Attending a Traditional Indian Wedding? Here's Exactly What to Wear as a Guest

Plus, shop our favorite options on the spot.
Traditional Indian wedding party wearing wedding atire
Photos: ASOS, Design: Tiana Crispino
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Sep 26, 2023
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If you've received an invitation to a traditional Indian or multicultural fusion wedding, you're probably wondering what outfits are appropriate for guests. Choosing what to wear to an Indian wedding is an important task, but it doesn't have to be stressful. Indian weddings are known for their extravagance, traditional customs and rituals and celebration of love. As a guest, you'll get to immerse yourself in the culture for a day (or three).

If you're not quite sure what to wear as a wedding guest to an Indian wedding, you've come to the right place. We've gathered the top tips from industry professionals, along with shoppable outfit inspiration for every guest. Keep scrolling to learn more about the meaning behind traditional Indian wedding guest attire, then browse our favorite products that you can purchase or rent right on the spot.

In this article:

What to Wear to an Indian Wedding

When picking out your Indian wedding guest attire, color is an important factor to keep in mind. "The most essential part of the dress code for an Indian wedding is to definitely wear color," says Shawna Gohel, editor-in-chief of Maharani Weddings. "Bright, festive color is always in style for an Indian wedding no matter what the season or venue. We like to stick to pastels during the daytime and jewel tones at night," she advises.

Given the celebratory nature of Indian weddings, bright hues are encouraged—though some are traditionally off-limits. "Guests should try to avoid wearing red, since the bride typically wears red," explains Nilima Patel, owner of Crimson Bleu Events. According to lead Editor of Wedding Wire India, Rumela Sen, black is also traditionally off-limits, as, "various cultures in India consider it to be an in-auspicious color for traditional."

According to Ren, guests should always research the regional differences of Indian wedding attire before deciding on a color. For instance, "women can opt for a white and red saree for Bengali weddings, and men can opt for simple kurta pyajamas in light colors or take a more traditional route and wear a dhoti set. White, ivory and traditional gold sarees also fit perfectly for South Indian weddings."

Before shopping, guests are encouraged to familiarize themselves with Indian fashion terminology. Lehengas and sarees are the most common options for women. A lehenga is a two-piece outfit that includes a top (usually cropped) with a full, high-waisted skirt. A saree is a long piece of fabric, often made of silk, that's used to wrap around the body. Men are encouraged to wear a sherwani, which is a long coat-like top. "Traditional weddings can be broken up into different categories and different regions in India," says Patel. "Say if the family is from the west side of India, then they have a different attire that the women wear, which is traditionally a saree. If they are from the state of Punjab, then they traditionally wear punjabi suits [a three-piece outfit] or a lehenga. South Indian wedding guests typically wear a saree."

However, it's important to note that traditional dress is not always a requirement. While guests should always look for specific dress code requirements on the couple's invitation or wedding website, alternative outfits—like a bright-colored pantsuit or jumpsuit—can be appropriate as well. "Guests are invited to be themselves. There is no expectation for you to wear Indian clothes to an Indian wedding," adds Gohel. "If you are not comfortable wearing traditional Indian clothes, any cocktail dress or ensemble that you would wear to a Western wedding is suitable." Given the unique opportunity, however, to experience culture in its richest form, guests should consider wearing traditional Indian wedding attire if they feel comfortable.

What to Wear to Different Ceremonies

Typically, traditional Indian weddings last for three days. The first day includes a Ganesha Pooja, a Hindu ceremony that takes place at home with close family and friends. The second day is for the sangeet (or Mehendi ceremony), where the bride and groom are joined by their loved ones for an evening dancing and celebrating. This is often when the bride has henna tattoos designed on her hands and feet. The wedding ceremony takes place in the morning on the third day, and is followed by a reception in the evening.

"For pre-wedding events, opt for light-weighted traditional outfits because there is a good possibility of staining the outfit with haldi (turmeric) or henna," Sen advises. "Men could pick kurtas and women could choose from salwar suits, elegant skirt sets, sharara sets, or kaftan pant sets." Dress code for the day of the wedding ceremony will vary for each celebration. The couple may have specific attire requests for this day, so pay close attention to your wedding invite. For post-wedding events, however, Sen recommends sticking to a formal dress code. "Women can opt for cape and skirt sets, pre-draped sharara sarees, embroidered saree gowns, fish cut lehengas or sequinned sarees to stand out," she says.

Of course, with the popularity of fusion weddings, couples are putting their personal spin on tradition. Indian weddings may include all of these rituals, or just certain aspects. But in general, guests should dress formally for each ceremony they're invited to. "You will notice as the parties progress throughout the week, they become progressively more and more elaborate," Gohel explains. "You will want your outfits to follow the same suit, saving your most formal ensemble for the reception."

Dressing conservatively is important, especially for religious ceremonies. "Depending on the type of religious wedding ceremony you are attending, the dress code will vary," she says. "Some ceremonies will require covered shoulders and maybe your head, others will not. Typically the more traditional the venue—where the ceremony occurs in a mosque or temple—the more conservative the dress code."

The kind of ceremony can help dictate how conservative the dress code is. "If [the couple is] having a Sikh ceremony, women and men are encouraged to attend the ceremony with their heads covered," Patel shares. "If it's a traditional Hindu ceremony, then women can typically wear sarees or a pantsuit outfit. The reception tends to be a bit more lenient because you're there to celebrate and you want to be comfortable. Being comfortable is the most important thing at these weddings because it's easier to move around."

The final step is to add an accessory (or two). "Accessorizing is always key, especially with bracelets," Patel says. "We love to wear bracelets to match every outfit that we have. With jewelry, I always advise guests to get a piece that they can wear with other outfits too so you're utilizing it a few times throughout the year."

