The Big Fat Indian Wedding season is back after 20 months, given the decline in COVID-19 cases. Parents seem to be planning for their children's wedding within a tighter budget now than before. “There has been a 40 percent reduction in overall wedding expenses,” says Sumathy Bachchan, owner of wedding planning firm Wedding Sutras.
“Now, intimate micro weddings have gone up, rituals are getting clubbed together, guest lists have shrunk because of restrictions from government on attendees, destination weddings are happening in exotic locations in our country instead of flying out, etc.,” says Joyjit Chakravorty, General Manager at Hilton Garden Inn, Delhi. These factors have cascading effects on how people plan weddings as of now.
Even so, it is a good financial habit to keep a tight leash on unnecessary expenses. Here are a few ideas to help you reduce the cost of weddings, without having to compromise on the quality of the experience.
Draft your wedding budget
Weddings have become very aspirational. Millennials have their pre-defined choices from social media. But, for organizing a successful event, you need to have a strong budget and keep expenses within the limits. It’s important that you spend your money efficiently by dividing the estimated expenses for each segment of your wedding.
“Divide the wedding costs into two heads: mandatory and ancillary,” says Chakravorty. Mandatory costs include the venue, décor, food and beverages, photography and outfits. Ancillary costs include music, sangeet, entertainment, band baaja, baarat and ghori, which would entirely depend on the mandatory aspects and can probably be tweaked as per aspirations.
Decide your venue at the earliest
The sooner you book the venue, the better it is for negotiations and savings. Identify your requirement. Decide whether you would prefer hosting the wedding ceremony in a hotel, hall or an open ground. You should start your search accordingly and book the venue at least three to four months in advance. This will give you savings in terms of operational flexibility, lower rates, etc. “Book a venue which has enough options to host all the wedding programs and see that you don’t have to take the guests out of the venue. This will save on additional transport cost of the guests,” says Kunal Laungani, founder of Chapter 2 Events.
Wedding planners suggest that a venue where you need to take the in-house services of catering and decoration would be expensive. You can consider booking an open ground, as you will have the freedom to hire vendors of your choice at a reasonable cost.
“If you aren’t particular about auspicious dates or weekends, then go for an off-season or weekday date to cut down on your cost for booking the venue,” says Manya Singh, Co-founder of weddingplz.com.
Opt for Indian or local cuisine
You can save a lot on food and beverages of the guests. “See if your family and guests love fancy Indian cuisine or specifically prefer regional dishes; then there would be no need to have international cuisines,” says Singh. There are additional costs for setting up live counters for international cuisines. “On an average the charges for international cuisine are Rs 2,200 onwards per plate, whereas the cost for Indian cuisine starts from Rs 1,800 per plate,” says Lalita Raghav, Vice President of FNP Venues.
“A small initiative of adding strong RSVP process on invitation would help in saving money for the family hosting the wedding ceremony and it also avoids food wastage,” says Chakravorty.
Go for local decorators
There is an enormous gap between traditional and local decorators and, to reduce budget, one can easily pick local vendors as it cuts down the cost by nearly 50 percent. To save on decorations, you can even opt for recycled things at a fraction of the cost. “Understand the type of work the decorator has done predominantly and how you can use existing inventory, which they already have, as against creating new inventory that will increase the cost,” says Laungani. You can use artificial flowers and colourful fabrics in décor instead of fresh flowers to reduce the cost. “While using fresh flowers in decoration, there is an additional cost of Rs 1 lakh,” says Bachchan.
Appoint an emerging designer for wedding outfits
Wedding outfits are expensive and worn just once mostly. The wedding outfit market has something for all, so it's better to first know your budget and select the clothes accordingly. “We would suggest the best way to cut both expenses and exertion is to rent your special day outfits or can to go for emerging or home-grown designers,” says Singh. Appoint a designer to do all the wedding wear, rather than having multiple designers for different programs. This will save cost and give you a package rate overall. You can even choose a designer outfit of your choice and get it stitched locally at half the cost.
Send a digital wedding invitation
The COVID-19 pandemic has made everything go digital. You can send a wedding invite through WhatsApp or e-mail with a creative video. Also, you can set up a wedding website with all the program details for guests to access and RSVP. This is a cost-effective way. “With WhatsApp friendly parents and grannies, it's completely fine to go all-digital, as it saves almost 80 percent of the cost vis-à-vis traditional wedding cards, printing and courier charges,” says Singh.
Appoint budding photographer
Photographer and videographer are the most important people in the wedding. As, they capture the memories of the wedding couple and the family. “It is recommended hiring a team with a photographer and videographer. This will lead to cost reduction,” says Laungani. You can also save on photography by picking quality over quantity. “These days, people appoint only candid photographers who have a good handle on wedding stories or teasers to cover the bride and groom, their friends and family instead of covering the entire gathering,” says Singh. It reduces the cost by 30 to 40 percent. You can also consider hiring a budding photographer, after reviewing her work. The services will be at an affordable costs with creative fresh ideas.
Take an expert’s adviceWhen you are in a dilemma about how to negotiate on costs and find the right vendor for several services, as mentioned above, it’s better to hire a wedding planner. They have a network vendors, specialists, artists, etc. A wedding planner can customize your wants, desires and aspirations within your budget.