What Do Guests Wear to an Indian Wedding?

by Lindsay Pietroluongo

Attending a traditional Hindu, Sikh or Muslim wedding for the first time can be intimidating. Familiarizing yourself with the cultural traditions and customs will make you feel at ease. Learn a few easy tips in order to enjoy a traditional Indian wedding with confidence, grace and composure. Don’t be too concerned with offending others, as everyone will notice your efforts and understand that the traditions may be foreign to you.

Attire

If you’ll be attending the religious wedding ceremony, it’s best to wear a sari. Saris consists of three pieces: the underskirt, the sari and the sari blouse. Saris are fitted, and are somewhat tight and tailored. Consult an Indian tailor to ensure that each piece of the sari fits correctly. If you decide to not wear a sari, it’s necessary to dress modestly. Plunging necklines, short skirts and bare shoulders are not appropriate. Very tight and short clothing are not practical options, as you may need to sit cross-legged on the floor. Appropriate clothing at the reception differs from ceremony attire in that guests don’t need to be dressed as modestly. Bright colors and fancy jewelry is acceptable.

Colors

White and black are not worn at Indian weddings. White is worn at Indian funerals and black indicates mourning. As weddings are ceremonious and joyful events, bright colors are often worn. Avoid wearing bright red, as this color is worn by the bride. Just as guests at American weddings avoid white in order to not outshine the bride, red is avoided at Indian weddings for the same reason. Dark red and maroon are acceptable.

Head Coverings

Certain Indian cultures, such as Sikh, require your head to be covered when in the temple. A scarf or pashmina can be used to cover both your head and bare shoulders and arms. Men can cover their heads by using either the head covering provided by the temple or a white handkerchief.

Shoes

Some religious Indian temples require your shoes to be removed before entering. Certain temples may require you to be barefoot, but often it’s acceptable to wear socks or stockings.

Attire for Men

While it’s appropriate for men to wear a traditional suit, they can also opt to wear a Kurta suit, which consists of Indian trousers and a matching shirt. A scarf is also worn with a Kurta suit.

Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

As a full-time writer in New York's Hudson Valley, Lindsay Pietroluongo's nightlife column and photos have appeared regularly in the "Poughkeepsie Journal" since 2007. Additional publications include "Chronogram," the "New Paltz Sojourn," "About Town" newspaper and "Outsider" magazine. Pietroluongo graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in English.