Indian weddings are usually a big affair. A series of functions and rituals precede and proceed the wedding ceremony, the preparations for which start months ahead. Do not underestimate the amount of effort and planning that goes in preparing for these wedding events. Especially when you want to throw a great show and not spend your parents’ lifetime savings on it. But it’s all too common to get so caught up in the makeup, the hair, and the outfits, and then totally forget about the actual experience of the guests!

Make sure your wedding is a reflection of you.

“We were the wedding planners for our own wedding – and it was the best decision we made in the whole process!”The whole experience of a wedding is not only about the final day but also about the whole process, just like a design project. The final day will get over in a blink of an eye but planning it starts months in advance and seeing people enjoy the great show you put up is very satisfying. Make it very clear to your families as well that everyone’s thoughts will be taken into consideration but the final decision will be based on what you and your partner like.

Set up a detailed budget

Celebrate this day but spend smartly. Make a detailed budget and set a spending limit for all important line items like food, venue, decor, clothes, gifts, and accommodation. Planning a budget is not about being miserly – a budget helps you prioritise and create a set of clear goals. It serves as a great framework to work within.

A small snapshot from my wedding budgeting spreadsheet which was a document with 15 pages
Decide the number of events

It is good to have all experiences but everything need not be done at a huge scale. Events like the Mehendi and haldi can be done at home itself with close family and friends. I love dancing and I knew that the Sangeet was the most important event for me. So, that was the biggest of all events with the maximum number of guests. The wedding was a smaller affair with a closer group of people.

Avoid a formal reception as far as possible as it is the most tiring event for the bride and groom and the most boring event for friends and family attending. For the most part, it is a complete waste of money.

The right venue is extremely important

This is one of the most important decisions that will define the entire wedding experience for each and every person who attends your wedding. So make this decision carefully based on your goals. Chose your venue and block the dates well in advance. Sometimes the venue might govern the dates as well. We finalized ours almost a year in advance.

Our big picture goals were:

  1. We didn’t want to get married in a banquet hall. Once you enter a banquet hall, they all look the same irrespective of where they are located. We wanted a beautiful venue nestled in nature, surrounded by trees. A location wherein once people enter, they actually feel good, happy and peaceful.
  2. Also, we wanted a venue which didn’t have a monopoly for caterers and decorators as our wedding food was going to be a completely vegan spread which every caterer would not be ready to do. A vendor with a monopoly has no incentive to give fair market value – it makes a big difference when you work with a vendor who is not entitled to the gig by default – both in terms of the commitment and the expense.
Wedding ceremony at Basho Bougainvillea resort, Karjat

Our wedding was in a beautiful resort in Karjat which is at a 2 hour driving distance from Mulund, Mumbai. It often takes longer to travel from Mulund to Borivali – a suburb at the other end of Mumbai! So, do not hesitate to have your wedding at the outskirts of Mumbai thinking that it will be inconvenient for other people. You can arrange some transport if required. In our case, the drive from Mumbai to Karjat was beautiful – a much more soothing experience than being stuck for a similar duration of time in Mumbai city traffic!

Accommodation for people from out station was also provided here but most of the guests were from Mumbai and chose to drive back at the end of a relaxed day at the resort. You can check out their website for more details here.

The venue had a farmhouse within the same property and the main wedding happened in the lawn adjoining the farmhouse with the hill range as the backdrop of the mandap.

Entrance gate to the wedding mandap area
The Wedding mandap, nestled in the hills and filled with peoples love and laughter
Sangeet ceremony at Marathon Futurex, Lower Parel, Mumbai

We chose a beautiful landscaped terrace in the heart of the city of Mumbai to celebrate our Sangeet ceremony. It was as close to nature you can get in the city of Mumbai. The night time view of the Mumbai skyline was the cherry on top.

Main seating area
Performance stage
Boubhat ceremony at Far Pavillions, Tollygunge club, Kolkata

This event was held at a small outdoor venue facing the eighteenth hole of the huge golf course at Tollygunge club, which is built more than a hundred years ago and has many lovely heritage structures spread across its extensive grounds along with a lot of beautiful flora and fauna.

Entrance to the venue
Do not print your wedding invitations

By sending e-invites on Whatsapp you will not only save your printing and couriering cost and headache but also you will save the guests from the burden of what to do with those invites after the events are done. We all know these pretty invites would have ended up in the dustbin eventually!

We designed the Save the Dates and Invitations ourselves. I conceptualized the designs and made the sketches whereas R digitalised all of them to these pretty invitations you see.

The invitations and save the dates were a reflection of the ceremonies and their respective venues.

Lots of dance & music in a landscaped terrace located in the heart of Mumbai with an amazing view of the Mumbai skyline. (I sketched the Mumbai skyline as well)

Also, if you notice our invitations were common for both the sides with just the essential information only – date, time, and venue. We canned all the S/O , D/O, best wishes nonsense which led to a visually pleasing and incredibly simple final invitation.

