Wedding outfits in different cultures

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Wedding outfits in different cultures

The first thing to do when you receive a wedding invitation is to get excited! The second thing is, of course, the plan your outfit. This can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve been invited to a wedding of a different culture to your own. Never fear — we’ve teamed up with Oxford shirt retailer Charles Tyrwhitt to ensure your outfit is comfortable, smart, and appropriate.

Know what the bride may wear 

British culture sees brides wearing white, donning a veil and with a long train. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India, Japan, and China? 

Brides from India 

Dresses for Indian brides vary depending on the region they are from. In some regions, the bride wears a saree which is a garment that looks like a long drape, in others she wears a lehenga which is a long skirt. Often the bride is dressed in red or another vibrant colour, her garments will be carefully embroidered with an impressive design. The bride and her bridal party often have henna on their palms, hands, forearms and legs. 

Indian bride

Brides from Japan 

Wedding days in Japan are an intricate affair and can see spending of £75,000 or more for families. It is often the parents of the couple who organise the wedding, and they are willing to spend excessive amounts to save face. Because of the large scale of the weddings, the bride can have as many as five costume changes! At a traditional (Shinto) wedding, the bride wears a white kimono, but more recently Japanese brides wear a dress that has a traditional print. 

Brides from China 

Chinese brides are often dressed in a stunning red shade, as the colour is deemed a symbol of good luck and protection from evil spirits. In some regions, typically in northern China, the traditional attire for a bride is a one-piece dress that is embroidered with gold and silver designs. In southern China, the typical wear is a two-piece frock. For photography and for show, brides may also wear a bridal crown, similar to how UK brides wear a veil. For footwear, a special pair of shoes are often worn that are embroidered with a symbol — for example, a turtle or a deer which symbolises happiness and longevity. 

Chinese bride

Know what the groom may wear

There are traditional dress codes for grooms all over the world too. However, many of them are opting for a smart suit similar to how a groom in the UK would dress.

Grooms from India 

Like the brides, a groom’s attire is based on the region he is from. Some husbands-to-be wear traditional dress, such as a dhoti which is a rectangular cloth ties around the waist. In other regions, they wear a sherwani (a long coat), a kurta (loose falling shirt that hangs below the knee), or a Western suit. The men also have henna on their bodies, but it is less elaborate and often hidden.

Grooms from Japan 

A Japanese groom will usually wear a wedding kimono during the ceremony, then switch to a tuxedo later. The formal kimono that he wears is called a montsuki, and often displays the family crest. More recently, younger grooms start the ceremony in a tuxedo too.

Wedding outfits in different cultures

Grooms from China 

Grooms at a Chinese wedding often wear black silk coats over intricately embroidered robes. Often, in the modern day, the overcoat is not worn. The groom has to wear certain headwear too – this is usually a black hat with a red tassel. Some younger generations are not following the traditional dress code and simply wear a tuxedo or a Western-style business suit.

Wedding decor

Guests’ Outfits 

Let’s take a look now at what you should wear as a guest to any of these weddings.

Indian Weddings 

The bolder, the better! Wearing vibrant colours will mean you fit in with the Indian guests. Guests should avoid white or black as these are colours worn for funerals and mourning in India. It is also advised that red is not worn either as the bride will probably be dressed in this colour.

Female guests should be aware that baring shoulders or wearing low-cut tops and short skirts will be deemed inappropriate and disrespectful. A jewel-tone dress with a shawl is one appropriate outfit. The Indian female guests will most likely be dressed in colourful sarees or anarkali suits. Jewellery is important for women too, choose a statement piece for around your neck with matching earrings and bangles. 

Now, let’s take a look at menswear options. Men often wear a tailored kurta with a pyjama and a dupatta (shawl) can be added over the kurta. For their feet, sandals, jootis or chappals are often worn as these are comfortable and prevent overheating. If the wedding is in a temple, you may be required to cover your head. For this, women can wear a long scarf or pashmina over their heads and men are usually provided with a head cover such as a large handkerchief. Keep in mind that an Indian wedding is often a long drawn out event (it could be three days long!) so make sure you are wearing something loose and comfortable. 

Japanese Weddings 

Men have traditionally been expected to wear a very formal black suit and white tie. Now however, the dress code is more flexible, and it is accepted for men to come dressed in suits other than black with various coloured ties. However, it is advised to avoid white clothes with black ties. Women often wear dresses that are knee length or a coloured kimono to take on a traditional look. It is best to avoid showing any shoulder as this can be deemed a disrespectful. 

Chinese Weddings

For a Chinese wedding, avoid wearing red; this is deemed disrespectful to the bride, as wearing white is at a British wedding. It’s best to wear pink, peach or purple as these are all symbols of new life and happiness. A formal dress is suitable for a Chinese wedding. Colours to avoid include black and white, as these symbolise mourning and black is considered to be the colour of bad luck. 

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