The Ultimate Indian Wedding Planning Guide

Here's our expert-approved checklist and timeline to help you plan an incredible Indian wedding.
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Lauren Nowack
lauren nowack headshot
Lauren Nowack
The Knot Contributor
  • Lauren is a freelance writer for The Knot Worldwide.
  • While Lauren has been writing her whole life, she began her career by travel writing and reviewing outdoor gear.
  • Lauren is passionate about encouraging people planning a wedding to make it exactly what they want and need it to be.
Updated May 24, 2023

The process of Indian wedding planning is not simple, as the variety of ceremonies, rituals and guests expected is often quite vast. However, we've consulted with WeddingWire India Lead Editor Rumela Sen to give us all the necessary details and Indian wedding planning tips for making this time stress free. From tips and tricks to a timeline to keep you on track, here's exactly how to plan an Indian wedding step by step.

In this story:

How Long Does It Take to Plan an Indian Wedding?

Wondering about an ideal Indian wedding planning timeline? According to Sen, the average Indian wedding "takes about six months to plan." However, if a couple chooses a destination wedding, she notes that they often give themselves a minimum of eight months to properly organize and prepare the festivities as there will be more tasks to tackle on their Indian wedding planning list.

Average Indian Wedding Cost

Sen shared that according to a recent WeddingWire India survey of couples who got married in 2022, the average Indian Wedding cost was 20,94,000 rupees, which equates to just over $25,000. This is up from the average cost in 2021 of 10,00,000 rupees or around $12,000. These numbers do not include the engagement ring or honeymoon expenses.

How to Plan an Indian Wedding Budget

When planning your Indian wedding, Sen urges couples to start with the budget. Once you have an estimated number, she believes "it's time to finalize the destination" based on the budget. After that is chosen, couples "book the venue because that is the biggest expenditure for Indian weddings."

Choosing a venue with catering and accommodations included will also cut down on planning. Sen highlights that "top hotel chains also have trusted decorators and entertainment vendors in their panel" to guide your decisions in this step. If a couple is still struggling with creating and keeping a budget, WeddingWire India does have a budget planning tool in the app to help them distribute money well.

Who Pays for an Indian Wedding?

According to the WeddingWire India survey, around 64% of the wedding budget is typically covered by the parents of the couple. The rest of the money typically comes from the bride and groom. Sen wrote that "in India, couples also get wedding cost support from relatives and friends in the form of wedding gifts."

Many couples planning an Indian wedding recently have opted to take out a wedding loan in order to pay for their celebration. While this is not for everyone, it is an option that allows a pair to have a larger budget without having to depend on financial support from their family.

How to Plan an Indian Wedding

Indian weddings are no simple feat, and pulling one off without a hitch requires an immense amount of planning. To help you with every part of this journey, Rumela Sen shared her expertise when it comes to the most important steps when planning an Indian wedding. From starting to dream up the type of wedding you want to when to pick your mehendi artist, Sen delivered the ultimate Indian wedding planning checklist and guide.

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1. Finalize the Number of Wedding Events

Before you get carried away choosing the perfect designer outfit or bridal lehenga, Sen writes that "it's important to finalize the total number of wedding events and the type of wedding first." This step should happen soon after you get engaged and at least six months out from your wedding date. Choosing whether or not you'll have a mehndi party, haldi ceremony, sangeet ceremony or other cultural celebrations and traditions can all happen at this time.

Sen provides the following questions to help you start planning the wedding of your dreams:

  • Do you want to plan a destination wedding or a residential wedding?
  • How many events do you want to host?
  • Are both families planning to host all events together or do you have separate events?

After agreeing on these answers, you can move forward in the planning process.

2. Set a Realistic Wedding Budget

Once you have a broad overview of what your wedding will entail, it is time to finalize a budget that will allow your dream to come true without stretching you outside your financial comfort zone. The number of guests, size of the wedding and destination will be main influences on your final number, although decor desires, outfit considerations and personal preferences for entertainment will also need to fit within the parameters you establish. In order to keep your timeline on track, this step is best done between six and eight months out.

3. Prepare the Guest List

Next, write down a guest list together. The estimated headcount will help immensely in choosing venues and negotiating pricing with other vendors such as caterers and hotels. This should be finished at least six months before the wedding to ensure vendors can be properly booked.

4. Book the Venue

According to Sen, booking the wedding ceremony and reception venue is the next major task. This is typically the largest portion of the wedding budget. This should be done a minimum of six months in advance, although the sooner you discuss potential wedding dates with your preferred venue, the more likely you are to get the one you want.

5. Hire Wedding Planner

As Indian weddings are often complicated affairs with many moving parts, wedding planners and day-of coordinators are essential to making the events go smoothly. Sen advises couples to "book the wedding planner first and then decide on other vendors because planners have strong relationships in the industry and can help to book the right vendors for different requirements." This step should be done around six months out, but if you already have a date, there's no reason to wait.

6. Create a Personal Wedding Planning Checklist with Deadlines

If you hire an expert wedding planner, they will create the planning checklist and coordinate deadlines. However, if you have chosen to forego their services, writing down a clear wedding checklist with hard deadlines is essential to staying on track. Sen calls this "the most important step" of wedding planning in order to pull off your event seamlessly and with the least amount of stress along the way.

7. Agree on Decor Theme and Look for a Wedding Decorator

Sen asks couples to "prepare a mood board to easily communicate their vision to wedding decorators/designers." This is a great time to discuss what you would like your mandap to look like, should you choose to have one. Once a theme is chosen, team up with a decorator to keep your decor on track without going over your budget. This can be done anywhere from three to six months out as long as your preferred decorator has space to fit you in.

8. Choose Wedding Outfits and Jewelry

While you have probably perused many wedding outfits by this point in the planning process, Sen notes that the next step is to "keep exploring wedding outfits and jewelry simultaneously" and "opt for jewelry designs and outfits that complement each other." If you want a designer outfit, Sen encourages you to move this step up to after you book "the venue because designers need a minimum of two or three months time to customize the bridal lehengas and sherwanis." She also advises that sarees take less time to make for those in a time crunch.

9. Interview and Book Primary Vendors

Interviewing and booking vendors is a key part of wedding planning as you communicate your vision, understand their technique and offerings and see who is within your budget. Sen encourages couples to check out online portfolios and starting package prices of photographers and makeup artists before reaching out. Most of your vendor contracts should be signed at least twelve weeks before the special day.

10. Finalize Invites and Send Save the Dates

Next up is putting the final touches on invites and sending out save-the-dates. Sen believes the latter should be sent at least three months before the wedding, although for destination weddings a longer lead time will allow more guests to plan on attending.

11. Book Secondary Vendors

Sen encourages couples that the next step is to "book entertainment vendors like choreographers, DJs, emcees and folk singers" as needed. Don't forget to book a mehendi artist for the big day as well. After this is done, move on to transportation vendors such as cabs and limos that will move family and guests to and from the airport and venues throughout the wedding festivities. All of these details can happen in the final three months before the wedding.

12. Plan Performance Rehearsals and Send Outfit Details

At this point, you're in the final weeks before your wedding. About three weeks out, Sen recommends couples schedule rehearsals for performances, coordinate outfits and ensure all alterations are complete if needed. At this point, ensure all guests, family and bridal party members know their duties and what events they are expected during the wedding week.

13. Take a Deep Breath and Celebrate

As the final details fall into place, remember to set some time apart with your future spouse to soak in the last days of your engagement. Once the wedding events begin, it will be a whirlwind of family, friends and fun until you say "I do."

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