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Indian Wedding Colours 101 - What to Wear and What to Avoid
Indian Wedding Colours 101 - What to Wear and What to Avoid
18 th Nov 2016

The wedding season is almost upon us and as the bride-to-be, one of the family members or even the guest, it is about time that you start shopping for Indian wedding clothes. Goes without saying that you would need more than a couple of outfits since Indian weddings span at least a few days and include about half a dozen events.

While picking outfits, the foremost thing to consider is the colour that you are going to wear - you don’t want to be stuck wearing the same old greens and reds like the previous year. Nor do you want to turn up in colours that are inappropriate for an auspicious occasion.

In case you are confused about what colours to wear to an Indian wedding and what to avoid, we give you a lowdown on the latest colour trends and also tell you what colours to avoid to make a statement at the wedding.

What Colours to Avoid at an Indian Wedding

The rule of thumb at any Indian wedding is to avoid colours that are considered to be inauspicious. The colours that broadly fall into this category are, hold your breath, black and white. Yes! The most basic of the colours are not auspicious and are best avoided at Indian weddings, especially if you are the bride or the groom-to-be or from the immediate family. Of course, if you are a guest, you could wear these two colours in combination with other colours. But black and white as such are a no-no at Indian weddings.

Red and crimson are other colours that you could avoid on the wedding day, if you are a guest - they are customarily the colours of the bridal outfit - you don’t want to compete with the bride on her big day, do you? Now that the colours to avoid are out of the way, let us run you through some of the latest colour trends in Indian wedding clothes. We’ll go event-wise to tell you what colours to wear to an Indian wedding.

Haldi

Haldi is the Hindi word for turmeric. The event is held to mark the ritual of application of Haldi paste on the bride and the groom - to ward off evil eye and to bestow them with the ‘wedding glow’. It has been an age old tradition for the bride and the groom to wear yellow coloured outfits during the ceremony for two reasons. One, the colour is considered to be auspicious and two, it serves the practical purpose of the turmeric stain not being too evident on the clothes.

However, if you are a member of the family or a guest, you don’t necessarily have to wear Indian wedding clothes in yellow to the event. Given the fact that it is typically an outdoor event, held during the day, you would do well in choosing pastel colours that will go well with the yellow theme of the ceremony. For the ladies, our recommendation would be to pick shararas, lehengas or anarkali suits in pink, peach or even fluorescent yellow and green. Minimal embellishments like sequins and crystals will look great on these colours during the day.

What colours to wear to an Indian wedding - Haldi

Men can wear full length or medium length kurtas in lighter shades like beige, powder blue or lime green. In case the kurta is plain, you could dress it up with a woven Nehru jacket in a darker shade for a more sophisticated look.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Men Haldi

The Haldi ceremony is also a good time to show off your love for indigenous Indian textile by sporting cotton kurtas with block or ajrakh prints. Pick a kurta in earthy tones like ochre, brown or rust for an understated look. If vibrant colours are your calling,  then there is no better time than the haldi ceremony to wear a vegetable dye indigo or a maroon kurta teamed with comfortable denims and a pair of Kolhapuri slippers.

Mehendi

While the Haldi is a low-key event, the Mehendi ceremony gives you an opportunity to step up your fashion game and test waters with your fashion choices before the bigger events begin. Unless the Mehendi ceremony has a colour theme, your colour options for Indian wedding clothes are dime a dozen. But if you had to pick one colour that would carry you through the evening like a star, make some different choices to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Since you would be getting Mehendi applied on your hands and feet, a crop top and a skirt or a simple lehenga-choli are the best options for the Mehendi ceremony. Remember that the Mehendi can get messy - so avoid very light colours and rich fabrics accordingly.

For the bride, heavy, blingy wear during the Mehendi ceremony is passe. Swap them out for a lehenga in a flattering colour with light embroidery, in gossamer fabrics like Chanderi or georgette. Our pick for you is this Anita Dongre lehenga in a vibrant yellow-gold colour. With its simple design and understated embellishments, the lehenga is not just gorgeous, it also is just apt for the Mehendi ceremony, considering its comfort factor. If you are looking for more colour in your outfit, look no further than this Priti Sahni lehenga in pink, mint and peach with floral prints that are de rigueur today. Colour combinations like these, that have a playful feel to them are just what you need for the Mehendi ceremony.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Mehendi Lehenga.png

While the bride settles down in a vibrant lehenga-choli, guests can actually go and paint the town red in just about any colour they want. We’ve picked this Anita Dongre crop top and skirt in a stunning orange and maroon combination for you to show you how even a simple outfit can look striking with the right contrast. You could also experiment with combinations like fuchsia and violet, sea green and pink or even red and green. The contrast created by these colours would make it impossible for people to take their eyes off you during the event.

