What to Wear for an Indian Wedding?

Picking the right outfit to wear for any occasion is simply a task. The need to subtly stand out with the perfect pairing of clothes is overwhelming when looking at the various options laid before you without a clue of which dress would highlight your presence more than the other.

For a westerner, dressing up in traditional Indian clothes is most welcomed and much appreciated. An Indian wedding is also a celebration of togetherness, so join in and fit in by dressing up the way the rest of the wedding members dress.

With a population of over 1.8 billion people in India, the amount of weddings taken place in a year is more than one can count. So how do you overcome the confusion that will take place when deciding on your attire for the event? According to a leading wedding planner in Udaipur – Magic Lights Wedding Planners, a simple rule to keep in mind is that no matter what the dress, carry your sense of confidence well and things will all fall in line for you.

The options are never ending when it comes to selecting an Indian traditional outfit for women. With a long cultural history on clothing wear for women, it shouldn’t be tough when it comes to picking out an outfit to wear for a Traditional Indian Wedding. With the various ceremonies at hand, this is an opportunity to widen your range of clothes and choices by wearing something different at each event. When deciding on your outfit, the options to look at for women are:

For Women

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1 – Saree

2 – Lehenga

3 – Ethnic wear

4 – kurtas & suits

5 – Indo western dresses

6- Evening gowns/ dresses

7 – Jewellery

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Saree – a women’s garment that consists of an unstitched drape that is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder. Underneath, a blouse is worn along with a petticoat at the bottom. The Sarees have not lost their touch even in this modern world, a proper traditional saree can make you look elegant yet chic.   i.e-

  • Kanchipuram saree – A handloom saree from Tamil Nadu (South of India), made from Kanchipuram silk, distinguished by their broad contrast borders. These sarees are generally worn for special occasions and are also bridal sarees for south Indian women. These sarees go well for any fancy occasion.
  • Cotton sarees
  • Net sarees

Lehenga – a long ankle length skirt worn usually with short crop top or blouse and a scarf aka dupatta.

More preferred option as it’s easier to put on compared to a saree and goes well with all body figures and sizes.

Ethnic Wear –  clothing which is worn by Indian women that represent their culture.

Such as

  • Salwar Kameez – An outfit which includes high waist elastic pants which are wide on top and are cuffed thin at the bottom. It’s worn with a long shirt and a long scarf around the neck.

Kurtas and suits

  • Kurtis- a long loose collarless shirt worn by women in India.
  • Sharara suits – This consists of a long tunic/shirt, scarf and wide-legged pants. This outfit has come back in style and looks good on anybody.
  • Anarkali Suits – A long dress like top and slim thin bottoms, anyone can stand out wearing an anarkali suit.

The embroidery are marks of an angel and are bound to get you noticed.

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Indo-western dresses – a combination of an Indian traditional dress and western dresses. Western culture has fully entered the Indian market scene, hence wearing an Indian Outfit with a tinge of western culture added to it will enhance your presence at the wedding. i.e – wearing kurti with jeans, adding a dupatta aka scarf to a western outfit, a crop top with long lehenga with a scarf etc etc.

Evening Gowns / dresses – One doesn’t have to simply stick to traditional Indian outfits if not comfortable. Gowns for formal events made from velvet or chiffon can be worn. One can simply decide to wear an indo western gown to the wedding and it won’t be a problem. Anything with the right confidence will look good.

Jewellery – Jewellery is a must when attending an Indian Wedding. Going to an Indian wedding and forgetting to wear jewellery is like forgetting to wear basic makeup. For an Indian wedding, more the bling, the better. Sharp dominant distinguished earrings that highlight your face, stark lipstick shade and a beautiful necklace or bracelet are bound to get you to stand out in the crowd.

Colors – Guests are encouraged to wear their best at these functions. Vibrant colorful colors like pink, green and orange are good examples of what colors to choose when deciding what to wear. RED is a big NO. Since the bride is bound to be wearing red it is not appreciated to match with her and steal her spotlight.

Men have an equal opportunity to dress their best and look their best. Men have easier options when it comes to selecting an outfit for the wedding. Men do not have that confusing a choice when deciding what to wear. The options may be limited but even then dressing at your finest is given.

For Men

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1 – Sherwani

2 – Jodhpuri suit

3 – Kurta Pajama

4 – Indo western

5 – Suits/ Tuxedo / Blazers

Sherwani – Sherwani is a long coat-like garment worn by men in India. It goes well with a churidar, dhoti or pajamas at the bottom.

Jodhpur suit – An Indian suit inspired by the west, it comes with a coat, trouser and at times a vest.

Kurta pajama – similar to a kurti, the kurta is a long top tunic worn with a pajama at the bottom. Check out this website to explore more about kurta sets and a wide range of amazing options.

Indo Western – A mixture of Indian and western culture, Indian western outfits for men can include Kurta with jeans or pants and an indo western sherwani.

