Deciding on whether you want to plan your wedding yourself or get a professional Indian Wedding planner is an important decision to make. I looked at using a specialist Indian wedding planner as I knew planning a wedding could become very stressful and having someone there to do a lot of the planning would take the pressure of me.
So, do you need an Indian Wedding Planner? The larger and more complicated an Indian wedding becomes then it makes sense to hire an Indian Wedding Planner. As they will have expertise including contacts that can make the whole wedding planning process much easier as well as ensuring the standards set by the wedding couple are met.
To arrange an Indian wedding like a Sikh wedding you have to be very organized, allowing yourself plenty of time to do the research. Remember you’re doing this without much experience and some of the things you need to research like the venues could end up taking a lot of your time. As you may need a variety of venues to cater for different functions as well as to cater for the different number of guests.
This is where you might benefit from hiring a wedding planner, who could help in taking away most of the stress from your shoulders and save valuable time researching. Wedding Planners have their own in-house service providers or have a list of providers who they have previously worked with. They would have been thoroughly vetted and experienced in their line of field.
As well as researching venues you will need to be very thorough when looking into booking your caterers. As well as looking at other service providers such as, hair and makeup artists, live bands, dancers, DJ’s, mehndi artists and so on. Again, this is where the wedding planner’s expertise could help immensely in getting these sorted out.
That being said, the cost of hiring a wedding planner may become prohibitive and this could put people off hiring them and using their services, but it’s still important to do some research first into whether you can get by without using the services of a wedding planner.
Finding a wedding planner
Ideally recommendations should be the first port of call when deciding to find an Indian wedding planner, as a good, qualified recommendation will give you the reassurance you’re dealing with someone who knows what they are doing.
Word of mouth tends to be best way to find a good wedding planner but if this isn’t possible then trying to find one using the yellow pages or searching on the internet is the next course of action. There are a number of steps you can take to ensure the wedding planner is not only right for you but is qualified to do a good job. At the end of the day, you don’t want to pick someone who ends up making a hash of the wedding planning, ruining your special day.
It’s best to meet at least three different wedding planners and choose the one that you feel the most comfortable with. Ensure you are able to discuss your needs and requirements and that they can picture your vision and more importantly can assure you that they can deliver and make your vision come to light.
Ensure they have a portfolio of weddings they’ve planned and if possible, references to back up their claims from satisfied customers. Generally, they may also have a review on Google’s search, where people have left comments. It’s best to go through these to make sure the reviews are relevant, as sometimes you get low scores on trivial matters, such as those out of the control of the wedding planner.
Check to see if the prospective wedding planners can work within your budget, so don’t be afraid to at least have an initial chat with them about the financial side of things. Most wedding planners will be vastly experienced when organizing Sikh weddings and may even think of things that you haven’t. They will be able to advise you as to how to make your vision come to life in the best possible way. You will be able to lean on them every step of the way.
Cost vs Convenience
Although using a wedding planner service can be costly, you have to remember the time and stress that it takes off your shoulders. They will have in-house service providers so they can easily arrange and accommodate all your needs at the required time.
Wedding planners normally have a large selection of decorating items so they could easily put a table together for you to look at. This way you will be able to visualize exactly how your room/venue or table settings will look.
You will be able to get a better sense and visualize how things will look once decorated. If you have any theme nights, the wedding planners will be able to decorate the venue accordingly. As they hold or have access to decorations, this will also reduce the cost somewhat.
They will be able to provide the best service providers for your needs. A good wedding planner will only work with people who provide excellent service, are trustworthy, experienced, people who are able to adapt to different needs and requirements and are versatile.
Food and Drink
As with any Sikh wedding, any and all wedding functions consist of food and drinks. Your Wedding Planner will have in-house caterers so you can be guaranteed that not only all your food will be of the highest quality but, will also be hygienically prepared.
You should always ask any caterers even if they are recommended by wedding planner to sample their food, this way you can be assured that any and all food is to your liking and that all food will be faultless. You can always adapt the taste to your requirements, for example you can make it as spicy or as mild as you like.
The main advantage of having a wedding planner is so couples and family members can relax as at least some of the stress is taken away. Not everyone will have the time or the patience to visit a number of the service providers. You should always visit and see at least three of four of each of the service providers and never just pick the first one you visit.
Even you don’t have a budget for a wedding Planner or wish to organize your wedding yourself, the above rules still apply. Be thorough in your research, try and get recommendations and ensure you are comfortable with who you choose.
Not using an Indian Wedding Planner
I decided not to use an Indian wedding planner, as my wedding budget was already very tight and the additional costs of using a wedding planner would have required me to get into debt, which wasn’t what I wanted.
