ready plus time for a pre-ceremony photo session. This becomes a very long day which is why, ideally, the bride is already at the venue the night before and wakes up at or very close by.

On a back-to-back wedding day with no gap in between the wedding ceremony and reception, the bride can sleep in a bit more as she doesn’t have to be ready until 2pm-ish. Still, ideally she is already at the wedding venue.

Negotiate An Additional Room
Night With Your Venue

If you’re getting married at a hotel or resort, think about negotiating rooms an additional room(s) so that you can be at or near the wedding venue the next morning. Also, remember the night of the reception, most venues include one room for one night. But the night before, you might need separate rooms. So not only do you need an additional night, but an additional room as well. And you’ll need rooms for your parents.

Hotel Rooms For the Parents

Additionally, ideally both sets of parents would stay at or near the wedding venue the night of the sangeet. So that’s two more rooms for two nights that you’ll need.

Definitely factor this into your venue negotiation strategy.

Try to negotiate rooms for both sets of parents for the sangeet night and wedding night.

Designate Someone to Bring Food To the Couple’s Room on the Reception Night

The couple rarely gets a chance to eat on their wedding day so after the reception when they get back to the room they’re starving. AND they didn’t get to try all the delicious food. What can you do? Designate a family member or friend to pack food from the buffet and deliver it to the couple’s hotel room on the night of the reception. It is imperative that it is packed and taken to the hotel room. It is not enough to simply make a plate and set it aside as the venue’s server staff will clear it away, if they see a plate unattended.

What Are The Logistics Involved?

  • Someone has to have to go containers and bags to put them in. The venue’s plates could be used but we don’t recommend that and you’ll see why as we further explain the logistics.
  • We recommend take out containers though, because the person will be carrying the food through the venue. And some resorts and hotels are huge so carrying open food is awkward, not to mention that it could spill onto the person’s clothes.
  • So in addition to take out containers, a bag or bags to put them in
  • Silverware, napkins and a few water bottles would be nice
  • The person has to have the room key or access to the room
North Indian food on a plate
Designate a family member or friend to pack food from the buffet and deliver it to the couple’s hotel room on the night of the reception. You’ll be their hero!

Breakfast For Guests Staying at the Host Hotel

Most Indian weddings have a hospitality room for the guests that are staying at the host hotel. If your wedding is a destination wedding then everyone will be staying at the host hotel. So that means providing breakfast for every guest.

What Will Breakfast Include?

Will it be Indian? bagels and pastries? A combo of both? We hear so many couples who kinda skim over breakfast discounting the logistics involved in this. They’ll say, ‘oh we’ll just pick up a bunch of pastries and bagels from Costco”. And the context is usually in avoiding costs, which we understand. An Indian wedding is a big investment and you want to minimize costs. While bagels and pastries sounds simple enough there’s more to it.

  • Will the bagels be halved or whole? If whole then how will guests cut them?
  • How will guests toast them?
  • How any toasters do you need so there’s no bottleneck?
  • What about butter, jam, and cream cheese?
  • What about refrigeration of butter , jam, cream cheese?
  • How are guests going to spread butter, jam, cream cheese?
  • What about plates? napkins? Trash?
  • What about replenishing items when they run out?
  • Where/are guests going to sit and eat?
  • What about removing trash and picking up empty plates?
Assorted donuts served for breakfast.
Photo: VEK Photo

What If You’re Serving Indian Food For Breakfast?

Are you serving ghatiya and khandvi or samosas and dosa – things that require temperature control? If items require temperature control then you will need chafing dishes and sternos and maybe refrigeration. In addition you’ll need serving utensils, plates, silverware, napkins, staff that’s picking up dishes and removing trash, and replenishing dishes that are running low.

Most venues are going to charge for the hospitality room in one form or another. Some may charge a room rental fee and not charge per person fees. Some may charge only for beverages. Every venue will be different and a lot of it will depend on:

  • The booking window
  • Number of guests
  • How big the business is – size and quantity of events
  • How nice you are and how easy you are to work with

Hosting Hotel Rooms For Family
During the Wedding Weekend

At many Indian weddings, the families will often host the hotel rooms for their family and relatives attending from out of town. Hotels will work with you on setting up a contract.

What If the Rooms at the Wedding Venue Are Very Expensive?

