Dresses to wear to an Indian wedding are all about glamour and glitz. The bride and her family will be decked in their finest clothes, jewellery and make-up.
When it comes to choosing a dress for an Indian wedding, you have many options. There are numerous styles of Indian clothing available, so you can be sure that some of them will suit your body type and taste.
If you’re looking for something simple, you can try an off-white or cream coloured lehenga choli (long tunic and short skirt) with beautiful embroidery work on it. These dresses have a lot of details in them and they look very elegant. If you want something with less embellishments, then go for a sari instead. Sari fabric comes in a wide range of colours and designs so that you can choose one according to your choice and style preference.
You’ll find many different kinds of fabrics being used to make these dresses – chiffon, georgette, crepe, organza etc., so if you want something heavier or lighter than others – there’s something for everyone!
Dresses To Wear To An Indian Wedding
When it comes to Indian weddings, you’re going to want to make sure you’re dressed appropriately.
If you’re not part of the family, or close friends with someone who is, it’s best not to wear white or red. Stick with colors that are neutral or muted. You can always go for a splash of color with your accessories like a piece of jewelry or some makeup. If you don’t know what color scheme they’ll be using, stick with a neutral tone and then add in some bright colors with your accessories!
Also, if you’re attending an Indian wedding, don’t forget your slippers. You don’t want to ruin their beautiful floors with your dirty shoes!
Everything you have heard about an Indian wedding—events spanning multiple days, exotic destinations, sizeable guest lists, and the burst of colors—is true. The celebrations are larger than life, whether the venue is the bride’s backyard or a private island.
That said, an LBD isn’t going to cut it here, leading to the big question: what should you wear? We turned to Indian designers Manish Malhotra and Arpita Mehta for the answer.
How to Decide What to Wear
An expansive wardrobe is in order as the main wedding ceremony is preceded by several pre-wedding functions, each with its own signature vibe and dress code. This will determine your choice of outfits, and looks can be further narrowed down by the theme and season.
Malhotra recommends sparkle and glamour in modern sorbet colors. Gone are the days when you had to stick to strictly traditional Indian looks for every event. “Don’t hide your individuality,” he explains. “In fact, wear your personality, play with silhouettes, and style pieces together interestingly. The current mood in Indian wear is to recycle existing things from your closet and mix it with something new.”
You can easily wear a brocade skirt with an interesting top or an embroidered jacket with slim pants. However, Malhotra does recommend a traditional Indian weave or silk outfit for the main wedding day as a nod to the culture.
Mehta advises multi-functional and comfortable clothing as there is ample dancing and drinking involved. Moreover, the parties can last for several hours: “You are never overdressed at an Indian wedding, so don’t be afraid to go all out with your ensembles, jewelry, and makeup! Most guests show up in colorful outfits, but that said, choose a palette that resonates with you.”
Indian Wedding Attire Etiquette
It’s acceptable to wear a formal gown for the engagement party, cocktail night, or reception but stick to traditional or fusion Indian looks for the other events. The Mehendi (henna party) can be more playful and colorful while the sangeet (a dance-centric event) calls for formal Indian occasion wear (jewel tones and metallics are never amiss). Indian brides tend to wear red or pink for the main wedding ceremony so steer clear of those hues so as to not upstage the bride.
Malhotra adds that there are no rules; the bottom line is to have fun with fashion. Yes, you can let your lace bustier work double duty as a sari blouse. Own a taffeta maxi skirt? Pair this with a white shirt and uncut diamond jewelry for a modern Indian look. Just be inventive.
The Ultimate Guide to Wedding Guest Attire
Indian Wedding Outfits for Men and Women
For the Mehendi, opt for a billowing printed cape with tulip pants, flared palazzos, or a draped skirt. Just be careful to not get henna stains on your outfit. Turn to a lehenga (voluminous floor-skimming skirt) worn with an embellished top for the sangeet—this can be sequined or embroidered, off-shoulder or ruffled, cropped or peplum.
A classic Indian sari with ruffled detailing will also do the trick. Buy a pre-stitched one so you aren’t hunting for pleating tutorials on the day of the event! Since the sangeet is all about dancing, make sure your outfit is easy to move around in. Give into a traditional Indian look for the main wedding ceremony. A lehenga or sari in an Indian handloom will work like a charm. Stick to dusty pastels for day weddings and deeper tones for the evening. Black and white are best avoided on this day. Pack a few kaftans and kurtis that you can wear for the after-parties, high teas, or in between events.
