Stephana Ferrell is co-owner and lead photographer for Sona Photography, a Central Florida wedding photography company that has over a decade of experience in South Asian Weddings and operates throughout Florida. Today, she shares her experience on how to find the perfect South Asian wedding venue in Central Florida.
Orlando, with its warm weather, beautiful locals, and an array of world-renowned attractions is the perfect place to host a wedding. South Asian Weddings (which include Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist faiths) often require wedding venues that can accommodate large groups, but what other considerations are necessary?
What to keep in mind when searching for your perfect South Asian wedding venue:
1. Location, Location, Location
There is one thing that all South Asian Weddings have in common: a large portion of the guest list is usually traveling from out-of-town for the wedding.
Traveling guests will need accommodations at or near your venue. Look for a wedding venue with an array of onsite activities and amenities, transportation options to/from the airport, as well as attractions and activities nearby to visit when your guests have free time in between your events.
Often weddings of 400 or more guests find the best venues can accommodate their entire party onsite. This limits the need for hiring buses to transport guests back-and-forth from the venue to the hotel.
2. Vendor Options
Preferred vendor lists are recommendations and imply some amount of flexibility in who can work on their property. It also gives you a good idea of who will be familiar with the venue.
If the venue has a lot of experience hosting South Asian wedding events, they may even have a list of preferred vendors that specialize in South Asian weddings. This can be incredibly useful if you are planning a destination wedding.
Exclusive vendor relationships are less flexible. Venues with these lists are usually under contract with a single business in a specific category that may not be the right fit for your events. If you want to bring in an outside vendor like a caterer, planner, or DJ that can better serve you, you will want to make sure your venue will allow this.
3. Venue Policies
Those hosting an Indian Wedding may want the flexibility to have an animal like a horse or elephant for the Groom’s mode of transportation during the Baraat. Make sure that the venue’s pet/animal policy is further defined to include your wants.
If you want to capture drone footage during your events, you will need to confirm that there aren’t airspace limitations in and around the venue. Most notably, venues on Disney-owned property may not allow the use of drones or may require you to file additional paperwork.
Ceremony times may be limited to set times of day at venues that do not have a 24-hour staff. If your ceremony must start before an earlier hour of the day, ensure your venue can allow your vendors access to make it happen!
Ceremonies that require an open flame will need a venue that allows for it indoors to ensure a weather change doesn’t restrict your celebration.
Noise ordinances in and around the property may restrict your reception end time. Additionally, confirm if your Dholi and/or DJ will be able to follow your entire route or if certain areas will be “quiet zones” or inaccessible by car/speaker cart.
4. Operational Needs
As mentioned above, depending on the time of your events, some vendors will need access to the property for setup/breakdown at unusual hours. For hotels, this usually isn’t an issue provided the spaces are available; however, estate and other event-only venues may have load-in/out times that may not be ideal. Make sure they are flexible and able to coordinate with your decor team.
If you are going to have a Baraat or Vidaii, you will want to confirm a route to/from your ceremony site where you can carry out all of your traditions with minimal onlooker interference and your mode of transportation (car, horse/elephant, carriage) will be accessible.
Large hotels offering Convention Centers are ideal venues for larger South Asian and cross-cultural weddings. If you are going to go with one of these, keep in mind the distance your average guest will need to walk between events (to/from their room). It’s also smart to factor in the additional time for vendors that need to float between you and the ballrooms.
5. Photographic Considerations
Consider both the inside and outside of the venue in terms of available scenic areas for pictures. If the venue isn’t ideal for a backdrop that extends beyond your decor, you will want to make sure there is a place nearby that you like for a couple’s session. If you must go offsite, some venues may offer transportation.
Make sure all the places around the venue that you want to take pictures at will be available to you during your session time. Some venues have very large properties and you might require a golf cart escort for you and your photo/video team.
Along the same lines, ask your venue if other events will be taking place at the same time that might limit where you can go to take pictures. Larger venues very often host multiple events, usually with little interference of one another; however, they may have reserved a spot you had in mind for pictures.
We love doing reception pictures of the couple in the ballroom before the doors open. It allows them to see the room as they imagined, before their guests do. To do this requires a special access path to avoid being seen by guests attending the cocktail hour. If this interests you, make sure to talk to your venue about how to make it happen.
Before narrowing down your list, spend time speaking directly with your potential venues to confirm their policies and don’t go solely based on what their website says. Often venues are willing to make concessions to standard policies to honor your religious and cultural needs. In some cases, they may not realize that their website wording may be either too vague or overly limiting in ways they didn’t intend.
So, what Central Florida/Orlando wedding venues are our favorites for South Asian Weddings? Glad you asked! Images in this article have all been captured in and around these properties.
Luxury Brand Hotels:
Convention Center Hotels:
- Hilton Orlando
- Gaylord Palms Resort
- Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
- Omni Champions Gate
- Renaissance Sea World Resort
- Hilton Daytona
- The Howey Mansion
- Santa Fe River Ranch
View their portfolio on their website and make sure to follow them on social media @SonaPhotography.
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