Planning an Indian Wedding: Beginner’s Edition With A Checklist

Planning an Indian wedding for the first time
Pooja Jena

Table of Contents

It is that time of the year again when you’re blocking your dates for weddings. But that’s not what you’re here for, right?

If you’re reading this article, you won’t just be a wedding guest this year but also the one who organizes it.

But if you’re someone who doesn’t know how to start wedding planning, fret not.

We have curated a step-by-step guide about everything you need to do. On top of that, we’ve created a timeline based on all the arrangements you need to make.

Follow along and start planning the Indian wedding of your dreams.

A. Twelve months before the wedding

1. Setting Priorities

Every wedding comes with some must-haves and must-not haves. Before things are set in motion, a discussion between the couple and the two families is important.

During these discussions, make sure you decide on all the essentials such as:

  • How much would you like to spend on the wedding? In fact, it may also be helpful to decide if you’ll spend more on the wedding or the honeymoon
  • Does the wedding need to have a strictly vegetarian menu or not?
  • Which cultural norms and rituals must be adhered to? (This especially is important for cross-cultural marriages)
  • What are your preferences for destinations, location, budget, and events?
  • Should it be an indoor or an outdoor wedding?
  • When should the wedding take place? Deciding on a tentative date will help you know how fast you must make arrangements.

All of this need not be planned overnight. You can take a couple of days. But deciding on these will ensure all the opinions and preferences are taken care of.

2. Budget planning

It all starts with a budget. Before you start visualizing a dreamy wedding and the wedding gown, it’s a good idea to think about how much money you can spend.

Start by jotting down all the savings you have and contributions your family can make. This will give you a fair idea of how you can or want to spend on the wedding.

Then take 20% out of it and keep it aside as contingency savings. Know that there are always going to be unexpected expenses while planning an Indian wedding.

B. Eleven months before the wedding

1. Wedding Size

Now that you know the budget, decide how many guests you’d like to invite.

You can start by thinking of the possible family members and friends who must come to the wedding.

You can jot down all the names on an excel sheet and color code them as per the importance of their presence. This seems disrespectful but is actually quite helpful. That’s because the wedding guest list often gets too long because people feel obligated to invite.

  • One the excel sheet, include these details against their name:
  • Address
  • Number
  • Email
  • Number of plus ones

You can also have a column for their availability. You can update this column as and when you get confirmation.

2. Tentative Timeline

If your wedding is a one-day affair, then having a tentative date in mind is more than enough.

However, many cultures require multiple days and events in a wedding. So based on the cultural norms you follow, you may have multiple celebrations. For example, a typical Indian wedding is a three to four-day affair with ceremonies for mehendi, haldi, reception, and marriage.

Decide the days, the number of events, and their tentative dates. The dates can be made official only after you book the venue(s).

3. Destination and Venue

From the initial discussions, you’d have a broad idea about where the wedding will take place. At this stage, start taking things forward by shortlisting venues. Here’s how you can streamline the process:

  • Make an excel sheet with the following columns
    • Location
    • Venue
    • Style (Banquet Hall, Terrace, Lawn, Hotel, etc.)
    • Cost of rental and catering
    • Reviews/Stars
    • Services/Vendors provided
    • Parking
    • Contact
  • Be sure that your shortlisted venues have the capacity for your decided wedding size
  • Read about the venue on various websites before believing
  • Visit the venues you like the most and color code the best options
  • Enquire about the availability of the venue on your desired dates
  • Ask about the cancellation and postponement policies

A lot of venues provide decoration, DJ, and catering from their end. Do ask if your desired venue provides it. This will take a lot of burden off your back.

If this seems too much, we have curated a list of top-notch venues in Delhi-NCR. If the wedding is taking place in the capital, you can skip the research by going through our article.

If they provide the services you need, make sure you get along with the venue’s management team. Since you’re making them in charge of a lot, you should be able to coordinate things with them. Trust your gut for this one!

Also, we recommend booking the venue months in advance to secure a good discount.

C. Ten months before the wedding

1. Get inspired

Chances are that tasks from the last month are still going on, especially venue selection. That’s completely normal and expected. It means you’re being thorough. Don’t panic.

Lucky for you, this step will help you actually visualize what you want in your wedding. This will not only help you get clarity on the aesthetics but also keep you motivated to bring the plans to fruition.

This step is as easy as scrolling through social media. Make a Pinterest board or a folder in your gallery with the screenshots you collect.

Be sure to look out for the following in your social media search:

  • Theme
  • Color Scheme
  • Wedding decor ideas
  • Lighting and furniture
  • Outfit ideas
  • Tagged vendors for catering, makeup, photography, entertainment, etc.

Wedding inspiration for planning an Indian wedding
Source: Youth Incorporated Magazine

There are a lot of resources available on various social media channels. Here are some resourceful Instagram pages for you:

  • Indian Wedding Buzz: They not only update stunning pictures for inspiration but also tag people involved. From the photographer to the outfit label, you can find their accounts through the tags
  • Reels and Frames: Get ideas for your wedding videography and photography here
  • Wedding Sutra: This Instagram page will help you keep up with the last wedding news
  • Stories by Joseph Radhik: This one belongs to a famous wedding photographer. He also tags the couples. If there’s a wedding coverage that you like, you can dig deep by clicking on the tagged accounts and seeing how they conducted their wedding

You can also take your research forward on Youtube, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

2. Shortlisting and hiring vendors

Now that you have better clarity of what your wedding would look like, shortlist vendors for:

  • Catering
  • Makeup
  • Photography and videography
  • Music/DJ
  • Flower arrangements
  • Decor
  • Mehendi
  • Hair Stylist

If your wedding venue provides some of these services, you may strike those out of the list.

