Choosing an outfit for a wedding can be tough if you haven’t been given a dress code to follow. Attending a wedding of a different culture can make this decision ten times harder! Together with Charles Tyrwhitt, retailers situated on Jermyn Street London, we look at how the dress code of a wedding changes depending on the background of the newlyweds.
In the UK, the bride spends many months choosing the ideal dress to wear for when she walks down the aisle. But how do our own bridal traditions compare to India, Japan and China?
The location of the wedding often determines the bridal outfit in India. 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 the rest of her bridal party are often painted with a henna design.
Japanese weddings are huge affairs – many families spend over £75,000! 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!
The traditional wedding is called a ‘Shinto’ wedding and at one of these ceremonies, the bride often wears a white kimono. At more modern-day ceremonies, the bride chooses to wear a dress similar to that of a British wedding dress however with a Japanese print.
A Chinese bride often chooses to dress in red as this is the colour of good luck in China. 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.
On their feet, they often wear a small heel that has been embroidered with a recognisable symbol. For example, this could be a turtle or a deer which are symbols of happiness and longevity.
The grooms in different cultures do have traditional outfits that they could choose to wear, but many are choosing to wear a simple, formal suit.
Grooms from different places in India choose to dress differently on their wedding day. 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.
Men, like their brides, often have henna on their bodies but it is not as elaborate and often hidden by clothing.
The traditional dress for a Japanese groom is a wedding kimono called a montsuki. This often displays the family crest; the groom then changes into a tuxedo for the after party. More recently however, grooms start the ceremony in a tuxedo too.
A traditional Chinese groom is dressed in a silk coat over an embroidered robe. Often, in the modern day, the overcoat is not worn.
The groom often has to wear special headwear which is a black hat with a decorative red tassel. Some younger generations are not following the traditional dress code and simply wear a tuxedo or a Western-style business suit.
As a guest, it can be difficult to choose what to wear — often colours mean different things in different countries and you must be careful not to offend anyone.
Go bold at an Indian wedding! 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.
Women must dress respectively and this often means not baring their shoulders, and avoiding low cut tops and short skirts. 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.
For the male guests, appropriate dress is often a kurta with a dupatta (shawl) and sandals on their feet.
If the wedding is in a temple, be prepared to cover your head for the ceremony. For the women, they can place a scarf over their heads and men should come prepared with a large handkerchief.
Make sure you choose something comfortable to wear as Indian weddings are well-known to be long events.
Traditionally, men would be expected to dress formally in the form of a black suit with a 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.
For the women, a knee length dress is appropriate or a coloured kimono for a traditional Japanese look. It is best to avoid showing any shoulder as this can be deemed a disrespectful.
The main thing to remember at a Chinese wedding is to avoid red as this colour is reserved for the bride. 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.