The Mehendi is your chance to have fun with prints and colors—you will find a host of options depending on how safe or adventurous you want to be. The preferred attire for this event is typically a kurta and slim pants (known as churidars). The sangeet calls for a black or navy bandhgala jacket with formal trousers (or breeches if you are feeling more experimental) with your pocket square adding a pop of color. A smart dinner jacket or three-piece suit is another option, though we recommend the former. Choose a pastel kurta for the wedding day and add a waistcoat to dress it up even further.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve evolved since 1840. For instance, globalization and immigration made it possible for various cultures to fuse together.
In terms of weddings, it’s possible for guests to be invited to different weddings, such as the traditional Indian ceremony. If you’re not familiar with the customs, you may be at a standstill when it comes to proper attire.
With that in mind, you’re probably wondering what to wear to an Indian wedding. In short, it doesn’t require any serious customs or explicit dress codes. The attire remains relatively the same: formal, tasteful, and appropriate.
What is an Indian Wedding
Before we jump into this ‘what to wear to an Indian wedding’ guide, we thought it best to brief you with some background first.
It’s worth noting that there are several types of Indian weddings. The most common ceremony is done through Hindu rites. Others include Parsi, Islamic, Punjabi, Sikh, Gujarati, and more.
For the purposes of this article, we thought it best to focus on Hindu traditions for now. But, you should know that some customs shared in other religions are often crossed over.
Compared to white ceremonies, the typical Indian wedding lasts for 3 days. The wife and groom are involved in many intimate customs during that time, such as the Tilak and Haldi ceremonies.
Newlyweds are not permitted to kiss via Hindu tradition, but this can vary in terms of familial customs. The guest count is usually large, with some clocking in at around 300 to 500 people.
Other traditions include an extravagant ride for the groom, the bridal reveal (also called the Kanya Aagaman), and the exchange of flower garlands during the ceremony. Obviously, there are other big customs, but the purposes of this article—we thought to keep it sweet and short.
History of Indian Weddings
Indian weddings entail a rich, deep-seated history that dates back centuries ago. Like old-school Western and European traditions, marriage ceremonies were considered a rite of passage for many young adults.
They were usually arranged between families and were known as a social and political move. Of course, that may not be the case for upcoming generations, as most couples marry out of love.
We won’t get into the big, historical specifics about Indian weddings, but you should know that it involves a lot of symbolism and customary traditions. For instance, the red bridal dress is not a stylistic choice but rather a representation of prosperity and fertility.
The hasta melap, or the knot, symbolizes the union between two soulmates in Hindu tradition.
What to Wear to an Indian Wedding
White and black are the go-to shades for western weddings, but not for Indian ceremonies. Instead, bright colors, such as pinks, yellows, and greens are encouraged.
There is no such thing as over-dressing when it comes to traditionalist weddings unless you’re mirroring the bride and groom. Non-Indian guests are encouraged to wear customary clothing, such as saris or lehengas. Of course, you can always stick to pantsuits and full-length dresses as another option.
Some ceremonies, such as the Mehendi, offer guests a chance to be creative with their outfits. Kurtas, bandhgala jackets, and churidars in vibrant colors and prints are often worn.
High tea events and after-parties usually call for other varieties of formalwear, such as the traditional kaftan. It’s worth noting that most Indian weddings require guests to bring a head covering during the ceremony.
Obviously, we encourage you to reach out to the couple or party planner for any clothing specifics. In some instances, they will advise you to stick to a particular color theme. Others may require a more conservative dress code. Moving forward, we’ll provide some outfit ideas for those unsure of what to wear to an Indian wedding.
5 Outfit Ideas to Wear to an Indian Wedding for Women
Dripping in floral accents and jewels, this stunning ensemble is a blushing reminder that pink is a romantic color. It’s a great hue for those who desire a pop of color but aren’t keen on outshining the bride.
This outfit comprises a crop top, a wide-legged pantsuit, and an embellished robe. For those wondering how to dress for an Indian wedding, this is definitely a look to consider. Don’t forget to top off the outfit with chandelier earrings and a set of twinkling bangles.
Considered a more modern take on the traditional saree, this gorgeous number showcases a blend of blacks, golds, and blues.
Obviously, this ‘what to wear to an Indian wedding’ contender calls for heavy amounts of bling, such as a diamond chandelier and a series of necklaces.
If you received the okay from the bride and groom, we recommend this stunning dress. Composed of a two-tiered long-sleeve gown, this number comes adorned with a pink and gold robe on top. For heels, a pair of nude or jewel-toned stilettos will definitely do the trick.