Suits/ Tuxedo / blazers – It is not necessary to only dress in Indian traditional ethnic outfits when attending an Indian wedding. One can also stick to the traditional “black tie” outfit like a tuxedo or a suit.

Colors like blue, gold and beige would enhance your presence at the wedding. It is important that you dress smart and elegantly and do not come in casuals.

For a wedding, especially an Indian one, the main purpose of the wedding guests is to come decked up and dressed up and celebrate the wedding with togetherness and love.


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Now the question is, for which ceremony should you wear what kind of outfit?

An Indian wedding usually takes place within the span of 3-5 days, hence known as the great big Indian wedding. A moment of joyous celebration that expands over the days involving music, colour, dance etc. This celebratory occasion involves many rituals and traditions that people have followed over the years. Events and ceremonies to celebrate their single life, the bonding between the families, the age old customs that prove fruitful for marriage and the life beyond. The main ceremonies are the Mehandi ceremony, the Sangeet ceremony and the haldi ceremony. The main marriage ceremony happens only on the last day after the pre wedding rituals are done. Finally The entire great big Indian Wedding comes to an end when the bride and groom eventually hold a party where they greet the society as a newly wed married couple. This takes place during the reception.

The answer is simple. The closer the ceremony is to the main wedding (or the end), the more decked up should you look to fit in. Each ceremony is an opportunity to look and dress your best. This 3 day event may seem long but with the right attire and attitude, you are bound to feel your best and be your best self. As one says, the better you dress, the better you feel. Here are some of the ceremonies along with the outfits you have the choice of wearing or that might look good for the occasion at hand.

Mehendi ceremony –  Mehendi ceremony is One of the oldest traditions and rituals when it comes to an Indian wedding, mostly allotted for the females and the bride’s side of the wedding. This occurs before the sangeet. This is when henna is applied on the bride, using intricate designs on the hands and feet.

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Outfit options – Pastel colours like pista green , peach, lemon yellow would look great for the event. For women, kurtis, anarkalis, light lehengas are a few examples of what you could wear. For men – kurta, pajamas or jeans for the indo western touch would look good.

Sangeet ceremony – Generally the sangeet takes place two days before the wedding. It is a celebratory ceremony to rejoice the union taking place. It also emphasises the bonding of the two families. Sangeet means music, which means this is a night of songs and singing, dancing and games etc.

Outfit options – Lehengas, gowns, sharara suits or dhoti pants for women. For men, jodhpuri suits or sherwanis. All in all just wear light, comfortable and breathable outfits.

Haldi ceremony – Haldi ceremony is a traditional pre wedding ceremony also known as Pithi ceremony, where turmeric, oil and water (a paste) is applied on the bride and groom on the morning of the wedding or at times a day before the wedding. This is done so as to protect the couple from any ailments before the wedding and also to bless the couple.

Outfit options – Color should be yellow. Salwar, lehenga choli or saree, whatever the outfit you choose, make sure it is of the color yellow, so as to be in sync with the yellow turmeric (haldi) ceremony. For men, a casual shirt or kurta with denim or trousers would be just fine for the occasion. Remember that though you have an option to wear any outfit you want, try and bring out the yellow color to suit the occasion.

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Main wedding – The main marriage ceremony starts with the arrival of the baraat, which is the entrance of the groom and his family. Then proceeding with Kanyadaan ( giving away the daughter) where the bride’s family goes on to give their daughter away to the groom. The bride and groom then walk the fire ( as Agni, the god of fire should give life to their marriage), this is called Mangalphera.
The bride and groom walk around the fire four – 7 times, with each turn representing a major goal in life.

Outfit options – Vibrant colors like blue, pink and orange would look chic. Do not choose Red, as the bride is most probably going to be in that color. Sarees, Lehengas, Indian and Indo Western suits would make you look just smart. For men, A suit, blazer, tuxedo, sherwani, jodhpuri suits would all be just fine to make you look smart and formally dashing.

Reception ceremony – The reception is a dinner or party held after the marriage ceremony by the newly wed husband and wife, where they receive society for the first time as a married couple.

Outfit options – Looking smart and elegant is the key here. Tuxedo, blazer or any formal Indian suit for men and a long dress, gown or even a traditional saree (since nothing can ever go wrong with a Saree)  for women.

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Bring out your best black tie outfit for this event as this is the last and final gathering of the great big Indian Wedding.

The key to looking good, as said before is to walk and stride with confidence and your head held high. The outfits don’t matter as much as your attitude. The end point of attending an Indian wedding is to celebrate the togetherness and the Indian cultures and traditions with pride. All that the bride and groom want at the end of the day, apart from getting married and spending their life together, is for the guests to have a good time. So wear your best, dress your best and be your best self. Don’t overshadow the bride and the groom and all will be just fine.