Invited to an Indian wedding but don’t know how to dress, what to expect or what to gift? Here’s a complete lowdown on Indian wedding etiquette - to help you sail through the ceremonies and have a great time!
1. Dress & Color Code
The Sari is a fabulous Indian attire that can be worn to most Indian wedding ceremonies and parties. And the best part is – it’s a sensual outfit that will make you look gorgeous! You can choose saris in rich fabrics like silks or in light flowy fabrics like georgette or chiffon with detailed embroidery and work for the wedding reception. Always make sure you are wearing bright colors like pinks, yellows, greens, mauves, etc. Avoid black and white as these are considered inauspicious by Indians.
If you are not sure how you’ll be able to drape and manage a sari, its best to opt for ready-made saris or pre-pleated ones!
You can also dress in other Indian outfits like Anarkali, Churidars, or Lehenga Cholis. These are much easy to slip on and are great for wedding ceremonies like sangeet, henna parties and even the wedding reception.
Make sure you accessorize with matching Indian jewelry like necklaces, earrings, maang-tikas, bangles and bindi to complete your look!
Men can dress in traditional Indian sherwanis or kurta pajamas with or without matching stoles.
2. Meeting, Greeting and Gifting
If anyone greets you with a ‘Namaste’ – greet them back by saying ‘Namaste’ with both hands folded and a slight bow of your head. At the wedding reception or party, you are expected to be enjoying yourself and mingling with other guests, chit chatting and enjoying the food and drinks being served.
You can gift the newly married couple almost anything - from jewelry to watches or accessories, home decor or utility items or even money! Its best to go and meet the happy couple after the wedding ceremony is over to give them your best wishes and gifts. Or you may also handover your gifts to the parents of the couple. Money is usually given in decorative envelopes or money bags and amounts ending in one – like 51, 101 or 501 are considered lucky by Indians.
3. Respecting Indian Traditions
While nobody expects you to know and understand what the Indian ceremonies and traditions are all about, if you are invited to the actual religious ceremony – it’s best to follow some basic etiquette. Remove your shoes before entering the sacred area (socks and stockings are generally acceptable).
Make sure you are dressed modestly. Also, you might have to sit cross-legged on the floor - so see to it that your dress can accommodate this requirement! If you are offered ‘prasad’ or blessed food after any ceremony – receive it with both hands cupped together or with your right hand, and try to finish it off (disposing it off is not acceptable).
Food is an important part of any Indian wedding, and as a guest, you must not leave without eating! On the other extreme, don’t attack the food counter unless serving has been started. Depending on the host’s family and religious customs, you can expect either only vegetarian or both vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties. Alcoholic drinks might or might not be served, so don’t ask for something unless you are sure it is available.
Like any other culture, Indian weddings are all about the joy of the bride and the groom coming together for a lifetime of happiness. Its bright and vibrant colors, fragrances, music and food make it a celebration worth remembering. So dress up all you can and go out and enjoy yourself, to become a part of the festivities.