Traditional white weddings usually frown at the idea of bright colors and embellished designs for guests. But, if you’re attending an Indian ceremony, it’s totally welcome. Take, for instance, this outfit, which features a bright-blue dress with golden accents.
It’s further accentuated with the jewel-tone pants, which work wonders in brightening up the look. Can’t decide what to wear to a traditional Indian wedding in terms of shoes? If so, you can’t go wrong with a pair of exquisite Louboutin heels.
Nothing screams celebratory more than daffodil yellow. Embellished with silver-toned scales, ruffles, and jeweled accents, this lehenga and dupatta duo will definitely win some compliments from relatives and friends.
If you’re not a fan of overly bright colors, you always opt for gold and deep orange as a more subdued hue. Best paired with chandelier earrings, bangles, and a series of stacked rings, this is what to wear at an Indian wedding if you want to blend in.
5 Outfit Ideas to Wear to an Indian Wedding for Men
As aforementioned, wearing white and black is usually discouraged at an Indian wedding. With that in mind, it’s probably best to leave that penguin suit at home. As a more colorful alternative, we recommend donning this stunning tan sherwani for those unsure of what to wear to an Indian wedding.
Embellished with red piping, engraved buttons, and embroidery, it’s a dapper look that’ll definitely win the approval of some uncles and aunties. We don’t recommend wearing red pants as a nod to the bride and groom, but you can easily substitute this by opting for orange or brown instead.
Can’t decide what to wear to a Hindu wedding? According to some party-goers, there’s nothing wrong in opting for the traditional pathani suit. Composed of a green, long-waisted coat and ruched pants, it’s an elegant alternative if the venue calls for light and bright hues.
The ensemble is further decorated with gold accents, which helps to add that touch of regal splendor. In terms of shoes, we recommend a pair of Sherwanis instead of Oxfords.
The best way to tackle the ‘what to wear to an Indian wedding query’ is to ask the bride and groom directly. If you’re friends with some of the guests, you can get a general sense of what to wear on the big day.
In most cases, partygoers opt for the traditional pathani and kurta suit. This elegant number features a royal blue robe dressed in white accents. Complemented with gold pants and shoes, it’s a superb look for inevitable photo shoots.
Beauty can be found in the simplest of things. For example, this tussar and kurta set is free of embellishments and patterns. Instead, it showcases the beauty of the fabric through intricate pleating and draping.
Cut with an asymmetrical hem, it’s a stunning look for those who covet the minimalist trend. This ‘what to wear to an Indian wedding’ contender is finished off with a pair of white pants and matching cream shoes.
I get it; Indian weddings can often lead to imposter syndrome if you’re unfamiliar with the culture. While we encourage you to adopt traditional attire instead of tuxedos, guests should know that suits and ties are deemed appropriate to wear.
Instead of opting for black, we recommend jewel tones, such as emerald green. Velvety, luxurious, and somewhat opulent in hue, it’s still on brand with Indian wedding dress code. Don’t forget to top the look off with a white collared button-down and a fancy bow tie on top.
What Type of Indian Wedding Outfits Can You Get?
Unsure of what to wear to an Indian wedding? To avoid outfit frustration, it’s best to assess the options you’ve got. Compared to western ceremonies, Indian weddings involve a wider dress code. It’s not just a matter of suits and ties, gowns, and pantsuits. Instead, it’s an expansive terminology of custom attire.
To keep things easy to read, we’ll discuss some common styles worn today.
- The traditional saree: Considered the go-to choice for many guests, it’s a simple way to dress up any wedding look. In short, a saree is a rectangular piece of fabric that is draped over the body. It’s worth noting that there are several varieties of sarees, such as Banarasi and Kanjivaram. They come in a variety of colors, prints, and embellishments.
- The Lehenga and Dupatta set: This classic combo is composed of a crop top and flared maxi skirt. They usually come in matching colors, such as yellow, pink, and creme.
- The Punjabi suit: Composed of a long top, flowy pants, and a saree, this wedding look is considered a super comfortable set to wear.
- The standard Kurta: Defined as a loose collared dress, the kurta is usually paired with other garments, such as pants or a churidar.
- The Pathani suit: Not a fan of restrictive tuxedos? If so, it’s probably best to opt for an embellished pathani suit instead. Of course, you always choose the traditional sherwani as another alternative.
How to Choose The Best Indian Wedding Outfit
Like any type of formalwear, the ultimate goal is to look expensive while being on a budget. Finding the best wedding attire, whether that be for a white or Indian wedding, requires you to consider 4 things: price, quality, material, and fit.
