In April 2021, my sister and her fiance got engaged We were thrilled for them and excited to celebrate their engagement! Less than 2 days after the engagement, they told us they wanted to get married in July. We thought they meant July 2022, but we realized they meant July 2021, which was about 2.5 months away at the time.
The whole family panicked a bit. As someone who spent over a year planning her own wedding and as someone who’s been in the wedding industry for the last year, I won’t lie that I didn’t think they were crazy. But, we got over the emotions and decided to do everything we could do to bring their dream wedding to life.
I’m happy to say that they brought their dream Hindu wedding in Dallas to life and want to share some tips on how you can plan your Desi wedding if crunched for time! We recently published an article for the modern Indian bride with 10+ months to plan a wedding, but this article is for the South Asian bride, groom, and parents who want to throw together a beautiful Indian wedding in less than three months!
PC: William Bichara
Hair & Makeup: JTorry
Key Indian wedding activities
Determine priorities: In several articles, we’ve talked about how important it is to set your priorities before you truly get into wedding planning. It’s important for the couple getting married and all key stakeholder (i.e., parents of the bride and groom) to talk about what’s most important to them. We’ve included some common priorities below, but you may have other priorities like making sure a favorite sports team is featured or your dog is a part of the wedding. It’s important to discuss these priorities at the beginning, so whenever you have a controversial decision or a tough conversation, you can revisit these priorities.
- The couple enjoys (has fun at) the wedding
- The parents enjoy (have fun at) the wedding
- Using time wisely and making decisions quickly
- Managing relationships with family and in-laws
- Staying under budget
- Impressing the guests
- Keeping the guests entertained
- Great food that everyone enjoys
- Celebrating traditions and adhering to religious rituals
- Making logistics as convenient as possible (e.g., transportation, schedule, etc)
- Getting it over with, so we can move on with our lives
- Finalize dates and the events: After you’ve discussed priorities, finding a date has to be top of mind, given that you are looking to plan a Desi wedding in under 3 months! If you are Hindu, talk to your family priest or priestess about potential auspicious dates (if this matters to your family). Once you have a couple of dates in mind, you may also want to think about the venue and other factors like the day of the week.
If you are flexible on dates and you are in heavy wedding season, you are more likely to get your top vendor picks if you go with a week-day wedding. Secondly, if you are tight on budget, you’re also more likely to get better vendor pricing with a week-day wedding. Forget holiday weddings or peak weekend weddings as it will be difficult to find the top vendors these weekends.
As a note make sure your officiant is available before you finalize the day. You can’t have a wedding without the couple and the officiant!
Finally, make sure you know which events you are planning. For example, do you plan to have a garba or sangeet or a welcome dinner or cocktail reception? It helps to go through key events during Hindu weddings and determine which ones you’d like to host.
After finalizing dates and priorities, there is alist of other activities that are top priority.
- Determine venue(s): Now that you have a couple of dates in mind, it’s important to lock down your venue or multiple venues if you need them. We usually recommend understanding how many wedding guests you will have (e.g., 50-100 people or 400 people, etc) even if you haven’t finalized your guest list. Having a guest count in mind will help you find a venue with the right capability.
- Determine guestlist: After you have your wedding venue and potentially sangeet venue or other venues, put together your wedding guest list. You can either start with capacity and allocate a number of people to the bride and groom and the parents, or alternately, start with a blank spreadsheet (or an old guestlist) and prioritize who you would like to invite. We recommend creating a google doc with multiple columns for each person’s name, each event, email address, and mailing address if required. This way you can keep the details in one place, but more importantly, mark who will be invited to which event. You may include all of your relatives to the mehndi, haldi, and grah shanti, but perhaps you only want to include your parents’ acquaintances to the wedding reception. It helps to get a guest count by event. With a google doc, you, your significant other, parents, and other stakeholders like siblings can go in and edit the document on their own time.
