Mandap for an Indian wedding at Sawyer Hotel

Indian Wedding Venue Amenities

What does the venue include in their ceremony and reception packages? This article is about Indian wedding venue amenities and in general what you can expect venues to include and NOT include in their ceremony and reception packages.

This is important and useful info as you plan and think about your budget and how much you want to allocate to each area.

{Indian Wedding Venue Amenities:
Food & Drink}

{Food}

The venue does not provide the food. Most Indian weddings have Indian cuisine. And most venues (outside of India) cannot prepare Indian cuisine. So, the venues allow you to bring in an outside caterer. The venues call this their outside catering package.

Venues use this term, assuming that consumers understand that it means that you are going to outsource the cuisine directly through an outside caterer…again an outside caterer = not the venue.

{Alcohol + Beverages}

Pretty much all venues (except community centers and some banquet halls) require that all beverages are provided by the venue. This applies to all hotels, resorts, golf clubs, yachts, and any venue that’s not a DIY type of venue.

Why? One, because alcohol, soda, water, juice are very profitable. And two, because of legal and liability issues.

BYO Alcohol at Venues and What To Know: BUT, some venues do allow some BYO wine. Notice it doesn’t say BYO alcohol – it says BYO wine. That’s because venues do not allow you to bring in your own hard alcohol, sodas, tea, coffee, water, juice, but some venues do allow you to bring your own wine.

How does BYO wine work at an Indian wedding? Venues charge a corkage fee. Usually in the neighborhood of $15++ per bottle. Remember, ++ refers to service charge and tax. So all in, it comes out to around $20 per bottle. NOTE: these are estimates – generalizations for 4 star hotels in the United States.

A standard 750mL of wine contains 6 glasses. So, for venues that charge more than $15 per bottle, it may be something worth considering.

Before You BYO Wine – Clarify How the Venue Serves It: You’d assume, that you supply the wine bottles and the bartenders open and serve right? But there are some venues that allow you to BYO wine but they will only serve via the servers that are tending to the tables. Why is this distinction important? Because it has cost implications.

You know how when you go to an Indian wedding reception and a server comes around and serves champagne or cider for the toast? Well, similarly wait staff come around and serve wine at the tables as well.

When a server comes to the table offering wine, A LOT more people are inclined to accept. It’s human nature. They come around to the table offering wine and you say, “sure why not”. But that same guest, if they had to go to the bar and get that glass of wine themselves, might not. As a result, you’ll end up going through a lot more wine bottles. So, hopefully you’re seeing, how the wine is served at the venue is important and has cost implications. It’s very important that you ask the venue about this.

So, food = you can get from an outside caterer.
Drinks = come from the venue (except maybe BYO wine as discussed above).

{Equipment for the Caterer, Servers, and Bartenders}

Chafing Dishes: Most venues include tables for the buffet set up, chafing dishes and sternos, and serving utensils. Caterers are expected to set up a satellite kitchen. The hotel’s staff will not help or get involved with any food preparation – only in serving.

Servers and Bartenders: The venue provides servers and staff to replenish food items in the buffet, serve tray passed hors d’oeuvres, and pick up dishes. Additionally the venue sets up the bars and is responsible for the bartenders.

Dish Description Cards: Venues do not include dish description cards, like the ones pictured below. Some venues won’t provide them, but require them. We recommend them anyway. They’re very useful for anyone with dietary restrictions, allergies, etc.

Mexican food served an a sangeet for an Indian wedding.
Photo: VEK Photo

{Indian Wedding Venue Amenities:
Table Setting}

Now that we went through how venues work with food and drink for Indian weddings, let’s move onto the table settings.

One of the reasons so many Indian weddings take place at hotels, resorts, and golf clubs is because these venues include many amenities, such as the table settings. Table settings include:

  • China
  • Flatware
  • Glassware
  • Napkins
  • Linen
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Votives

Amenities that most venues do not include:

  • Table Numbers and table number stands
  • Charger plates
  • Centerpieces

Most couples are fine with the venue’s china, flatware, glassware, tables, and votives. Where many couples depart from the venue’s offerings is the linens, napkins, and chairs. Why? Because most venues have limited options. Most venues offer 2-3 neutral and universal colors such as ivory, white, and black. Why? Because they only keep colors in inventory that they can get a lot of use out of.

Indian wedding reception at the Embassy Suites Anaheim South
Most venues carry a few limited options on table linen and napkins. Photo: AJ Studios

If you’re looking for unique colors and fabrics, like the linens and napkins you see in the photo below, you’re most likely going to have to outsource them from a vendor.

Take a look at the beaded plates in the photo below. These are called charger plates. They’re purely decorative. Since most Indian weddings are buffets, the actual food plates will be stacked at the buffet. Guests will bring their food plate back to the table and place it on top of the charger plate.

Charger Plates: Notice in the table above, there are no charger plates – that couple chose not to have them. You can expect to pay on average $1 per plate to rent.

Coffee/Tea: Notice in the photo above the coffee cups are already set on the table and they are not in the photo below. What does this tell us? It means at the reception above, the venue’s servers went around the ballroom serving coffee after dinner; whereas at the reception below, the venue setup a coffee station for self service.

Table Numbers: Notice the table numbers in both photos. Most venues do not supply table numbers nor table stands. Most people rent them from their decor company. But as a means to differentiate there are a handful of venues that do include them. You should always ask for them. Even though they might not be part of the reception package does not mean the venue doesn’t have them – and if they do and you can get them to include them – that’s one less thing for you to worry about.

