While planning the direction for the blog this year I realized there is a huge gap in the online world for Indian wedding craft projects. There are quiet a few well detailed articles regarding Indian weddings taking place in countries like the US and UK, but none catering specifically to weddings happening in India. As much as I love websites like WedMeGood and TheDelhiBride– they are inspirational but not too detailed about self planned mid-budget weddings and definite DIY projects. So in my quest to assist brides and the bridal party I have created the ‘wedding‘ category wherein I am posting wedding related do-it-yourself projects and styling inspirations.
Today we will be discussing the timeline planning details for a self managed wedding, from the bride and her family’s point view. The wedding planning checklist is based on a six-month courtship period. Even if the time between your marriage being finalized and the wedding date is different, less or more, the headings will remain the same. You can also grab the free printable of the checklist by signing up at the end of the post (or click here).
SIX to FIVE MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
First and foremost is deciding on marriage. 😉 Next comes the first function called either roka, shagun or an engagement. The usual process for most functions starts with the panditji (Hindu priest) taking out an auspicious date for the ceremony. The next most important thing is the guest list, often times this is a private affair with only the very closest of family and friends being invited. Once your date and number of guests are finalized- decide on the venue for the shagun/roka.
Then comes the outfit and accessories of the bride-to-be. Usually the roka is held on the nearest auspicious date and so you are left with very little preparation time. I would advice you to go on a hunt the minute your date is finalized and select stores that you know will be able to give alterations on time. If needed call and ask if the stores provide urgent alteration or order services. Also remember to book your mehendi artist and makeup artist. Apart from the outfit selection and fittings you don’t have to be present for other parts of the preparation.
While this is going on the bride’s family members and friends (here-on called the bridal party) can decide on other details of the roka ceremony- catering, decoration and entertainment. If you are hosting the roka at your house you will need to contact a caterer, decorator and if needed entertainment like live music. Some points to discuss with the caterer would be the menu, the number of servers/ wait staff, if they can provide you with tables and serving utensils, cutlery provisions and the timings. Depending on the number of guests and your house decor you may not need additional decoration or entertainment.
If the roka is being held in a hotel or club, they have in-house catering and will happily share details of decorators. Generally the price of the venue is calculated on per head/ per plate rate and they come with a few menu options based on the number and types of dishes. It is advisable to involve an experienced bridal party member when deciding the menu and venue rates. The decorator is optional and if needed you can DIY some simple table centerpieces for the roka ceremony. You will require some sort of entertainment at the venue. This may include a fixed playlist on the CD playing through the venue speakers, a live musician or even a band. Keep the whole roka ceremony comparatively simple since there are going to be a minimum of 3-4 more functions and you will want to have a mix of event styles.
P.S:- I realize as I am writing that this may turn into a lengthy post, but being a novice during my elder sister’s wedding really inspires me to want to specify details, especially for all the ‘first-wedding-in-the-family’ brides.
In some families the wedding date is taken out only after the roka ceremony, so your next step would be to ask the panditji/ priest for auspicious date options. Meanwhile, decide on a rough guest list and the wedding budget. You will also have to sit with the groom’s side and discuss the details of the budget, who is hosting which function and number of their guests for ceremonies you are hosting. Once these specifics are decided you can head into the detailed planning.
If you are hiring a wedding planner, you will want to hire them at this stage with your budget details and guest list sorted. Next would be scouting for wedding function venues- most five star hotels and famous wedding venues are booked up-to a year in advance so keep a few date options in hand. When finalizing the wedding venue make sure there is a written contract and read through it carefully. Points to look out for would be – payment scheme, cancellation policy, services included, additional services you might have decided upon and the pricing (including menu details if any). The same process applies to venues for all other pre-wedding function venues.
If you will be hosting out-station guests you may want to get a better deal by the wedding-venue hotel. Most hotels have heavier discounts if you books rooms and host additional events at the same venue. The next most important step is to make the wedding-week timeline, so all members of the bridal party and vendors are clear on it. Even if you are having a destination wedding the planning timeline would remain similar, except for the additional travelling involved.
The other important vendors to book at the earliest are- the photographer, videographer and mehendi artist. When deciding on the photographer, along with recommendations look at their previous work to see their photography style and editing style. Most photographers also provide viedography services and if not ask them for recommendations, since both their work will overlap. While selecting any vendor for that matter look at photographs of their previous work and look for recommendations from people whose taste you trust.
FOUR to THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
This would be the time when you do most of the decision making for the wedding- from finalizing a wedding style, preparing your trousseau, deciding the decor themes for the functions to booking your choreographer and DJ. The wedding planning checklist is detailed and self-explanatory in most parts.
Alongside the function/event preparations comes the trousseau of the bride. You can read more about it in my trousseau planning and budgeting article. As for the makeup artists- get a trial makeup done before booking so you know the brands they use and their style of makeup. Not all makeup artists provide a trial, so may want to go with someone whose makeup you have seen previously or insist on the trial. It is very important you discuss the timings of the events with the makeup artist, because they may require anywhere between 2-4 hours to get you all ready (including hair styling and draping). If you book the same artist for multiple events they usually give you a discounted price too.
One important factor I feel a lot of families forget about are the rituals. Even if you are having a more casual wedding or your parents are not conformists – please discuss the details of the rituals with elders or people in the know-how. I noticed in a few recent weddings that if not sorted this leads to a lot of last minute confusion. Please note I am not saying everything will go well if you have had the rituals talk, but at least both parties- the bride and groom’s- will be better prepared. No harm in asking the groom’s side of rituals they want to observe and planning accordingly.
TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE WEDDING
The last two months of wedding preparation is crunch time! Let’s first talk through the wedding invites. You would have already informed out-station guests about the dates by now and sent out your save-the-dates. Now comes the tedious process of gathering postal addresses, finalizing wedding invite design, approving the sample invite, ordering them and sending it out. Wedding invite orders can take anywhere from 20 days to over a month to be delivered. You will want to maintain an excel sheet (or a written list if you prefer) of all the addresses. It is your choice to get the address printed or to write it by hand, getting them printed would be much easier on the bridal party though. Once you have checked the sample for spelling errors and other details you can place the order and relax for a bit.
Along with cards you want to prepare for the wedding favors. Some of these would include cash envelopes for the immediate family, gifts for close friends and favors for function days. Most families already have a set of practices in place regarding gifts to family members, if not you can use your discretion since there are no set rules.
While you and the bridal party is taking care of these preparations you can involve the groom in preparing for the marriage license, doing a couple shoot and starting with dance practices for the sangeet function. Less than two months away from the wedding is also a good time to update your budget sheet (created in the beginning) and the wedding week timeline.
Detailed discussion on to-dos ont he wedding plannign checklist for 1 month before the wedding to the ‘D-day’ is coming in a separate post. Sign-up to receive an update when it is live. 🙂
All this while maintain your calm and prepare for the adventure ahead!