What To Wear To An Indian Wedding
If you’ve been invited to a wedding in India, congratulations! Weddings are one of the most important occasions in Indian culture. They’re also one of the best chances you’ll have to experience Indian culture first-hand.
The customs involved vary from region to region and state to state, but some standard rules apply everywhere. So, what to wear to an Indian wedding? Read below.
What To Wear To An Indian Wedding
Here’s your guide on what you need to know for an average North Indian wedding reception.
Wear comfortable clothes with no logos or pictures on them, especially avoid leather products if possible (for example shoes) because these products are seen as luxurious and ostentatious. This is not true everywhere across all of India—see below for more details about each regional variation in the dress code.
Try to avoid anything too flashy; Indian culture tends to be conservative and ostentatious clothes are frowned upon. Colours, however, are very important: white is the colour to wear for a wedding in India (and also at other times) and the bride should also wear white if you’re attending her reception.
If there’s a sangeet ceremony (see below for more details), women can dress up in traditional outfits called lehengas or sarees, so try to look your best—even if the rest of the occasion will be casual.
The groom’s family can choose from a range of colours for their outfits but it should ideally be from one of these palettes: gold, peach/salmon/ochre, white with a touch of silver/grey.
Ethnic Indian men in the US and Europe sometimes suggest that Westerners wear a kurta pyjama set, especially when attending North Indian weddings in India itself. [Click here for an example from Bollywood actor Shahid Kapoor].
It’s up to you, but if you do decide on this option remember not to wear anything too flashy and try not to wear anything branded either—be simple and modest.
If the wedding is more of a traditional North Indian type (which means it will likely take place in Punjab), women should avoid wearing anything too revealing because having bare legs or arms is frowned upon by older people. Keep your outfit very modest! Nothing above the knee, nothing sleeveless.
If you’re a man attending this kind of wedding in North India then simply wear a kurta pyjama set with a matching top and bottom. Also, avoid wearing branded goods. It’s a formal occasion so maintain modesty and the colour palate suggested for the groom’s family above.
In South Indian weddings or ceremonies, women can dress up in traditional outfits called saris, usually in plain colours with minimal but nice patterns on them (avoid anything too busy).
A half-sari is also very popular at weddings these days—it’s made from one piece of cloth but it’s wrapped around the waist and over one shoulder, rather than being worn pleated around them and falling to the ankles like a sari traditionally would.
Men attending a wedding in South India should also dress up in traditional outfits if possible—a plain kurta pyjama set, perhaps with a Nehru collar. Avoid wearing anything too flashy or brand unless it’s very formal and then maintain modesty as usual. Again, avoid having bare legs or arms if you’re a woman.
In the east Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha (Orissa) people tend to be more relaxed about what they wear to weddings because at many ceremonies there’ll be dancing and singing throughout the night so they don’t pay as much attention to attire as elsewhere in India where it’s a sit-down affair for most of the time. In these regions, women can wear anything comfortable and modest.
If you’re a man attending an eastern Indian wedding then simply wear a kurta pyjama set with a matching top and bottom, again avoid anything too flashy or branded. These regions are less strict than other areas about bare legs and arms also, so you can get away with wearing something sleeveless if you wish.
In central India (states like Madhya Pradesh) weddings tend to be similar to North Indian ones but there will likely be more dancing and singing throughout the night so women can dress up in saris and men should wear traditional outfits also; it’s all very simple, nothing too ostentatious.
If you’re not accustomed to wearing traditional outfits then just wear the same sort of thing you’d wear at a normal Indian wedding in your own country, i.e.: dark pants and a nice top or shirt.
In South India people usually dress up in saris for weddings but you won’t see many westerners doing this because it’s too much hassle to get one made especially for the occasion. Westerners are more likely to go for formal Western-style dresses with full skirts that are hemmed appropriately (below the knee).
Women should avoid anything too revealing or sleeveless, again nothing above the knee is recommended.
Men attending South Indian weddings too can dress up in traditional outfits or they can simply go for smart slacks and a shirt or blouse—it’s up to you.
In North Indian weddings women will be expected to wear salwar kameez outfits, this includes tunic tops, long baggy pants with cinching at the ankles and loose dupatta scarves that are draped over their heads and/or shoulders as they see fit.
In some parts of India it’s also customary for women to wear lehenga cholis, these are just long tunics with lots of embellishments on them worn above ankle-length skirts—they’re usually heavily embroidered though sometimes a more subtle version can be found.
Both types of outfits come in a range of colours so don’t worry about to wear if you’re attending a North Indian wedding. Just make sure it’s modest, not too tight or bodycon, sleeveless etc.
Westerners are also fond of wearing lehenga cholis but they often don’t look quite right if worn without the proper undergarments so check with a local friend first before you decide to wear one.