What to wear for an Indian Wedding as a Guest?
Your excitement will always scale-up once you get an Indian wedding invite. With a line-up of colorful ceremonies and flashy parties, Indian weddings are one of the most elaborate ones. As a wedding guest, the thrill of attending the nuptial along with the pre and post-wedding functions brings along the task of arranging suitable outfits for each of the occasions involved. Here’s a guide to what you must wear for an Indian wedding.
Wedding Wear Outift Ideas for Guest:
Silhouettes and styles to opt for
What to wear for the ceremonies? An elegant western designer gown, or some Indian style silhouette? Choosing the right attire is necessary if you wish to blend in with the crowd and enjoy the festivities to the fullest.
Whether you’re rooted in India or belong to any other part of the globe- it’s best to grace and Indian wedding in ethnic wear. Sarees, salwar suits, and lehenga cholis are the most common festive ensembles. However, the style and details may vary with the community culture.
North Indian weddings are usually loud and flashy. So look for outfits that have a good amount of ostentation, like brocade lehengas with metallic golden buttis, and bright rani pink sarees. Crystal-studded necklines and chunky embellishments get a thumbs-up for such celebrations.
South Indian weddings are comparatively quiet. But when it comes to clothing, women take pride in wearing heritage weaves like Kanchipuram silk sarees, Pattu sarees, and other varieties of South Indian silks. Intricately hand-crafted gold jewelry also forms an important part of festive attire. Wearing a saree is not necessary though. You can pick a sophisticated-looking silk salwar suit or a plain georgette suit paired with a designer dupatta.
Nikah, which is the nuptial ceremony of the Islamic culture, also calls for similar attire, with slight variations in colors and silhouette styles. Sharara suits, Anarkali suits, and indo-western lehenga suits are suitable choices for the ceremony. Black outfits are acceptable for a Nikah ceremony.
Your attire overall will have little to do with the community unless you strictly wish to keep-up with their traditions. Otherwise, as a guest, you can wear a sharara suit even for a South Indian wedding, and a Kanchipuram silk saree for a North Indian one. The main attributes to keep in mind are that the attire should be traditional and modest. Avoid deep necklines and similar skin-revealing details.
Colors for the occasion
Ethnic wear is extremely colorful, and so is the vibe of Indian weddings. So these occasions give you the liberty to indulge in colors. Unless there is a dress code or color theme, you can pick any of your favorites- from bright pinks to vivacious greens and mystifying blues, or the entire spectrum. Although, you may consider avoiding heavy red/maroon sarees or monotone red or maroon lehenga cholis since the bride usually wears these colors while tying the knot. As a guest and well-wisher, you wouldn’t want to compete with her on her special day!
Softer palettes of pastels and neutrals are also equally acceptable. The only colors you may have to avoid are white and black since a lot of communities consider them inauspicious. But with global cultural diffusion, white and black have also made it to the Indian wedding wear segment.
Accessories are inevitable
The social norm is that you must enter a wedding venue wearing lots of ornaments. Indians love flaunting precious metals and diamonds on such days so going to an Indian marriage is like stepping into a treasure island. While planning your wardrobe, choose your jewelry depending on how closely related you are with the couple tying the knot. Closer the relation, heavier the jewelry! But with time ladies have started switching over to lower-priced accessories so if you do not possess a heavy gold necklace or a sparkling diamond set, there’s nothing to worry about.
Choosing the right footwear is important if you’re fashion-conscious. It’s good to stock up on embroidered juttis, colorful chappals and stone-studded heels for such occasions. For more details on the right footwear, click here.
Choice of outfit depends on the function
Various functions held around the nuptials are quite varied. It is advisable to wear outfits that are appropriate for the occasion. From strictly traditional ensembles to eccentric designer wear, your outfit selection should depend on the function and its socially acceptable dress code.
