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What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding-Indian Weddings
What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding
11 th Oct 2016

If you have been invited to a wedding, the first thing that you start thinking about is the outfit that you will wear to the ceremony. If the wedding is Indian, you are in for a treat because the wedding offers you plenty of opportunities to dress up and flaunt your style.

We have previously gone into detail about what to wear to an Indian wedding to help you put together a look for each event and make heads turn. But given the number of ceremonies and the multitude of traditions governing each, it is also easy to goof up and end up with an outfit that sticks out like a sore thumb. To prevent such mishaps, we will go through each event so you are aware what not to wear to an Indian wedding.

What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

As a rule of thumb, wearing skimpy and revealing clothes is a complete no no. Not just this, certain styles are also best avoided owing to their casual nature because Indian weddings are gala affairs where the outfits need to suit the occasion. Indians are also sensitive about certain colours not being worn to traditional occasions because they are considered to be inauspicious. We walk you through this and more in our following sections about what not to wear to an Indian wedding.

What Colours Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Certain colours as per Indian traditions are inauspicious for ceremonies like weddings. But the beauty here is that the rules about what colours are prohibited are not uniform across the country. For instance, in north India, white is a colour associated with mourning. But go to a Kerala wedding or to one in Karnataka, you would find the bride predominantly sporting a white saree. So if you are sure about the customs that are going to be followed at the wedding, you can choose to wear white. If you are not, avoid it altogether. If it is your love for neutral colours that you want to show off, then choose colours like off-white or beige with hints of gold for the wedding.

Black Saree Worn by Priyanka Chopra | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Along with white, black is another colour that is best avoided at an Indian wedding because the colour is considered very inauspicious in an Indian context. Even though it is a basic colour that many women prefer for its sensuous appeal, it is advisable to stay away from it while picking your outfits. It will not just attract undue attention, but will also make you stick out in a crowd that is dressed in vibrant festive colours. Since the idea is to gel with the crowd while also setting yourself apart through your sense of style, we’d suggest you to stay off black.

Among colours, black and white are the only ones that come into our mind when you ask us what colours not to wear to an Indian wedding owing to traditional beliefs around the colours. But aside from these colours, we would also suggest that you try not to wear red. The colour is traditionally associated with bridal wear and it is most likely that the bride will wear an ensemble with lots of red in it. On the day of her wedding, it is best to allow her to bask in the limelight. Therefore, we suggest that you choose a different colour while picking out your ensemble for the wedding. Read our blog post on which colours are the most appropriate ones to wear to an Indian wedding here.

Don’t Go Over the Top

Over the Top Outfits | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Since you do not want to grab all the attention at the wedding, we recommend that the look you go for should be understated and elegant. This does not mean you look washed out. What we meant is that it is always better to wear one necklace less, pick a sherwani with minimal embellishment or tone down the make up a little so that you make a statement while also letting the couple and their family shine through.

Don’t Pick Anything Too Casual

Casual Outfits | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

The idea behind dressing up for an Indian wedding ceremony is to dress to look the part of the Indian wedding guest. This means that simple cotton suits and kurtas are out of question. So also are casual outfits like denims and tee shirts. We would also go on to say that it is best to avoid any outfit which lacks embellishment, unless it is crafted from a rich fabric like silk or brocade.

Don’t Skip Jewellery

Strand of Silk - Indian Weddings - What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Saree without Jewellery

A rookie mistake that many first timers make at an Indian wedding is to adorn themselves with a gorgeous outfit that is bereft of any ‘Indian’ accessories. A saree or a lehenga looks incomplete if not accessorised with the right jewellery. For your ears, pick a pair of jhumkas or chaand balis. Do not leave the neck unadorned. Even a simple gold chain with a sparkling pendant will do the trick in completing the outfit. Last but not the least, wear at least a couple of bangles on each hand for that Indian touch. Men could also add a touch of bling to their outfit by way of jewelled buttons or a gold chain.

Now that we have seen an overview of what not to wear to an Indian wedding, here are some specific don'ts. 

What Not to Wear to an Engagement Ceremony

Indian Engagement Ceremony | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Even though the engagement ceremony is a semi-formal gathering, it is better to pick a festive outfit if you plan to attend one. By festive, we do not mean traditional. You can wear your favourite crop top and skirt to an engagement ceremony but remember that it should suit the occasion. Pick outfits in rich fabrics with some embellishments that do justice to the occasion.

