All decked up for your wedding? Know how to curtail expenses

Unlike in the earlier days, even the bride and groom are now involved in the meticulous planning for this big occasion. (iStock)
Unlike in the earlier days, even the bride and groom are now involved in the meticulous planning for this big occasion. (iStock)


Four brides-to-be chalk out their strategies aimed at cutting costs on food, attire, photography and venues.

Marriages are made in heaven, goes the saying. That, however, does not include the wedding expenses. Yet, most Indian families are known to loosen their purse strings for this major financial goal. And unlike in the earlier days, even the bride and groom are involved in the meticulous planning for this big occasion. That involves hiring the wedding planner, designing the wedding invitations, buying jewellery, dresses and gifts, drawing up the guest list, deciding the venue and the lavish menu, and the honeymoon destination. The list seems endless, and it is difficult to keep a lid on the expenses.

But, do weddings have to be really very expensive? Mint spoke to four soon-to-be brides who disagreed with this notion. They also had some out-of-box ideas to curb expenses.

No-frills registered marriage

Delhi-based Apoorva Shalom, 31, has decided on a court-registered marriage followed by a small ceremony at a temple. “People spend lakhs and crores of rupees on their wedding but I want to spend the bare minimum," says Shalom, who works at a Gurugram-based outsourcing firm that caters to marketing and information technology.

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Graphic: Mint

To be sure, a court marriage does not involve much expenses. The registration fee for the marriage is just 2,000 to 2,500. The temple ceremony will cost Shalom 66,000 and catering an extra 30,000. While bridal attire makes up a big chunk of the wedding expenses, Shalom has decided to rent her costumes and allocated 6,500-10,000 for this in her wedding budget.

To be sure, renting wedding apparel is about 50-85% cheaper than buying them. However, rental companies demand a security deposit to cover the cost of any damage, particularly stains. In case of tears, burns or permanent stains, they will demand up to 150% of the cost of the attire.

Shalom also has plans for the amount saved from her no-frills wedding. “I will put that in a fixed deposit and use it for any exigency later or for my children’s education in the future."

The DIY bride

In Udupi, a big town in coastal Karnataka, Payal Poojary is doubling up as a wedding planner for her D-day. “There is scope to cut costs in event management, so I’ve taken upon that role myself," says the 29-year-old business analyst.

Poojary has decided to host two of the events—bangle and henna ceremonies— at her family house rather than a banquet hall. “My home is located near the beautiful and serene backwaters of Udupi," she said. Organizing a single event at a banquet hall can cost anywhere between 1 lakh and 3 lakh, despite the limited number of guests. This includes the cost of food and decoration. In contrast, hosting both the events at home will cost Poojary less than 1.7 lakh, which includes the charges for decoration, catering, and the henna ceremony. The fees for the beautician and the cost of the bridal wear will add up to another 25,000.

“I love DIY (do-it-yourself) projects. So, for the events happening at home, I plan to do the decoration myself. I’m also designing the invitation cards," says Poojary.

She is not splurging on a banquet hall or a star hotel for the wedding either and has instead opted for a temple wedding. “It was easy to convince both our parents about the venue because they too got married in the same temple," she said.

The wedding will cost Poojary 3.15 lakh that includes rent for the wedding hall located on the temple premises ( 60,000), decoration ( 35,000), food ( 2 lakh), and miscellaneous expenses ( 20,000). In temple weddings in south India, the food is mostly prepared by the temple cooks.She has arranged for a beautician for the day of the wedding at a cost of 15,000.

Poojary has been mindful to allocate more money towards what she considers to be an investment, rather than a one-time expense. For instance, she has set aside a higher amount for gold jewellery, while she has cut down on clothes and decoration. Instead of buying a heavily accessorised wedding dress, Poojary will wear a Kanjivaram silk saree priced around 30,000, which she says can be used later on during festivals or other special occasions.

Traditional tunes

Contrary to the current trend of destination weddings that are an elaborate affair lasting multiple days, Kalka-based Sakshi Chaudhary has decided to have a simple home wedding.

Chaudhary, 28, a professional event planner, is putting her skills to good use by sourcing the best services at minimal costs. For instance, she has tied up with local caterers and street vendors for food. For the ensemble, Chaudhary has a low-cost creative solution. “I am styling and designing my own outfits. I will source the fabrics from wholesale markets in Delhi and will get each dress stitched by a fashion designer friend who is not charging me . “This will help me save almost 50-80% on the cost of the four outfits that I need to wear at different functions," she says. Yet, the wedding dresses will cost Chaudhary about 1 lakh. “Had I bought the wedding wear from stores, it would have easily cost me about 2.7 lakh," she adds. However, designing clothes and sourcing the right fabric needs expertise and may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

When asked about the wedding decor, Chaudhary said she is planning to combine the haldi and mehendi ceremonies. Also, she will add some lights to the same decor and use the setup for a cocktail party in the evening. All the three events will be held in the lawns of her house and will save her the cost of spending on a wedding venue.

She is also relying on a tech-hack to save on photography. Typically, wedding photographers charge 15,000-40,000 for each event that they cover. “For the mehendi and haldi ceremonies and the wedding, a friend, who is also a professional photographer, will capture the events. For the cocktail party, we will use a mobile app called POV, which allows guests to register for wedding and use a QR code to take snaps with their phones. All these photos can then be accessed by all the assembled guests," Chaudhary explained.

Chaudhary will host the Anand Karaj, a Sikh wedding ceremony, at her home. However, the wedding lunch will be held at a banquet hall as her guest list has around 700 people. The lunch will cost her about 9 lakh, which includes the hall rent, decoration and catering.

Chaudhary has booked the services of some friends for make-up and photography. “It will boost their business and also help me cut costs," she said. “As an event manager, I have seen people splurge several crores of rupees on a 3-day wedding. That did not go down well with me and I decided against following this trend of destination wedding. Also, I want my vidaai (farewell) to happen at my home where I’ve grown up instead of a hotel."

Shopping hacks

Gurugram-based Palak Mehrotra has some smart hacks up her sleeve that helped her curb expenses. For one, she is sending out e-invites to her guests. “Traditional wedding cards cost around 90,000 to 1.3 lakh, whereas a digital invite costs you nothing," says Mehrotra, who handles operations at a leading fast-moving consumer goods company.

For her D-day attire, Mehrotra had decided that she would wait for the festive season sales that starts in August. That is when most shops in Delhi offer huge discounts. “I made a trip to Chandni Chowk in Delhi sometime back to get an idea of the various designs and prices available in the market. I decided then itself what I wanted to buy. When the festive sales began, I went there again and bought a lehenga worth 70,000 for just 35,000," she says. A lehenga is the skirt that Hindu brides, particularly in north India, wear for their wedding.

Similarly, Mehrotra did extensive groundwork before zeroing down on the marriage venue. She and her fiancé were both born and brought up in Jim Corbett (Uttarakhand) and decided to book a resort that is offering end-to-end services for two days. The total budget is 25 lakh, inclusive of the food, decoration, lodging for guests, and music for all the events.

“This was cheaper compared to booking a venue and the catering separately. If booked separately, the venue offers only lodging and costs around 10 lakh and catering another 17-25 lakh. Decor charges, too, will be separate," she said.

Palak was able to find a local wedding photographer and make-up specialist within a suitable budget of 1 lakh and 20,000, respectively, to cover all her bridal functions. Palak says she searched for cheaper deals wherever possible as she wants to invest in a house and buy a car, besides other necessities, after the wedding.

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