As a non-Asian attendee of a big fat Asian wedding, sometimes it can be a little daunting. If your close ones aren’t able to assist you in how to approach the wedding day, don’t worry! I’ll cover all the basics for you.
The best thing to do is try to narrow down what region someone will be from. If they’re Indian, for example, it helps a lot to know what part of India both sides of the family are from as each state in India has a distinct style of traditional clothing. Rajasthan are a perfect example as it’s infamous for distinctive prints and colourful outfits, Punjab for their vibrant colour etc. If the family is Muslim, will they be having a segregated wedding where modesty is more key then fashion alone?
A sari is the most traditional way to dress in Asian attire. However, for anyone who is doing this for the first time, it can be difficult to correctly dress yourself in a sari; as an Indian myself I struggle, as well as with the limited movement I have to adjust to! A great way of opting for a more modern and movable outfit it to go for a Lehnga, which is essentially a two-piece dress, sometimes worn with a dupatta/drape. You can also go for a shalwar kameez, a trouser and co-ordinating top which usually goes as long as up to your knees. This is a much more comfortable outfit and perfect for the first timer.
A big part of the attire is the gold, the silver and the diamonds, AKA, jewellery! Back in the day, it was go hard or go home with the accessories, with heavy golden necklaces and earring so big you’re left massaging your earlobes. Currently, we are seeing more trends of less being more, but still making a statement with perhaps only earrings and a matching tikka, rather than 1000 bangles and a chain that hangs lower than Jibbs’. A tikka is a statement piece of jewellery, placed into the parting of your hair.
Modesty is big in Asian culture, so when choosing your outfits try to avoid having too much skin on show, particularly cleavage. Although as a teen I did find it funny how my mother wouldn’t let me wear a crop top but would want me to have my entire back and belly out for a Lehnga any day. Where’s the logic? Also, at some stages of the religious ceremonies, you may be asked to cover your hair, you don’t need a tight headscarf or turban, you can simply place your drape from your dress over your hair.
Really all one needs to do is be mindful of the family, their styles and traditions. While some are more modernists, others choose to embrace more tradition on their wedding days. Pop down to Green Street (the huge Indian shopping road in East London where you’ll find everything there!), have a blast trying on all the clothes, and most of all, make sure you get to the food before anyone else so you can have the freshest pakoras!