How to Think Like an Indian Wedding Planner (But Not Use One)

How to Think Like an Indian Wedding Planner (But Not Use One)

We’ve all been there. That feeling of overwhelm – how will I manage to get everything organized before the big day? On top of that, you probably have a day job so you feel like you don’t have enough time to get anything done. Indian wedding planning isn’t easy.The instant fix, an Indian wedding planner? Why not, they plan weddings…  Well, not quite. 

Even though an Indian wedding planner is a great option for many couples, some brides won’t have a wedding planner for various reasons. It might be because there aren’t any planners who are familiar with Indian weddings where you live in central Iowa, or you it could be that you just can’t justify the budget for a planner.

Having a planner doesn’t mean zero effort on your end. That’s a big misconception! I thought I wanted a wedding planner but realized that I was doing half of the work already, so opted not to get one. 

Whatever reason you have to plan your own wedding, the trick to staying on top of wedding planning is to think like an Indian wedding planner.

How do you do that?

Think like a project manager.  
What’s a project manager’s role? Generally speaking, a PM makes sure that everyone else gets their job done, on time and within budget. For wedding planning, the project manager can be you until you get closer to the wedding and then it can be someone you trust to get the job done. It could also be someone who’s helping you out (sibling, cousin, mom etc).

Ultimately, the project manager is in charge of making sure your vendors do their job. Eek!  Sounds intimidating but it’s possible, trust me. I realize it’s a daunting feeling reading that sentence, but it’s easier than you think.

Think like an Indian Wedding Planner

Plan your dream wedding by thinking like an Indian Wedding Planner

Bring cohesive ideas to the table. When brides meet with Indian wedding planners, their first instinct is to show the planner ideas from Pinterest.

I’m not talking one theme that comes together with different elements. I’m talking ideas from ALL OVER THE PLACE, things that the bride likes. We all do it because we’re excited about the ideas we see on Pinterest.  

I love Pinterest ideas but bringing ideas from all over the place will get you more confused than it will help to head you in the right direction.  Pick elements that could make a theme.

Check out my post on how to use Pinterest to your advantage. Take a step back and look at all of your ideas. Find a theme you want to work with (like Winter Wonderland or a Summer Floral theme) and then work with vendors to see how to bring it to life.

Your vendors can give you some initial ideas and direction, and then look up additional Pinterest inspiration from there.

Once your theme and elements solidify, discuss it with vendors outside your decorator and florist.  Talk to your caterer, videographer and photographer to see how they can bring your theme and its elements to life too.  

You’re not looking to them for ideas necessarily, but you’re looking for pointers. Your photographer might’ve shot a similar wedding and knows a certain lighting to suggest for your starry night wall that would go with your winter wonderland theme or your caterer can suggest food ideas to fit in your theme. Maybe they shot a wedding with a similar theme and have some pointers.

If you’re not using a theme, look at your ideas together so they’re not hodge-podgy. It’s totally fine to take ideas from different places and bring them together, but they should feel right together.

You don’t want to plop some rustic decor into your mehndi night if the rest of your decor is bright colored tapestries and fabrics.

Set up the basic framework first and then move onto details.
Just like wedding planners cover the basics first before even talking details, do the same – cover basics first. Get off to the right foot with these three planning steps.  Don’t jump into talking about what your flower arrangements will look like until you’ve decided what events you’ll have and where they’ll be.  

It’s fine to research flower ideas and colors you like, but don’t get too far down the road before making larger decisions first – like what venue (and spaces within the venue) will you choose?

Try these 10 Places Indian Brides Forget to Look for Help to get more planning resources.

Ask Questions 
We assume an Indian wedding planner knows all. He/She knows a lot about weddings, but there are ways to find the information you need. Start by asking questions. Don’t assume. Ask!  There are many things that surprised me about planning as I went through the process like how decor was related to how food was served.

Chances are, your vendors might have worked together in the past. Ask them how familiar they are with your venue, or if they’re worked with your other vendors. They’ll usually know similar “in’s and out’s” to what a wedding planner knows.  The decorator I used knew my venue inside and out, so she gave us so many pointers on what decor to use, how to work with the caterer (go figure!), and more.

Get organized 
As Chief Project Manager, the first thing you need to do is get organized. If you prefer a notebook, then create a wedding binder.  Even with a notebook, every bride should be using Google Drive. Check out the resources toolbox for more information on how to get organized.

