Even if you have never attended an Indian wedding, you must have heard of how grand Indian weddings can be. Just the sheer number of formal and informal ceremonies, the never-ending number of guests, the variety of colors, it is no less than a grand festival. While the rest of the world celebrates weddings as a union of two individuals, the Indian wedding is the celebration of the two families coming together with all their rituals, peculiarities and diversity. There are a plethora of rituals involved that are guided by the age-old Indian tradition, it’s called the Big Fat Indian Wedding, for a reason. Don’t worry, we are not going to talk about rituals because that could go on for the entire day. Instead, we are going to talk about another very important part of Indian weddings- what classic ethnic attire to wear at what event.
Even the dress code at Indian weddings is influenced by culture and tradition. Women at weddings are dressed in the best Indian ethnic wear, which includes the undisputed king of ethnic wear- the saree, the evergreen salwar kameez, and the sumptuous lehenga choli. You will find that women are dressed in bright lehengas and sarees at a North-Indian wedding. While a South Indian wedding witnesses women clad in heavy sarees. Even the style of draping those are different in different parts of the country. If you are attending the wedding as a guest, or it’s your cousin’s wedding, your BFF, or you are the bride’s sister, the outfit you wear depends on the ceremony itself.
In this guide, we are going to help you navigate through the maze of what to wear dilemma, and help you style for the different wedding ceremonies.
Disclaimer: This guide is only for women
Now that is out of the way, let’s dive into an event-wise guide about what to wear to an Indian wedding.
- What to Wear to an Indian Engagement Party
- What to Wear to the Mehendi Ceremony
- What to Wear to the Sangeet Ceremony
- What to Wear to an Indian Wedding
- What to Wear to an Indian Wedding Reception
The engagement ceremony
A significant pre-wedding ritual, the engagement ceremony is where the blushing bride-to-be and the would-be groom are formally betrothed to each other. The ritual dates back to the Vedic times, where the groom’s family promises the bride’s family to accept their daughter and to take care of her. The ceremony is somewhat similar amongst all Indian communities, differing in nuances and details of the rituals. It may or may not involve the exchange of rings. Some communities use the engagement ceremony to officially announce the betrothal of the couple while some celebrate it as the date the wedding date is determined. Even though the engagement takes place a few months or a year before the actual wedding, some families club the wedding and the engagement functions and hold the engagement party just 2 or 3 days before the wedding.
What do you wear to an Indian Engagement Party?
The engagement ceremony calls out for a more dressy semi-formal or contemporary attire. Even though there are no real rules about what to wear at an engagement function, there is an unsaid rule of not going over the top with flash and bling. Your choices are unlimited when it comes to engagement parties. If you are planning to drape a saree, this a great time to try a subtle light colored saree with a quirky draping style. A simple Anarkali suit or a Palazzo suit will make you look regal at the ceremony. Lehengas might not be the best choice to wear at an engagement ceremony as a guest but if you must wear, keep it as subtle and causal as possible
Check out sarees to wear at an engagement
Check out salwar kameez to wear at an engagement:
Check out simple lehengas to wear at an engagement
The mehndi ceremony
The mehndi ceremony is yet another pre-wedding ritual and is one of the most relaxed functions of the entire wedding. Even though the mehndi ceremony was originally only celebrated in North Indian weddings, it has now become an elemental part of the wedding ceremony all over the country (we can thank Bollywood for it). In this ritual, the bride and other women around enhance their beauty by getting their hands and feet tattooed with henna. Mehndi is considered to be one of the sixteen adornments of the bride and her beauty is incomplete without it.
What to Wear to the Mehendi Ceremony?
Since it’s the bride that is getting extravagant designs on her hands and feet, you as a guest, don’t need to give her competition. As the color of henna is green, the color scheme for this event usually revolves around the color green. You can wear green, teal, or even an olive-colored saree. A simple chiffon or georgette saree will do wonders for you at the ceremony. A green ghagra choli and salwar kameez will also make for a great attire for the mehndi ceremony. Be wary of the length of the sleeves as per how extensive you want your mehndi to be. Remember, there will be a lot of dancing at the function, so select something more comfortable. Don’t forget the accessorize appropriately.