Female Guests

For female guests, denims are a big no, as are short casual dresses. We’d go further to tell you to refrain from wearing salwar suits and A-line dresses since they are too simple for an occasion like an engagement ceremony. At the other end of the spectrum is your heavy silk saree which is best reserved for the bride-to-be and her family. Another must is to avoid anything that is too tight or too revealing.

Male Guests

Denims | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

As easy as it is to put together a look that comprises of a pair of trousers and a formal shirt or a jeans and tee, we’d suggest that you avoid this combination for the engagement ceremony - the outfit will just show a lack of effort on your part. Wear a nice linen kurta instead, teamed with a pair of pyjamas. While we are at it, we should also tell you to avoid a sherwani as far as possible - it is too formal for the occasion and more suited for the groom-to-be.

Family of the Couple

The family of the couple can more or less follow the same guidelines that we have suggested to the other guests. One important thing to keep in mind is to exercise restraint while choosing contemporary or modern outfits for the engagement - pick styles that are slightly on the conservative side in order to avoid offending any other family members.

What Not to Wear to the Haldi Ceremony

Haldi Ceremony | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

The haldi ceremony is usually held in the respective homes of the bride and the groom. It is a low-key event that involves the application of turmeric paste on the hands, legs and face of the bride and the groom. Considering the event, here are the kind of outfits that you should avoid at the haldi ceremony.

Female Guests

Haldi Dressy Outfits | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Since you will be handling turmeric paste and applying it on the bride or the groom, it is important you are careful so that the paste doesn't stain your clothes. Do not wear clothes that are too dressy or expensive. Similarly, do not wear outfits like lehengas that have excess material which makes it difficult to handle them amidst the ceremony.

Male Guests

Our only tip for the male guests would be to avoid anything too dressy like a sherwani or a bandhgala. It is likely to be an event where most people turn up in a kurta. So choose a kurta but avoid very flashy colours that do not suit the mood of the event.

Family of the Couple

As the couple’s family, what is expected of you at the haldi ceremony is to not wear anything that is too embellished or tight because you will be required to do a lot of work at the event.

What Not to Wear to the Mehendi Ceremony

Mehendi Ceremony | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Just like the haldi, the mehendi ceremony is an event that is held at home - usually, the bride’s home. It is a nocturnal event accompanied by snacks, dinner and lots of music. Mehendi artists apply henna tattoos on the female guests during the ceremony and adorn the bride’s hands and feet with elaborate henna designs. Here’s a look at what not to wear at a mehendi ceremony.

Female Guests

Full Sleeve Anarkali at the Mehendi Ceremony | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

To female guests attending a mehendi ceremony, we would recommend that you don’t wear clothes that are too loose, have full sleeves or are heavily embellished and need constant adjustments. Remember that you will have henna on your hands and will not be able to use them for a while. For the same reason, we would also point out that you avoid very expensive or dressy clothes since the mehendi stain could ruin the outfit.

Male Guests

Heavy Sherwani | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

Male guests normally do not have a major role to play at the mehendi ceremony. But if you are a part of it, don’t be under dressed in a formal shirt and trousers. They are BORING. Pick a kurta with floral motifs or in a bright colour and team it with a pair of churidar pyjamas. This way, you will look at home amidst ladies dressed in ethnic clothes and will also be comfortable.

Family of the Couple

If you are a woman, you are likely to be sitting with mehendi on your hands. In case you are wearing a saree, we’d advise that you do not wear it with a blouse that has long sleeves. The idea is to wear clothes that do not interfere with the mehendi. Same holds good for an anarkali suit or a lehenga. Avoid the dupatta or tie it in a non-intrusive way to allow for free movement.

Male relatives can follow the same suggestions that we have outlined for male guests. Only that, you can’t turn up in something too sober and understated, since you are going to be a part of all the photographs. Pick a kurta in a vibrant colour that matches the festive mood of the mehendi ceremony.

What Not to Wear to the Sangeet Ceremony

Strand of Silk - Indian Weddings - What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding - Indian Sangeet Ceremony

After a series of low key ceremonies comes the massive sangeet ceremony where the couple, their families and guests get a chance to indulge in a night of music, dance and a lot of fun. A night as promising as this needs you to also up your style game a couple of notches. Here are some pointers to remember when you dress for the sangeet.

