Our $28K Indian/American Wedding Was Old School And Modern

With an all out no-booze dance party

Fae, Nonprofit fundraiser & Matthew, Real Estate Consultant

sum-up of the wedding vibe: Our Indian/American wedding felt perfectly balanced between old-school traditions and modern flair.

Planned Budget: 30,000
Actual Budget: $28,000
Number of Guests: 165
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

Where we allocated the most funds:

Our photographer and caterer. Violet, our photographer, was the first vendor we hired. I kept hearing horror stories from friends and family who had hired friends to photograph their weddings, or let their wedding planner’s husband do it. I had seen Violet’s work before from a friend’s wedding, so I contacted her shortly after our engagement. We did a Skype session with her since we live in Philly, and she’s in Indianapolis, and hired her less than a week later. We also wanted a custom menu because I wanted traditional Indian dishes at my wedding. Both Violet and the chicken tikka were a hundred percent worth the money.

Where we allocated the least funds:

This sounds bonkers to say, but booze. My family is Muslim and doesn’t drink alcohol. Since they were footing the catering part of the bill, we chose not to make them pay for alcohol. Instead, we had a small after party for our friends and family who like to partake.

Also, my dress was gifted to me from my aunt. From the moment I got engaged, she told me she was going to have my wedding outfit custom made in Toronto. I didn’t even try the outfit on until the Saturday before the wedding (a thing I don’t recommend)! Thankfully, it was a perfect fit.

What was totally worth it:

Having our ceremony outside! I’ve never attended a Muslim nikkah (wedding) ceremony outside, and I wanted so badly to have our nikkah be outside. Once August rolled around, Indianapolis started experiencing an intense heat wave. I was panicking all week. But the morning of our wedding, the weather was a gorgeous 75 degrees and sunny.

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What was totally not worth it:

We spent too much money on our little cutting cake, and we each only got to have a little nibble. The cake was delicious, but we wish we could have had more of it.

A few things that helped us along the way:

Matt’s family friend, Jennie, coordinated our wedding on the day of. She was indispensable, and I’m not sure what I would have done if she hadn’t stepped up. Everything went so smoothly! She was the last person I hugged as we were leaving the reception.

My awesome friend Alyse is a graphic designer, and graciously designed not just our invitations, but all the printing stuff for the day of the wedding. She taught me Illustrator so I could type in our guests’ names, and she even offered genius advice on how to organize guests’ name (ALPHABETICALLY!).

Finally, our friends and families were so incredibly helpful along the way.

My best practical advice for my planning self:

During the planning process, I spent a lot of time solving problems that others brought to me instead of encouraging other people to solve the problems they would bring to me. I finally (and too late!) told everyone that if they didn’t have possible solutions for the issues they foresaw, I didn’t want to hear about it.

Matt and I also spent a lot of time fretting about the alcohol issue. Will people who drink have fun? Will my family really be super duper offended if there is alcohol? In hindsight, I think we did it the right way, by respecting what my parents requested, and reminding ourselves that if someone doesn’t want to attend our wedding because there’s not an open bar, that’s okay. The afterparty was fun for all who attended, and we’re grateful that my family got to have a fun party, too.

Favorite thing about the wedding:

Matt and I spent months compiling the perfect playlist for our reception, and it was so, so worth it. I remember when “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” came on, and I ran to the dance floor because Whitney! We had such a fun combination of old hits, contemporary bangers, and romantic crooners.

Something else We’d Like to Share:

At the end of the night, our guests went outside to do a sparkler farewell, and as they were lighting the fireworks, we did a last dance. It was just us dancing to “At Last,” and we were so into it that finally, the best man had to run in and say, “If you guys want to do this fireworks thing, you better do it now!” So we sprinted out to say goodbye to our guests who were waiting for us with fireworks and cheers.


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