5 Steps to choosing the right vendor for your South Asian wedding

The most important thing to consider when planning your wedding is deciding who will be on your wedding team —the vendors who will make your wedding vision come true. Brown Bride is a vendor directory for South Asian weddings in the USA and Canada created to help you navigate this very challenge.

Step 1: Estimate your budget

This is one of the most important starting points before even choosing a vendor. Estimate a budget for your wedding with your fiancé. Here are some questions to keep in mind when having the Budget Conversation:

  • How many people do you want to have? Invite all your aunties and uncles from India or keep it a low-key affair?
  • Number of events – your South Asian culture and religion have a big role to play when it comes to determining the number of events you want to have and can drive up the budget (check out our Mehndi Decor essentials under $50 for some inspo)
  • Will family help pay for one or more events? Once you’ve determined the number of people and events, it’s important to have a conversation with both your parents and loved ones to see if they are willing to pitch in. And remember, this can also mean providing a home or backyard for a smaller event, which can save on costs.
  • DIY everything or hire a wedding planner – while DIY can be an inexpensive option for some, it can also mean an increase in time for you and your loved ones to create your desired look
  • Type of venue – going for a hotel hall or ballroom can significantly lower costs with all-inclusive pricing packages, but modern options such as a vineyard or farmhouse can set you apart from traditional South Asian weddings

Step 2: Create your initial vendor list, organized by category

It’s spreadsheet time! Now that you’ve determined the number of people and number of events, you’ll have a much easier time coming up with the vendor list. Create a spreadsheet on Google Sheets and list out all the vendors you need, and for which event. This is just the first stab – you’ll iterate on this as you get more information from actual vendors. Check out the sample table below to help you get started, and don’t forget to browse our list of vendors on Brown Bride:

Vendor CategorySangeet?Mehndi?Haldi?Ceremony?Reception?
DJ + LightingXXX
Hair & MakeupXXXX
Henna ArtistXX
Saree DraperX

Step 3: Find 2-3 vendors for each category and schedule virtual or in-person appointments

Based on our experience at Brown Bride, South Asian vendors can be some of the most sought-after businesses within the wedding industry. We strongly recommend browsing sites like Brown Bride for vendors in your area and messaging them to schedule virtual or in-person appointments. Make sure you have your list of questions ready such as:

  1. Availability: What dates do you have available? We’d like to get married on ________________
  2. Pricing: What is your pricing for __________ # of guests? What is the deposit and payment schedule?
  3. Fees: Are there any fees not captured in your pricing package such as service fees or overtime?
  4. Location: Is there a travel fee?
  5. Partnerships: Do you partner with other vendors and is it possible to get a discount?
  6. Communication: How do you typically communicate with your clients, how often, etc?
  7. COVID clause: Does the contract include a “COVID clause” or something similar where you are financially protected if your event(s) have to be canceled or postponed?

Step 4: Do your research and read reviews

We cannot stress this enough – read up on reviews of every vendor you’re considering hiring. This is particularly important for South Asian weddings, where couples have traditionally relied on word-of-mouth referrals. Use our Sorting feature when searching on Brown Bride to find the “Most Rated” vendors – you’ll see vendors like Amber Rain Photography with 28 five-star reviews from real brides.

Reading testimonials from real couples will help you decide whether a vendor is a good fit for you. Feel free to request recommendations from vendors you’ve already booked or ask for their thoughts on a vendor you have in mind. Remember to pay it forward when you are married and leave reviews for your favorite vendors!

Step 5: Consider hidden costs

When coming up with your vendor list, it’s easy to forget about the little fees that you don’t think about when planning a large-scale event. While it’s nearly impossible to budget for every single hidden cost, we recommend budgeting an extra 5% of your total wedding costs to cover unforeseen expenses.

What are some common hidden costs? Here are a few to remember (but there are more!):

  • Service fees: venues can charge you an additional 20-25% for covering costs such as hiring a coat check, bartenders, etc
  • Gratuities: Even conservative tipping can add hundreds or thousands to your baseline budget – from tipping your bartenders, to hair and makeup to your waitstaff, it all adds up
  • Vendor Meals: in most instances, vendors who are present for your reception or other events (ex: photography/videography team, catering team, etc) may expect you to cover their meals for the duration of the event. That can easily add up to hundreds of additional dollars you didn’t account for
  • Postage: choosing to mail your invitations instead of digital invites? These can be anywhere from $1-2/invite, not factoring in international mail you may have to send to your family in India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh.

Remember that you’ll be entrusting vendors with an important service on a very emotional day of your life so it’s important that you feel comfortable with your vendor team. You’ll want folks who put you at ease and reduce your stress (not increase it!)

Are you looking for vendors for your South Asian wedding? Browse 1000+ vendors on Brown Bride today!


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