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What to wear as a guest at an Indian wedding? Your ultimate guide to the best rustic Indian dresses!

If you feel that being a guest among hundreds of others, you can do away with wearing just about anything at an Indian wedding, you are gravely mistaken. You may be the bride’s sister or the groom’s friend or just another distant relative – nothing gives you the option of dressing whichever way you want to as a wedding guest.

An Indian wedding, apart from being nothing less than a huge festival, is a place where everyone’s clothes, jewelry, make-up etc is under the scanner. Besides, wearing something plain or looking pale might make you even more prominent as a misfit in a place where everyone is dressed in their ethnic best. You surely would want to avoid this kind of a situation!

Indian Wedding Outfits for Guests Ideas

In a wedding, we come across numerous people we know. We even meet people with whom we may not have interacted in a long time. Thus what you are wearing at a wedding and the way you are carrying yourself is the determinant of your current social and financial position. So, you just can’t afford to take it lightly.

So, first of all, let us list down the unsaid rules for dressing up as a wedding guest

Not too formal & not too casual

No, you can’t look like you are going to the office. Nor can you afford to wear the outfit you were clubbing in last night. Wearing such outfits may make you appear either too detached or too lazy. An Indian wedding is a huge affair and even if you don’t want to go over the top with a lot of golden zari on your outfit, you also can’t afford to wear a cotton suit. If you want to dress sophisticated you may go for fabrics like tussar, dupion silk and georgette. Such fabrics are not at all gaudy and also give you a rustic ethnic look.

 

Do not wear revealing outfits

An Indian wedding is an extremely serious family affair. These weddings are filled with elderly relatives and other kin of the bride and the groom who are not used to a lot of skin show. These people usually belong to another era so you can’t really complain! Wearing revealing blouses or back-less cholis or short dresses may make you look rebellious. Avoid these at an Indian wedding.

Do not wear revealing outfits

If you are very closely related to the bride or the groom, it is a different case but if you are anyone else, you can’t afford to wear your own wedding lehenga or something similar at a wedding as a guest. This will simply turn other’s attention on you and you will not be able to blend in with the crowd. Trust us some people may even ask you if you are the bride’s or the groom’s sister. So keep it light and keep it simple. Do not choose any outfit with a lot of embellishments and avoid wearing multi-layer jewelry.

Do not over-dress

Just because you are there for the food, does not mean you can afford to skip your accessories. Accessories like jewelry and a pouch or a handbag make your look more put together. Moreover, the right jewelry will turn a plain silk kurta into a great wedding guest outfit. Also, keep in mind, Indian traditions associate jewelry with well-being and customs. Go bare-eared or without a neckpiece and make sure to shock everyone!

Don’t skip accessories

Indian weddings are vibrant colorful festival-like affairs and if you want to keep it traditional, go for colors like yellow, orange, gold, pink etc. If you want to go for offbeat colors, you may also opt for shades like navy, green, peach etc. Pastel shades are making their mark at Indian weddings and you can definitely go for one to create a statement. However, there are some colors that one should avoid at a wedding. If you are attending a North Indian wedding, avoid white as the color is considered inauspicious. However, at a South Indian wedding that’s not the case as the bride herself wears white. Again, it an unsaid rule that red is reserved only for the bride. So if you go to attend a wedding in red, you may come across as wanting to steal the limelight from the bright. Most importantly, black may be an extremely appropriate color for an evening function but at an Indian wedding avoid it totally as it is considered extremely inauspicious and will never fail to make you stand out in the wrong way.

Now that you know what the “Dos and the Don’ts” of dressing up as an Indian wedding guest, let’s go a little deeper into the various functions associated with an Indian wedding and what kind of outfits you should wear in each of them.

 

Choose the right colors

The wedding starts off with an engagement party where the bride and the groom exchange rings. Though it is a semi-formal occasion, you definitely can’t go in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Nor can you wear your best lehenga there. However, what you can do is go for an indo-western outfit or an Indian outfit with less embellishment on it. Choose a rich fabric and your job is done.

Engagement

An Indian wedding is an extremely serious family affair. These weddings are filled with elderly relatives and other kin of the bride and the groom who are not used to a lot of skin show. These people usually belong to another era so you can’t really complain! Wearing revealing blouses or back-less cholis or short dresses may make you look rebellious. Avoid these at an Indian wedding.

Suggestions:

  1. Pair an ethnic crop top with a rustic maxi skirt or a ghagra skirt.
  2. Pair a solid silk kurta with a churidar and an ethnic dupatta.
  3. Skip heavy necklaces. Instead, go for statement earrings like big jhumkas or chandbalis.

Haldi Ceremony

In the morning of the wedding, the bride’s and the groom’s skin is smeared with a paste of haldi or turmeric. Usually, the paste has other things in it which are fragrant and good for the skin. It is a ceremonial bathing ritual that is considered extremely important. However, post the ceremony, friends and family like to indulge in some fun by smearing the paste on each other. So while dressing up for the Haldi ceremony, you need to keep two things in mind – it is a morning occasion and you cannot afford to wear very expensive clothes as Haldi stains are impossible to remove. Pastel shades are best for the morning. Also, avoid heavy jewelry.

