By Jared Benoff | Published on January 30, 2024

Indian destination weddings have become increasingly popular in recent years, with couples opting for a unique and exotic experience for their big day.

However, planning a wedding in a foreign country like Mexico can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to navigating cultural differences and unfamiliar vendors.

To help simplify the process, our team of award-winning, certified destination wedding travel advisors put together a comprehensive checklist and timeline for planning an Indian destination wedding.

The checklist covers all aspects of the wedding planning process, from selecting a venue to arranging transportation for guests.

It also includes important cultural considerations, such as hiring a wedding planner who is familiar with Indian traditions and customs.

By following this checklist, you can ensure that you’ve covered all the necessary details and avoid any last-minute surprises.

In addition to the checklist, this article also provides a timeline for planning an Indian destination wedding.

This timeline outlines key milestones and deadlines, such as when to book vendors and send out invitations.

By following this timeline, you can stay on track and ensure that you have enough time to plan and execute your dream wedding.

Understanding Indian Weddings

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Indian weddings are known for their grandeur and extravagance. They are a celebration of love, family, and tradition.

The planning process for an Indian wedding can be overwhelming, but with the right checklist and timeline, it can be a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Common Traditions and Customs

Indian weddings are full of customs and traditions that are unique to the culture. Some of the common traditions and customs include:

  • Mehndi Ceremony: This is a pre-wedding ceremony where the bride’s hands and feet are adorned with henna. It is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the couple.
  • Sangeet Ceremony: This is a musical night where the families of the bride and groom come together to sing and dance.
  • Baraat: This is the groom’s procession to the wedding venue, usually on a horse or an elephant.
  • Kanyadaan: This is a ritual where the father of the bride gives her hand in marriage to the groom.
  • Saat Phere: This is the most important ritual of the wedding ceremony where the bride and groom take seven vows around a sacred fire.
  • Vidaai: This is the bride’s farewell to her family as she leaves with her husband.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget certain rituals or traditions so we always prefer to refer back to our checklists so we can properly plan for each tradition and custom.

Initial Planning Steps

No matter if you’re planning a local wedding or a destination wedding, there are a few initial steps that need to be taken to ensure a smooth planning process.

These steps include setting a budget, choosing the date, determining the scale and style, and creating a guest list.

Setting a Budget

The first step in planning your wedding is to set a budget.

This will help you determine what they can afford and what they need to prioritize.

It’s important to consider all aspects of the wedding, including travel expenses, accommodations, and vendors.

Choosing the Date

Choosing the date for your wedding can be tricky, especially if you’re planning a large destination wedding.

It’s important to consider the weather, holidays, and other events that may be taking place.

We’ll talk more about the date once we get to the venue stage below.

Determining the Scale and Style

The scale and style of an Indian destination wedding can vary greatly depending on your preferences and budget.

It is important to consider the number of guests, the type of venue, and the overall theme of the wedding.

You should also consider any cultural or religious traditions that you would like to incorporate into your wedding.

Creating a Guest List

Creating a guest list for an Indian destination wedding can be challenging.

The number one factor that will affect the cost of your indian wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean will be your guest list.

Because of this, it’s important to consider the number of guests you can afford to invite, as well as the logistics of travel and accommodations.

You should also consider any cultural or religious traditions that may impact the guest list.

By following these initial planning steps, you can ensure a smooth planning process for your shaadi.

Selecting the Venue

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When planning your wedding, selecting the perfect venue is crucial.

When planning your destination wedding, selecting the perfect venue is one of the hardest and most important decisions you’ll make.

Here are some key steps to follow when selecting the venue:

Researching Venues

The first step is to research potential venues.

You may start online by browsing the Instagram accounts of vendors, like Tum Hi Ho, or checking out YouTube videos about various resorts and wedding packages.

When considering resorts, you want to look at the location, capacity, amenities, wedding packages and the resort’s ability to understand and execute an Indian destination wedding.

Friends and family may also be helpful with recommendations from attending previous events.

Of course, we’re biased, but we recommend speaking to a professional destination wedding advisor who intimately knows the best resorts and wedding packages for Indian destination weddings.

Hiring a Planner

A wedding planner may mean different things for a “hometown” wedding versus a destination wedding.

A wedding planner will work with you on the logistics of your events, including decor, menus, attire, logistics, vendors, etc.

A travel advisor, like our team at Destination Weddings by Vacationeeze, will help you with identifying your venue, negotiating your event and room block contracts, and managing the resort accommodations for your guests.

Some couples find their wedding planner first and then contact someone like us to identify venues.