Female Guests

Contemporary Saree for Sangeet | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

The thumb rule while dressing for the sangeet is to incorporate a lot of bling into your outfit. So forget about wearing your sophisticated suits or sarees like the one Sonam Kapoor is sporting here, that do not boast of any embellishments. The idea is to doll up in Bollywood inspired outfits and look like a star during the ceremony. Don’t skimp on makeup and jewellery - you don’t want to look washed out in comparison to other female guests.

We know that heels add to your confidence and enhance your gait but this is one ceremony where we would suggest that you wear something comfortable, flats or mojris if you ask us because after all, you will be on your feet for the majority of the event.

Male Guests

Feel free to flaunt any style that you like during the sangeet - kurta, sherwani, bandhgala - whatever gives you the moves. But while picking the outfit, test it for comfort and check if you can easily move in it and can spend the entire evening in it without getting irritated.

Family of the Couple

For the family of the couple also we have only one advise about what not to wear to the sangeet ceremony - don’t wear anything uncomfortable, be it shoes or outfits. Keeping this in mind, pick a dazzling outfit that lets you dance through the night and also casts a spell on the guests.

What not to Wear to the Wedding Ceremony

Indian Wedding Ceremony | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

The wedding ceremony is the most important event of the wedding proceedings. No wonder every single guest puts in extra effort to dress for the occasion. The wedding is a traditional event with plenty of rituals that go on for at least a few hours. Given that it is a traditional ceremony, it is important to avoid certain kinds of outfits during the wedding. Here is a look at what not to wear to an Indian wedding.

Female Guests

Coming to what not to wear to an Indian wedding for female guests, we would first rule out overtly simple outfits like salwar suits and A line kurtas. Being a traditional event, it also calls for you to be dressed in traditional attire, so gowns, dresses and trousers are a big no no. You definitely should not wear anything too tight or revealing like the outfit below.

Revealing Outfits | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

If possible, avoid outfits like crop tops and skirts. If you must wear them, throw on a dupatta for a modest look.

Male Guests

The wedding is one event where you cannot turn up in denims and tee shirts - the outfits are way too casual for the proceedings. Also avoidable are formal pants with trousers. If you must wear them, team them with a blazer or a jacket for an added layer of sophistication.

Family of the Couple

Being a part of the family, you are bound to be in the limelight during the wedding. So we would suggest that you avoid outfits that are uncomfortable to move around in. Another important tip is to not wear anything too revealing that could upset the elders in the family.

What Not to Wear to the Wedding Reception

Indian Wedding Reception | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

The wedding reception is more like a formal party that presents plenty of opportunities to mingle with the other guests and pose for pictures. So it becomes really important for you to be dressed in your best party wear outfit during the event. However, while you are picking the outfit, here is what you should avoid.

Female Guests

Designer Lehengas for Reception | What Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

While the reception is a great time to experiment with designer outfits and the latest styles, we would warn you to not go over the top. At the top of our list of what not to wear during an Indian wedding reception are outfits that will give competition to the bride’s reception ensemble. You definitely do not want to steal the thunder on her big day. Having said that, don’t hold back too much while putting together your outfit because every other guest will be dressed to impress.

This is a good time to bring out your lehengas and gowns but they better be embellished, otherwise you will pale in comparison to the others.

Male Guests

Office Wear for Reception | Not to Wear to an Indian Wedding

A wedding reception is a good time to bring out your best party wear outfit. This means that your regular workwear, tee shirt and denims should be strictly avoided during the occasion.

Family of the Couple

Being family, you are going to be greeting many relatives and welcoming other guests during the reception. It becomes important for you to be dressed for the occasion. Anything too simple or casual is absolutely not acceptable. So go on and pick up your best party or festive wear outfit. A word of caution though - scan the crowd once to make sure that your outfits and accessories do not overshadow the couple or any of the other close relatives of the couple - you don’t want your relatives to talk about you flaunting your entire jewellery box at the wedding. A good way to ensure this is to always remove one piece of jewellery - could be that extra necklace or the maang tikka after you are dressed. This way, you can be sure of not being overdressed.

Now that you have seen our guide about what not to wear to an Indian wedding, do tell us if we have missed any golden rules that your customs dictate which can help others plan their wedding outfits.

Image credit: Lakmefashionweek, fashionlady, luxurychronicles, biba, sareetimes, mensxp, deccanchronicle, bollywoodlife, anavilamisra, zuri, shaadishopblog, theknot, southindianweddings,bridalbox, hindustantimes 

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