YAY you’re engaged! Now what?! There are so many details to a wedding, let alone a South Asian (SA) wedding, that it is understandably confusing to even know where to begin. And that’s where we come in! Read on to check out the 6 things you should think about at the beginning of your wedding planning journey.
1. Talk to your partner about…
Your wedding planning timeframe. Have busy lives? Is a specific date or season more important to you? Or do you want to have the coolest venue in town that gets booked up quickly? Do you have big life events approaching (i.e., graduation, new job, move, residency) that are going to take precedence? Consider these details when deciding when you want to get married. The longer you give yourselves, the more time you have to research and book the vendors you love. AND you won’t feel as stressed out. Of course, if you care less about the wedding and more about being married to your significant other (SO) stat, don’t feel bad about rushing it!
Priorities. What is important to each of you as individuals? Both of you as a couple? Is it where you want to get married? Is it incorporating certain traditions into your ceremony or events? Is it getting rid of certain traditions? Get on the same page so that when parents and vendors get involved you can approach wedding as a unified front.
Plan for dealing with parents. We all love our parents, but when it comes to SA weddings most parents are more concerned about what people/guests will say rather than what is important to you both as the married couple. When this conflict (inevitably) comes up, how are you going to work towards a resolution? Will they hate the date you pick or want to change it because it isn’t auspicious? Are they less than excited about the ideas you had to create a fusion ceremony instead of having 2 separate ones?
If you anticipate some pushback when it comes to your priorities, do some role playing and brainstorm the potential objections that may come your way. This will help you be prepared with a response or a potential compromise. And don’t put your partner in a situation where they’ll be fighting with their future in-laws (and vice versa!); prep each of your parents privately so there are no surprises, and go to bat for your SO. This is your first big test as a married couple – families get involved in everything and have opinions about everything. Don’t let the drama get in between you and your partner. If you anticipate this being a huge problem in the wedding planning process and you can afford it, get counseling!
2. Think about your parents & family
Your wedding is absolutely a celebration of you and your SO. But in SA culture, it also means a HEAVY dose of family involvement. Think about the religious rites and certain traditions – chances are you’re going to have Masi’s, cousins, siblings, and parents participating. And they want to participate in more than just the ceremony itself.
Now, you don’t have to give them control over the things that are most important to you. But it’s a good idea to start thinking about aspects of wedding planning that you care less about and that they’ll be excited to help out with. This ranges from your parents (who can take on catering, finding your baraat company, searching for hair/makeup teams for friends & family) to cousins (help you put together wedding welcome bags or wedding favors, help plan and execute decoration for events that you have at home), and even friends (help plan your bachelorette party/vacation and bridal shower). They want to help. So put ’em to work!
To make communication a breeze, set up texting/email groups that will help you divide and conquer. And only pick reliable family members! Decide if your wedding planner will be in charge of communicating with family or, if you aren’t working with a planner, determine who will share that responsibility. Lastly, it’s better to ask everyone if they want to be involved and then gather the eager beaver volunteers. It’ll help you avoid bruising egos and hurting feelings by picking and choosing certain people over others.
3. Figure out your budget
Before you start falling in love with vendors and venues who cost $$$$, arrange a time for both families to meet, discuss ALL of the above, and start conversations about budget. Some families are super old school and want the bride’s family to cover everything (which is gross and needs to END). others are more progressive and are eager to split the cost for everything. And then there are families who fall in between.
We’ve also heard from couples whose families are super controlling, which led the couple to pay for a lot of the things they wanted to avoid confrontation. There is no right answer for everyone, but there is a right answer for you and your SO. Start conversations now. Accordingly, be prepared for the changes you may need to make in your priority list.
4. Create a vision board
People who know EXACTLY what they want for their wedding tend to be in the minority. Besides, with all of the unique vendors, creative decor, new clothing trends/designers, and personal ways that couples have their weddings reflect them, it’d be a miracle for you to know right off the bat how you want everything to look and feel come your wedding week. The best way to start honing in on a vision that will make you and your SO happy is to create a vision/mood board.
It doesn’t have to be anything crazy – it can be as simple as a Word document where you copy and paste photos you find from Pinterest, Google Images, and Instagram. And don’t limit yourself to wedding-specific photos either. If you find pictures of landscapes that you like, a fun pattern, interior decor/design that’s gorgeous, or even pictures of cocktails, add it to the board! A creative person who is good at their job will be able to look at those images and pull ideas from them that will be specific to you.
What’s just as important as coming up with a board of things that speak to you is a list of non-negotiables + a list of what you absolutely DO NOT want. It can help provide your vendor with better ideas/a clearer vision. For example, some brides go in saying things like “boho chic vibe” which can be interpreted in so many different ways.
BONUS: Bring your board and list of do-not’s and non-negotiables with you and use it as an interview question when meeting with potential planners, decorators, photographers, and clothing designers. It’s a great way to suss out whether they’re going to throw standard suggestions your way or help bring your personality and taste to life. For example, ask them, “Given out budget of X, what are some ways you can bring some of my inspiration to life for my Sangeet, ceremony, and reception?”
5. Start thinking about a timeline & wedding program
It may seem reallllly early to be doing this, but start thinking about how you want your timeline and program to look now. We’ve all been to weddings where the speeches have been too long or there have been too many. If this bothered you, come up with a time limit for speeches. Plan for only one per side (given by either family or friends). If a ton of people already want to do a dance performance, decide how you’ll split it up across events. Maybe alternate between a speech and a dance to keep things entertaining for your guests.
Timeline is also super important for venue/vendor booking. Having events on Thursdays and Fridays vs. the weekends can drastically change the cost of both venues and vendors. Do you want all of your events on separate days so that you and your guests have time to recuperate each day? Do you want your ceremony to be indoors/outdoors or at a certain time of day? Recent trends have been to have one event each day, even splitting up the ceremony and reception between 2 days (keep in mind this may be asking your guests to take almost a week off/away). Timeline will dictate a HUGE aspect for all vendors involved.
6. Plan your engagement shoot
One of the first things that couples do as soon as wedding planning begins is plan their engagement shoot. These are the images that will be used for save-the-dates (if you plan on sending those out) or your wedding website. Your photos from this shoot have the potential to really set the tone for the rest of the wedding planning process – it’s the first time everything starts feeling REAL and often how you and your SO will be introduced to families for the first time.
Talk about the vibe that you’re aiming for. What best represents you and your relationship? Think about the location, your budget, and what outfits you want to wear. Do you want a casual coffee date? A black-tie Vogue-style spread? Or is an intimate shoot in the comfort of your home more your style? Does the photographer who will shoot your engagement photos also shoot your wedding images? Sometimes they can create great pricing packages if you do all of your images from beginning to end with one vendor. Do you want to get super fancy and do a video as your save-the-date instead like a creative music/dance video or a destination video?
Tips or comments about this article? Have a topic you want us to research and write about? Drop us an email at [email protected]
Founder & Chief Visionary, proud fur mom of 2, amateur artist, Netflix binger, wino, and chocolate addict.