Other couples work with us first and then hire a wedding planner further down the line.

And some couples decide to rely on the on-site wedding team to plan and coordinate their events.

Site Visits and Booking

Similar to a wedding planner, there’s no “correct” answer when it comes to a site visit for your Indian destination wedding.

Some couples decide to narrow the list to 3-6 resorts and visit them on a site inspection.

Others will sign the contract at a resort and then visit for a site visit and tasting.

And most of our couples actually never step foot on the resort until a few days before their wedding!

If you’re thinking about a site visit, our team can help arrange that to ensure it’s not the standard site visit but rather is catered to what you may need from the path of the Baraat to a meeting with the Indian food chef.

Vendors and Services Coordination

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When it comes to planning an Indian destination wedding, coordinating with vendors and services is crucial to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the big day.

Similar to what we noted for wedding planners and site visits, there’s no “right” answer here.

You can decide to work with the resort’s vendors, all external vendors, hire from the U.S., hire locally, or a mix!

Whatever you decide, here are some key vendors and services to consider:

Photography and Videography

Capturing the memories of the wedding is an important task, and hiring the right photographer and videographer is essential.

It is recommended to book these services at least six months in advance to ensure availability.

Make sure to review their portfolios and ask for references before making a final decision.

Catering Choices

Food is an integral part of any Indian wedding, and selecting a venue that can provide a wide variety of dishes is important.

If you’re planning a site visit at any point, it’s recommended to schedule a food-tasting session to ensure that the food meets your expectations.

Also, consider any dietary restrictions of your guests when selecting the menu.

Entertainment Options

Indian weddings are known for their lively and festive atmosphere, and entertainment plays a big role in creating this ambiance.

Consider hiring a DJ, live band, or traditional Indian dancers to keep your guests entertained throughout the wedding festivities.

Decor and Floral Design

The decor and floral arrangements set the tone for the wedding and create a beautiful backdrop for the ceremonies.

All resorts will have recommended decor and floral designers you can work with or you can hire an external vendor to help with specific decor or floral requests.

Wedding Attire and Jewelry

Selecting the perfect wedding attire and jewelry is a crucial part of the wedding planning process.

It is recommended to start shopping for wedding attire at least six months in advance to ensure availability and allow enough time for alterations.

If you’re like any of our wedding couples you’re likely traveling with many suitcases and some valuable pieces of jewelry. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use the safe in your room and don’t leave valuable or sentimental items laying around your room.

Makeup and Hair Stylists

Hiring a professional makeup artist and hair stylist is important to ensure that you and your partner look your best on the big day.

We strongly recommended to schedule a trial session with the makeup artist and hair stylist to ensure that the look aligns with your expectations.

Overall, coordinating with vendors and services is an important aspect of planning an Indian destination wedding.

By selecting the right vendors and services, you can ensure that your wedding day is a memorable and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Ceremony Planning

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Planning the ceremony is one of the most important aspects of an Indian destination wedding.

It involves careful consideration of religious and ceremonial rites, a timeline of events, and rehearsal arrangements.

Religious and Ceremonial Rites

Indian weddings are steeped in tradition and culture, and the religious and ceremonial rites play a significant role in the ceremony.

It is important to consult with the family priest or religious leader to determine the specific rituals and customs that will be included in the ceremony.

Some common rituals include the Kanyadaan, Saat Phere, and Mangalsutra.

Timeline of Events

A well-planned timeline of events is crucial to ensure that the ceremony runs smoothly.

We recommend working with the on-site coordinator or your wedding planner to create a detailed timeline that includes all the events leading up to the ceremony, as well as the ceremony itself.

This includes pre-wedding rituals such as the Mehendi, Sangeet, and Haldi ceremonies, as well as the Baraat and the Varmala ceremony.

Rehearsal Arrangements

A rehearsal is essential to ensure that everyone involved in the ceremony is aware of their roles and responsibilities.

When you arrive at the resort and meet with your on-site coordinator they’ll help schedule a rehearsal well in advance of the ceremony to allow for any necessary adjustments.

The rehearsal should include a walk-through of the entire ceremony, including the procession, the rituals, and the recessional.

Overall, careful planning and attention to detail are essential for a successful Indian destination wedding ceremony. By considering the religious and ceremonial rites, creating a detailed timeline of events, and arranging a rehearsal, couples can ensure that their wedding ceremony is a memorable and meaningful experience for all involved.

Invitations and Communications

Designing Invitations

Designing the perfect wedding invitation is an essential part of the wedding planning process.

