Are you planning an Indian wedding? With so many things to do before the big day, I’m sure you’re overwhelmed!
Indian weddings require so many moving parts – arguably more than Western weddings – when you include all the rituals, ceremonies, meals, etc… it’s no wonder they average about three days!
To avoid unnecessary stress, I’ve compiled a handy checklist to plan an Indian wedding which should help keep you organized!
I’ve based this Indian wedding checklist on a 9-month stretch of time – obviously, the more time you can afford to plan, the better! You don’t want to miss anything. Most Indian brides will take 10-12 months, FYI.
Each step you take toward the finish line will give you a sense of completion towards this behemoth of a party, so let’s get started!
Week 1: Dates, Budgets, and Estimates
Guest List Considerations
Can your aunties from India travel to America? Visas can be a headache, so plan accordingly.
Will they be expecting to stay at your home during the week leading up to the wedding? (The real question is, will family being in your home give you extra stress?)
Make a rough estimate of your guests, so you’ll have a number to work with.
This is a great time to talk to your partner about wants vs. needs, priorities, and then details. Try to be as realistic as you can with this, even if it’s no fun. Do you value spending more on incredible photography or glamorous outfits?
What events do you want to have? Typically, Hindu couples will opt for an engagement ceremony as well as a Mehendi, Sangeet, Tilak, Haldi, and a Roka. Who is coming to what? This is a great opportunity if you have some colleagues or coworkers that you want to include.
If you know you’re going to need some help, you’ll want to hire a wedding planner who is well-versed in executing Indian weddings!
They may also assist with selecting priests or vendors who specialize in Indian wedding events.
Start researching your venue needs and make appointments to visit your shortlisted ones.
Be sure to ask about their policy around lighting candles, or about an outdoor space where a Havan or Homa ritual that may involve fire can be performed.
Will you also need separate venues for your ceremony as well as the Sangeet? Lots to consider.
Week 2: Save-the-Dates, Generating Ideas, and Planning Parties
Create the Vision
This is the fun stuff! Pick a theme and color schemes, and start collecting ideas. There’s tons of inspiration out there – and Pinterest is a great tool to keep your vision boards organized.
Research and choose your Save-the-Dates, then get them mailed! This is the first taste of your wedding theme that your guests will receive, which is so exciting!
Consider the time international mail takes if you have lots of traveling guests, too. This stuff has to get out early!
Choose Your Crew
Select and invite your bridal party, flower girls, ring bearer, etc. These are the people who might be helping you when push comes to shove, so choose wisely!
Plan Your Engagement Party
This is one of the most important pre-wedding ceremonies and will take place a few months before the wedding.
The fathers of both parties will make a formal wedding announcement to guests, and rings can be exchanged to solidify the engagement.
Week 3: Dotting Your I’s and Crossing Your T’s
Lock-in the Venue
Finalize and sign your contract with the venue. Phew!
Make note of any deposits, clauses, and set up/tear down times. As you’re solidifying your venue, this is also a great time to check out hotels in the area where you can put out-of-towners.
And now, for a bit of retail therapy: now you can start compiling your wedding registry!
Find your favorite stores and websites, and if you’re an altruistic type, many brides also include a donation option to a non-profit organization that they’re passionate about supporting!
Set up your wedding website! There are tons available; some popular ones are The Knot and Zola. Have fun picking a theme that will reflect your wedding aesthetic – and be sure to update it as frequently as you can to keep everybody informed!
Week 4: Research Is Your Best Friend
Grab a coffee and buckle up! Now is the time to start researching your preferred vendors. Your venue may require you to use their list of preferred vendors, which can also make your job easier!
Research your caterers: make a shortlist and book your tastings. Start researching florists in your area, as well as Indian wedding rentals for a mandap set up, and even consider looking into Indian wedding decorators. The more the merrier!
Start researching photographers and videographers whose styles you and your partner like and make appointments to meet the shortlisted ones. Your pictures and videos will last a lifetime, so be diligent!
This is also a good time to start researching DJs and live or fusion bands that can drop those Bollywood hits! If you’re going the more traditional route, see if you can find a traditional Indian wedding band group!
Also, pick out your wedding invitations. Need some inspiration? Check out our favorite modern invites or pocket fold invites, which are great for conveying lots of information.
Month 2: Locking-in Key Pieces
One month down, and now it’s time to set the foundation for a successful wedding!
This is the month when you’ll want to finalize your catering options, select a mandap vendor, as well as choose your florist, photography/videography, DJ, and other event rentals.
If you’re going the traditional route, you’ll always want to make arrangements for the Baraat (horse carriage), dhol player, and other transportation needs.
A big one this month would be to focus on booking your priest or Indian pandit. If you grew up in the States, you might be a tad rusty on the temple traditions, but for a traditional Hindu wedding, you’ll want a pandit to walk you through everything.
Pandits nowadays range from having a cheeky ceremony script to more traditional and solemn. Choose one that can balance keeping Indians and non-Indians interested!
This month, you should also have your cake design finalized. Overwhelmed by your options? Here’s an easy way to start: check out this list of charming wedding cakes with flowers for some inspiration.
Month 3: Booked and Busy, Baby!
Select your vendor for hair, makeup, and the Mehendi party!
This is a festive occasion, so it’s a great time to envision your decorations for the space where the Mehndi will be taking place.
Festive Mehndi and Haldi Sign
Digital Template - Instant Download for self print. Size included: 18" x 24".
