10 Ways to Budget for an Indian Wedding

2015 Jun 18 - by Shriya
South Asian weddings can be extravagant - with long days and nights of celebrations, sweets, and family. Naturally, all those late-night bhangra dances and sparkly outfits come with a price.

Budgeting tips for wedding planning range from the wise to the ludicrous. Yes, you want a nice affair without going into debt, but you don't want to do silly things like substitute a cardboard cake for the real thing or make your guests pay donations.

Here are 10 logical and easy ways to budget for an Indian wedding:

1. Know your limits

Before you begin wedding planning, consider who's going to contribute financially and who's going to help out. Are your parents paying for part of the wedding? Are your in-laws and other relatives going to pitch in? Get the details down before you start planning to avoid spending money that you expect, but don't have.

2. Buy off-season

Designer lehngas and sarees are pricey - ranging to thousands of dollars - but tempting. We understand, you want that pretty dress for your big day! Here's a smart trick: buy off-season. Buying items from runways beyond 2012 - you'll save hundreds of dollars and still get your favorite brands. The designs aren't too far off from the hottest styles anyway.

From Shantanu & Nikhil's 2012 Aamby Valley Bridal Week Runway

Shopping online from websites like Exclusively will get your further discounts and deals.

3. Consider the season

When buying flowers or renting a venue, think about the season you're setting the wedding in. Summer and spring are the most popular seasons for weddings. If you push the date a bit forward or back to avoid popular months like June, you'll save lots of money on a venue.

Photo via 15 Peony Bridal Bouquet Inspirations

For flowers, buy what's in season. Yes, you may want your specific pink flowers that only bloom in the first few weeks of spring - but if your wedding date doesn't match up to the flowers' bloom season, you'll be spending money transporting them to your venue. Buy local and buy what's in season to avoid extra costs.

Since Indian weddings often use red roses and jasmines, keep in mind their seasons: roses are cheapest away from Valentine's Day and June weddings, while jasmines bloom during peak wedding season, spring through fall.

4. Buy in bulk

If you're buying decorations directly, like streamers, paper serving dishes, etc., buy in bulk. Hit up your local Costco or Sam's Club and go crazy - you'll get fantastic designs for cheap when you buy a large quantity. It makes much more sense than buying bits and pieces from smaller, boutique stores.

5. DIY when possible

DIY Glitter Champagne Flutes

To avoid outsourcing the decor, consider DIY projects. Centerpieces, menus, even invitations can be done with a proper craft table and a good group of friends. Ask your bridal party or relatives to help out - you'll spend a few dollars on homemade designs instead of hundreds on bought ones.

6. Keep things low-key

If you're tight on funds, consider your guest list. Do you really need 300 guests, or will 100 close friends and family suffice? It's tempting to invite everyone you've ever met to a South Asian wedding, but it's not practical to provide all these people with a great time. Invite who you care about and who you want to be there for your big day - you'll only remember the important people years down the line anyway.

7. Plan ahead

Essential Questions for Every Bride-to-Be: Venue Edition

Always book venues, planners, photographers, and caterers months in advance: up to a year for venues and at least 3-6 months for the others. You'll get hit with huge fees if you try to snag a caterer last minute, because they'll be rushing to get your order done. Similarly, it's hard to pin down good photographers without good notice. Make these calls well in advance so you have time to properly negotiate fees and get your best deal.

8. Shop around

Don't just settle for the first vendor you see - look around for better deals and options. Sure, you love the butter chicken from that one restaurant, but maybe another, small chain does almost as good a job for much cheaper. Consider the marginal benefit: if you're paying a lot less for a bit less quality, it's worth the downgrade. Be willing to explore other options before committing in order to get the best price for the quality.

9. Expect upsets

As always when planning big, important events, something is bound to go wrong. Hopefully nothing does, but just in case - have some money saved aside for accidents and disasters. Maybe the cake won't be ready on time or the photographer got stomach flu. You'll need to budget for such things in order to avoid being left out in the rain if the time comes.

10. Be reasonable

The most important rule of budgeting: be practical. If you can't afford a mansion venue and a dozen horses for the bharat, don't get them. It's tempting to impress your friends and family with fancy hors d'oeuvres and expensive champagne, but the people who love you and care about you are there to celebrate YOU - not the pricey accompaniments. So don't go into debt or buy beyond your limit for the wedding; after all, it's the marriage that you really want the money and nice things for.

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