This is common. The wedding is at an upscale resort or venue where the rooms are $300-$400 per night. That’s a very heavy financial investment to take on to host 30-40-50 or more family members for two nights. Most people can’t do that. So what do you do instead? Host them at a more cost-friendly hotel nearby. Bonus points for you, for selecting a hotel with breakfast included. Think hotels like Homestead, Hampton and Fairfield Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Residence Inn.

What About Rooms For Friends?

It’s not common to host rooms for friends. Most are expected to pay for their travel and accommodation. But you can talk to the host hotel about setting up a special rate for them called a courtesy room block. You don’t want to enter a contract for rooms for friends because contracts leave you with a financial obligation. But courtesy room blocks do not. Your friends may not book via the courtesy block. Some will go online and book there. So it’s nice to have a special rate but don’t lock yourself into something.

What About Meals For Family and Relatives?

For family members that are arriving on Friday afternoon, you can arrange for everyone to meet at a local restaurant. You are not necessarily obligated to host lunch that day but it’s a nice gesture AND it lends to the celebration as it’s fun to reunite as family members arrive.

Similarly, if you are having a back-to-back wedding day, then there won’t be lunch on the day of the wedding ceremony. You can host lunch at a local restaurant just for family members. That way you’ve taken care of your family without

{Transporting Guests from
Airports to the Venue}

Do you leave it up the guests? What about relatives flying in from India? South Asia? Other places? Most guests arriving from India etc. arrive at least a few days earlier. Where are they going to stay, if not at your home? In addition to accommodation you have to arrange their meals and transportation.

Indian auto rickshaw

{Solutions}

Relatives from India/around the world. For everyone except relatives arriving from India/other countries most people leave it up to the guests to arrange their own transportation to-and-from the airport as well as to and from the venue.

Guests that are staying at your home. Prepare food ahead of time. Like many homes during the months leading up to the wedding your home transforms into a “shaadi ka ghar” – the wedding home with a celebratory atmosphere. There’s buzz, food, planning, new clothes, jewelry, decor and other items added to the home everyday as you get ready for the big week.

Often some aunties will get together and cook up a storm – making snacks like samosas, tikkis, namkeen, paranthas, teplas, as well as mithai like barfi and ladoo. You can freeze it, so it’s ready for all the guests to self serve as they come in and out of the house during the wedding week.

This in itself is a lot of fun. The aunties will sing wedding songs, kids running around, the Uncles hanging out together, all while the aroma of the delicious food permeates around the house.

Guests staying in a hotel. You have a couple options; and what you do will be based on your individual situation:

  • your/your family’s obligations, tastes, preferences, dietary needs
  • your guests expectations, tastes, preferences, dietary needs
  • number of people

Some hosts arrange meals at the hotel – either by distributing vouchers to eat in the hotel’s restaurant (easiest) or by setting up outside catering for each meal (a lot of work).

Some families arrange the meals at their home and the hotel is just a place to stay -it varies on tastes/preferences, convenience, dietary restrictions etc.

{Pros and Cons of Each Option}

Distributing vouchers is the most efficient and convenient thing to do, for you as the host as well as the hotel. But it can be costly and you’re restricted to the hotel’s menu.

With outside catering you can get chai and chivado, but it’s more work to make the arrangements with the hotel and the caterer and the hotel will probably charge some fees for each meal in addition to the catering fees.

Hosting guest meals at home is a lot of work because that week the host families will be very busy with final wedding prep and playing host adds a significant layer of work; but it is an option. For those with big families and a lot of help this works great and it’s fun!

You might like our post on the hospitality room at Indian weddings.

Storing and Transporting Materials

Every Indian wedding has a lot of stuff:

  • welcome bags
  • gifts (wedding party, family, between the couple etc.)
  • return gifts
  • ceremony programs
  • escort cards
  • swag
  • props for photos and videos
  • signage

Who, What, Where, How?

Who’s keeping track of these items? How are you going to store everything as the materials are gathered? Where are you going to store these materials as you procure them? Where are you going to store the finished products before the wedding? By whom and how will they get transported to the venue? Where will they be stored at the venue? Whose job is it to get each item to its final destination once these items are at the venue?

There are a lot of details to think through. And if you want your celebration to run smoothly it’s worth it to spend time thinking through each item, step-by-step. Let’s look at an example.

Procurement to Wedding Day Step-By-Step Example

Let’s say you’re having 500 guests at your wedding. And 200 of them are staying at the host hotel. That roughly translates to 50 rooms (if we assume four guests per room). That’s 50 guest bags.