Since the Mehendi is normally a ‘ladies only’ event, the men can take some time off and relax while the proceedings are underway. In case you still want to witness the festivities, go dressed in a bright kurta and a pair of pyjamas but stay away from light colours that can get stained easily.

Sangeet

There was a time when the Sangeet was a low key event where the ladies gathered in the bride’s home and played the dholak and sang songs to make merry, a day or two prior to the wedding. Today, the Sangeet ceremony is a full blown event, replete with a stage, a choreographer, rehearsed dancing and a DJ who belts out popular numbers for the wedding guests to dance to through the night. An event of this scale calls for some serious bling and glamour in your outfits, which can be achieved by way of rich colours and some spellbinding details.

The Sangeet is a nocturnal event, therefore the suggested colour palette is vibrant, with deep and luxurious colours like violet, magenta, marsala and midnight blue. If understated colours are your calling, just make sure that to up the bling quotient, the outfit has contrasting embellishments in gold and silver. Sequin, gota patti and zardosi work can add a touch of glamour to even subtle colours, making them worthy of the Sangeet ceremony.

The Sangeet is the perfect stage for the bride to don some unconventional colours that she would otherwise shy away from experimenting with on her big day. How about picking an elegant vintage rose lehenga that beautifully ties comfort with pomp? Or this stunning midnight blue saree gown that will let you sizzle as you dance away through the night. Want something more feminine? Then try this dazzling lehenga choli in various shades of pink. The silver detailing on it will look magnificent on the stage in the night.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Sangeet

If you are a guest, especially one who is performing on stage, go all out on the sparkle because this is one event where you can be as blingy as the bride - amid all the music and the free flowing alcohol, she won’t take an offense! If you are still not comfortable in flaunting a jazzy lehenga, incorporate bling in a pre-draped saree or an anarkali suit instead. This way, you will be making a statement without vying for too much attention. Try vivid colours like deep crimson, violet, orange, bottle green or even gold with some sparkling embellishments. In short, your Sangeet colour palette should be reminiscent of the royal Mughals.

Menfolk, the same holds good for you as well. Sherwanis, bandhgalas and jodhpuris in deep and rich colours are the order of the day ( or the night, in this case). The sangeet ceremony is a time to dial up your style game by choosing outfits with detailing on the yoke, collar and cuffs. Red, midnight blue and gold are colours that we would suggest for a look that is a class apart.

Cocktail Party

Cocktail parties are sometimes clubbed with the Sangeet but in case the hosts decide to throw a separate party, this is your chance to show off the best of your fusion wear before the wedding. The party, as the name implies, will entail drinking and mixing with the crowd and is a relaxed affair as opposed to the other wedding ceremonies. This means that you can actually flaunt the forbidden black in a ravishing gown or wear a sizzling pre-draped saree that would have been a no-no at the other traditional events.

For the bride, we’d recommend Indian gowns in subtle colours - think sophistication rather than splendour. Naturally, pastels, ivory and pinks are wonderful choices, especially if chosen in a rich fabric with minimal embellishments. Gold can also be a colour to consider if you want to live up to your status of the ‘bride-to-be’. Should you have a soft spot for darker colours, then go for colours that are not a part of your bridal trousseau, like emerald, turquoise or marsala.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Cocktail Party

Female guests can wear just about any colour at the cocktail party. Our suggestion would be to wear a gown and for you to stay away from traditional colours for a change. Pick trendy contemporary gowns in shades like off-white, royal blue, black and peach. This is the perfect event to dabble in layers, lace and textures, giving the embellishments a miss.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Men Cocktail

Men can make the most of this party and be dressed in their suave best. Think tuxedos, jackets and smart blazers in black, navy and grey. Bandhgala jackets and sherwanis in vibrant floral colours and printed blazers are an option if you want to make the girls swoon with your offbeat style.

Wedding/Pheras

The most important part of the wedding proceedings is the phera ceremony when the actual wedding takes place. The bride and the groom are decked in regal splendour while the family and the other guests are not far behind in matching their resplendence.