If you haven’t used it, it’s just like Microsoft Word and Excel, but you can easily share documents and everything is saved online. The latest and greatest version is always online.  

What I like about Google Docs is that it’s easy to save and print docs as PDFs (like I did for my dad and other relatives who helped during the weekend). I highlighted each person’s task and responsibility so it was easy to find and they have it right there on paper. I found this much easier when delegating tasks for the big weekend.

This isn’t therapy, people!
Indian wedding planners often turn into therapists since they often end up becoming mediators between families or between parents and the bride. We all know some Indian family members have demands that they’re not always willing to compromise on, but that’s not anyone’s job. You shouldn’t need a mediator. Let’s not get to that point. Yes, there will be disagreements between various parties, but if you set up expectations from the beginning, you’ll get on the same page and won’t get too far down the rabbit hole. If disagreements do come up, there are more reasonable options on how to resolve the issues than using the wedding planner as a buffer. Plus, that’s what you have your friends and bridesmaids for – someone to listen to your venting!

Check out your vendors.
The nice thing about Indian wedding planners is that they’ve worked with vendors before. No sweat, though. Ask your vendors for their references, ask your friends, and ask your vendors about your other vendors. Chances are that your decorator has worked with plenty of florists in the area and they know who’s good and who’s not.  Ask them for honest feedback, but do your own research too.

TIP:  Ask your mom to get information from her friends. I found that my mom’s friends had a lot of [honest] feedback about their son or daughter’s wedding vendors and they were happy to share their thoughts and recommendations.

Day-of-Events & Extras
Yes, wedding planners are there on the day of the wedding to make sure vendors are doing their job. Don’t worry!  You can prepare without a wedding planner. Taking small actions to stay organized goes a long way.

For example, if you’re planning to use your own pieces of art or décor at one of your events, label it clearly for the venue or decorations team. If you’re planning on providing multiple items make a list in a word doc with the exact directions of where that object will go with a photo of that image.

It probably won’t be your venue manager or your decorator placing that object. It’ll likely be a staff member, so make it as clear as possible what to do with the decor and where to place it.  

TIP: The venue staff (or your decorator’s team) should be able to take on many smaller tasks like putting out place cards or moving stuff from one place to another.  Ask them before assuming.

Your Point Person will become your Project Manager over the course of your big weekend. You’ll be relieved of your duties as of that day! Inform your vendors who the point person will be so they don’t come to you with questions during the wedding events.

Ask them not to come to you with questions. You’ll be surprised that some vendors (or the venue manager) will do that. And as much as you want to be “in the know” over the course of the weekend, you’re not allowed to be!  It’s your wedding to enjoy, so enjoy it properly.  

Just get it done 
I know it can overwhelming to make decisions in the first place. There’s a laundry list of decisions to make (many of them really fun decisions!)  However tempting, reducing the number of options within that decision-making is the best way to go!

Don’t spend too much time on small decisions 
When you’re looking for wedding shoes, or a hair accessory – don’t drive around town for the day looking for the dang thing – it’s not worth your time and energy. Try searching online for convenience or outsource that task to someone you trust. In the grand scheme of things, it won’t matter as much as you think!

Find time and make time to get things done.
Brides choose to use wedding planners because they’re too busy to plan the wedding on their own.  Ok, you might be busy for many reasons, but we ALL complain that we don’t have any time to do anything.

Yet, somehow we find time to check Facebook 10+ times a day, surf Buzzfeed for new articles, and binge watch the new season of House of Cards on Netflix.   

While you’re wedding planning, wedding planning IS PRIORITY.  Try my new productivity approach. Set your alarm one hour earlier each day while you’re planning.  You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done even before most people are ready to start the workday at 9am.

I’ve been taking this approach for the last two months, and I can tell you first hand that you WILL get so much done (with a fresh mind) and feel accomplished even before the day begins.

TIP: Use one-hour chunks of time during the day to answer vendor emails, organize your google docs, and get stuff done.

THIS IS IMPORTANT:  During these chunks of time, put your phone away (on silent), don’t check work email, and LOGOUT of Facebook that’s minimized on your computer. If you’re at a desk job, block out this time on your work calendar.

This isn’t easy, but I can tell you that it works.  You will find time you didn’t know you had.  And with that time, use it wisely  – you’ll be able to plan the wedding you want without a wedding planner!

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