Did you just get yourself invited to an Indian wedding? Well, congratulations! You are about to witness a grand and colorful celebration of holy matrimony.
Indian weddings are not just about two people but about two families coming together. But the big question is, what to wear to an Indian wedding? After all, it’s no less than a festival – with several rituals, and of course, gorgeously dressed people!
To pick the best outfits for attending an Indian wedding, you need to know a little more about different customs, the dos and don’ts of the event, and more! Let’s find out more about the best outfits for attending various events at an Indian wedding!
What to wear to an Indian wedding: Dress code for the wedding guest
All across India, there are different regions, states, and communities. Accordingly, wedding rituals and events. But there are some rituals that have moved from one community to the other!- Indian weddings can last up to 5 days. Though it’s not the same for all weddings, there will still be a lot of fun events to attend.
So let’s address the question-shaped elephant in the room: what to wear to an Indian wedding as a white person – or any PoC living in the West.
Every event in an Indian wedding has a different mood. You should dress accordingly. This can be anything from fusion fashion to pure ethnic clothes.
a) What to wear during engagement
The engagement ceremony is also known as sagai, mangni, ashirvad, and by other names. The groom asks for the bride’s hand in marriage. Most often, this is a small and intimate ceremony with close relatives and friends of the bride and the groom.
This is the start of the wedding bash, with no religious ceremony involved. So Indo-Western or smart casuals are safe bets. There is no need to pick traditional clothes or vibrant options unless the bride/groom’s family has planned something.
If you want to stay within your comfort zone of Western clothes, then fusion fashion might be a good idea for you. You can choose Indian gowns or palazzo pants with a tunic.
Or, if you’re into ethnic clothes, modern sarees, light lehengas, shararas, and salwar suits are great, too, as long as you don’t go overboard with the design and accessories.
Men, too, can show off their fashion choices at an engagement party with sherwanis or ethnic blazers. A kurta is also a popular choice, and you can get a great look with a sleeveless Nehru suit on top.
Pajamas, Jodhpuri pants, and trousers can team well with these. Dupattas are tempting, but it’s best to skip for this event.
b) What to wear during tilak
This is an auspicious ceremony in the pre-wedding stage. The male members of the bride’s side put vermilion or “tilak” on the groom’s forehead as a blessing. There’s also an exchange of gifts. This celebration helps in strengthening the bond between two families coming together.
This is primarily a men’s event. All the handsome hunks from both families, including the fathers of the bride and groom flaunt their best ethnic looks in kurtas and sherwanis, paired with dhotis, jodhpuris, and pajamas. Sporting a turban is also common, depending on the preferences of the families.
Catch these handsome men in stylish attire that can go well at the Tilak:
c) What to wear during mehendi
Mehendi ceremony is the one where the hands of the bride, groom and the other women in the families are applied with heena!
Don’t get scared. Mehendi is a form of intricate body art created using the temporary stain from Henna plant leaves. The design goes away after a few days or weeks. Mehendi ceremonies come alive with music, dance, and cheerful faces.
Though the groom has to apply Mehendi in some communities, this body art event is primarily for women. Popular outfit choices for the event include ethnic tank tops or tunics with long skirts to recreate a more casual version of the lehenga. You can also wear a salwar suit or indulge in some fusion style.
d) What to wear during sangeet
What’s an Indian ceremony without a music night? The Sangeet is an event that becomes special with stunning performances by the bride and groom’s friends and relatives.
They even go as far as to choreograph group performances. By the time this bright and colorful evening comes to an end, everyone is on the dance floor!
Sangeet is all about music, dance performances, and more. It’s a fun event with lots of activities. So you should try to wear light clothes.
For women, Sangeet is the time to bring out the shimmer and glamor to match their moves. Pre-draped sarees, sleek lehengas, and lightweight Anarkalis are excellent choices. You can look nothing short of Bollywood heroines while feeling free to move around.
Whether you are ready to bust the moves or not, it’s definitely your chance to make women hope for a dance with you. You can look charming in kurtas and sherwanis, paired with dhoti pants. Choose light and comfortable materials and be ready to rock the dance floor.
e) What to wear during haldi
Everyone gets super-excited for Haldi. A turmeric paste is applied to the body of the bride and the groom in their own homes before they are doused in water.
Did you know that Indians consider turmeric to be holy and believe that it can ward off evil spirits? While it’s supposed to be a ceremony for the bride and groom, everyone ends up participating in it. Who wouldn’t want a little skin-clearing mask?
The Haldi ceremony is quite messy. So remember not to invest in clothes that won’t be able to handle some rough washing after the event. It’s best to choose yellow clothes because the remnant stains after washing will be well-hidden, and you’ll be able to keep up with the event’s theme!
Light sarees, Kurti or top with palazzo pants or skirts, and salwar suits are the most popular outfits for Haldi. It’s a good idea to stick to ethnic clothes with a rustic charm for the Haldi event. Stay away from ornately designed accessories, too.
Kurta-Pajama is the best option for men while attending the Haldi ceremony. Just like women, men, too, should maintain simplicity in their ethnic look. Even if you plan to throw on a Nehru jacket, it’s best to avoid white – for obvious reasons.
f) What to wear during wedding ceremony
It’s finally time for the main event – the nuptials. The bride and the groom sit in the presence of a burning fire, a symbol of purity and sustenance, as the priest chants mantras.
