Last week, I went to Green Street in East London to help my friend Nisha look for a wedding dress. If you don’t know Green Street, check it out! It has like a gazillion fabric and Indian dress shops, plus very yummy food, we took quite a few necessary breaks to devour the yumminess. Yes the breaks were necessary. It got me thinking how hard it must be for a bride to choose her wedding dress when there are so many styles, colours and preferences around. I had a lucky escape my mother chose my wedding dress for me whilst shopping in India and I love it.
Whilst many couples will make a trip to India or Pakistan for their bridal trousseau for the choice and the made to measure options you get there, I must say that there are just as many choices now in the UK. You just have to travel to Birmingham, Leicester, Bradford and London, and you’ll definitely find what you want, and as for the made to measure option you can now have that too. There are also local designers such as, Ekta Solanki (http://www.ektasolanki.com), Ziggi Studio (http://www.ziggistudio.com), Raishma Brides (http://www.raishma.co.uk) or Yuvna Kim (http://www.yuvnakim.com) who will get you custom made wedding wear.
From the vibrant colours, the glamour and intricate details to the truly extravagant, we have it all.
Indian wedding wear is full of colour, be it the bride or the brides mother, sister or auntie, and even the guests, all come dressed in colourful sarees or salwars. It’s a happy occasion, so it should be a colourful one too.
In the various South Asian cultures, the brides clothing will have some differences in style and maybe colour too, whilst the groom’s attire has a regal feel to and in most cases will be made to match with the brides dress or will be in a white/off white colour.
Let’s start with the Lengha. This is a two piece bridal outfit, worn by most South Asian brides. The skirts are highly adorned and have the most lush embroidery, this outfit also has a dupatta/chunni, which is an equivalent to a veil I guess. Pretty much most brides will have a dupatta covering their head as a mark of respect on the wedding day.
Gujarati Hindu brides lean towards the red and white colour combination as per tradition where as Sikh and Muslim brides may have a full red or fuschia pink even a green wedding lengha.
The Pakistani lengha is different to an Indian lengha in that it usually has a long top and skirt, some styles will have a top that is knee length and more detailed and intricate than the skirt. You’ll also notice that the embroidery and colours are different. The Pakistani embellishment and embroidery is very fine and delicate and usually woven on pure chiffon fabrics, where as the Indian lenghas have a bit heavier work on them and the fabrics are bit more hard wearing.
For the evening reception if the bride decides to wear a lengha too, then this may be a bit more modern and of a different colour to the wedding lengha and the dupatta may not be draped on the head, but on the shoulder instead. The brides sisters sometimes wear a variation of a lengha also known as chaniya choli in Gujarati or a lengha saree, this is a combination of a skirt with a saree.
Then you have to decide whether the lengha should have a trail or not, should be an A-line skirt or a more figure hugging fish tail skirt…so much to think about. I need a cup of tea already.
So lenghas it may appear, are the most popular choice. However, some brides will wear a saree. Most South Indian brides will wear a saree on their wedding and then a lengha for their wedding reception. Sarees are much more harder to wear and maintain. You need plenty of safety pins to hold it in place. But once you have it on, it’s one of the most elegant of attires.
Personally I love sarees, they can be worn in so many ways too. A saree is a usually a nine yard cloth that is made in different fabrics, dyed in different colours and shades and is something that is widely available in most Indian dress shops. You can get simple everyday sarees as well as party wear sarees which many guests at Indian weddings will wear.
The saree has in recent years become a popular choice of attire for brides at their wedding reception as well as something the bridesmaids will coordinate. This popularity is also because of the saree blouse design. Yep, the saree blouse is a hot topic of discussion when talking to all the auntijis. It’s also got more popularity as celebrities such as Gisele Bundchen, Angelina Jolie and The Pussycat Dolls have been seen in them.
The white wedding dress. Yes, we wear these too. We have the best of all worlds really. Many Gujarati Muslim brides will opt for a white wedding dress for their wedding day and then a red lengha for their reception.
Some brides will also opt to wear an anarkali suit that is heavily embellished as an alternative to a lengha or saree. An anarkali outfit is a long dress usually down to your ankles but can be made to your knees too, with thin pipe trousers that resemble leggings and a dupatta. Much easier to wear too.
Most guests will wear either a saree, an anarkali, churidar suit or salwar kameez. The churidar suit is very similar to an anarkali whilst a salwar kameez has trousers that are of a looser fitting.
For the men. Well there are three options, the sherwani, the Nehru suit or the suit.
Sherwanis are made up of a long top that is about knee length with churidar trousers and a little scarf. The grooms sherwani’s will be either white, offwhite, red, gold or a combination of these colours and usually matched to the brides outfit. There are also different types of trousers that you can get to go with the sherwanis, you can wear a dhoti, a churidar, a salwar or other funky trousers. You may have seen some images of Ashton Kutcher wearing a toned down version of a sherwani a few days ago whilst he attended a friends wedding.
The Nehru suit. This is becoming popular especially for fusion weddings and for grooms who want a slightly more modern look. Some grooms will opt to wear this at the reception or pre-wed occasion. This is as per the name suggests the suit that Nehru wore the most. High collar hip length top and some smart trousers to go with it.
The suit. We all know the suit. This is what some grooms will wear at their evening receptions after changing from the sherwani.
Most wedding guests will wear either a simpler sherwani or a suit to an Indian wedding.
You see how I talked about the bride’s attire in so much more detail…well the bride is always more important right? I may have started a debate here!
All this talk of sarees has made me want to get into one. I have a beautiful pink saree I can’t wait to wear. Now I just need a wedding invitation or a wedding to crash.
Have a great weekend. xxx
Indian Wedding Photography by Bhavna Barratt
Profile picture by Tux & Tales Photography