It’s always an exciting time to get an invitation to a wedding. Of course, you need to start planning an outfit too. With the UK being a beautiful unity of many cultures, you may even be invited to a wedding where the couple has a different culture from your own. In this case – what is appropriate to wear? Take a look through Oxford shirt retailer Charles Tyrwhitt’s guide to find out:
Consider What The Bride May Wear
Brides in British culture tend to wear white, with long, flowing trains and delicate veils. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India, Japan, and China?
Depending on the region they are from, brides in India can have very different dresses. 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 color, 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.
With costs hitting £75,000 or more, Japanese weddings can be lavish and expensive events. It is often the parents of the couple who organize the wedding, and they are willing to spend excessive amounts to save face. Because of the large scale of 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.
As a symbol of good luck and shield from evil spirits, brides in China will often wear red. 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.
Brides may also wear a beautiful bridal crown for photos and for the show during the day. For footwear, a special pair of shoes are often worn that are embroidered with a symbol — for example, a turtle or a deer which symbolizes happiness and longevity.
Consider What The Groom May Wear
The grooms also have a dress code to fall back on too. However, many of them are opting for a smart suit similar to how a groom in the UK would dress.
Like the brides, Indian grooms will have different dress codes depending on the region they grew up in. Some husbands-to-be wear traditional dress, such as a dhoti which is a rectangular cloth tie around the waist. In other regions, they wear a sherwani (a long coat), a kurta (a 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.
Japanese grooms often wear a wedding tuxedo for the ceremony itself, before changing 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.
Grooms in China dress in embroidered robes and, traditionally, a black silk overcoat. 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.
Outfits For guests
Now, we’ll outline what the guests ought to wear for any of these weddings, including any symbols you should avoid.
Indian Wedding Guest Outfits
Go bold or go home! Wearing vibrant colors will mean you fit in with the Indian guests. Guests should avoid white or black as these are colors 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 color.
Women should keep their shoulders covered, as well as avoiding low-cut tops or short skirts. A jewel-tone dress with a shawl is one appropriate outfit. The Indian female guests will most likely be dressed in colorful sarees or Anarkali suits. Jewelry is important for women too, choose a statement piece for around your neck with matching earrings and bangles.
Let’s look at menswear now. 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 need 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. 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 Wedding Guest Outfits
It is traditional for men to wear a formal black suit and white tie to weddings. Now, however, the dress code is more flexible and it is accepted for men to come dressed in suits other than black with various colored ties. However, it is advised to avoid white clothes with black ties. Women often wear dresses that are knee length or a colored kimono to take on a traditional look. It is best to avoid showing any shoulder as this can be deemed a disrespectful.
Chinese Wedding Guest Outfits
Just like it’s a bad idea to wear white as a guest at a British wedding, it’s not appropriate to wear red to a Chinese 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. Colors to avoid include black and white, as these symbolize mourning and black are considered to be the color of bad luck.