They take 7 turns or “pheras” around the fire, each turn representing a promise, exchange garlands, and the groom puts “sindoor” or vermillion on the parting of the bride’s hair. There may be other rituals, depending on family traditions.
It’s time to go big – or go home! The wedding event is the most important and vibrant of all events. So bring out your A-game with clothes that will leave everyone bedazzled!
This is the time for the most embellished sarees, elaborately designed lehengas, and floor-length Anarkalis. Gorgeous colors and heavy Zardosi or thread work on silk, georgette, net, and velvet make you look and feel like a million bucks. You can also choose all the classic favorites, i.e., Banarasi and Kanjivaram sarees.
Men get to choose from an eclectic range of sherwanis and Bandhgalas with pajamas and churidars. Kurtas, with or without a jacket, and heavy embroidery or zari borders, can be perfect for the occasion, too.
Silk and cotton blends are the most common materials. Don’t shy away from floral designs and colors like red and purple.
Feeling lost? Here are some design ideas for you:
g) What to wear during wedding reception
The reception is a formal event where friends, acquaintances and colleagues come together to bless the newlyweds. They shower them with gifts, and enjoy a grand wedding meal.
Sometimes, the reception is held on a separate day to make time for some other post-wedding rituals. The reception pretty much marks the end of the big fat Indian wedding, at least for a guest.
Reception is like an Indian black-tie event where you’ll get the chance to turn on your magnetism. You can go for any color, even black, and choose from a vast Indo-Western fusion collection.
Even purely Indian wedding attire for female guests can get an exciting twist. Try an off-shoulder blouse with a lush saree, or unusual combinations, like an Anarkali kurta with a lehenga skirt or a sharara. If you’re in the mood for a red carpet look, try a sari gown that looks straight out of a royal Indian closet!
Here are some unique designs of lehenga for wedding to inspire you:
A formal suit or tux is an acceptable choice for men attending an Indian wedding reception. But why not choose a Bandhgala or ethnic blazer with intricate Indian patterns like flowers, Khari, paisleys, Ajrakh, and more? Sherwanis and Kurtas, too, are excellent choices.
One of the best things about Indian weddings is that you can go a little crazy with accessories and jewelry – and no one will judge you for it.
The idea is to match them with the mood of the event and your outfit. Thus, keep the gorgeous items for the wedding and reception, and pick simple but stylish ones for pre-wedding events.
Wondering what jewelry to wear to Indian wedding and how to accessorize? Check out these unique ideas:
There are many other small but significant rituals in different wedding ceremonies. Usually, only the close family takes part in these. For instance, there are events like Vidai, i.e., bidding goodbye to the bride from her family, and Griha Pravesh, i.e., welcoming her into her new home by the groom’s side.
A few events remain limited to specific regions, like the Aiburobhat, a special meal cooked for the bride and the groom before the wedding. Some events are inspired by the West, like a bachelor/bachelorette party thrown by the bride and groom’s friends. These are casual and optional events.
If you are attending any of these events, you can choose casual Indian attire, as long as you do not choose anything too heavy. Fusion fashion is a great option for these events. Keep it simple – and you will fit right in!
Etiquettes for choosing Indian wedding attire male and female
Before you start picking your outfits for the different events at an Indian wedding, it’s essential to know the basic rules. These involve what colors you can select, what you should not do, and more. Take a look at some wedding etiquettes.
a) Consider ethnic clothes
Whether you’re a Westerner or an Indian, wearing ethnic clothes to an Indian wedding is the best form of respect that you can show. It’s best to stick to traditional attire for the other events. But you can choose Western wear to Indian wedding events like Sangeet, reception, and bachelor/bachelorette party.
b) Pick the brightest colors
Indian ceremonies are all about brightness. So, don’t be afraid to pick dazzling colors for the events. Take some of the glitz and shine straight out of the Bollywood magazines. Splash it on your clothes and accessories to create a luxurious look!
c) Stay away from black and white
Though black is fashionable, It’s a strict no-no in Indian weddings, though you can wear black at Sangeet or reception. Also, avoid white, unless it’s a South Indian wedding. Even if you do, you must overpower it with bright shades instead of going in an all-white outfit.
d) Cover up
Skin show is frowned upon by Indians in general, and it is especially unwelcome at a wedding ceremony. Avoid tight and skimpy clothes that show knees and chest, whether you’re a man or a woman. You may need to cover your head, depending on the culture and traditions of the community.
e) Don’t go for casuals or informal clothes
When you carefully choose your clothes, it shows that you have put in some effort – that you considered the wedding important enough for that. Smart casuals and Indo-Western attires that reflect a festive mood are incredible for some wedding events.
When in doubt, ask an Indian friend to come along when you go shopping. This will help you to consider special dress codes or traditions while dress-shopping. Just remember to cover up properly and choose bright colors all the way. It’s also a good idea to pick traditional Indian clothes, just to avoid all confusion!
Choosing the right Indian wedding outfits does not have to be a hassle. Sure, there are many choices, and that can be a little overwhelming. But as long as you follow our guide, you will not only have fun shopping for your wedding clothes but will also enjoy being part of a grand Indian wedding!