The Diva's Guide: Wedding Budgets


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I’ve had people ask me – so how much does a good wedding cost? And to be honest – there is no correct answer for that! What is considered a good wedding budget? In India – for the crème-de-la-crème of society, the more money spent on the wedding determines how good it is. The more talked about a wedding is – lets people know ‘wow now that was a good wedding’

But when it comes down to reality – not everyone is a multi-millionaire – and therefore when planning a wedding – budgets are essential. It’s easy to get carried away and spend beyond our means because it’s such a special occasion. Over the years I have found that whilst dealing with wedding couples and their families – that they would have considered the main cost headers but tend to forget the smaller details which in fact add up to a huge sum of money.



With this post – I’m going to outline the main cost headers (in no particular order) and will create subsequent posts with more details on each topic. There’s a lot more to look in to than most of us care to think about.

Venue. Depending on the number of functions one has for the wedding, the number of venues will differ. Typically for an Indian wedding there are 3 functions: Cocktail Party, Mehendi & Sangeet; and the Wedding Ceremony followed by Reception. For American / European weddings there tend to be at least 2 functions – Ceremony and Reception – usually at different venues. Most venues will quote an X rate for a minimum guarantee of guests and this will include the use of the venue space; the cutlery, crockery & linens; the waiting staff; basic table decor; and 3-4 courses for the menu.


Food & Beverage. Most venues will not include soft beverages and alcohol in their menu rate. However it never hurts to ask to include soft beverages as part of the rate. Alcohol will always be charged separately. In India there is a separate tax structure for alcoholic beverages which ranges from 22% to a whopping 33%! A 5-star hotel alcohol bottle rates will be almost 3-5 times the price of the market rate so be prepared for that. Some hotels and venues will allow the wedding group to bring in their own alcohol but will charge corkage on that.


Decor & Floral Arrangements. A wedding wouldn’t really be a wedding without the decor and floral arrangements – and with themed weddings being the most popular – a large chunk of the budget goes towards getting the decor and flowers to match the theme. It could be an elaborate theme wherein a ‘set’ is created with a complete stage, backdrop and entryways. Flowers aren’t exactly cheap – and the more exotic the range of flowers is, the more expensive it is. I’ve had to fly out flowers from Thailand as they weren’t available in India and that significantly increased my clients’ budget – but they got what they wanted. At the end of the day – if the bride wants Orchids or Casablanca Lilies or Lisianthus – then that’s what the bride is going to get.


Photography. Everyone wants their wedding day to be captured perfectly; and that means hiring a good wedding photographer and videographer – which don’t come cheap – especially during peak wedding season. Before selecting your photographer and videographer – you should have an idea of what kind of look and feel you want for your wedding pictures. Candid photography is very popular with the new age couples as it is more natural and guests don’t look like they are forced to smile! The cost of a package varies depending on how many photos are taken; how many prints selected; style of wedding album; if you are taking a digital album or a coffee table style album.


Videography. The same concept applies to wedding videos – nowadays couples prefer video documentary / journalistic or even the ‘MTV’ style videos. The cost fluctuates depending on the packages and the quality of the video; how many videos are used; the length of each DVD; if you are having same-day edits to use as giveaways each day to guests etc.


Bridal Attire, Hair & Make-Up. Let’s get one thing clear here – it’s your big day and you want to feel like a princess or a fairytale bride – and that is not going to come cheap! The bridal outfits can cost an arm and a leg; not to mention all the jewelry and accessories such as sandals and bags to match the outfits. I know of a few brides who’ve tried to skimp on their hair and make-up, and that is NOT a good idea! The wedding photos and videos will highlight this and it’s not a pretty sight! Hair and Make-up services in India start from Rs. 10,000 ($200) to Rs. 50,000 ($1100) depending on who the stylist is. It may sound like a lot of money to spend but it’s worth every penny of it!


Entertainment, Sound & Light. Every wedding has some sort of entertainment factor whether it is in the form of a traditional jazz band, a DJ, a cultural folk dance. With entertainment comes the need for proper sound and light and depending on the size of the venue and kind of space being used (i.e. Indoor or Outdoor) – the costs will vary. A lot of the Indian weddings I have organized over the years have involved international artistes performing at them – and those come with tech riders that cost almost as much as the artiste themselves; not to mention the additional travel and accommodation that has to be paid for them to be there.


Invitations, Gifts & Wedding Favors. Let’s face it – there are certain costs that can’t be avoided and one of those is that of the wedding invitation. Depending on the style of your wedding invite the price can range from Rs. 80 ($1.50) to Rs. 5000 ($111) per invite (depending on the style, texture, paper quality, and add-ons). That’s just for the invitation and doesn’t include the cost of postage or courier services. Then there are invitations that come with gift boxes and dry fruits, which add to the total price of the invitation. Of course there are the younger couples who are nowadays sending “Save the Date” notices via Emails or sites such as Evite.com which saves the families a fair amount of money. RSVP cards are more of an American and European trend; however the Indian families are grasping on to that now and also sending RSVP cards for guests who are invited from overseas. I strongly advise families to use Email and Telephone options for RSVPs instead of sending an additional card (because with that you’d have to include the postage etc.)

There’s just one more point you should keep in mind - whether or not you are using a Wedding Planner to help you with the wedding. The charges of a wedding planner tend to be a percentage of the overall spend on aspects of the wedding that they are responsible for coordinating. To make things simple – if you are spending $20,000 on the wedding – the wedding planner fees will be e.g. 15% of $20,000 and this will include all coordination, follow-ups, negotiations, budgeting, check lists, correspondence & communication with the various vendors and yourself.

The purpose of using a wedding planner is to avoid the stress and hassle that the bride and family have to go through in the weeks / months prior to the wedding. Wedding planners get up to 40% discounted rates than what is quoted to the bride / groom for venues with catering; and as they tend to have tie-ups with various decorators and florists – the rates that they offer the bride & groom tend to be lower than what the couple can get on their own.

There you have it – the core essentials that make up the wedding budget for any style of wedding. Obviously each header has multiple sub-points that must be looked into – and I shall go into more detail on those points over the next few posts.

Picture Credits: Google Images



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3 comments:

Chanz said...

my friend's brother is getting married this november... I sure will pass on your link to her... Loved reading it... Sounds exciting to me, but it may not be the same for those who are getting their sons and daughters married...

August 9, 2010 at 8:41 PM
Kaddu said...

Thanks for dropping in Chanz! Happy that the article could be useful to someone. :)

August 10, 2010 at 9:01 AM
Dazediva said...

@ Chanz .. thanks for your comment and I'm glad you enjoyed the post :) You'd be surprised at how many grooms' families take on wedding planners. Half the weddings I've organized this year are on behalf of the grooms' side :) I'd be happy to have a chat with your friend and give them advice on the upcoming wedding :) My email is aklassapart@gmail.com

August 10, 2010 at 2:27 PM

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