Your fiance and you have decided to tie the knot and get married and have dreamed up the perfect wedding. Not everyone can spend 50 Million Pounds on a wedding as Mr. Pramod Mittal the younger brother of Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal did for his daughter’s wedding in spectacular Barcelona recently! So before you go ahead with anything else, you and your fiance must decide the big question: How are you going to finance it?
In the bygone era, within an arranged marriage scenario, it was a foregone conclusion that the parents would pay for all the marriage expenses. Typically the bride’s family would pay for the engagement ceremony, the mehendi ceremony, the sangeet, other traditional ceremonies and also meals! The bride’s father would also pay for the lodging and accommodation of all the outstation wedding guests not to mention the bride’s trousseau, and of course buy gifts for the bridegroom and his family which included the likes of watches, perfumes, clothes and heck even sometimes even a car or a swanky apartment! Being the father of the bride was indeed tough on your pocket! The groom’s family on the other hand would only buy clothes and jewelry for the bride and host a reception.
Modern Indian Couples are Rewriting the Rules
That was before the Indian economy boomed and youngsters started earning big salaries as soon as they graduated. This meant that young people have become more independent and do not want to get into an arranged marriage set-up. Since they have chosen their partners themselves and have also become more liberated in their thinking, they are going ahead and taking care of all the aspects of a wedding including the expenses and are only expecting their parents to chip in with whatever they can apart from giving their blessings. Of course, some parents are indeed willing to pay all the expenses (Ask Shrishti Mittal and Gulraj Behl about their contributions to the Rs. 500 Crore Bill!) because a child’s wedding is a source of great joy and is something they look forward to since the moment their child is born. But with rising inflation and increasing wealth of younger Indians, it does make sense for both sides of the family to divide the expenses based on their affluence and spending power. In cases where the parents are not so well off and the couple are earning well, it does not make sense to burden the parents. In this case the couple may decide that they themselves will share all wedding expenses either by diving into their savings or by taking a loan and pay the EMI’s later. In other cases, both families may simply draw up a total bill amount and split it 50:50 or any other ratio that is deemed suitable.
To cut costs, it has even become acceptable for the bride’s family to limit the number of guests that the groom’s family is entitled to invite. This act is itself a dramatic change from the times when it was simply unthinkable to place such demands on the groom’s family. Times have changed and how!
So Who Pays For What
To effectively dispel misunderstandings galore in the future, it is best that the couple set up a meeting with both sets of parents and thrash out all the aspects of the budget even though these are sensitive topics and can create lots of ego issues and behavioural shifts among the elders. You must also make it clear that every rupee will be accounted for and that everyone will be informed about what their monies were spent on. As mentioned earlier, most people are sensitive about their wealth because at the end of the day, wealth is intimately tied with status in Indian society and being insensitive about such matters may create a lot of negativity and lead to endless gossip and arguments. Defer from making statements such as: “We know that this is how much you can give.” and the likes.
Other Financial Sources
Other members of your family and close friends can also contribute to your wedding expenses. Your grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins can also be good resources for financial contributions if not in cash but in kind. They could offer to pay for the banquet hall, booze at the sangeet, floral decorations etc. The rich friend’s mother who owns the sea facing bungalow could host the mehendi at the bungalow while the uncle who is foodie could choose to host the meals for out-of-station guests. Family members and friend chipping in will feel more involved and will be a great asset during the stressful times ahead. Borrowing money from the bank or from money lenders should be the last resort and only if you feel that the budget in hand will not meet the mental imagery of your grand wedding. As far as possible, do not take personal loans to pay for your wedding. If money is short, cut down on the ostentation. You will remember our advice in the future when 5 years later you are still paying loans apart from the additional expenses of starting a family such as a home, car, children’s education etc.
1. Once you have set an upper limit for the wedding budget, under no circumstances must you go over it.
2. Set a contingency fund aside fro your budget for surprise spendings and miscellaneous expenditure. This may come in handy when you realise that your guest list has increased or when you just have to get that gorgeous wedding trousseau.
3. Mark out items where you must spend more than average because of your nose for quality (think bridal outfits, styling etc.), items where you must pay market rates in order to receive the quality that you and your guests deserve (catering, DJ etc.) and items where you can compromise on the costs to save money (think banquet halls, wedding photographer’s fee etc.).
Of course the pointers above are just an indication. You may decide that the wedding photographer’s fee must be in the ‘must spend’ category of point one because you just love the beauty of the pictures that a professional wedding photographer may take. Food and drinks may be the top most priority for one couple while it may land on the bottom heap of priorities for another. A fabulous destination honeymoon may be on the top for one couple while another may decide to even ditch the honeymoon to make room for a 5 star ballroom reception! People are wired differently! Celebrate your uniqueness and earmark your budgets accordingly.
Check out our Wedding Expenses Planning Sheet below. Save print outs and then use them to calculate your expenses. Happy Planning!
Indian Wedding Budget Templates
Tania Verma is the Head of Operations at Alliance One’s Pune Head Office. A mechanical engineer by education, she has a wide variety of experience in various fields such as manufacturing, consumer products and services and the Retail Sector. A strong operational person Tania gets the job done however tight the deadlines and however tough and arduous the task. She excels under pressure and maintains excellent relationships with our corporate clients as well as high networth individuals all over India who have used the company’s services in the past and continue to do so. Having married recently she feels strongly about untruthful people taking advantage of others and has taken a deep and abiding interest in our pre matrimonial detectives Mumbai business and leads our able team from the front.