Ganesh Puja/ Tilak
The wedding rituals begin with a Ganesh Puja, Shanti Havan, or Tilak ceremony. Your attire for the semi-formal occasion should be simple and comfortable. The religious rituals usually involve a bonfire so better stick to cotton fabrics and loose-fitted garments. Avoid long sleeves and heavy dupattas, though. Tunics and long kurtis (ethnic dresses) are perfect if you don’t prefer elaborate silhouettes. Else a cotton Punjabi suit or a printed palazzo set will work equally well.
Messy but delightful- the Haldi ceremony is one event where you must choose your outfit very carefully. The ritual involves smearing turmeric paste onto the face of the bride and the groom. That means your party-wear garment may get permanent yellow stains that can render it useless. So a budgeted printed saree, semi-formal palazzo suit or a skirt and crop top set are safe bets for the Haldi ceremony. Opting for outfits in shades of yellow is a good idea for two reasons- they subdue the messy appearance of turmeric stains and yellow has almost become the official color code for the Haldi ceremony. For accessories, you can pick artificial flower jewelry or street-style tassel earrings as disposing of these low-cost add-ons later won’t make you feel disappointed!
Hands decorated with henna designs and the scent of eucalyptus oil in the air- the Mehendi function is one of the jolliest happenings of an Indian wedding. Although these days the bride and the groom’s families both arrange a Mehendi party for their guests, traditionally it was only a function for the bride’s family and friends. This party is colorful and lively, with music and dance. You can match the ambiance with floral suits and floral lehenga cholis. Pink and pastels are popular color palettes for the Mehendi, but you can indulge in any color or turn up wearing a rainbow outfit!
A melodious evening with enthusiastic dance performances by family and friends, the Sangeet function matches the main wedding ceremony in terms of audience energy. The dress code is usually ethnic with lots of bling and dazzle. Although a traditional lehenga, floor-length Anarkali or an embroidered or sequinned saree will work well, you can deviate with a contemporary outfit. A jacket suit or a palazzo saree is also equally acceptable for the occasion.
Exchange of rings between the couple a day or two before the wedding is a ritual taken from western culture. The ring ceremony is usually devoid of religious rituals. It is more like an evening ball where the bride turns up in a fairy-tale designer gown. You can follow suit with an elegant indo-western gown in flattering fabrics like satin, georgette, and silk or contemporize your plain saree with a statement blouse and diamond earrings.
Wed-Lock ceremony/ Pheras
Seven circles- seven vows- the Indian wed-lock ceremony is a beautiful moment to witness. It staunchly involves a series of pious rituals and the dress code, therefore, is purely traditional wear. Women get decked up heavy silk sarees, wedding sarees, lehenga cholis with shimmery ostentation and lots of jewelry. Richly ornamented sharara suits and Anarkali suits also go well with the occasion. As far as possible, you must avoid western silhouettes and look for Indian outfits that have modest details.
The reception is a formal post-wedding party where relatives, friends, and associates walk up to a decorated stage and bless the newly-married couple. For such a massive crowd, you may have to step-up your look and indulge in heavy wedding wear. The reception usually doesn’t have a dress code unless specified by the host. So you can choose from traditional or indo-western attire. Whichever outfit you pick, make sure it has a good amount of glitter or dazzle. Sequinned sarees and crystal stone embroidered garments look great for a reception party.
The bride turns from Miss to Mrs and the family members face exhaustion by this time, but the merriment doesn’t end here! After the reception happens the vidai (farewell) of the girl from her parent’s family, and her homecoming into her husband’s house. A Gujarati bride usually wears a Gharchola for this ritual, which is also called Gruh-Pravesh in many communities. The Muh-dikhai is also a post-wedding-function where the bride meets her husband’s extended family and social circle for the first time.
These rituals are held on a larger scale in smaller cities of India while the fast-moving urban lifestyle has led to a lot of these functions getting combined or just avoided altogether. However, if you’re going to attend any such closely-held events, then you can grace the occasion in a semi-formal salwar suit. A contemporary palazzo or even a dressy Anarkali Kurti is a perfect pick for such post-wedding ceremonies.
After having sorted your look for each for the functions, it’s time to enjoy the celebrations!