Suggestions:

  1. If you have a minimalistic lehenga, this is the best occasion for wearing it.
  2. Salwar Kameez is also a great option. Instead of a traditional salwar go for a Patiala pant or a dhoti or a sharara skirt below your kameez.
  3. Wear a minimalistic saree in a vibrant color.

Mehndi

On the evening before the wedding, the bride’s hands and feet are adorned with henna in intricate designs. Henna or Mehndi is considered a very auspicious thing in Indian wedding traditions. As it is an indoor occasion involving mostly the women among the family and friends, you can afford to go a bit simple. Consider that you may be asked to apply henna on your own hands or help the bride dry hers. So there is a risk of clothes getting stained in the process.

Suggestions:

  1. Wear a saree with a zari or embellished border. Keep the jewelry light.
  2. Embellished kurta should also do just fine.

Sangeet Night

This is an occasion where the bride and the groom along with their friends and family indulge in a night of dance, music and fun. When it comes to dressing up, the sangeet night is as important as the wedding night. But keep one thing in mind – avoid Indian-wear which is too heavy or difficult to manage because if you are attending a sangeet function, you will be expected to dance. Don’t wear a saree if you are not comfortable in one. Consider airy, breathable fabrics.

Suggestions:

  1. Indo-western dresses are the best options for the sangeet as they make dancing so much easier.
  2. Sport an ethnic gown.
  3. You can also opt for a lehenga if it is not too heavy.

Wedding Night or Reception Eve

This is the occasion to dress up. Get out the best ethnic clothes from your wardrobe and get your hands on the fanciest jewelry. We have elaborated on the importance of dressing up well for a wedding or reception night. Thus, we can jump straight into the suggestions. Before that, a couple of things need to be kept in mind –

  • Alternate between a lehenga and a saree if you are someone close to the couple. Go for real expensive jewelry instead of imitation jewelry as it may come across as cheap.
  • If you are a distant relative or acquaintance, avoid heavy Indian traditional-wear. You can go rustic too with an ethnic gown or suit. Wear minimalistic gold or diamond jewelry or go for a classy imitation set.

 

Suggestions:

  1. Traditional sarees like Kanchipuram, Benarasi, Paithani etc are a great option for middle-aged to elderly women who are attending Indian weddings.
  2. If you are young and want to go for a saree, we suggest something in georgette or chiffon with a sequin border and heavily embellished blouse.
  3. Consider a solid saree with embellished border paired with a statement blouse and heavy jewelry.
  4. Traditional lehengas are just meant for Indian weddings. We need not elaborate on this as you will get enough tips from your mother or grandmother.
  5. If you want to give a twist to your traditional lehenga pair it with an asymmetrical sheer cape instead of a dupatta.
  6. Too lazy to carry a cape or a dupatta? Get an asymmetrical top designed for you and be ready to make a statement.
  7. A contemporary twist to the traditional saree is pairing one with a rustic crop top.
  8. Benarasi brocade is much in vogue. So if you are planning to wear a suit consider pairing a benarasi dupatta.
  9. To create the perfect balance between traditional Indian and contemporary fashion, pair a silk kurta with a rustic skirt or lehenga bottom. Do not carry a dupatta. Instead, sport a statement necklace.
  10. If you have a suit in mind, it has to be an anarkali. A flared anarkali suit which is well embellished is the best type of suit to wear at an Indian wedding.
  11. If you are not fond of heavy embellishment, go for embroidery – be it a saree or a suit. Chikankari intertwined with sequins and beads is a great option.
  12. You may also pair a flared front-slit anarkali kurta with a rustic skirt. This will be a great outfit as an Indian wedding guest.
  13. Indo-western gowns are an equally great option. Choose one with floral designs to create a statement.
  14. Accessorize your gown with a cape.
  15. Choose an anarkali ankle-length gown in rich fabric like silk or tussar and pair it with a rustic embellished jacket. With a tinge of bohemian style, this outfit will make you stand out in the right way.An asymmetrical anarkali kurta with a palazzo or sharara pants paired with a contrast dupatta is a combination which is currently in vogue.

Conclusion

Though we have listed down numerous options for you, this is not the end of the story. As an Indian wedding guest, you have the liberty to experiment with Indian clothing. Nut without expert advice, it can go really wrong. Though there are endless options to choose from, you need some expert advice to know what will look the best on you. Where can you find the best rustic outfits for Indian wedding guests?

GetEthnic.com is the one-stop-shop for all your needs related to dressing up as a wedding guest. Our army of in-house designers and creative experts accompanied by the best artisans in the business will sketch out the perfect customized outfits for you.

Indian weddings are grand and once-in-a-lifetime occasions! They are not only magical experiences for the bride and the groom but also for the relatives, friends and guests. Food, fun, grandeur and fashion – you will find it all at an Indian wedding. Make it even more special for you by wearing a great outfit. So gear up and start shopping for the best outfit for the wedding you are attending in a few days. You have come to the right destination!

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