The heart often rules the head. Wedding ceremonies are no different as requests by the families of both the bride and the groom are accommodated to make the event a memory for a lifetime. But in doing this, costs often go through the roof. However, with some smart planning, you can keep your wedding costs in check and still make it a day to remember.
“Finding the right venue and vendors, within the customer's budget, is critical. The cost of Indian weddings can vary depending on several factors, such as the location, venue, number of guests, and the scale of the wedding, taking into consideration specific traditions and customs,” says Aditya Sharma, Business Head, Weddingz.in, a wedding planning service.
Set a budget and monitor expenses
This is the first step. Your wedding costs depend on your guest list and venue, catering, clothes, gifts, etc. Get a sense of how long your guest list is expected to be and accordingly search for a venue. Your other costs will depend on these two aspects.
In a consumer survey of 530+ engaged millennials carried out in October by WeddingWire India, a wedding planning service, 21 percent were willing to have Rs 5-10 lakh as their wedding budget, while 19.7 percent had a limit of Rs 5 lakh, followed by 18.5 percent, who had a budget of Rs 10-15 lakh.
Experts predict that these budgets could be stretched this year. With the COVID-19 pandemic easing, travel has picked up and most people are no longer wearing masks. A return to normal is expected to swell wedding budgets, among many other things.
“Planning your wedding can be a stressful and time-consuming process, but setting the budget at the beginning will help you to channel your creative flow in the right direction,” says Anam Zubair, Head of Marketing at WeddingWire India. To simplify the job, you can opt for a budgeting tool, which will not only simplify the job by letting you assign a budget to various vendors, but also help you manage every task and related payments efficiently, Zubair explains. Popular budgeting apps include Moneyfy’s Expense manager and Realbyte’s Money Manager Expense and Budget.
Finding vendors: online vs offline
Searching for wedding vendors offline is tiring and slightly old-fashioned considering that life has moved online.
According to a survey conducted in October by Weddingz.in, 63 percent of millennials prefer to plan their weddings through online platforms as they are affordable, easy to use, provide better customisation and offer a slew of options on a single platform. All you have to do is input your requirements and budget, and voila, you get recommendations for a venue, vendors, and so on.
Manya Singh, Co-Founder, Weddingplz.com, a wedding vendor search portal, urges people to shop for vendors online. Her portal allows users to search for vendors across categories such as florists, caterers and so on. “Testimonials authenticate the work and you can always filter in your budget,” she says.
But there is a downside. Online vendor searches can be risky, as paid promotions can glorify them online if they lack credibility, says Sumathy Bachchan, owner of Wedding Sutras, a wedding planning firm.
“The prevalent way is to take the references of vendors from a family that had a wedding in the recent past,” adds Vikaas Gutgutia, MD & Founder, FNP Weddings & Events and FNP Venues.
Keep an eye on hidden costs
On your wedding day, unexpected expenses can completely throw you off. Here are some instances of hidden costs that could sneak up on you during weddings.
Very often, a wedding programme exceeds the scheduled time fixed with the venue. Most locations charge overtime fees for the venue and support staff when this happens. “It’s recommended you inquire about the overtime rules before hiring the venue,” says Gutgutia.
Most venues allow you to arrange for alcohol on your own, but charge you a corkage fee per bottle. The additional overhead charges are between Rs 50 to Rs 2,000 per bottle of the actual liquor. These charges vary with the venue. So, inquire about this in advance to avoid any surprises when the bill hits you.
During the wedding, some uninvited guests may turn up at the venue. Some of them may even know you. “These unexpected guests will increase your per-person costs at the venue. You need to account for this in your budgeting,” says Singh.
If you plan to accommodate your guests’ stay in a hotel or a resort during a destination wedding, room service bills can take your expenses past the budgeted limit. You will also need to arrange for the transportation of relatives from a nearby station or airport to the venue. These are added, unanticipated costs.
Should you appoint a wedding planner?
Appointing a wedding planner makes sense because they manage weddings professionally. They can assist you in choosing the right vendors, taking into consideration your wedding theme and budget.
“You can negotiate well while picking multiple services from a wedding planner and it is easier to make one entity understand the entire theme of your wedding, how exactly you want the décor, lighting, cuisine, events, music, etc.,” says Singh. Wedding planners make sure all the vendors are on the same page, in line with your expectations, on the big day.
“Remember, appointing a wedding planner can cost you more because some planners have a kind of margin with the preferred vendors. They earn a referral commission at your cost,” says Gutgutia.
Wedding planners can set you back anywhere between Rs 50,000 to Rs 6 lakh, depending on their experience and the type of wedding you’re planning, the scale, budget, destination/venue chosen, etc.“Be personally involved in the initial stages of finalisation and negotiation with vendors. This can be taken over by the planner later,” says Bachchan.