- Send Save-the-Dates: By the time, you’ve finalized your dates and the venue, you probably have about 2 months until the big D-Day. It’s important to get these dates on the calendar. Instead of physical invites, given the timeline to create and mail, we recommend digital save-the-dates. You can easily create these on Canva or send via Minted or another application. A tip to send these save-the-dates and other emails is to use Mail Merge, so you can personalize the emails with your guests’ names and invite with which events they are invited to. Once you set up Mail Merge, it only takes one click to email personalized messages, instead of a monotonous copy and paste you might have to do for 100+ emails! We've written a whole article about Wedding Invitations 101, so check it out to go one level deeper on save-the-dates and invitations!
- Create a web site: Now that you’ve got the key details like wedding venue, wedding date, and save-the-dates out of the way, you should decide on whether or not to create a website. There are pros and cons to having a website. The main advantage is just that you have to create a website or hire a designer to create your wedding website! See our article on Desi Wedding Invitations 101 to learn more about the different websites: Zola, Appy Couple, and Knot to pick the best one for your Desi wedding.
- Send official invitations: To make your wedding official, don’t forget to send formal invitations. You can choose to work with a designer or an online storefront like Minted to design and mail physical invitations, or you can work with Customizing Creativity or someone else to design digital wedding evites. With plantable invitations and digital invitations, there are plenty of sustainable options. Even if you decide to mail printed invitations, we highly recommend having your guests RSVP online to keep RSVP management easy and organized.
PC: William Bichara
Hair & Makeup: JTorry
Tips for finding a last-minute wedding venue
- Go outside of the city to find your dream wedding venue: Look for venues in the suburbs and potentially even 30-45 minutes out. As an example, in Dallas, you may want to look at venues in Celina, Texas.
- Look at venues that don’t typically host Indian weddings: It’s possible the Marriott wedding venues, Hilton wedding ballrooms, and Omni wedding banquet halls are booked but try exploring independent rustic barns, wedding halls, large restaurants, gardens, and museums as creative options, especially if you are looking for multiple venues for the sangeet and mehndi. As you speak to these venues, make sure you ask them whether they allow third-party South Asian catering (and the charge) and a ceremonial fire if you are planning a Hindu wedding.
- Make sure your wedding venue is flexible and works for the season: Finally, this is a tip regardless of how much time you have to plan your wedding. If you are planning a July or August Desi wedding in Dallas, make sure your guests will have air conditioning! If you are planning an April Indian wedding in Houston, while April showers may be deemed auspicious by your grandparents, you don’t want to be soaked at the mandap. Plan for an indoor backup option or a large outdoor tent. Just be mindful of the weather and have a backup option in case the weather does not act in your favor!
PC: William Bichara
Decor: Divine Decor of Dallas
Locking down key wedding vendors
Now that you have a South Asian wedding venue and a wedding date, it’s important to lock down your other shaadi vendors as quickly as possible.
- Hair & Makeup: If we had to pick one vendor to book right away, it would be your hair and makeup artist. You will look back at your pictures and remember the amazing day you had as well as how gorgeous you looked. Hair and makeup artists often get booked 9-12 months in advance, so it’s crucial you figure out which bridal artist you’d like to work with and book them. Find the best South Asian bridal makeup artists on The Desi Bride.
- Wedding Planner: We highly recommend at minimum hiring a day-of wedding planner, so you and your family can enjoy the wedding events and not be concerned about where vendors are or missing pooja samagri. Since you are only 90 days away from the wedding, you will be fine with a partial wedding planner or a day-of coordinator.
- Decor: Start by creating a separate mood board on Pinterest for each of your wedding events - from the haldi to the mehendi, sangeet night, Desi wedding ceremony, and wedding reception. From there, you can shortlist your decor vendors, share these mood boards, and get a quote after an initial consultation. We recommend getting a quote from at least 2-3 decor vendors to understand how much decor will cost as decor costs can vary significantly.
- Photography / Videography: Look at the different Desi wedding photographers and videographers on The Desi Bride. Once you’ve picked your style, reach out to the wedding photographer or South Asian videographer to understand their availability and sign a contract. Finally, don’t forget about virtual streaming if it’s important for you to include guests who cannot travel. Your videographer should be able to include virtual streaming as a part of the package to make sure your Zoom wedding comes to life.
