I don’t often get wedding invites but this year I have been invited to one that is even more exciting than most as it’s in a different country! My boyfriends friend is getting married in Romania, so we’re going to spending a couple of days there to explore before we celebrate.
In typical Kirsty fashion I have already started planning what I am going to wear, but it got me to thinking - do you have to tailor what you wear, depending on the heritage of the newlyweds? As a complete newbie to weddings, I thought I’d do some research thanks to Charles Tyrwhitt, retailers of timeless menswear.
What will the bride be wearing?
Brides are known in the UK for their flattering white dresses, accompanied by a long train and veil. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India, Japan and China?
When it comes to weddings in India, the lady’s dress really depends on the region of India that they were born. For some regions, the bride will wear a saree, a garment that looks like a long drape, and in others she will wear a lehenga, which is a long skirt. Often the bride is dressed in red or another vibrant colour, and 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.
In terms of Japanese weddings, the whole celebration is very elaborate and it is normal for families to spend as much as £75,000 on a wedding day. 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 5 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.
It is very likely that a bride in China will be dressed in red as it is considered a sign of good luck that can warn off 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.
A bridal crown is part of the wedding costume for some brides too – it is worn for photography or for show at a grand occasion. 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.
What will the groom be wearing?
The men often have traditional dress codes that they are expected to follow – however, many of them are opting for a smart suit similar to how a groom in the UK would dress.
Similar to the women, it really depends on the region of India that the groom is from as to what they will wear. Some husbands-to-be will wear traditional dress, such as a dhoti which is a rectangular cloth ties around the waist. In other regions, rather than a tuxedo, 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.
A Japanese groom will traditionally wear a wedding kimono for the ceremony and then change into a tuxedo for the rest of the day. 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.
The husband-to-be in a Chinese wedding will traditionally wears a black silk coat over an embroidered robe. Often, in the modern day, the overcoat is not worn.
They will also wear special headwear – 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.
What should the guests wear?
It can be difficult to choose an outfit as a guest, as there are many traditions and symbols that you may be unaware of and you don’t want to offend anyone.
At an Indian wedding, it is often said that the bolder your outfit is the better. 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.
It is customary that women guests to an Indian should not bare their shoulders, or wear low cut tops or short skirts, as this can be seen as 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.
Men may also often wear a tailored kurta with a pyjama and a dupatta (shawl) that 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, guests might also be expected to cover their heads. 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.
Men are expected to be dressed very formally with a black suit and white tie at a traditional Japanese wedding, 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.
When dressing for a Chinese wedding, it is best to avoid wearing red as this can be seen as trying to steal the limelight from the bride. Opt for 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.