When my partner and I decided to get married, the very first thing we did was set a date for the wedding. We picked a time which gave us a whole year to plan our wedding. This meant I could take my time researching venues and various service providers and not be rushed into making any rash decisions that I may regret down the line.
As we were both older, in our thirties, we didn’t want too many functions. I personally wanted just to do the most important functions for us. We decided upon a very intimate engagement which took place at my parents’ home.
Only the immediate family were invited to this, followed by the Civil wedding, then the Sangeet and Mehndi in the evening. We decided to incorporate all three functions on one day as it made the most sense to us and we didn’t want to allocate a day to each and every function. Our wedding took place in a lovely Manor House where the Gurdwara was erected in one of the rooms, followed by our wedding reception at the same location in their marquee.
This meant that we didn’t spend money unnecessarily and our guests didn’t have to travel around different locations. Doing it this way, also meant I saved considerable amount of money on buying different outfits and accessories for each function.
I devised a spreadsheet, this helped me to stay on track with the spending. To top up my savings, I set aside few hundred pounds each month as soon as we had set a date for our wedding. This way I could save up without having the burden or pressure of any financial concerns. It also meant I could find my special venue for our big day.
Limit use of professionals
Only the functions deemed to be on a larger scale, were caught on camera by professionals. At the engagement family members took all our photographs. On the Civil marriage, Sangeet, Mendhi we had a professional cameraman.
Most of our budget was used on our wedding day. This day meant the most to both of us and obviously, this is the day we classed ourselves as being married. Apart from the caterers, we hired a Dhol player who played upon our entrance to the Manor House, a professional photographer and video person and DJ to start the party.
Wedding celebration costs
The other main cost on the day for us, was the 3-tier cake and a band which played live music in the background as our guests took their seats. The other important factor when we set our date was that we didn’t want to get married in the summer months. So, we decided to get married in December which meant we could negotiate on the price for our venue.
Most of the other Sikh weddings we previously attended, whether being friends or family, I think ours was probably the most low key. The venue made our wedding different and made our big day extremely special.
Food and Drinks
All our guests commented on how great our caterers were, with the quality of the food being described as exceptional, as well as the great service everyone received. One of the main things people remember, to this date, is our venue and the food.
Below I’ve listed some of the examples of vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food we picked, which may be an option for you to choose. I found a caterer based on a recommendation from one of extended family members and had also been to a wedding where this caterer had done the food, so I knew the quality of the food was exception. A typical three course meal I was used to for weddings comprised:
- Paneer Tikka
- Samosa Chaat
- Bhel Puri
- Aloo Tikki
- Vegetarian Kebabs
- Paneer Saag
- Vegetable Jalfrezi
- Aloo Gobi
- Mushroom Masala
- Sheik Kebabs
- Chili Prawns
- Jeera Chicken Wings
- Tandoori Chicken
- Tandoori Lamb Chops
Non-Vegetarian Main Course
- Butter Chicken
- Masala Lamb
- Prawn Curry
- Fish Masala
- Keema Muttar
All meals will normally be accompanied with naans, rice, yogurt to salads, followed by a selection of desserts: –
- Choices of Ice Cream
- Kulfi in different flavors
- Gulab Jamun
- Chocolate Fondu with variety of fruit
- Gajar Ka Halwa
At a venue, a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are normally served, so as part of the wedding planning, it makes sense to find out if any of the venues where alcohol will be served, has any bar facilities. If not, the alcohol will have to bought and distributed either by a third party or someone from the family could take care of managing this.
Remember when choosing your caterers for a venue, that you choose wisely. Always make sure you do a sample test of all your food. In a Sikh wedding, the food is long remembered even after the event.
It is imperative that once you have set your wedding date, you need to make a decision on whether you will use the services of a wedding planner or plan the wedding yourself. Decide what sort of a wedding you want, how many guests do you want to invite, how many of the wedding rituals do you want to follow.
It makes sense to decide which rituals you wish to hold at a venue, as this will then help you gauge a rough idea as to how much everything will cost, and you can start working on your budget. Remember to allocate a budget for your outfits and accessories. The more functions, the more outfits you will require.
Wedding planners take a lot of the stress in planning the wedding away and allow you to concentrate on fun side of the wedding planning, like the ceremonies, tastings to outfit choices.
Wedding planners can also have an extensive list of contacts including caterers, venue managers, photographers, camera men to limousine services. These can take the pressure of you having to do your own research in finding suitable ones.
The choice of using a wedding planner is entirely up to you, as I elected not to use one and decided to plan my wedding myself. I did have a lot of help from my family and friends. Ensuring I didn’t carry all the pressure of organizing a wedding on my own shoulders and could delegate and share the load.