Ultimately, Gohel reiterates that guests are encouraged to take part in cultural traditions. "The Indian community absolutely loves when non-Indian guests embrace the culture and wear Indian clothes," she says. "Older women will be over the moon to help you tie a sari or fix your blouse. No matter what you choose to wear, make sure you can enjoy the food and dance the night away. This is what Indian weddings are known for."

Where to Shop for Indian Wedding Guest Attire

Shopping for traditional wedding attire is often easiest at local boutiques. But to get inspired, it's best to start online. "Instagram is a great tool for looking for different brands," says designer Sunaina Khera. "A little bit of research is good before starting to shop. You'll get familiar with brands, their aesthetics and price ranges. Based on that, you can step out to shop."

From there, Gohel recommends that guests check out local boutiques to try on outfits before purchasing. "Most large cities have a dedicated Little India where you can find clothes, jewelry and other Indian accessories like bindis," she suggests. "Online there are many options, but two trusted names we recommend are Royal Indian Closet and Maneka's Closet."

Patel also encourages her clients to check out rental services. Sites like Riya Collective and Saris and Things allow shoppers to rent a traditional ensemble for weddings instead of purchasing a brand new outfit. And as of 2022, ASOS launched a collection of traditional South Asian wedding outfits for men and women.

Indian Wedding Guest Attire for Women

From traditional lehengas to bright jumpsuits, we've found the best Indian wedding guest attire options for women. Shop our top picks below.

Kanya London Lehenga Set Peach

Peach lehenga Indian wedding guest outfit
Photo: ASOS

If you're excited to embrace traditional Indian culture, consider wearing a lehenga. This classic peach-colored crop top, long sleeve top and lehenga skirt set is a fashionable choice for a cocktail reception or sangeet ceremony.

Neha & Tarun Katan Silk Saree Set in Green

Pernia's Pop Up Shop green and gold saree for wedding guests
Photo: Pernia's Pop Up Shop

This green and gold saree for wedding guests is an excellent choice for traditional ceremonies. The saree is crafted from pure Katan silk and features zari boota embroidery throughout. A contrasting brocade blouse completes the outfit. It's available in sizes XS to 6XL, or you can have it custom-tailored to your specific measurements.

Kalki Fashion Yellow Jumpsuit in Georgette

Yellow sequin jumpsuit Indian wedding guest outfit
Photo: Kalki Fashion

It's okay to forgo a lehenga or saree if you'd rather stick to something more comfortable—especially if you're attending a fusion wedding. This bright yellow jumpsuit is an elegant and stylish outfit alternative for wedding guests. Accessorize with gold jewelry and sparkly heels for a standout ensemble.

Maya Lehenga 3D Sequin

Lilac sequin lehenga Indian wedding guest outfit
Photo: ASOS

You'll look like royalty in a regal purple lehenga. The 3D sequins add a hit of celebration to the two piece set. A coordinating dupatta completes the look and will make you a contender for best dressed guest.

Ashley Lehenga Sani

Silver tulle lehenga Indian wedding guest outfit
Photo: Rent the Runway

Not only can you rent this beautiful silver lehenga for four to eight days, Rent the Runway will also supply you with a guide to help you style the outfit yourself in the stylist notes. The breathable tulle fabric is accented with detailed embroidery for a captivating Indian wedding guest outfit for women.

Indian Wedding Guest Attire for Men

Whether you're committing to wearing a traditional sherwani outfit or you'd rather stick with a suit, look for an outfit that's formal yet bright. Below, we've rounded up our favorite Indian wedding guest attire options for men.

Sulphur Kurta Set in Silk With Resham and Mirror Abla Embroidered Yoke Design in Yellow

Kalki Fashion yellow kurta set for men's traditional Indian wedding attire
Photo: Kalki Fashion

For men's Indian wedding attire, go the traditional route with this yellow kurta set. The kurta is crafted from silk and is adorned with zari and mirror work on the collar and placket. It also comes with coordinating beige pants to complete your Indian wedding outfit.

New Look Slim Suit Jacket and Slim Suit Pants in Indigo

ASOS bright blue men's suit for multicultural fusion wedding ceremony
Photo: ASOS

This bright blue suit—complete with a slim suit jacket and pants—is a great alternative to traditional Indian attire. The rich indigo hue is perfectly appropriate for a multicultural fusion wedding ceremony. It's also crafted from a lightweight fabric for weddings all year round.

Saris and Things Sari Indo-Western Sherwani in Cerulean Blue

Saris and Things authentic sherwani for men's traditional Indian wedding attire
Photo: Saris and Things

If you don't want to buy an outfit, you're in luck! Consider renting this authentic sherwani for all of your traditional Indian wedding attire needs. The set comes with a sherwani coat, matching black bottoms, and a dupatta and shoes can be added upon request.

Pro-Ethic Style Developer Men's Silk Printed Kurta Set

Silk printed kurta set Indian wedding guest outfit
Photo: Amazon

Believe it or not, you can find traditional Indian wedding attire for men on Amazon. This two-piece tunic set consists of embroidered kurta—with long sleeves, a long hemline and a mandarin collar—and coordinating pants. Choose from an array of bright colorways for your outfit, including Turquoise, Gold, Blue and more.

The Black Tux Shawl Tuxedo in Emerald

The Black Tux emerald suit for acceptable Indian wedding attire for guests
Photo: The Black Tux

If you'd rather stick to a suit, opt for a jewel-tone ensemble like this emerald suit from The Black Tux. The suit jacket has a single-button closure, a shawl collar and sophisticated double side vents. If you don't traditionally wear color, renting is a great way to still dress appropriately for the wedding without breaking the bank.

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