Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Indian Wedding - Dresses

Hindu wedding tradition dictates that a bride wears a sari during the religious part of the ceremony. In most parts of India the wedding sari is red, as this color is considered to be auspicious and joyful. However in some families (e.g. Anil's mother's family) bridal sari should be white.

As you could see on the pictures that I posted here earlier, my wedding sari was red... We did not want to contradict Anil's family tradition, we simply did not know that it should have been white. And by the time we found it out, we had already bought a gorgeous red sari for me, as well as matching jewelery and bangles, so we decided to stick with it. And to be completely honest, I did not regret not wearing white on my wedding day. White seems too traditional, and I also think that red much more suits my personality (and my complexion).

I planned to wear my beautiful red sari throughout the whole wedding day, but I was told that it is common (and expected) for Indian brides to have several different outfits on that day.

One of my Indian friends told me that she wore 4 different saris on her wedding day: she arrived to the wedding location in a green sari, she wore a purple one during the first half of the ceremony, changed to a red one half way through, and after the ceremony she switched to a blue one! (I would like to point out that wearing several different colors of saris also means changing bangles and other jewelery, so it is at least half an hour process.)

Also Anil's uncle insisted that I should have had several different saris on my wedding day. He argued that "it is my day" and that "I should be in the center of attention" (I would hope that any bride on her wedding day would be in the center of attention, no matter what she would be wearing...). Moreover, the uncle told me that there was a high chance that my sari would have gotten ruined anyway during the ceremony: it is customary that during Hindu wedding both a priest and guests throw a turmeric-stained rice at the wedded couple, and that may cause permanent stains.

I had to argue extremely hard to convince the uncle, priest and even Anil, that I do not want any turmeric-stained products to be thrown at me, and that we did not just spend a fortune on my wedding sari so that it can get ruined within an hour. After several lengthy discussions I managed to convince everybody that changing a sari in the middle of the ceremony is not feasible, and in the result, the uncle suggested that instead of stained rice the flower petals could be used.

I was very happy about that and for a few more days I considered wearing only my bridal sari during the whole wedding day. I changed my mind as soon as I realized how difficult it was to walk in a sari, especially when it is as heavy as usually wedding saris are. I convinced Anil that I need one more outfit, and again we made a trip to University Avenue in Berkeley, where several Indian shops are located.

I looked at and tried on around 20 lehengas until I finally found the one that I liked. Completely by chance I picked gold-red lehenga, which was great as keeping the same colors made it easier for me to change outfits on my wedding day: I did not need to worry about changing the jewelery, shoes or bangles. As soon as the religious part of our ceremony was over, I disappeared for a couple of minutes and reappeared in the lehenga. I wore it during the photo session and throughout the reception, but just before we left for the wine tasting at the nearby vineyard, I changed my outfit again...

I thought that it would be nice to wear something from Poland as well on my wedding day, so I asked my parents to have a red evening gown made for me by my favorite tailor. I wore my Polish gown during the visit to the vineyard, but immediately afterward I changed back into lehenga as I thought it would have been a much more appropriate outfit for a Bollyweird festival that we were attending in the evening.

The moral of the story is that despite the initial resistance, in the end I behaved like a typical Indian bride. But I do not feel bad about it :)

This is the sari that I wore during the religious part of the wedding ceremony:

Sari from up close:

Here is a lehenga that I wore during the reception:

Lehenga from up close:

Here is my Polish tailor-made dress: