How to choose your outfit for a wedding in a different culture

You are excited when you receive a wedding invitation but when it’s worn off it’s time to start planning your outfit. It’s hard enough to choose a guest outfit for a wedding in the UK but what about if you must choose an outfit for a wedding of a different culture? Together with Charles Tyrwhitt, we look at how the dress code of a wedding changes depending on the background of the newlyweds.

Brides are known in the UK for their gorgeous white dresses, accompanied by a long train and veil. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India, Japan and China?

India

In India, the lady’s dress depends on the region of India that they’re from.  Some brides are dressed in red or another vibrant colour and her garments will be embroidered with an impressive design.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. 

The bride and her bridal party often have beautiful henna designs on their palms, hands, forearms and legs.

Japan

Japanese weddings are very elaborate and it is acceptable for families to spend close to £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.

China

In China, it is likely that the bride 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.

India

Similar to the women, it depends on what region of India the groom is from as to what they wear. 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.

Japan

A Japanese groom wears a wedding kimono for the ceremony and then often changes into a tuxedo. The formal kimono that he wears is called a montsuki, and it displays the family crest. More recently, younger grooms start the ceremony in a tuxedo too.

China

Traditionally in China, the husband-to-be wears a black silk coat over an embroidered robe. Often, in the modern day, the overcoat is not worn.

What should the guests wear?

As there are many traditions and symbols that you may be unaware It can be difficult to choose an outfit as a guest.

India

At an Indian wedding, the bolder your outfit is the better.You should avoid black and white outfits. Wearing vibrant colours will mean you fit in with the Indian guests. 

Women guests should not bare their shoulders, wear 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 colourful sarees or anarkali suits. Choose a statement piece for around your neck with matching earings and bangles because jewellery is important.

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.

Japan

 It is advised to avoid white clothes with black ties. At a traditional Japanese wedding, men were expected to be dressed very formally with a black suit and white tie. 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.

Women often wear coloured dresses that are knee length or  kimono to take on a traditional look. 

China

If you are a guest for a Chinese wedding avoid wearing red as this can be seen as trying to steal the limelight from the bride. 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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