Finalize the guest list

Only invite people you, your partner and both your parents really care about. Try keeping it as small as you can. Do not think twice before keeping different guest lists for different events if that helps you to reduce the number of people in some events. Take RSVP twice, once after you send out the invitations and a week before the wedding as well. This will help you to give an accurate number to your caterer.

Get quotes from multiple vendors

All vendors will try to exploit the fact that people spend thoughtlessly on weddings. Getting quotes from multiple vendors is extremely important – it helps you gauge the quality of talent out there as well as determine fair value for what you are getting. Our first decorator quoted around Rs 10 lacs for the Sangeet event – that was more than our total budget for that event! We eventually found someone who did it at a higher spec for closer to Rs 1.5 lacs!

Catering and food selection

While deciding the wedding menu make sure you do not over do it – it felt like the biggest priority seems to be how big and lavish the spread looks! Have a good, selective spread that people can cherish – don’t make it a bazaar of overwhelming options. Our biggest challenge was that the catering for all events had to be vegan. It was a big challenge trying to find a caterer to agree to make vegan food. In the end, we found someone who was very flexible and ready to work with us (Imagine cafe) collaboratively. We did numerous trials with the caterer, some where we made him cook using Imagine vegan cheese, vegan mayonnaise and vegan butter before finalizing every dish in the menu.

We used our wedding as an experiment and launched Imagine vegan catering service. Our vegan spread consisted of dishes like cheese Jalapeno poppers, Mexican shots, Pesto salad, unPaneer Kolhapuri, Jalebi, icecreams, pasta, cheese sticks, patishapta, and even Kolkata style keema cutlets with a soy mock meat.

We had an excellent experience with our caterers in Mumbai and Kolkata. Our caterer in Mumbai – Mukesh Bhai Catering – did an incredible job in collaboratively executing the vegan menu! He catered the wedding lunch, a couple of dinners at the Karjat resort, and the Sangeet dinner – there was overwhelming praise for all the spreads – from both the Gujarati’s and the Bengali’s!

Vegan dessert – Patishapta
Patishapta are thin crepes or pancakes made with refined flour, rice flour and semolina stuffed with a delicious caramelized jaggery and shredded coconut filling.
Corn cheese Jalapeno poppers
Vegan Jalebis

You can contact us on our Instagram page for vegan catering orders.

Decorator

Finding a good decorator within our budget was one of the toughest parts. We had chosen beautiful venues surrounded by nature so that we do not have to do too much decoration. In spite of having a limited scope, we got ridiculously high quotes. I had made presentations with reference images, and actual site photos and sent it to a bunch of vendors for quotes.

You can check them out here:

After receiving those first quotes, and shortlisting the vendors based on cost and the level of connection we had over telephone calls, we had to then visit the respective venues with each of them, work on the quote again and then finally decide who we wanted to go with. It was a lot of effort – because we were busy and decorators are always busy – setting up all those meetings and walk through’s was a herculean task!

In the end we managed to find a great decorator (Avishkar Decorators, Bandra east) with excellent workmanship and reasonable rates.

Wedding mandap being erected
Photography

We made a couple of unconventional decisions regarding photography at the events, but they worked out really well.

  • Instead of having two wedding photographers, the bride and groom can agree on sourcing photography work from one good photographer.
  • For the smaller family functions you can ask your friends or relatives who are good at photography to take some pictures. Again, this worked out exceptionally well – my friend Dhwani and my cousin Aashni are passionate photographers and they took some of the best photographs of the entire event. 
  • Instead of spending on pre-wedding photo shoots, take good couple shots on the wedding day itself in a natural location. This saves you the cost of an additional photo shoot and also the time, cost and effort of make-up and costume changes.

You have already seen some of the amazing photos our photographers took of us and the venue in my previous post and this post. You can check them out – Je taime photography on Instagram and Facebook

Shopping

You can read in detail about how to make your wedding shopping easy here.

Delegate and do not forget to have fun!

Make sure you delegate all the work to be done on the day to your friends and/or relatives. No really, don’t forget to have fun. Let it go, brides and grooms! The last thing you need to be thinking about is that your flowers weren’t as large as discussed, or that the fans are not working and the music isn’t the way you imagined. It’s your day which you have planned for months, now it’s time to sit back and enjoy.  Things might not work out as planned, but it’s your attitude you can control.

Plan your honeymoon

In midst of all the wedding preparations, do not forget to plan a long honeymoon trip for yourself. If you are crossing your budget make some cost cuts in the wedding preparations but be sure to have a nice long trip. After all spending on yourself is more important then spending on throwing a party for others. You will need it after all the hard work you will have to put into planning your wedding!

Feel free to email me on vidhi228@gmail.com for any queries,advice or suggestions regarding your wedding planning, especially in Mumbai!