CALIFORNIA, U.S., July 7, 2012 (neontommy.com): Planning a wedding is never easy. But with 500 guests, two conflicting cultures and an elephant to handle, things can get complicated pretty quickly. In India, lavish wedding celebrations go on for weeks and guest lists top 1,000 -- but the country is full of vendors and planners who know the ropes. In California, fiances who want an Indian wedding don't have that safety net. The state has the largest Indian population in the country, but planning a traditional Indian wedding is still much more difficult when most wedding planners are more familiar with white dresses and towering cakes.
Putting together days of ceremonies with intricate props and rituals requires a threshold for stress and attention to detail that only comes with years of experience. A network of more than a dozen Indian wedding planners has developed in Southern California's most densely-populated Indian areas -- San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles County -- to capitalize on this niche market and finesse the differences.
"If you aren't experienced in a South Asian wedding, then it can seem impossible to plan," said Mili Shah, the co-owner of Los Angeles-based Planning Elegance. "There are so many different religious aspects, different ceremonies at different times, different requirements." How the ceremony works depends on the faith, sect and geography of the bride and groom. Northern Indian weddings are different from southern Indian weddings, and Indian expat, Indian-American and Indian-inspired weddings each have their own list of demands.
Although budgets and guest lists can vary, just as with any type of wedding, the minimum a couple should expect to pay for a Hindu wedding is $50,000, said Bhanu Kotecha, who owns Diamond Bar-based Phoolwadi. Costs can go as high as $300,000 for the most lavish ceremonies. The bride's family traditionally pays for all wedding costs, Kotecha said, but modern tradition has created more of a sense of equality between families.