Planning weddings is so fun, but the fine print always made my dad mad!  What I experienced is that a little extra work at the beginning saves a lot of headache in the end. Here are my top tips so you can avoid any surprise charges and sail smoothly into the sunset!


Invite 1 First things first, the invitations...
Most often, Indian brides get their invitations from India.  The great thing is that you can get AMAZING invitation for a deep discount.  The thing you have to be careful of is extra-large, uniquely shaped or heavy invitations can cost up to 3 dollars a piece to mail.  Multiply that by 300, and you may have wanted to go with a simpler invite and spend more on your jewelry! Try and skip boxed invitations, but if you can’t live without them (I couldn’t) then at least you are well armed with the knowledge, so you can prepare your parents!


Video camera Photography and Video...
Wedding photography and video are the most important wedding vendors. They provide the images that will last generations.  Wedding photographers and video professionals are only booked for a certain number of hours.  So, if you wedding runs longer or more likely, late you will be charged for overage. This can run from hundreds to thousands an hour! The best way to avoid this is have a detailed plan of how long it will take you to get ready and take pictures.  If you are getting married at a large hotel, make sure that you factor in walking to the scenic parts of the hotel grounds, as this may eat away up to 15 minutes of your photography time! Having a detailed itinerary of your wedding day will help you and your vendors decide what you need.


Symbols The music...
Whether you are having a band or DJ at your reception their can be hidden costs associated with either type of music you choose.  Typically, the cost of the music is for the musician or DJ’s time and the rental equipment needed.  What they don’t tell you is that if your space is large (I have yet to find a small Indian wedding!) then you will need additional speakers and microphones to have a fun, loud party.  This “surprise” can cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars!   This is clearly not the type of surprise that anyone enjoys, so make sure that you (and your planner) clearly explain the space with concrete numbers.  If you are booking at a hotel or reception hall, you should be able to get the exact dimensions from them.  This way there is no “confusion” or “miscommunication” about what was agreed upon, and if there is extra equipment needed the vendor will be responsible for the cost.  



Gift bag Welcome bags...
I was stunned to find out some of the charges hidden surrounding welcome bags.  Some hotels charge a welcome-bag delivery fee, and some even charge you a fee for storing the welcome bags, if you drop them off before the guests arrive! This can cost up to $7 per bag.  These days, everything is negotiable, so make sure that you ask what the cheapest way is to distribute the bags, and if they are not helpful move your wedding.  Okay, just kidding, you can distribute them at the Mehndi or another function.


Gold chiv Chairs...
I have yet to understand why hotels don’t have chiavari chairs for each bride to use, but that isn’t the point of this tip.  After you rent chiavaris you would think that the rental companies would include all the costs, right?  Well, sometimes they add per-item shipping and packing fees, as well as, delivery fees. (Trust me, you can not deliver these yourself.) So, the chair you thought you were getting for $5 per chair is really $9 per chair.  Get a full quote including all charges from your vendor, and have that figure on the contract.  Also, make sure that you when you shop around for the chairs you do so with the TOTAL price of the chair rental, not just the chair itself!


Wedding cake with flowers Cake...
When I was getting married, one of the only thing that my fiancée was interested in was the cake.  He wanted to get this gorgeous, “ace of cakes” style wedding cake that made us stretch our budget.  We were going to do it until we found out that the hotel had a “cake-cutting fee” of $5 per slice! We went with the onsite baker, had a beautiful cake, and saved a lot of money.  If you have to have a particular baker than just make sure that you know the venue’s and the bakery’s fine print!