For those unsure of where to start, it’s always best to visit a boutique in person. Employees will usually help in outfit coordination, styling ideas, and tailoring. They’re also quite receptive to those unfamiliar with custom clothing.
Indian wedding attire usually involves a mix of different fabrics. This includes silks, cotton, nylon, and polyester. It’s common for clothes to be decorated with embellishments and embroidery.
With that in mind, you should pay attention to the intricacy and construction of these garments. Loose threads, haphazard stitching, and poorly sewn trimmings are usually red flags for customers. In addition, factors such as comfort and fit should be considered before checkout. After all, nothing’s more annoying than sitting through an hour-long ceremony in an itchy, ill-fitted lehenga.
You don’t have to spend an excessive amount of money on traditional clothing. If anything, we recommend renting out your outfit to help save costs.
How to Style Indian Wedding Outfits
Indian weddings aren’t shy when it comes to color, pattern, and accessories. Remember Coco Chanel’s rule of taking off one piece of jewelry before heading out? Yeah, that doesn’t apply here. Once you’ve figured out what to wear to an Indian wedding, we’ll share some styling tips for guests to consider:
- The saree: Yes, we addressed this in previous segments—but it’s really the best way to dress up any formal outfit. If your OOTD is missing a bit of sparkle, we suggest opting for a brightly embellished saree as a final accessory.
- Chandelier earrings: There’s no such thing as too much sparkle. We highly recommend topping off your look with diamond-studded earrings or tasseled jewelry. The bolder, the better.
- The pocket hanky: Some pathanis, kurtas, and sherwanis come with a breast pocket. Instead of storing your phone, we suggest subbing your Samsung galaxy with a bright pocket hanky for a pop of color.
- Bejeweled necklaces and bangles: Most guests choose to embellish their outfits with lots of jewelry. Trust me, you don’t want to end up like a plain jane wallflower.
Fashion Tips to Avoid With your Indian Wedding Outfit
Congrats! You finally know what to wear to an Indian wedding. We addressed that it’s common for guests to fashion traditional Indian attire, but there are some unspoken rules that you should take note of. After all, there’s nothing more embarrassing than distasteful glares from gossiping uncles and aunties. Below, we’ll share some styling tips to avoid:
- White, red, and black: All three colors bear heavy symbolism in Hindu culture. For instance, white is often worn at funerals; black is considered the direct opposite of celebration, and red is only reserved for the bride and groom.
- Henna: If you’re a non-Indian guest, it’s probably best to stay clear of decorative tattoos.
- Mini skirts and short dresses: Indian formalwear is often conservative in silhouette. With that in mind, it’s considered distasteful to wear revealing clothing.
- Anything that mocks Indian culture: For those unsure of what to wear to an Indian wedding as a non indian guest, here’s a helpful hint. Do not buy your outfit from a Halloween costume store. It’s a sure fire sign of cultural appropriation.
- Lack of accessories: No wedding look is complete without jewelry. This includes necklaces, bangles, earrings, and rings.
How To Take Care Of your Indian Wedding Outfit
As we mentioned before, it’s best to rent out your Indian wedding outfit to help save costs. Plus, there’s a good chance that you’ll only wear it once. But, for those invited to future ceremonies, here are some ways to take care of your OOTD at home.
- Most garments, such as sarees, kurtas, and lehengas, need to be hand-washed. We recommend soaking them in lukewarm water with mild detergent.
- Since most outfits come decked with embellishments and intricate embroidery, it’s probably best to let things air dry.
- Use an iron to get rid of wrinkles.
- In some instances, a few garments require dry-cleaning as a safer alternative. In this case, we suggest leaving it to the professionals.
Best Places to Buy Indian Wedding Outfits
Consider yourself educated on how to tackle the ‘how to wear to an Indian wedding’ query. Now, it’s time to do some intense shopping. If you’re in need of recommendations, we’ll highlight a few stores to consider.
- Panash India
- Anita Dongre
- Kalki Fashion
- Utsav Fashion
Dressing for an Indian wedding can entail lots of worries. It spells trouble for those unfamiliar with certain customs and traditions. Plus, it’s relatively easy to catch imposter syndrome if you’re not used to wearing sarees or lehengas.
In some cases, brides and grooms are more than happy to escort you on your shopping trip. It’s the easiest way to find an appropriate set of clothes with the added bonus of approval.
Here’s to hoping that you know what to wear to an Indian wedding. To briefly summarize, it’s a celebration of vibrant colors, so you should definitely go ham in accessorizing and styling. All in all, you should remember that fashion is a way to express creativity and cultural significance.