I thought it might be helpful to write a little bit about what you should wear to an Indian wedding. This is a question that I get from the people in my life on occasion. I can’t say that I’ve been to that many Indian weddings, but perhaps more than most. I’ve been to, let’s see, at least three including my own. That’s not a whole lot, but here’s what I’ve gleaned…
Many of my tips are similar to my tips for what to wear to a Hindu temple. Be prepared to potentially need to take your shoes off (so if you’re a lady wearing heels remember that your hemline might be different if you need to take your shoes off), be reasonably modest/conservative in dress. If you can, find out whether the wedding will actually be more Indian-style or more western-style. There are plenty of Hindu weddings these days that follow the script and format of a western wedding.
Find out what color the bride is wearing. Red is often the bridal color but not always. It depends on her family’s tradition and the region the family is from.
Avoid wearing white. Although you can get festive white outfits you always run the risk of it looking mournful since plain white is worn to funerals. Also, as I said, many weddings these days follow a more western format and so the bride may be wearing white. Just like with a western wedding, it’s best to avoid white as the main color of your outfit!
To complete your outfit, get matching bangles for both wrists. A bindi isn’t necessary but it is a nice touch.
Don’t worry about being too dressy or outshining the bride. It would be very difficult to have more bling than a Hindu bride!
I don’t think there would be much difference between what you’d wear to a western wedding. A suit is perfect. Avoid wearing an outfit that is primarily white so you don’t look mournful, and don’t be afraid of a bright and colorful tie!
You could also wear a kurta, a men’s tunic, over slacks.
Other Things To Know
It has been my experience that in a traditional Hindu Vedic-based ceremony people are not sitting still in rows and watching all of the ceremony. Vedic ceremonies are several hours long (mine was four hours). It is normal for people to come and go, to talk, to eat, for life to carry on around the ceremony. Now of course, I haven’t been to a huge number of Indian weddings so your experience may vary.The invitation lists tend to be much bigger than your typical western wedding. Expect a lot of people. People that even the bride and groom may not know.
There may not be a program to follow so make friends with a relative who you can shadow and who will guide you in what to do and what’s happening next.
Finally, have a great time and here’s how you say “Congratulations” in Hindi: baad-dhai बधाई
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