The invitation sets the tone for the entire event and gives guests a glimpse of what to expect.

The design of the invitation should reflect the theme of the wedding and you and your partner’s personality.

Indian wedding invitations are known for their vibrant colors, intricate designs, and luxurious materials such as silk and velvet.

When designing an Indian wedding invitation, it’s important to include traditional elements such as the Ganesh symbol, which represents good luck and prosperity, and the Baraat, which is the groom’s wedding procession.

It’s also important to include the wedding date, time, and location, as well as any dress code or special instructions for the guests.

You’ll want to make clear how guests can book their accommodations and if there are “core travel dates” to make sure guests can attend all the events.

RSVP Management

Managing the RSVPs is an important part of the wedding planning process. It’s important to keep track of the guest list and know exactly who will be attending the wedding.

From our experience, about 60-70% of the people you invite will attend your destination wedding.

Because of this, it’s important to have an accurate headcount to ensure that there is enough food, and seating for all the guests.

Pre-Wedding Events

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Planning a destination wedding in Mexico or the Caribbean involves organizing various pre-wedding events to celebrate the union of two families.

Here are some of the most common pre-wedding events that are a part of Indian wedding traditions:

Engagement Ceremony

The engagement ceremony is the first formal event that takes place after the wedding is fixed.

It is a small gathering of close family and friends to exchange rings and bless the couple.

The engagement ceremony is usually held a few months before the wedding and is a great opportunity for families to get to know each other better.

Mehendi and Sangeet

The Mehendi and Sangeet ceremony is a fun-filled event that takes place a day or two before the wedding.

It is a colorful event where the bride’s hands and feet are adorned with henna, and everyone dances to the beat of dhol. The Sangeet ceremony is a musical evening where the families of the bride and groom come together to sing and dance.

Haldi Ceremony

The Haldi ceremony is a traditional Indian ceremony where a paste made of turmeric, sandalwood, and other herbs is applied to the bride and groom’s body.

It is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. The Haldi ceremony is usually held a day before the wedding and is a fun event where family and friends smear the paste on the bride and groom’s face and body.

Organizing these pre-wedding events requires careful planning and coordination with vendors, family members, and guests. It is essential to create a timeline and checklist to ensure that everything is organized and executed smoothly.

The Wedding Day

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Final Preparations

On the day of the wedding, the final preparations must be completed to ensure everything runs smoothly.

The wedding planner and team should arrive at the venue early to oversee the setup of the decorations, seating arrangements, and catering.

You and your partner should also arrive early to get ready and prepare for the ceremony.

It is important to have a checklist of all the tasks that need to be completed to ensure nothing is missed.

Ceremony Execution

The wedding ceremony is the most important part of the day.

The wedding planner should ensure that everything is set up correctly, and the vendors are ready to go.

You should also be ready and in place for the ceremony.

The wedding planner should coordinate with the officiant to ensure that the ceremony runs smoothly.

The ceremony should be executed according to the plan, and any last-minute changes should be communicated to the wedding party.

Reception and Festivities

After the ceremony, the reception and festivities begin.

The wedding planner should coordinate with the vendors to ensure that the food, drinks, and entertainment are ready to go.

The wedding planner should ensure that the timeline is followed, and all the events occur as planned. The wedding planner should also be available to handle any issues that may arise during the reception.

Overall, the wedding day is the culmination of months of planning and preparation.

With a checklist and a reliable team, the wedding planner can ensure that everything runs smoothly and you and your loved ones have a memorable wedding day.

Indian Destination Wedding Booking Bonus

For a limited time, we’re offering couples an exclusive wedding gift when you book at one of our partner resorts.

  • Book a wedding of 60 – 99 paid rooms to receive $2,500 cash
  • Book a wedding of 100+ paid rooms to receive $5,000 cash

Need Help Planning? 

Our certified, award-winning team at Destination Weddings by Vacationeeze are with you every step of the way.

With decades of experience planning hundreds of weddings, our team understands what couples are looking for and how to navigate working with the resorts. 

Our dedicated team will work with all your friends and family so you can focus on planning your dream wedding.

Ready to start planning your big day?

Call us at 215-454-2070 or get in touch with us here

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About The Author

Jared Benoff

Jared is a certified destination wedding travel advisor and has been recognized as a top agent by Palace Resorts, Karisma Resorts, Lomas Hospitality, and Hyatt Inclusive Collection.

He caught the travel bug early in his life as his parents (the founders of Vacationeeze!) instilled a passion for travel and adventure in him and his siblings.


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