Check out sarees to wear at the mehndi:
Check out salwar kameez and lehengas to wear at an engagement:
The Sangeet Ceremony
The most fun ceremony of the wedding has to be the sangeet ceremony, everybody loves it. As the name suggests, the sangeet ceremony is all about fun, music, and dance. It is a much-needed break from all the hectic seriousness of the wedding preparations. It usually takes place on the night before the wedding where the families from both the sides perform on choreographed dance sequences to foot-tapping Bollywood numbers. Even the bride and the groom take the stage at the event. This is one pre-wedding ceremony, you want to be dressed to your nines.
What to wear at the Sangeet Ceremony?
You will need to bring your A-game to the sangeet ceremony. This is the perfect time for you to take inspiration from Bollywood and flaunt your shiny lehengas, sequined sarees and embellished salwar kameez. You can pick different styles of salwar suits, including abaya Suits, Anarkali Suits, Punjabi Salwar Kameez, Sharara, abstract prints and so many more. Remember to wear comfortable shoes or sandals as you will want to shake and shimmy all night.
Check out sarees to wear at the sangeet ceremony
Check out salwar kameez and lehengas to wear at the sangeet ceremony
The Wedding Ceremony
It’s time for the D-day – The wedding ceremony. Which technically, is the most important part of the wedding festivities. It is only natural that in addition to the bride and groom, every guest and relatives are dressed in their trendiest ethnic attire. Out of all the wedding festivities, this one the one that is brimmed with traditional rituals and thus, demands the most traditional attire from the guest and relatives as well.
What to Wear to an Indian Wedding Ceremony?
As this is the most important ceremony, don’t experiment a lot with your outfit. Stick to the tried and tested ethnic look while dressing up for an Indian wedding party.
Coming to the question of what to wear to an Indian wedding, that depends on the type of wedding that you are attending. If you are attending the wedding in North India, you can wear Salway suits or even Lehenga cholis. Floor-length Anarkalis, Abaya suits, Punjabi suits are great picks. These salwar suits can be adorned with heavy embellishments, embroidery, stonework, zardozi and more. Designs with gold detailing offer quite an exquisite look too. If you are opting to wear a saree, try the Benarasi silk, georgette, or a net saree that embellished with embroidery or jari work. On the other hand, sarees are the most opted ethnic attire at a South Indian wedding. If you are attending a South Indian wedding, ditch the salwar suit and lehengas and drape yourself in pure silk or Kanjeevaram silk saree. If your budget is a little lower, opt for art silk or cotton silk saree instead.
Vibrant colors like red, green, yellow or pink are preferred wedding colors. However, these days many women are also leaning more towards pastel colors like peach, baby pink, turquoise and more. Don’t forget to accessorize to create an impact.
Check out sarees to wear at the wedding ceremony
Check out salwar kameez to wear at the wedding ceremony
Check out simple lehengas to wear at the wedding ceremony
The Wedding Reception
Finally, we are done with all the rituals. The wedding reception is a post-wedding function that is not led by any rituals. It is an informal event where friends and family gather to see the bride and groom for the first time as a wedding couple. There is food, music, and an endless photo session. It goes without saying that every single guest is dressed in their most top-notch Indian ethnic wear.
What to Wear to an Indian Wedding Reception
The only thing to remember while dressing up for the reception is to wear flashy yet chic and contemporary traditional clothes. You can either wear a saree, a lehenga or even a salwar kameez. Choose styles that will stand out from the crowd, like Anarkali suits, shararas, or sarees with a heavily embellished blouse, or lehenga saree and more.
Check out sarees to wear at the reception ceremony
Check out salwar kameez to wear at the reception ceremony
Check out simple lehengas to wear at the reception ceremony
Things to remember while styling yourself for weddings
- There’s no need to limit yourself when it comes to the color of your outfit
- Choose comfort over vanity.
- Be as blingy as you like- after all that is the trademark of the big fat Indian wedding
There you go.
Hope this guide helps you shine bright at the next wedding you attend.