A Guide to South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, etc.) Wedding Functions and Suggested Attire

South Asian weddings are legendary: vibrant celebrations of love, family, and tradition that often span multiple days and events. Each function holds its own unique significance and charm, reflected in the exquisite clothing and customs.

If you are a bridesmaid or groomsmen, chances are that the bride and groom have worked with a designer like us to make similar outfits for you. In case you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

If you’re fortunate enough to receive an invitation to attend an Indian wedding, and you have never been to one, here’s what you can expect and some ideas on what to wear:

Pre-Wedding Functions: Mehndi

A joyous ladies’ event where the bride and other women have intricate henna designs applied to their hands and feet.

The Mehndi function is typically held a day or two before the main wedding ceremony centered around adorning the bride with intricate henna designs on her hands and feet. Mehndi symbolizes good luck, beauty, and joy as the bride embarks on her new journey.

The Atmosphere

  • Vibrant and Joyful: The Mehndi function is brimming with color, music, and laughter. The venue is often decorated with bright fabrics, flowers, and festive lights.
  • Music and Dance: Dhol drummers add a lively beat, and guests often dance spontaneously, creating an infectious energy.

The Rituals

  • Henna Application: Talented henna artists painstakingly apply the intricate designs to the bride’s (and some guests’) hands and feet. Designs often include floral motifs, peacocks, and sometimes even hidden messages or the groom’s name! The deeper the henna stain, the stronger the love between the couple, according to folklore.
  • Sharing of Sweets and Gifts The bride’s family often provides sweets and small tokens of good luck to the guests attending.

Modern Twists

Contemporary Mehndi functions often incorporate:

  • Theme Parties: Themes like Bollywood or carnival add extra flair and whimsy.
  • Elaborate Dances: Choreographed performances by the bride’s family and friends are increasingly popular.
  • Food and Drinks: Delicious buffets, and cocktails may be on offer.

Suggested Attireplease contact us so we can help you within the guidelines provided by the couple.

The Sangeet

The Sangeet is a vibrant pre-wedding celebration within Indian wedding traditions, particularly popular in North India. It literally translates to “sung together” and embodies that spirit through a joyous evening of music, dance, feasting, and lighthearted fun.

The Vibe

Think of the Sangeet as a lively, informal party where friends and families of the couple come together to let loose and celebrate the upcoming union. It’s a chance to break the ice, bond, and kick off the wedding festivities with an upbeat tempo.

What Happens

  • Performances: The heart of the Sangeet lies in the performances. Family and friends prepare elaborate song and dance numbers – often choreographed skits or musical medleys – to entertain and playfully tease the couple. Expect lots of Bollywood-inspired moves, laughter, and infectious energy.
  • Music: A live band or DJ spins a mix of traditional folk music, Bollywood hits, and popular dance tracks, keeping the dance floor packed all night.
  • Food & Drinks: A delicious spread of food and drinks adds to the festive atmosphere. Think flavorful snacks, shared platters, and maybe even a cocktail bar.
  • Decor: The Sangeet is usually colorful and cheerful. Decorations could include twinkling lights, bright drapes, and floral arrangements.

Why It’s Special

The Sangeet provides a wonderful opportunity for the bride and groom’s families to mingle and get to know each other in a relaxed setting. It’s a night filled with genuine warmth, laughter, and anticipation for the wedding ahead.

Suggested Attireplease contact us so we can help you within the guidelines provided by the couple.

The Haldi Ceremony: A Joyful Cleansing Ritual

The Haldi ceremony is a pre-wedding event filled with laughter, love, and a whole lot of bright yellow turmeric!

Haldi Outfit
  • The Purpose: Haldi (turmeric) is known for its purifying, antiseptic, and beauty-enhancing properties in Indian tradition. The Haldi ceremony symbolizes a cleansing and blessing of the bride and groom before their big day. It’s also believed to ward off any negativity and ensure a happy start to their married life.
  • The Setting: Haldi is typically held the day before the wedding at the homes of the bride and groom separately or as a joint function. The atmosphere is intimate and cheerful, with close family and friends in attendance. Decorations often feature marigolds and other bright flowers.
  • The Ritual: A paste is created from turmeric, sandalwood, rosewater, oil, and sometimes milk or yogurt. Family members take turns applying this paste to the bride or groom’s face, hands, legs, and feet while offering blessings and well wishes. It can get a bit messy, and everyone usually ends up playfully smearing Haldi on each other!
  • After the Smearing The bride and groom traditionally have a ceremonial bath to wash away the paste, symbolizing their refreshed and purified state.
  • The Fun Factor: The Haldi ceremony is known for its lighthearted and playful nature. There’s usually music, singing, dancing, and lots of joyful teasing. It’s common for unmarried siblings and friends to also receive a playful dab of Haldi for good luck!

Suggested Attireplease contact us so we can help you within the guidelines provided by the couple.

The Wedding Ceremony

The main wedding ceremony is a deeply meaningful and often sacred event. It varies depending on regional and religious traditions – so please check if the bride or groom have any specific instructions.

  • Attire: Modest and respectful attire is essential. Lehengas, saris, or salwar kameez are all appropriate for women. Men can wear a sherwani (a long fitted coat with trousers) or kurta pajama (a loose-fitting tunic and trousers) with a vest. Bold colors and rich fabrics are welcome.

Post-Wedding Celebrations: The Reception

 This grand party is a chance for the newlyweds and their parents to formally greet their guests.

Tips for Guests

  • Embrace the color: Indian weddings are all about joyful hues. Don’t be afraid of bold colors and patterns!
  • Comfort is key: Some of the events can be quite long. Choose outfits that are both beautiful and comfortable.
  • Accessorize: Jewelry and other embellishments are important and will enhance your look – we can help you with those as well.
  • Modesty matters: Avoid overly revealing attire, especially for religious ceremonies. Typically guests don’t wear white or black to the wedding ceremonies.
  • Footwear: Many events may require you to remove your shoes, so choose footwear that is easy to take on and off. In addition, the footwear has to be appropriate for each outfit for men and women – please check with us.
  • Have fun! Immerse yourself in the joy and vibrancy of the celebrations.

Important Note: South Asian weddings are diverse, with traditions varying by region, religion, and individual families. It’s always a good idea to check with your hosts or someone close to the couple if you have questions about the dress code for specific events.

We hope this helps! As always, feel free to ask us specific questions or dressing suggestions at Silk Threads!

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