An eye-catching sign will be sure to guide your guests to the party! Your Mehndi artist or team will also appreciate having a dedicated space to get set up.
You’ll also select your wedding outfits for the big day, as well as jewelry sets for yourself and the entire bridal party.
Red Ruby Long and Short Necklace Indian Bridal Set
Rubies go with everything, right? You might as well also look for matching purses, bindis, bangles, and footwear.
7-Pack of Assorted Pearl Bindis
High quality assorted bridal bindi pack.
Bindis for the babes! But don’t get too distracted with shopping for bling… you’ll need to also block out hotel rooms for out-of-town guests, as well as book your wedding night suite.
Month 4: Finalizing the Vendors
We’re almost at the halfway point! Start planning and book your honeymoon: be sure to note what visas, vaccinations, or other papers you might need.
Hopefully, you’ve done your tastings and you can now solidify your menu and service timeline with your catering vendor.
Finalize decor arrangements for all of the wedding events – this is a great time to order things from India if you need to, as shipping can take ages!
Month 5: Ordering, Ordering, and More Ordering.
You’re ready to bring those guests into the fold! Time to address your printed wedding invitations and mail them. And if you haven’t already, order your wedding rings and bands!
You can also start looking for wedding favors if that’s your cup of tea!
This is a good time to also make childcare arrangements for your ceremony and reception if you’re going child-free.
Month 6: Prepare for Party Mode!
If you’re planning an alcohol-free wedding, disregard this advice, but if you’re not, this is the window to order your alcohol and make bar arrangements for the events!
If you’re like most Indian brides, alcohol will typically only be served during the dinner and reception, or at the Sangeet.
Be sure to prepare your ceremony programs and other stationery, because you’ll want to allow some time for mistakes or misprints!
Make the program proofs as well as any other stationery for display scrapbooks, and then have a trusted friend look over them with a fresh set of eyes!
This is a good time to also research your marriage license requirements in your state and city.
Still have extra time? Choose your first dance wedding song, and consider taking dance lessons or choreographing it yourself!
Month 7: The Devil’s in the Details
You’re getting so close! It’s time to put the bow on the boxes you’ve been carefully building.
Red and Gold Mandala Guestbook
Guest Book with Cover Personalization (Design same as photos). Size: 11.5 x 8.5 inches.
Go shopping for your guestbook, pen, and fancy pen holder; you’ll want to look through everybody’s messages and signatures to commemorate your wedding!
Purchase gifts for your parents, bridal parties, and close family members. Here’s a gift guide for bridesmaids and gift boxes for groomsmen if you get stuck.
Get your sari and lehenga blouses stitched and tailored, and don’t forget to try on all of your outfits!
Also, don’t forget to contact your close family and friends for Sangeet performances because that’s going to be an unforgettable night and you’ll want to get everybody on the dance floor!
Month 8: One Month Until the Big Day!
It’s time to rock out in anticipation!
Have your Sangeet performers submit their music to you and go over it to make sure it’s all gravy. Then send the song list to the DJ so they’ll have time to make a bangin’ playlist!
Three Weeks Out: Finalize Your Guests
Now is the time to fill in the gaps. You’re doing great! Prepare a timeline for all your events, and take a moment to soak it all in.
This happens to every bride, and I wish it didn’t, but if you have anybody who hasn’t RSVP’d yet… now is the time to call your guests; here’s a helpful guide.
Get a head count over to your vendors (and don’t worry, they’ll account for some wiggle room naturally).
Determine the order of entrance of your bridal party and prepare a list of assignments for your bridal party and family members. They know it’s crunch time, and trust me, they want to help!
Two Weeks Out: Confirmations
Give the final headcount to all your vendors – this should be as accurate as possible, so chase up those lagging RSVPs!
Give the wedding event timeline to all of the vendors, family members, and members of the bridal party to make sure everybody’s on board.
Create your seating chart and make place cards – this is a fun time to figure out if there’s any drama… maybe seat those folks across the room from each other.
Prepare your toasts and thanks to parents and all parties involved for helping you along the way.
Confirm your final payments and set them up to be mailed out or handed to the vendor promptly at this point. You don’t want to be worried about this on your honeymoon!
The Week of the Big Day!
Okay, bride. It’s go-time!
Hand over all your favors, place cards, guest books, and programs to your event planner, or person in charge.
Women’s Bathroom Bundle and Emergency Kit
75 Essential Rescue Supplies for Kids, Teens, Family, Home, Car or Travel.
Put together an emergency kit (and bathroom kits for your guests). If you dance too hard and lose a crucial button, you’ll be glad you had these handy!
Pack your suitcase for your honeymoon, if you’re getting whisked away right after the wedding! Preparation is key, right?
Now go get pampered at a spa with your best friends and relax before the big day! CONGRATS! You did it!
Post-Honeymoon: Follow-Up Touches
Some little follow-ups will make a world of difference! After you’re back from a wildly romantic honeymoon, it’s time to face the world as a newly married person!
Ensure your vendors have all been paid, and write online reviews for them! This is a nice touch, and they’ll be grateful.
Arrange for your wedding outfits to be cleaned and preserved, if that’s something you want to do.
Be sure to take time to write your thank yous to your parents, bridal party, event planner, and even your venue and vendors (as an extra touch.)
Lastly (and there’s no rush,) don’t forget to do the paperwork to change names on your insurance, banks, etc. Welcome to married life!