Planning a wedding is not an easy job. Especially when you want to throw a great show and not spend your parents’ lifetime savings on it. 

In my next few posts I plan to cover several aspects of wedding planning like – Budgeting, Invitations, Venues, Catering, Decorations & Photography.

But today, let’s focus on: dream outfits for the special occasion!

Wedding outfits are something girls go crazy about! Since there are limitless options available out there, it can become overwhelming and leave you confused about what you want!

It is always good to have a clear mind, and a solid set of goals in place before you venture out.

  1. Do your homework. Make sure you have a clear vision of what you want. It’s not just a world full of outfits, but a world full of pushy salespeople as well! It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the limitless options out there, but it’s also easy to put together a mood board using apps like Pinterest.
  2. Stay true to yourself. Everyone has her own vision of how she wants to look on this special day. If you have a distinct style, stick to it. Dress classy or quirky, or simple or glamorous – stay true to your personality. If you are happy with what you’re wearing, it will show. The shopping comes with an endless supply of not-so-gentle advice – be prepared to stick to your convictions and battle to the end.
  3. The outfits should be reusable. It is quite common for the bridal dress to never be worn again after the wedding day. My dress had to be something that I could wear again, not something that’s permanently stashed under my bed.
  4. The outfits shouldn’t be exorbitantly priced. I didn’t want to spend lakhs of rupees on a single outfit. Parents and relatives completely lose their sense of value when picking outfits – I knew I had to be the one setting the budget and exercising some financial restraint. And do not worry, there is something out there for all budgets.
  5. It had to be vegan. Now what are vegan clothes you might ask? As far as we are talking about wedding clothes, it mainly meant no silk in the outfits and no leather in the footwear. And in India, celebratory clothes usually mean silk! Wedding shopping was way more challenging for me than usual.
  6. Start early. I started shopping around 3 months before the day of the event. There are some good reasons to start early:
    If you have a job, that just leaves the weekends. If your shopping companions (my mom in this case) have a job, that might not even leave all the weekends.
    There’s a lot to see and a lot to consider before you make such an expensive and emotional decision.
    The tailors or shopkeepers will need quite a bit of time, and you have to factor in some time for a couple of rounds of alterations.

Mandwa+Haldi

The sari that I had worn for my Mandwa+Haldi ceremony is a Patola made of art silk. And trust me: no one can tell the difference! The weave of the thread, the silk like border, everything looks as good as the original one. Also, it’s much cheaper! So then why be an accomplice to thousands of silkworms being tortured?

Art silk Gujarati Patola saree
Don’t the details look exactly like the original Patola sarees?

Cost: Rs 12,000 (a similar silk Patola could cost anywhere between Rs 60,000 – Rs 1,00,000)

Wedding dress:

I wanted my outfit to look modern with a traditional flourish. I chose this off white lehenga with a beautiful mix of traditional Gota and modern pearl work & then I paired it with a red-pink Bandhani dupatta.

The Bandhani dupatta added all the vibrancy and traditional touch the outfit needed

I have thought of the following ways to reuse this outfit:

  1. Wear this dress as is, but with much lighter jewelry. The heavy jewelry gave a regal air to my outfit on the wedding day. A change to lighter jewelry would instantly make it suitable for other occasions as well.
  2. Wear the bandhani dupatta separately to jazz up some simple salwar suit or lehenga or a skirt and crop top.
  3. Pair the lehenga with a simple pastel net dupatta for a much lighter and modern look. 

Cost – Rs. 33,400 plus 2000 for blouse stitching.

Mehendi dress:

For my mehendi ceremony, I wore a light green lehenga with beautiful embroidery all over it paired with a crop top. I found it while we were shopping for sarees in Kolkata and it was love at first sight. On top of that, it was in the sale section! Can’t get better than that!

Cost: Rs 10,400

Bou Bhaat reception saree:

I was, and probably still am, not a very big fan of sarees but there is no doubt that sarees are way more reusable than lehengas. They also take less space in your wardrobe! So, it is always good to have a few classic sarees as a part of your wardrobe. If you are trying to look for non silk sarees, Georgette, Chiffon, Net, Tissue and Organza are some good options. For my body shape and type, I loved the fall of Georgette sarees on me. And since the event at Kolkata was a day event I chose a peach Georgette saree with Kashmiri Ari work embroidery in pastel colours. I paired it with a plain linen blouse which will pair well with sarees of many colours in the future.

Georgette saree with Kashmiri embroidery work

Cost: Rs 19,900 for the saree. Rs 2,000 for the blouse (with material)

Sangeet dress:

This was the last outfit I had to buy and by that time I was very confused about what I wanted. The wedding date was nearing and I had bought an outfit of every style possible and was completely out of ideas. I had no clear vision for this one. I knew the kind of colours I wanted but beyond that I was lost. I went to a couple of fashion designers but that confused me more. I was finding it very difficult to visualize exactly how the dress will turn out based on their descriptions. And what if I didn’t like it at the end? It was too great a risk. So I tried a different approach for this one. I just decided to visit all the shops with an open mind and no a specific goal. Finally, after a lot of visits all over Mumbai and multiple visits to the same shops as well I found something unique and beautiful. A Lehenga full of abhla(mirror) work with pastel embroidery in different colours around it along with a beautiful pink dupatta. Again not at all overbearing and completely reusable.

Close up of the mirror+embroidery work

Cost: Rs.30,000

Wedding Jewelry

While your bridal lehenga may obviously be the showstopper of the wedding,  it’s the jewelry and accessories that add the final touches to your look. The kind of jewelry you wear can govern whether you want your final look to be heavy, royal, simple or elegant. 

Art Jewelry for the win!

I love jewelry, but I also love wearing matching jewelry with each dress. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on buying real jewelry which ends up becoming a non-liquid asset gathering dust in your bank locker. Instead, I put all the money my family had saved up for my jewelry in a Fixed Deposit and bought art jewelry for all my events. Over time, the quality of art jewelry or imitation jewelry is so good that no one can tell the difference. Trust me! Also, I didn’t have to compromise on the kind of designs and the heaviness of the jewelry due to budget constraints.

Renting vs Buying, the age old debate

For the wedding day look, I went one step further. I wanted a royal, heavy look for the wedding and I knew I would never wear those heavy chokers, maang tikka and haath phool ever again. So instead of buying the art jewelry, I rented it. It was amazing as I got the exact look I wanted without any budget constraints and I didn’t have to retrofit hereditary jewelry that had an aesthetic I didn’t like.  

The only jewelry I bought for my wedding day was the Chudla (set of bangles). A Gujarati chudla has a lot of cultural significance and is supposed to be red and white in colour made from acrylic/plastic and gold. For my mom’s sake I did visit real gold jewelry stores and was thoroughly disappointed by the lack of variety in design available. After that, it was very easy to convince my mom as well and instead of going down the gold route, I went down the art route. I shopped for some very artistic pieces individually and put together a set for my wedding Chudla. All the pieces, individually can be reused as bangles with any dress, lehenga or saree.

The centerpiece of the Chudla was adorned by exquisite hand painted motifs

To conclude, you need to know what you want and be comfortable in your own skin. Once you’ve embraced your personality and channeled your inner confidence, you will look beautiful in any kind of dress.

So happy shopping guys!

You can read more about the other aspects of planning a not-so-big and not-so-fat but beautiful here.

Feel free to email me on vidhi228@gmail.com for any queries,advice or suggestions regarding your wedding shopping, especially in Mumbai!