Weddings

Your Guide to Indian Wedding Attire

Deciding what to wear to a wedding can be an ordeal. Add to that mix the need to consider different cultural customs and it can be altogether bewildering. As westerners we have an idea of what to expect. The bride will be wearing white and the guests will be wearing cocktail attire or something more formal. But what’s the proper wedding attire of a wedding with cultural ties to India? If you’ve wondered about Indian wedding attire then this post is for you!

What Will the Bride be wearing?

Brides are known in the UK for their flattering white dresses, accompanied by a long train and veil. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India?

With India being such a vast country the bride’s attire depends on what region she is from. In some regions she might opt to wear a saree, which is a garment that looks like a long drape, in others she wears a lehenga which is a long skirt. Often the bride is dressed in red or another vibrant colour, her garments will be carefully embroidered with an impressive design.

The bride and her bridal party often have henna on their palms, hands, forearms and legs. The bride also wears beautiful ornate jewellery. For example, wedding jewellery from Red Dot Jewels offers beautiful jewellery for a bride, but can also help you find the perfect look as a guest to an Indian wedding. More on what to wear as a wedding guest later in this post.

Indian groom putting a ring on his bride's finger

What Will the Groom be Wearing?

Indian men often have traditional dress codes that they are expected to follow – however, many of them are opting for a smart suit similar to how a groom in the UK would dress.

Similar to the women, it depends on what region of India the groom is from as to what they wear. Some husbands-to-be wear traditional dress, such as a dhoti which is a rectangular cloth that ties around the waist. In other regions, they wear a sherwani (a long coat), a kurta ( a loose falling shirt that hangs below the knee), or a Western suit.

The men also have henna on their bodies but it is less elaborate and often hidden.

What Should the Guests Wear?

It can be difficult to choose an outfit as a wedding guest, as there are many traditions and symbols that you may be unaware of and you don’t want to offend anyone.

At an Indian wedding, the bolder your outfit is the better. Wearing vibrant colours will mean you fit in with the Indian guests. Guests should avoid white or black as these are colours worn for funerals and mourning in India. Steer clear from wearing red, as the bride will probably be donning this colour and you don’t want to upstage the bride. 

Women guests should not bare their shoulders, wear low cut tops or short skirts; this can be seen as disrespectful — a jewel-tone dress with a shawl is one appropriate outfit. The Indian female guests will most likely be dressed in colourful sarees or anarkali suits. Jewellery is important for women too, choose a statement piece for around your neck with matching earrings and bangles.

Men often wear a tailored kurta with a pyjama and a dupatta (shawl) can be added over the kurta. For their feet, sandals, jootis or chappals are often worn as these are comfortable and prevent overheating.

Guests might also be expected to cover their heads if the wedding is held in a temple. For this, women can wear a long scarf or pashmina over their heads and men are usually provided with a head cover such as a large handkerchief.

An Indian wedding is often a long drawn out event. It could be three days long so make sure you are wearing some loose and comfortable Indian wedding attire.