If you want to customize the table names you’ll probably have to make those, but then at least ask the venue for the stands.

Wedding reception table design
Bright colored linens and charger plates outsourced through a decor vendor for an Indian wedding reception. The venue does not provide this color linens nor charger plates. Photo: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema

{Chairs}

This is one area where most couples depart from the venue. For receptions venues carry their standard banquet chairs. These are industrial grade chairs that are intended to withstand a lot of wear and tear and are meant to be used for a variety of types events – business and social. Here are a few examples of standard banquet chairs.

As you can see, they are not the stylish, decorative chairs you often see at weddings like the ones in the photo below, called chiavari chairs. Chiavari chairs are far more fragile – more like to get scratches and scrapes and break – thus most venues don’t carry them. Slowly but surely, we are seeing venues offer these chairs but the vast majority don’t. So if you want chiavari chairs, you’ll have to rent them from an outside vendor. Chiavari chairs are usually anywhere from $5-$10 per chair.

Chiavari Chairs and Fashion vs. Function: If you’ve ever sat in one of these chairs you may agree, that they are not as comfortable as standard banquet chairs. Keep-in-mind that when you get these chairs, you are trading fashion for function. As mentioned earlier most couples do rent chiavari or other types of chairs.

The Pool Upper Deck at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento
Chiavari chairs setup for a wedding ceremony. These chairs are outsourced – rented through a vendor since most venue’s don’t have them.

Ceremony Chairs: For outdoor ceremonies, most venues include white folding chairs, like the ones pictured below. Most venues that have an outdoor ceremony space include these types of chairs regardless of venue type – hotels, resorts, golf clubs, banquet halls.

For indoor ceremonies, most venues will set up their standard banquet chairs, or you are welcome to rent chairs from a vendor.

Indian wedding ceremony Loews Coronado Bay Resort
These chairs come with most outdoor ceremony packages at all types of venues. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography

{Indian Wedding Venue Amenities: Decor}

Stage: Now that we’ve addressed food, beverage, and table settings, let’s talk about decor. Venues include very limited items when it comes to decor. Basically they provide the stage and the skirting for the stage. The skirting is the linen covering the stage, as you can see in the photo below.

There are some venues that do not include the stage nor the skirting, namely small hotels and venues, boutique hotels and golf clubs. Large hotels and especially big brand name hotels such as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Westin, Sheraton as well as resorts will include the stage.

Mandap for an Indian wedding at Sawyer Hotel
The decorator creates the mandap and all the associated decor. The venue provides the stage and the skirting (linen) that covers the stage as well as the stairs to get onto the stage. Photo: Wedding Documentary Photo + Cinema

Pipe and Drape: See the photo below, behind the sweetheart stage where the bride and groom are sitting and along the perimeter of the room, they have piped and draped to hide the walls of the ballroom. That was done by the decorator. This is not included nor fulfilled by the venue. And that means more cost.

Dance Floor: in the photo below you see the wooden parquet dance floor which is standard at venues. If you’re looking for a white or other colored dance floor, that’s again something you’ll have to get from an outside vendor. There are a handful of venues that include a white dance floor but they are few and far between and if they include it in their reception package they will tell you as it’s a differentiator that they’ll want you to know about.

Venue Negotiation ProTip: A special dance floor is also something you can ask the venue for. Even if the venue doesn’t own a white dance floor they may have a relationship with a vendor where they get it at a better price so it could be part of your venue negotiation. If their package says wood parquet dance floor, ask them if they have a white/other dance floor. If they have a source they’ll tell you yes and how much it will cost. Then you can compare with other vendors and keep that in your back pocket for when you’re ready to negotiate.

{Indian Wedding Venue Amenities: Rooms}

Changing Rooms: Most hotels and resorts have rooms for brides and grooms to get ready in on the wedding day. Not all hotels and resorts include this, so make sure you read the package carefully. If the package doesn’t mention it, ask about it.

Golf Clubs, banquet halls and other types of venues vary on availability and access to a changing room.

Hotel Room: If you’re getting married at a hotel or resort, most include a room for the couple for 1 night on the day of the reception. Some venues offer a suite, some an upgraded room, and some a standard hotel room. There are some hotels that do not include a room at all – so again make sure you read the venue’s package carefully.

Venue Negotiation ProTip: For most Indian weddings you want to stay at or as close as possible to the wedding venue as possible, the night before. If your hotel or resort venue only includes 1 night, then this could be another point of negotiation to ask for more rooms – for brides, grooms, parents for two nights – the night before and the night of the wedding and reception.

{Summary and Conclusion}

This article is about Indian wedding venue amenities. We discussed venue amenities around:

  • Food and drink
  • Table settings
  • Decor
  • Rooms

Key Points:

  • Venues do not make Indian cuisine. You will contract that directly through a caterer.
  • Venues provide all beverages. No outside beverages allowed, except some venues allow BYO wine.
  • Venues have a basic set table setting amenities included in the ceremony as well as reception packages. If you don’t like or prefer other linens and chairs, you are welcome to source those from outside vendors and pay fees directly to them.
  • Venues include very little in terms of decor. It’s limited to the stage and dance floor.
  • If you’re getting married at a hotel or resort, most include 1 room for 1 night.

Read the full article for more details about each of these points.

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