Have you been invited to an Indian wedding? Then you are in for a treat! One of the best things about Indian weddings is that they often include an array of traditional customs, rituals, and ceremonies and can last for several days and are there are often many more guests than at Western weddings – sometimes guest lists top over 700 people! As well as being plenty of opportunities to dress up and accessorise, this also means you will need to think carefully about what you should wear to an Indian wedding. Just because you are one of a huge crowd, does not mean that anything goes!
Here, we have pulled together a guide on what to wear to an Indian wedding as a guest as well as the best Indian wedding outfits. Read on to find out more.
Do I need multiple outfits for different ceremonies?
The answer to this is yes! Generally, most Indian weddings consist of a number of events over two or three days, with the wedding ceremony itself as just one of these. So, there will be plenty of opportunities to show off our style and dress up in Indian party wear and different Indian wedding guest attire. There may be some dress code cues on the invitation, so if you are unsure take your lead from this or ask the wedding party for guidance.
What are the different events at Hindu weddings?
Indian weddings are rich in tradition and culture and they have always been known for grandeur and fun. One the first night the priest will perform a ganesh pooja, which is a private ceremony for the couple, close relatives and the bridal party, where they pray for good luck. This normally takes place at home.
On the second day is the mehndi ceremony, which is normally held in the future bride’s home. The bride and her female friends have intricate henna patterns drawn on their hands and feet. In the evening is the sangeet, where the couple, their families and guests enjoy a night of dancing, music, and fun.
On the morning of the main wedding day, the bride and groom’s skin is smeared with a paste of Haldi or turmeric. This is known as the Haldi ceremony and it is an important bathing ritual.
Then there will be the main wedding ceremony and reception. The ceremony starts with the baraat or procession of the groom, and after the ceremony, it is time for the reception. The reception will involve speeches, dancing, singing and performing skits for the couple, along with plenty of food. As an Indian wedding guest, may be invited to just the main reception or any part of the series of events but this will be stated clearly in your invitation.
Should I dress formally or more casually?
If you are wondering what to wear to an Indian wedding reception, the best rule of thumb is to not be too casual or too formal but somewhere in the middle.
At Indian weddings, the idea is to blend in with the crowd, whilst still showing off your unique sense of style, so the bridal party can really shine. Western wear to Indian weddings is generally not a great idea because locals may be offended and will appreciate if you wear authentic Indian wedding guest attire.
Women should wear brightly-coloured outfits, such as saris, lehengas and Anarkali suits accessorised with glittering jewellery for women, whereas men should opt for traditional Indian party wear such as a sherwani or a suit.
What is considered the most traditional Indian wedding guest attire?
Sarees are considered the most traditional outfit for Indian women, but Anarkali suits are the most common choice when it comes to what to wear to an Indian wedding as a guest. These outfits come in various bright shades and made in beautiful fabrics. Ensure you have something to cover your head during the ceremony, especially if the wedding with be Sikh or Hindu. Women wearing a saree can drape the fabric or bring a scarf.
Should I make sure I am covered up?
Indian weddings are a serious affair and within the Indian culture, it is traditional to dress modestly. There will be many generations of families gathered together, so shy away from showing too much skin.
So what not to wear to an Indian wedding? Avoid short dresses, revealing tops or cholis. Women should cover their shoulders and legs, though showing off some of your abdomen is acceptable.
Is jewellery important for Indian wedding guests?
When it comes to Indian weddings, jewellery is key to all Indian party wear and a focus for Indian wedding guests. Any Hindu wedding outfit without jewellery would be considered incomplete – like forgetting your underwear! Indian weddings are colourful and fun, with a festival-like vibe. Bindis and bangles are the most common accessories for Indian weddings, but necklaces and chandbali and jhumka earrings also make fantastic adornments.
Choose your Indian jewellery in bright and vibrant colours and balance the look and volume against your clothes. For example, if you are wearing rich fabrics, like brocade or silk, then choose a few simple items, or if you are wearing simpler attire, you can afford to wear more. At Red Dot Jewels, we stock a vast range of beautiful Indian wedding jewellery for both brides, bridal parties and guests.
What colours should I avoid?
If you are attending a North Indian wedding, avoid wearing white because it is considered a colour of mourning. However, in South Indian weddings, the bride herself might wear white. If you like neutral colours, choose beige with a hint of gold. Black is another colour that should be avoided because it is considered unlucky. Red is also a col
our that is traditionally associated with the bride and the bride herself is likely to be wearing a lot of red, so avoid this because you do not want to look like you are competing with the bride.
What about my shoes?
Often, you will not need to worry about shoes because in many religious settings, you will be required to take them off. If in doubt choose a comfortable pair of flats, because ceremonies can be long and drawn out and involve plenty of dancing. For the sangeet and reception, women should wear their favourite heels.
Is there anything else I need to consider when planning what to wear at an Indian wedding?
Indian weddings are all about dancing and delicious food. Being comfortable should be a top priority, so you can really enjoy yourself. Go with an empty stomach and ready to have a brilliant time.