What to Wear to an Indian Wedding (2024)

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Indian weddings are multi-day events that include numerous rituals and functions, each requiring attendees to dress appropriately to honor the customs and the sanctity of the occasion. For those unfamiliar with Indian cultural attire, figuring out what to wear can be a tricky task. This blog helps to demystify the dress code for Indian weddings, guiding guests through appropriate outfit choices for different ceremonies, from the sangeet to the reception, ensuring you look your best while respecting cultural traditions.

Indian weddings are a grand amalgamation of vibrant customs and deep-rooted traditions, spanned typically over three main parts: the pre-wedding ceremonies, the main wedding day ceremonies, and the post-wedding celebrations.

  • Pre-Wedding Ceremonies: These include rituals like the Mehendi, where the bride and other women in the family have henna applied to their hands and feet in intricate patterns, and the Sangeet, which is essentially a musical night where both families come together to perform dances and songs. Another significant event is the Haldi ceremony, where a paste made of turmeric, sandalwood, and rosewater is applied to both the bride and groom in their respective homes to bless them before the wedding.
  • Main Wedding Day Ceremonies: The core event is the wedding ceremony itself, often conducted around a sacred fire, where numerous rituals are performed to solemnize the marriage. This includes the Jaimala (exchange of garlands) signifying the couple’s acceptance of each other, followed by the lofty rituals like Saptapadi (seven steps) and Kanyadan (giving away of the bride), culminating in the couple taking vows around the fire.
  • Post-Wedding Celebrations: The conclusion of the wedding day leads to the post-wedding festivities such as the Reception, where the newlyweds are formally introduced to society and a grand feast is held. Another emotional ceremony is the Vidaai, where the bride bids farewell to her family and departs with her spouse, symbolizing her beginning a new life.

If you have been invited to an Indian wedding, you may be wondering what to wear.First and foremost, it’s vital to pay attention to the wedding invitation. Many Indian weddings will specify a dress code or suggest attire that celebrates their cultural heritage. This can range from traditional Indian wear such as Sarees, Lehengas for women, and Kurta Pajamas or Sherwanis for men, to more general instructions like “formal wear.” If the invitation specifies a particular theme or color, adhering to these requests is a gesture of respect and appreciation for the couple’s cultural background. It’s also important to note any colors the marrying couple wish you to avoid wearing.

However, for those not of Indian heritage, navigating the fine line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation can be a concern. It’s essential to approach dressing for an Indian wedding with sensitivity and respect. Wearing traditional Indian attire as a non-Indian guest is generally seen as an appreciative gesture when done so with the right intent and when the attire is worn correctly and respectfully. To ensure appropriateness, consider asking the host or a close friend who is familiar with Indian culture for advice. Additionally, opting for less ornate outfits and choosing to incorporate elements of Indian dress rather than a full traditional outfit can also be a respectful way to honor the occasion without overstepping cultural boundaries.

Dress for Women

For women attending an Indian wedding, the level of formality and the specific ceremonies dictate the appropriate attire. For the Mehendi and Sangeet, bright and vibrant colors are preferred, with outfits like Anarkali suits and designer Kurtis being popular choices. These events are less formal, allowing for more freedom in dress, including lighter fabrics and simpler designs. The wedding day itself, however, calls for more traditional and elaborate attire. Sarees, in silk or chiffon, and Lehengas adorned with intricate embroidery and embellishments are the norm. Colors play a significant role, with reds, pinks, and golds being particularly auspicious. A red saree can symbolize love and fertility, while gold can represent opulence.

Accessories, too, are essential; choose statement jewelry pieces like jhumkas (earrings) and bangles to complement your outfit. For the reception, gowns with an Indian twist or heavily embroidered Anarkali suits can offer a blend of Indo-Western style that is both elegant and culturally sensitive.

Dress for Men

Men’s attire for an Indian wedding also varies with the ceremony. Pre-wedding events like the Sangeet and Mehendi are perfect opportunities for men to wear Kurta Pajamas in lighter fabrics and more casual styles, often in bright colors or pastels. A Nehru jacket can be added for a touch of formality. For the main wedding ceremony, more traditional and formal attire is expected. Sherwanis, adorned with fine embroidery or in luxurious fabrics like silk, are a popular choice, offering both grandeur and a nod to tradition.

Colors for men’s wedding attire also tend towards the vibrant, with saffron, maroon, and deep blues being favorites. Footwear, such as Mojris, add the finishing touch to the ensemble. At the reception, while some opt for Western suits, others prefer Indo-Western outfits like bandhgalas that maintain an element of traditional Indian design while being suitably formal for the occasion.