If not, start finding suitable vendors and make sure you look for customer reviews. Also ask about when you can book their services, in case they’re not ready to commit 10 months in advance.

Expect vendor hunting to be a time-taking process. So make sure you don’t compromise on the quality for time.

Also, ensure that you keep the bookings and payments recorded on a spreadsheet or notes.

D. Six months before the wedding

1. Wedding outfit and jewelry

This step is certainly one of the most exciting ones. Shopping!

With your wedding inspiration research, you might have a slight idea about wearables. Just reverse search your selected images and head on to the ‘Shop’ section on Google search. Lucky for you, everything is available online.

However, you need not make the purchases online. Just take a cost estimate and secure better deals in the local stores or showrooms nearby.

You can also cut the cost by purchasing the fabric and getting it stitched separately. Renting or wearing clothes/jewelry passed down by generations is also a good and reasonable practice.

Wedding outfit inspiration
Source: WeddingAffair

2. Photoshoot

You may skip this step if you don’t find this necessary. However, pre-wedding shoots are not just important for memory’s sake but also help make digital decor on your wedding day. It can also help you design wedding invites or your social media presence.

It is definitely a sweet touch to add to any wedding but it is completely your call. This might also be a good time to get your photographer friend to work for you instead of giving you a wedding gift.

3. Guest accommodation and transportation

If your guests are coming from far away, you must arrange for their stay at the venue or nearby hotels. Some hotels also provide transportation services. So do enquire about the charges for the same.

E. Three months before the wedding

1. Dance rehearsals

Weddings are incomplete without your family members dancing till their legs hurt. In addition to the mandatory drunk dancing, some couples also desire performances on the big stage.

For the confidence and finesse to dance in front of an audience, you might want to hire a choreographer. An alternative idea is to follow along with a Youtube dance tutorial on the song of your choice. This is the performance you’re going to want to remember.

Dance rehearsals for organising a wedding
Source: WittyVows

2. Marriage registration

Here’s a formality that’s better-taken care of before the wedding. Getting married on a big stage is important but it is also important to be married on paper.

So reach out to your sub-divisional magistrate and file for a marriage certificate. The laws, procedures, rules, and time taken vary for different states and countries.

It will take a minimum of 30 days notice period to be able to file for your registration. You will also need 3 or more witnesses as per the laws based on your location.

You would not want to worry about legal matters after your wedding celebration. That’s when you’d rather be enjoying your honeymoon. So do yourself a favor and fulfill your legal obligations beforehand.

F. Two months before the wedding

1. Wedding invites

You’ve already broken your back following all the steps above. Now it is time to break the news to your loved ones.

You can go with the traditional invites via postal services. However, don’t hold yourself back from e-invites. You can even create video invites using your pre-wedding shoot footage. Don’t forget that you live in the world of Whatsapp. It is definitely faster, more efficient, and eco-friendly.

It is also a good idea to consider sending a wedding registry. It is nothing but a list of gifts you actually need. So forget having 3 toasters and 4 cutlery sets. Save your guest’s time and stress by helping them decide exactly what to get.

2. Wedding cake

In some cultures, the wedding cake is a bigger deal than the buffet. So this would be a good time to reach out to good bakeries and get your cake designed.

Wedding cake inspiration
Source: Whimsical Wonderland Weddings

You may even ask your catering vendor if they can take care of this.

3. Priest, Pandits, and Wedding Officiants

Getting your wedding registered under the law is important and so is getting it done as per the traditions.

So, contact a wedding officiant near you and ask for their availability on your wedding date.

You must also jot down the list of purchases you need to make for all the rituals. For example, hawan samagri, fruits, and garlands are a few things considered important for Indian weddings.

4. Follow up with vendors and guests

Your communication with your vendors will be continuous from the day of booking. Don’t get too tired, try to update your spreadsheet to record every update.

Make sure they’re actively working and responding. You really don’t want any last-minute backing out. However, even if they do, you’ll know in time as you’ll constantly follow up with them.

Don’t entertain extreme delays and a careless attitude. Be sure to have backup plans in case anything goes south with any of your vendors.

Ensure you make the advance payments to have their good faith. You should make the complete payment only after they do a satisfactory job.

G. More tips and tricks

1. Do all the reading

Coordinating with venues and vendors will involve many contracts, terms and conditions, and communication. Make sure you read all of them carefully. Don’t ignore anything that may work to your disadvantage.

2. Start Early

In Indian culture, more than six months of courtship period is common. This time gap may vary and you will have to tweak your timeline accordingly. However, the best advice is to start as early as possible.

Last-minute rushing will do more bad than good while planning an Indian wedding. You’ll miss out on quality venues and vendors if you try to book on short notice.

3. Fitness and Beauty Needs

Make sure you take care of your health, skincare, and fitness from the beginning of your wedding planning. Couples usually go for expensive treatments and fitness journeys a few months before the ceremony. This adds unnecessary pressure.

We advise you to be comfortable in your own skin. However, if you’re still looking for a transformation, then start early and do it as organically as possible.

4. Update your spreadsheet

Jotting down every progress you make in your wedding planning journey seems unnecessary. But as your wedding journey progresses, it’ll keep getting tough to remember what’s done and what’s not.

Make sure you keep your sheets updated to avoid mistakes and delays from your end.

To sum it up,

Tracker for planning an indian wedding

You’re now ready to organize the wedding you always wanted to have. Keep this checklist with you and make sure you don’t skip any step.



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