After you’ve been invited to a wedding, the excitement begins and it’s time to start shopping for a new outfit. Choosing a guest outfit for a wedding in the UK is hard enough, but what about if you’ve been invited to a wedding of a different culture? Together with Charles Tyrwhitt, retailers of timeless menswear, we look at how the dress code of a wedding changes depending on the background of the newlyweds.
In the UK, a huge talking part of the wedding is what dress she was wearing. How does the long white dress of a British bride compare to that of Indian, Japanese and Chinese brides?
Women from different regions in India often choose to wear different bridalwear. 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.
Across India, it is common for the bride and the equivalent of her bridesmaids to have henna on their palms, hands, forearms and legs.
Japanese weddings are often huge affairs, it is common for the big day to cost close to £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!
It depends if the couple is having a traditional (Shinto) wedding or a modern-day wedding as to what the bride chooses to wear. At a traditional ceremony, a white kimono is often worn but more recently a dress is worn that is printed with a Japanese design.
Differing to a UK bride who is traditionally dressed in white — the Chinese bride often is wearing red as it is a symbol of good luck. 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.
Sometimes, the Chinese couple have to get professional photos taken or attend a grand occasion to celebrate their engagement. For this, a statement headpiece is often worn which is called a bridal crown. 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.
Although the men in different countries have various traditions to follow, some modern-day grooms opt to wear a smart suit instead.
Traditional Indian grooms in some regions wear 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.
It is not uncommon for men to have henna too, but it is often a hidden.
Traditionally, the groom has two outfits for his wedding. He wears a wedding kimono for the ceremony and then changes into a tuxedo. 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 traditional groom wears a black silk coat over a robe. Often, in the modern day, the overcoat is not worn.
Often the grooms have to wear special headwear too and this is often 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.
Deciding on what to wear as a guest can be difficult, you want to be unique but also blend in with the other guests.
In India, choosing bright and bold colours is a safe option. 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.
For women, shoulders should be covered and low-cut tops and short skirts should be avoided. 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.
Male guests 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.
A key thing to keep in mind when deciding on an outfit for an Indian wedding is comfort as they are known to be long events that can stretch over days!
The dress code for a Japanese wedding used to be very formal with a black suit and 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. Check your invitation for advice on the dress code.
Women usually wear a smart dress that is over the knee, some women choose to wear a kimono to keep up with tradition. It is best to avoid showing any shoulder as this can be deemed a disrespectful.
One key thing to remember when choosing an outfit for a Chinese wedding is to avoid wearing red. This can be seen as trying to steal the limelight from 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.