Attending an Indian wedding is a vibrant experience, filled with age-old traditions, colorful attires, and expressive ceremonies. Whether you’re participating in the pre-wedding rituals, witnessing the sacred marriage ceremonies, or celebrating at the grand reception, understanding and honoring the dress codes not only shows respect for the cultural heritage but also enhances your experience of the event. For women, choosing the right saree, lehenga, or Anarkali suit adorned with beautiful jewelry, and for men, selecting the appropriate kurta pajama, sherwani, or bandhgala, contributes significantly to the festive atmosphere. Remember, the essence of dressing for an Indian wedding goes beyond mere fashion; it’s about participating in a ceremony that means a lot to the couple getting married. By dressing appropriately and with cultural sensitivity, guests can fully engage with and appreciate the deep-rooted customs and vibrant festivities of an Indian wedding.

What to Wear to an Indian Wedding (2024)


What do American guests wear to an Indian wedding? ›

Most guests show up in colorful outfits, but choose a palette that resonates with you.” 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.

What to wear to an Indian wedding if you're not Indian? ›

Guests often perform choreographed dances and enjoy the festivities. For the Sangeet, you can choose Indian or Western semi-formal attire. Women can wear elegant co*cktail dresses, Indo-Western fusion outfits, or even a stylish saree. Men can opt for tailored suits, blazers with trousers, or a traditional kurta pyjama.

What should a Caucasian wear to an Indian wedding? ›

Held during the day, I would recommend dressing in light-coloured clothing. It doesn't need to be Indian per se, but if you do choose to wear western silhouettes, please do keep them modest. Often the theme will suggest colours in the shades of yellow and orange, as “haldi” translates to “turmeric” in Hindi.

What is the best color to wear to an Indian wedding? ›

Red is the most popular color regarding Indian weddings because it symbolizes passion, love, joy and purity. This is the most commonly used for a bridal dresses, and it is often paired with gold and other vivid colors.

Is there a color you shouldn t wear to an Indian wedding? ›

The only color you should avoid is red since the bride would be wearing red at one of the main events.

Do you bring a gift to an Indian wedding? ›

A present for the couple is anticipated, as it is at all Indian weddings. Make sure you take a neatly wrapped gift. If you're having trouble thinking of a gift for them, refer to their gift registry, if they have one, or to play safe, gift them a cash envelope—it is considered to be a traditional gift as well.

What kind of jewelry do you wear to an Indian wedding? ›

Options for wedding guests include headpieces, bangles, earrings and ornate hair jewelry. It's important to note that it's common for Indian brides to wear red or pink to their wedding ceremonies, so steer clear of those hues when picking out your statement jewelry.

Can you wear off white to an Indian wedding? ›

Before we start, if you're particularly curious about wearing white to an Indian wedding, the answer will likely be no. In the Hindu tradition, wearing white to an Indian wedding as a man or a woman is a sign of disrespect. In this context, the color white is associated with mourning and funerals.

Do you wear shoes to an Indian wedding? ›

Also, ideally, you should not be wearing black or white to the traditional ceremonies as they are considered inauspicious. Your footwear can be high on style, but make sure you can slip your feet out with ease, as a lot of rituals demand you to sit bare feet.

Should a white person wear a sari to an Indian wedding? ›

Sarees aren't meant to be worn by just Indians. Your nationality, ethnicity, religion or anything like that shouldn't come in the way of your wish to wear anything. Sarees look beautiful on almost everyone if worn right. So, just wear it, flaunt it and stun everyone with them beautiful drapes!

What is Indian formal wear for ladies? ›

Kurtas. Kurtas provide a similar style vibe to salwar sets but allow for more formal design varieties. Kurtas can be paired with leggings, trousers, jeggings, formal pants which together emanate a formal look for girls and older women.

What should a woman wear to a wedding? ›

Women wedding guests should wear full-length dresses, be it a ballgown, a sheath or an A-line dress. High heels are strongly recommended.

Can you wear a strapless dress to an Indian wedding? ›

Indian weddings often take place outdoors. Check forecasts and dress accordingly for heat or rain. Avoid sheer fabrics and strapless styles.

What is the best color to wear to a wedding? ›

Neutral shades are timeless options that won't detract from the wedding's formal atmosphere. For a more colorful look, consider wearing shades of blue, lavender, or pink to show that you're in the celebratory spirit. If the wedding is in a tropical destination, opt for colors like yellow, orange, and green.

Do Indian wedding dresses have to be red? ›

Although most modern-day Indian brides continue to wear red sarees or lehengas for their wedding celebration, there are still quite a few who opt for wedding looks that best fit their own personal styles. Some popular colors include baby pink, gold, green, and orange.

How much to gift at an Indian wedding in USA? ›

Money has become a traditional gift at Indian weddings. Guests should give a gift with a value ending in one, such as $101 or $201. The extra “1” symbolizes that the gift will grow and bring prosperity to the married couple. The money can offset the financial cost of the Indian wedding venue and traditions.

In what ways is an Indian wedding different from a traditional American wedding? ›

The Indian wedding has more rituals in it dedicated to religious practices than the American wedding. The Vedic rituals overall practice in the Indian wedding often come back to their religious beliefs because the wedding rituals are viewed as a new contribution to Hindu life.

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