Indian wedding is nothing short of a high voltage fashion show of sorts,
particularly if you look at the bridal costumes and the number of times they
change during the wedding. This apparently brings another point to fore that
grooms’ wedding dresses pale into nothingness in comparison, although there are
a few regional exceptions.
Sari, a 6-yard long (sometimes 9-yards in South Indian weddings) cloth, is worn
wrapped around the body in a particularly intricate fashion with a blouse (choli)
on top for the India wedding dress. The normal
fashion to wear a sari is to have lots of pleats/folds plunging down the
waistline in the front with one end tucked firmly in while the other end (pallu)
is slung over a shoulder. Bridal sari, almost invariably will be woven in rich
dual tone silk and gold or silver. Wedding sari has three distinct areas,
particularly for decorating it– the bottom border, the body and finally the
highly decorated ‘pallu’ (shawl like end) which is slung over the shoulder or
passed over as a head cover, depending on the regional tradition. The
decorations (zari work) on border and pallu are exquisite and intricate and
usually in silver embroidery, gold embroidered saris are far less common these
days. North Indian wedding saris are predominantly of Benarsi style which
emphasizes more on elegance in contrast to southerners who prefer either
Dharmavaram or Kanjivaram saris which place emphasis on brighter colors.
While sari and choli form the most common bridal wedding dress in
India wedding customs, Salwar-Kameez is the
preferred wedding dress by Punjabis, Kashmiris and Muslims. Salwar, loose
fitting pleated trousers is worn under a Kameez, a long collarless shirt or
tunic. The side seams of Kameez are left open below the waistline to facilitate
free movement. Needless to say, like sari and blouse, salwar and kameez suit
will also be in silk with salwar usually having floral patterns woven with
silver all over the body. ‘Dupatta’ (shawl/a rather light scarf with resplendent
zari work) forms the third component of salwar-kameez; it is worn around the
head on a wedding day.
Indian brides change saris twice during the course of the wedding to mark two
significant events this Indian wedding tradition ; the first time, just after ‘Kanyadaan’,
a ritualistic handing over of the bride to the groom and next, before the
wedding reception hosted by the grooms’ party. Except for the first sari, both
the saris are presented to her by the groom’s parents. The reception sari is
worn rather in a formal fashion although it is not inferior in any way to the
other two saris.
Bride and her ‘Maid of Honor’ are involved in the purchase of all saris. To say
the least, saris matter a lot in an Indian wedding, and a number of them are
exchanged between the parties as a mark of honor.
India Wedding Dresses – Grooms’
You could tell the exact origin of Indian grooms’ by looking at their wedding
dresses till very recently. Secondly, grooms’ dresses are not as exquisite and
elaborate as brides’ dresses, perhaps common to every community in the world.
North Indian grooms wear Sherwani-Chudidar and a dupatta to hang from the neck.
Sherwani is a closed collar coat long enough to drape down till knees. Wedding
sherwanis are of silk either embroidered all over the body or just along the
front, around the collar and sometimes around the cuffs. Chudidars are tight
fitting plane silk trousers with no particular preference of color as long as
they well with sherwanis. Sherwanis are worn over tees or cotton kurtas or
shirts and the choice of color is more or less red, maroon or magenta
particularly because of its ability to contrast the embroidered zari work.
Grooms’ dress is incomplete without the ‘pheta’ (turban) and a pair of
completely embroidered ‘mojdi’ mules almost always pointed and curved upwards at
front. Mojdis contrast chudidars in color. The headgear or pheta is what helps
identify regional and cultural differences across Northern India. In olden
times, grooms’ attendants used to wrap long (6-9 yards) silk or starched cloth
around groom’s head on the day of wedding but given the difficulty and lack of
experts who can tie phetas, grooms prefer wearing readymade phetas available at
One significant thing about phetas is that it is the only common wedding dress
for grooms across India even though there are differences in wearing styles. The
most notable styles are Rajasthani, Punjabi and Mysore styles.
In contrast to North Indian grooms, wedding dresses for South Indians are rather
simple and in most of the weddings it is just a two piece affair. The first is
the long or short kurta as the preference is and then a dhoti. Dhoti is a piece
of 2-3 yard long white silk cloth worn wither simply by wrapping it around the
waist and knotting the two ends or by parting it midway after it is wrapped one
round by passing the remaining half over to backside through the legs to tuck it
at waist. It may be surprising the first time to hear that there is no choice of
colors for South India grooms as tradition demands pure white only. However, the
usual fabric is silk except when it is summer when grooms go for starched cotton
attire. Footwear is plain leather sandals.