(Closed) Guest at Indian wedding, what do I wear?

posted 8 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 34
Member
2953 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@Lepidoptera:  I’ve attended an Indian wedding before. I wore what most of the other non-Indian guests did – the same type of clothing we would wear to any wedding (nice dress and suit).

I, like you, would love to don a sari but I did not.

 

Post # 35
Member
756 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@Lepidoptera:  I have attend many events thrown by my indian friends wearing both traditional and non-traditonal clothing.  Most recently I went to an indian wedding and the bride’s family very generously gifted me a sari.  I of course wore it to the wedding and it remains one of my most treasured posessions.  I suggest that you ask the bride or someone in the family what you should wear, that way you won’t offend anyone.  My only piece of advice: If you are going to wear a sari ask an indian woman to help you put it on correctly.  It is more complicated than it looks.

Here is a pic of me wearing a sari:

Post # 36
Member
2468 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

I would definitely ask the bride or someone in the family 🙂

Post # 37
Member
258 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

In my experience (which is fairly extensive…worked for an Indian company for many years, have spent time in Mumbai, even considered moving there for a few years to build my career), the vast majority of Indians I know are extremely enthusiastic when their friends don traditional garb for special occasions. I am as white as they come, and I have worn saris for business functions at the request of my Indian colleagues, and everyone loved it. I even own one of my own. A non-Indian person wearing traditional Indian dress is not the same as appropriating the cultural traditions of indigenous or other marginalized peoples. If you feel apprehensive, I would get your friend’s take on the matter – but I would genuinely be shocked if anyone was offended by an Indian-influenced outfit.

 

Post # 38
Member
158 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I would recommend not wearing a bindi if you are not Hindu. Selena Gomez wore one for performances and alot of Hindus were very offended due to it’s religious significancce. If this is an Indian wedding, even if the couple aren’t Hindu, there may be Hindus there.

Post # 39
Member
1072 posts
Bumble bee

@Lepidoptera:  I’m going to an Indian wedding next month! I wanted to wear my lehenga to it (even though it’s not that pretty – it’s just a dark red with minimal details) – but SO kiboshed that idea. 

He prefers seeing me in traditional Chinese cheongsams and he actually wanted me to wear the only one he’s ever seen me in – the red & gold one my mom wore to her wedding!  I refuse to be so disrespectful as to wear a wedding dress to someone else’s wedding, so my compromise is I’m wearing a hot pink cheongsam.

Which is kind of a bummer because those things are so form-fitting you can’t really eat in them.  Knowing the food that’d be at an Indian wedding, I so wish I were wearing a good eating dress instead, LOL!

I would’ve liked to wear a lehenga though – I wanted to buy a new, prettier one! 😛

Post # 40
Member
959 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@j_jaye:  Agree with what you’re saying. 

View original reply
@daisyfay:  Sorry, but it’s not the place of white people to decide what is cultural appropriation or not. Just cause some of the Indians you’ve known encouraged it, doesn’t mean all people do.

View original reply
@Lepidoptera:  OP, since you’re not close enough with the couple to attend the ceremony (and I guess that’s okay, don’t know the details), just wear a standard wedding outfit. I wouldn’t bother the couple so close to the wedding about what to wear. Sounds like you cut it close with the RSVP to begin with, so just go and celebrate.

Post # 42
Member
959 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@Lepidoptera:  I understand that you are not trying to hurt anybody – you’re asking an innocent question about what to wear. However, this is an emotional issue for many people. It may not be emotional for you because it has never directly impacted your life. An important thing is examining your reasons for wearing a lehenga or sari. If you can be honest with yourself and realize that a major part of that desire is to feel exotic or glamorous, to “play dress up” in a sense, you should not do it. Definitely no to the bindi. This is a pretty interesting article if you want to understand the issue better:

http://theaerogram.com/beyond-bindis-why-cultural-appropriation-matters/

Honestly, I’ve *f’d* up with cultural appropriation before and really regret it now. It’s a privilege to don the clothing of another person’s culture when you will never deal with the stereotyping and prejudice that that person faces when they wear it. It’s difficult to navigate, but when in doubt, don’t. 

 

Post # 44
Member
959 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@Lepidoptera:  Glad you read it! Hope you have fun, regardless of what you wear 🙂

Post # 45
Member
258 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@Syzygy88:  The statement you picked out in my reply was unnecessarily hyperbolic, though I don’t agree that comparing the wearing of a traditional Indian garment for a celebratory event like a wedding is a perfect comparison to appropriation of, say, the artistic traditions Native American cultures that have been marginalized and displaced by white Americans throughout history, which is what I was thinking of when a previous poster compared it to appropriating indigenous cultures. My response did not reflect my train of thought in making such a sweeping statement, and it should have.

I will allow that some of the enthusiasm from my friends and co-workers around my wearing a sari may have been due to the fact that I am very familiar with South Indian culture and customs and they saw it as my honoring the culture. Certainly the motivations of someone who does not have any connection to the culture dressing in such a way could be viewed very differently. So while I would not hesitate to wear my sari to an Indian wedding, I suppose I would not encourage someone in a different position to do so unless they had received positive feedback from the host. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with her asking if she wants to, and I would not be surprised if he was enthusiastic about the idea.

One thing I will say is that whatever the OP wears, she should not wear black, which is considered bad luck at a wedding.

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