- Catering: While your wedding venue may come with a list of required caterers, you have the luxury of selecting a wedding caterer or restaurant for your other wedding events like the pithi and mehndi. You can do a non-Indian favorite cuisine like Thai, Tex Mex or a pizza food truck or opt for a traditional North Indian or South Indian food menu. Don’t forget about chaat or live stations! Finally, make sure you set up tastings with each caterer to finalize your wedding menu.
- DJ / Dhol / Emcee: You may end up working with a speaker and a Spotify playlist for your home wedding events like the pithi, but make sure you have a DJ booked for the baraat and wedding reception. Most wedding guests say they remember how much fun the wedding was, and the DJ and Emcee are crucial for making sure your guests enjoy your wedding and especially the dance floor at the end of the night.
- Stationery: You’ve already sent out your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, but don’t forget about other stationery needs like table cards, name plates, wedding reception seating chart, wedding program and guest welcome notes.
- Baraat: Does the groom want to ride on a horse or elephant or in a luxury car? Book your baraat vendor as well as they DJ to make sure you have a fun-filled baraat.
- Room block: If you have guests traveling out of town, secure a room block with a discount code either at your wedding venue or a hotel close to the wedding venue.
- Cake / Dessert: Don’t forget the wedding cake! When you choose to opt for a three-tiered wedding cake or fresh jalebi, gulab jamun, and mango kulfi, Indian weddings are filled with sweets and desserts.
- Wedding Favors: If you want to leave your wedding guests with a token of your love, make sure you order these in advance! We’ve seen everything from mithai boxes to custom soy candles, personalized photo coasters, and DIY tea stations. Visit The Desi Bride’s wedding essential vendors to find inspiration for your wedding favors (wedding gifts).
- Novelty Vendors: Now that you’ve finalized most of your wedding vendors, take the time to figure out how you’d like to make your wedding unique. Maybe you want to have a Sufi live band at the wedding, a Bollywood dance team at the sangeet, a live painter, or a live paan or live jalebi station. From paan shots to a chai cart, there are so many fun ways to create a memorable wedding.
PC: William Bichara
Finding your Desi bridal outfits
With less than 3 months to find your bridal outfits, working with a designer to create a custom bride outfit will be difficult. Custom outfits can easily take 6+ months to design. Instead, you’ll find several great options online or at shops around Texas and bridal shops around the country. Check out The Desi Bride clothing options for your bridal lehenga or saree and your groom’s sherwani along with bridesmaids’ sarees and groomsmen’s kurtas.
Don’t forget jewelry, shoes, and other accessories!
PC: William Bichara
Finalizing the details ahead of your wedding day
Now for the final wedding details, we’ve included a list of items to make sure you have covered off on.
- Pooja samagri: Make sure you talk to your pandit and ask for a list of everything require for the Hindu wedding ceremony and for any other wedding events. We recently published an article about Indian Hindu Wedding Rituals 101 as a reference.
- Masks / PPE: If you plan to have a Covid-safe event, order masks for your guests, make sure all wedding guests are vaccinated, and have someone taking temperatures at every event.
- Gifts for the families: If you are planning to have a first look or gifts for each other families, make a list and purchase these ahead of the wedding.
- Wedding signs or any DIY decor: Don’t forget to make wedding sights like “Welcome to Nisha & Amit’s wedding” or plan out any DIY wedding decor you’d like to have.
PC: William Bichara
Mehndi: Sheetal's Henna Designs
While 90 days to plan an Indian wedding can feel intimidating, it’s completely feasible to quickly plan your dream wedding as long as you follow a process. We have everyone from the best wedding venues in Texas, top hair and makeup artists in Dallas, South Asian wedding favors, Indian caterers in Houston and the best photographers in Dallas featured on The Desi Bride. Visit The Desi Bride today to start your wedding vendor search. Happy wedding planning!