Trousseau Planning and Budgeting


A close friend of mine recently got engaged and we began our long conversations about wedding planning. One of our favorite topics of discussion is the trousseau, from bridal to casual outfits. Having experienced the nightmare of planning a trousseau during a few other close weddings I decided to make a checklist and discuss a few pointers. I believe in being organised in life especially for big events like a wedding, so the original list was too detailed but I cut it down to cover the broader categories. Hope this list helps you plan and budget your ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ trousseau.


Once the wedding date, number of functions and the venues have been decided start by segregating the total budget for the trousseau. Next, decide on what kind of ensemble you need for each event and their individual budgets. At this stage also dedicate a part of the budget towards beauty and other services. A bride these days carries a mix of Indianwear and westernwear outfits, determine the number for each category.  The fashion jewellery, accessories and makeup products are easily found in various price points and can be adjusted within the remaining budget.

Weddings all across India have different rituals and ensemble needs, the following list is broadly based on Marwari weddings and feel free to customize the list. I have not included any real jewellery items because usually a separate amount is budgeted for it and the requirements differ according to family traditions.


First on the list is the most expensive garment- the bridal outfit. Bridal lehengas from bigger designers, like Sabyasachi Mukherjee, start at approx Rs.2.5 lakhs. You could buy designer copies or boutique designed lehengas for anywhere between Rs.50 thousand to Rs.4 lakhs. For the bridal lehenga try a few different brands before finalising. Go bridal shopping with an open mind, you might just like something you never imagined you would. You could apply the same logic for your reception outfit if that is the main event. Most people overlook the added cost of accessories for their bridal ensemble, these add up to a considerable amount. Pick a pair of comfortable shoes as your wedding will involve long hours of standing. Plan before hand for the bangles, hair accessories and any other items you might need.

Next are the outfits for your pre-wedding events and the reception. Ideally your sangeet garment will be the second most expensive outfit followed by the engagement outfit. Do not spend too much on the mehendi outfit, pick a stylish silhouette that stands out from the rest of your trousseau. Many brides also go for gowns as their reception or sangeet outfits. While buying event outfits make sure there are no colour or embroidery style overlaps – two important factors of Indianwear.

Decide on the total number of Indianwear outfits and westernwear outfits you will be carrying. A few factors to keep in mind are- the city you will shift to after marriage, the in-laws and your work profile. If you are going to wear ethnicwear rarely buy most pieces in evergreen designs and just a few trendy designs. Assuming you don’t have to wear sarees daily, most people don’t these days, buy medium to heavy sarees that you can wear for family functions. In suits buy a mix of heavy, medium and light. When you have guests at home, especially right after the wedding, you will require the dressier suits. Pick a few casual printed suits too for the collection.

Westernwear is often counted in sets for the trousseau even though you purchase them as separates. To know more about the basics you could refer to my Wardrobe Essentials post series. Pick a variety of styles in each category. Lingerie is an expensive affair, both regular and special styles. Don’t buy styles just because someone says, buy it only if you feel good in it. Loungewear or sleepwear is a personal choice, you want nightdress or nightsuits. While buying the westernwear pick a few styles according to your honeymoon destination. You could even dedicate a separate section for your honeymoon checklist.


Next are the accessories. Depending on your need post-marriage decide the number of bags and shoes you require. Not all of them have to be new, if you plan to carry some of your existing accessories subtract them from the total number. The same applies for the fashion jewellery. Many brides like to keep all things new in their trousseau and that is okay too, just keep the budget in mind. You can always build upon your collection through married life. The list of fashion jewellery is self-explanatory.

When it comes to makeup it’s preferable to buy new products since your needs will change and makeup products come with a shelf life. There are sets available from Rs.2000 onwards , you could also build a custom kit from brands like MAC and Inglot. The brushes are as important as the products itself. Remember to add makeup remover, cotton balls, manicure kit, nail polish and nail polish remover. Include the costs of hair dryers, hair straighteners and other hair accessories too. Purchase a minimum of two perfumes, one for special occasions and one for daily use. Toiletries to buy include bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, facewash, face creams, lotions, etc. Apart from the regular sized toiletries purchase a set of travel sized products too. You could buy smaller sizes of the same brands or go luxurious, for brands like Crabtree and Evelyn, as you will be using them for your honeymoon. (Read more on Trousseau Makeup Essentials.)

In the service section I have include the four major items. The hair and beauty treatments often start months before the wedding day. Keeping a track of the amount spent becomes difficult and some people do not even include it in their budget. These might not take up a major amount but any small costs become part of the additional budget. It’s better to pre-plan an amount and if required go above that. The mehendi artists come for anywhere between Rs.3500 to Rs.18,000 for the bridal mehendi. If you are having an engagement weeks before the wedding you will require to add the mehendi artist’s cost for both the events. Some brides use the same makeup artist for multiple functions and some use a lower priced artist for pre-wedding functions and the higher priced for just the wedding day. Both ways are fine. Many makeup artists provide good deals if you use them for multiple events. Do take makeup trials from the artist before finalising and if that’s not possible choose the artist that comes highly recommended. Do not scrooge on the makeup artist, your face will be highlight of your wedding photography.

The method to use my trousseau checklist is to write the quantity and the maximum price for each item, then multiply it which gives the total amount. I have only given the price column for the fashion jewellery, beauty products and service category since the price of individual items may vary drastically, For example you could buy a compact powder for Rs.800 and also have an eye-shadow palette of Rs.2500 in the same makeup kit. One important factor to keep in mind is the time you have for trousseau shopping. If yours is a long courtship, like my friend’s, you could score a few pieces during the sales. Even if your’s is a short courtship do not hurry and buy the first thing you like. Have patience for trousseau shopping. Also keep in mind your in-laws will be gifting you clothes and accessories too. If possible co-ordinate their buys with yours so that you don’t end up with two very similar things.

I realise the post has become too long. Even though I can discuss this further and with more details, I will stop now. If you have any queries just write in to me. Let me know if this helped any of the brides-to-be and what other topics you would like me to discuss. 😀

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