Most communities prescribe a colour and a dress code to brides when it comes to Indian wedding clothes for the pheras. Telugu weddings would mostly see the bride in an off-white saree with a rich multi colour border while Tamil brides are most likely to wear a specific shade of red. Up north, brides generally wear lehengas in red or pink whereas in the east, Bengali brides wear Benarasi silk sarees in red, pink or off-white.

In case you do not have a specific colour code to follow as a bride, you can choose Indian wedding clothes in vibrant colours like red, gold, maroon, orange or pink with embellishments in gold or silver. The colour palette ought to be vivid and rich, in order to do justice to the event. It helps if you choose one of the shades that we've mentioned because they are considered to be auspicious.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Pheras

Goes without saying that whatever colour you choose, it should complement the embellishments and enable them shine through. Lehengas and sarees with two or more colours are also a great idea, as long as you pick the right colour combination to suit your skin tone. Currently, the colours that are trending in bridal wear are gold and fuchsia, both of which look lavish when adorned with golden sequin or thread embellishments.

As for the groom, an easy way to zero in on an outfit is to select one in a colour that matches the bride’s dress. Both the bride and the groom in matching Indian wedding clothes will make for a coordinated look on the stage.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Pheras Groom

Another option is to incorporate a few elements in your outfit in the same colour as the bridal wear. You could wear a golden sherwani and team it with a dupatta, pyjamas and turban that matches the bridal outfit, even if the bride is wearing pink!

For the guests, your choice of Indian wedding clothes depends on what role you play in the wedding. Older ladies who are close relatives are better off wearing grand outfits in bright traditional colours like green, turquoise, indigo, yellow and gold. Men can also choose from a similar palette; kurtas in green, maroon, and yellow are ideal for a festive look during the wedding.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Pheras Guests

Younger women can opt for lighter colours that are more age-appropriate. Pink, orange, lemon yellow, aquamarine and jade are colours that make for striking Indian wedding clothes that have a playful vibe to them. Floral prints which are ruling the ramp are also a great option to be on trend this wedding season.

Reception

An evening do, the reception, as the name suggests is not a traditional ceremony. It is more of a formal event that lets the couple get introduced to the friends and family of the other half. It is an evening that is jam packed with plenty of photo opportunities, making it one event for which you better be dressed to the nines.

It is a great opportunity for the bride, fresh out of her nuptials to step out of the ‘traditional’ Indian wedding clothes zone and experiment with fusion outfits or outfits that have a contemporary take on traditional wear, like this Mandira Wirk draped saree. Your reds and pinks are out of question unless you want to be dubbed boring for sticking to the same old colours. 

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Reception Bride

Our suggestion? Go for gold! Unless of course, you wore gold at the wedding. Indian wedding clothes in gold look ravishing in the night and turn out really well in photographs too. Gold is also a colour that suits the Indian complexion to the T, irrespective of whether your skin tone is fair or warm. In case you wore gold at the wedding, this is the time for you to wear rich colours like marsala or try something elegant in lavender like this Siddartha Tytler lehenga.

Since the reception is not a traditional ceremony, the groom can actually wear black during the event. So if the ultimate sartorial statement according to you is a three piece suit, then wear a bespoke suit in black or navy for a dapper look. Match the pocket square with the bride’s outfit for both of you to bring some harmony on stage.

Guests can actually go all out and pick colours that they please for the reception. One thing to remember is that being an evening event, it is advisable for you to wear darker colours that photograph well.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Reception Guests

Black with gold, blue, maroon and purple look great during the night, making them colours to pick your anarkali suits, sarees and lehengas in. The reception is another event where you don’t only have to resort to traditional Indian wedding clothes. Gowns and draped fusion outfits in festive colours also suit the formal tone of the gathering.

What Colours to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Reception Male Guests

Men have options ranging from formal suits, blazers to even waistcoats, sherwanis and bandhgalas. Pick them in solids, preferably in a deeper shade to make a sartorial statement. Don’t forget to team the right shoes with your outfit and you are all set to sweep the ladies off their feet!

Indian wedding clothes are today being offered in a variety of colours and fabrics, what with the designers experimenting with a colour palette that is not restricted to traditional colours. As a result, you as a buyer have plenty of options to choose from. While you are out to buy clothes, remember to keep in mind some of the dos and don’ts that we have mentioned. Beyond that, feel free to pick anything that catches your fancy, looks good on you and will suit the occasion. As long as you flaunt your outfit with confidence, anything will look great on you.

Image credit: weddinggroupturkey

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