Dancing, games, henna and feasting. Yes, I am talking about the exciting ride that is an Indian wedding. This roller coaster ride is a combination of different events involving pre wedding rituals, the actual wedding and the post wedding reception.
Apart from being fun, these Indian wedding events often include some three hundred plus guests, so one can expect a lot of colour play happening, in terms of the outfits. To avoid getting lost in the ocean of bold colours and finery, here are some tips on how to dress for each of the Indian wedding parties.
Use our Outfit Generator for more inspiration on what to wear for each of the Indian wedding ceremonies.
What To Wear To The Haldi Ceremony
The Indian wedding events are generally kicked off with the haldi ceremony. In this ceremony a concoction made from turmeric, sandalwood, oil and water is rubbed on the bride and the groom’s body. In the olden days this ritual was supposed to be like a spa treatment for the couple before their wedding. The modern day haldi ceremony is more about following the culture and has become a fun event with the guests and friends utterly enjoying smearing haldi on the groom and the bride.
This is a casual event, so in order to dress for this event; an important rule would be to avoid pristine whites, unless you do not mind all the turmeric splashing on your outfit. Blacks are considered inauspicious for traditional Indian wedding events, so it is better to avoid the colour in keeping with the sentiments. Relaxed light Indian attires in shades of yellow or orange would be a good choice. Any lightly embellished casual salwaar kameez in earthy colours or deeper hues would also work well for the haldi ceremony.
Men can go for a short linen casual kurta, teamed with churidars or pants and a waistcoat can be used to add some drama to the plain look.
This ceremony is usually a night affair where henna is applied to the hands of the bride and the ladies of the wedding families. Traditionally, this ceremony was celebrated separately by the groom’s and the bride’s family. However these days it is a combined affair doubling the joy and merriment. There will be singing and dancing going on simultaneously as the ladies sit around getting henna designs applied on their hands and feet alongside the bride.
The mehendi is also a casual fun affair so keep this in mind when choosing what to wear to the mehendi ceremony. Casual outfits just like the haldi ceremony are quite suitable for this event. If you happen to be close friends or family of the bride and groom then remember these tips on how to dress up for an Indian wedding party as you will be spending a considerable amount of time at the event. To avoid mehendi stains it is best to wear colours that can camouflage the stains. Olive green outfits can be favoured in sync with the mehendi theme. Also for this ceremony you may have to sit cross legged on the floor for quite some time, while the henna artist is working on you. So giving consideration to the comfort factor wearing relaxed bottoms instead of tight fitting pants would be ideal. Avoiding longer sleeves would also be more practical for the henna application process.
Indian wedding events have undergone drastic changes. The low key, ladies only sangeet ceremony that was held in the individual homes of the bride and the groom, has transformed into an elaborate requisite of Indian wedding events.
The modern sangeet ceremony has families from both sides performing choreographed dances to the tunes of Bollywood songs. Role-playing, singing and performances by hired artists as well as the intimate family members enthrall the wedding guests. If as a guest you will be a part of the dancing troupe, dress accordingly but lehengas, anarkalis, chudidhar-kurtas, sarees or Indian wedding cocktail dresses are usually the chosen attires for the sangeet ceremony.
The sangeet is like a traditional dance and music party, so ensure you wear outfits that will let you enjoy this event to the fullest.
This episode of Indian wedding events basically ensures that the guests mingle and have fun together. As the name suggests the party will entail drinking with appetizers followed by a delectable spread of food for the guests. This event may be clubbed with the sangeet.
For separate cocktail parties the bride can have a dress code or a theme planned for the event. There may also be games and entertainment organised for the guests.
The new age concept of incorporating cocktail parties into Indian wedding events, gives an alternative of ditching the traditional outfits. It also takes away the restriction for black and one can choose different silhouettes like gorgeous western gowns and Indian wedding cocktail dresses. Minimalism is key in how to dress for these Indian wedding parties so stick with subtle jewellery and accessories.
For men a structured western or Indian outfit would be a great choice for the cocktail party.
The actual wedding is the root cause of all the celebratory Indian wedding events. Most of the guests will be decked in embellished bold outfits with emphatic jewellery pieces. Opulence works for an Indian wedding ceremony, so reserve your finest outfit for this day.
Unlike other Indian wedding events, the wedding ceremony is a ritual driven occasion. So it is always a display of myriad traditional outfits. Sarees, lehengas and anarkalis with embellishments are great choices for women. While kurtas, achkans or sherwanis are favoured by men for the event. Since the ceremony is mostly centered on the bride, groom and their close family, the guests can have fun socialising and feasting.
The end of the Indian wedding events is through the reception party, which again like the cocktail party gives scope for western and contemporary outfits. It is an event where the newly married couple offers thanks to the guests for their presence, good wishes and wedding gifts.
When deciding on how to dress for an Indian wedding reception, women have the luxury of choosing from diverse options of Indian traditional outfits or contemporary western wear. Men can display formal sophisticated looks through western wear using trendy jackets and suits. Men can also adopt minimalistic, structured and sharp Indian wear like bandhgalas, sherwanis and achkans for the reception look.
Indian wedding events provide ample opportunities for dressing up for the guests. By understanding what each event entails one can get the right cues for choosing the appropriate attire. These perfect outfits will make the guests stand out in a tasteful way throughout the Indian wedding events.
If the all tips and tricks to nailing your Indian wedding wardrobe still haven’t cleared up your confusion then continue reading for some more clarification.
Q: Is it acceptable to wear western attire to traditional Indian wedding ceremonies?
A: If you’re Indian then it’s best to wear traditional Indian attire to the mehendi, henna and wedding ceremonies. You can choose to wear western clothes to the sangeet, cocktail and reception as these are not traditional functions so the implied dress code is more fluid. If you’re not Indian and are attending the wedding of a friend or relative or don’t want to invest in Indian wear then ensure that your western attire is conservative to avoid offending older family members. It’s also a good idea to avoid black, as it’s considered inauspicious.
Q: Are all wedding guests expected to dress in bright and bold colours?
A: The short and sweet answer is No. While it’s common for Indian wedding guests to dress in their flamboyant best, it is not essential. If you’re more of a pastel-loving kind of dresser then by all means wear those colours. You can always add a pop of colour with a jewel toned dupatta, shawl or colourful accessories.
Q: Can guests get away with wearing jeans and t-shirts to Indian wedding ceremonies?
A: No. Indian Weddings are formal affairs so wearing anything too casual is not acceptable.
Q: Do all Indian wedding outfits need to be conservative?
A: In general it’s more respectable and appropriate to avoid skimpy clothes in keeping with the religious and cultural mood of the Indian wedding ceremonies. However some liberties can be taken at the cocktail party and sangeet if it will only include the younger guests.
Q: Is it necessary to change out of the sangeet dance costume?
A: Yes. The dance costume is only meant for the performance so you will need to change into another outfit for the rest of the sangeet ceremony. In such cases the family ensures that guests have rooms to change.
Q: What does the ‘formal’ dress code entail at an Indian wedding?
A: It’s become fairly common for the couple to have a reception with an enforced formal dress code. This is usually mentioned on the invitation. Men can wear suits, tuxedos, bandhgala jackets or sherwanis while women can choose from gowns and contemporary sarees.
Q: Do all the jewellery and accessories worn at an Indian wedding need to be bold and chunky?
A: Your jewellery and accessories need to be tailored according to your outfit. If your clothing is heavy on embellishments then pick more dainty pieces of jewellery and simple accessories. For less embroidered and simple garments you can pick statement jewellery and accessories.
In need of some more inspiration? Take a look at our Style Tips By Ceremony page
Image source: Strand of Silk