Step 1: Procuring Items For the Welcome Bags

The first step is to procure items for the welcome bags i.e. snacks, water/beverage, maybe travel Advil or Tylenol, weekend schedule, the bags themselves, decorations for the bags. You might want personalized bags with your names, or perhaps get labels stickers or tags made to attach to the bags,

Where are you going to store all of these materials upon procurement? What if you want to include homemade Indian snacks such as chivado or items that are perishable? Do you wait until the wedding week to make the welcome bags? Or do you forego perishable goods so that you can procure and make the bags and have one less thing to think about?

Dependencies Create Delays and Complications

If some of the timings for the weekend schedule are still being finalized, do you wait to make the bags until timings are finalized, or do you make the bags and drop in the schedule last? But wait, that means the cute tissue you planned to top off the bag with, has to be put off until after the schedule is finalized > the weekend schedules are printed > and inserted into each bag. Who is keeping track of this detail? Where are they keeping track of this detail? And whose job is it to make sure this gets taken care of?

Welcome bags at an Indian wedding

Step 2: Make the Welcome Bags

Ok, you’ve procured all of the materials and you’re ready to make the bags. Host a gathering with a few family and friends and make it a low key pre-wedding event creating a “shaadi ka ghar” celebratory atmosphere. Is there an order of items to place in the bag. You probably want heavier items placed first? And the weekend schedule added at the top? And what about decorating the bag? Any stickers, labels, tags, should probably be affixed first, with the bags flat before they’re unfolded and inserted.

Step 3: Storing the Welcome Bags

Now you have all these lovely welcome bags and it’s getting you excited for your wedding as things are getting real! Where do you store 50-60 gift bags so that they don’t get damaged?

Step 4: Transporting and Storing the Welcome Bags at the Venue

The day has arrived and it’s time to ‘move’ to the venue for the weekend. Who is responsible for transporting the gift bags? A family member? Your wedding coordinator? How do you place the bags in the vehicle so that they don’t get damaged along the way? Where, at the venue, do you park to unload them? Where will they be stored at the venue?

Indian wedding ceremony in the Rose Garden at the Newport Beach Marriott
Who procured the parasols? Where were they stored prior to the wedding? Who brought them to the venue? Where were they stored – at the venue? with the decorator? Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography

Step 5: Distribution of the Welcome Bags

Distribution of the bags varies by venue. Sometimes the front desk distributes the bags to guests when they check in. But if there are too many and there’s no space to store them, then you might arrange for the bags to be delivered to each guest room instead by the hotel’s bell staff. In which case, you may want to designate someone who is keeping track to make sure each guest received theirs.

For the ambitious, you could designate a family member to personally distribute the bags. It’s a lovely gesture. I went to a wedding where the groom’s parents personally delivered the welcome baskets to each room (granted it was a small hotel, but still, it was much appreciated). This can get tricky though and the bigger the hotel, the trickier. Unless you’re paying for all of the rooms (and maybe even then), the hotel may not give you access to the room numbers as a security measure.

Even if you got the room numbers, you have to keep track of who got a bag and who didn’t. weekend. So keep these details in mind as you plan.

Step 6: Preparing for the Unexpected

What if some bags go missing? Or get damaged? It’s a good idea to have extras. And place the extras in a separate location like the siblings or parents hotel room. How many extras?

 Heels or Flats?

When you’re doing your pre-ceremony photoshoot at various locations at the venue are you gonna walk across the property in heels? For the brides with weak feet, they can probably feel the pain on their screen as they read this. And what about at the reception? Once the program is over and dancing starts are you gonna wear your heels all night? Maybe swap heels for wedges? If you remove your shoes then your dress might be long and might be cumbersome to dance in? Alternatively do you change into a whole separate outfit? Or do you get your outfits made for flats?

Summary

This article details 8 Indian wedding logistics that every couple should think through. The 8 Indian wedding logistics are:

  • Where will the couple and their parents stay on the sangeet night?
  • Designating someone responsible for food for the couple
  • Hosting breakfast
  • Hosting hotel rooms
  • Meals for Family/Relatives
  • Transporting guests to/from venues
  • The welcome bags, signage, gifts and other items
  • Heels or Flats?

If you spend some time thinking through these items, your wedding week will go a lot smoother.

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Cover image: Lin & Jirsa Photography