In recent years, the landscape of Indian weddings and the fashion that adorns them have undergone a transformative shift. The catalyst for this change?
Multiculturalism and growing globalisation and liberalization policies. But in addition to that, celebrity wedding like Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ nuptials with a Hindu phera ceremony and a white wedding further strengthen the hold of the concept in the Indian culture. When Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas tied the knot in 2018, the world watched in awe. Their wedding was a fusion of cultures, from the white wedding gown to the traditional Indian phera ceremony. It served as an inspiring symbol of unity in diversity and ignited a trend for multicultural weddings that resonates even today.
Many celebrities followed suit including Mouni Roy. To sight another example, the recently concluded show, Made In Heaven Season 2 proved that Indian designers are becoming more inclusive. The acclaimed series played a pivotal role in showcasing the beauty of multicultural Indian weddings. The show’s second season explored the complexities and joys of diverse love stories, highlighting the need for inclusivity in
wedding fashion. Championing inclusivity, it featured creations from some of the biggest names in the Indian fashion space like Gaurav Gupta, Tarun Tahiliani, Raw Mango, Gaurang Shah, Sabyasachi, Rimple and Harpreet Narula, Aisha Rao, Shanti Banaras and Manish Malhotra.
While some brides were Hindu, others Muslim, some other Bengali, it also featured a queer couple and modern-age brides. But the couturiers proved that their creations are encompassing and offer something for everyone, no matter their sartorial choices. Pivoting from societal norms to find a new self, the show breaks down the dichotomies of present day relations. But it also promises inclusivity for modern brides. Keeping these in mind, one can say that multicultural weddings and the changing norms of wedding traditions represent a beautiful and evolving aspect of contemporary society.
Changing Indian Wedding Traditions
Indian weddings have long been celebrated for their rich traditions and cultural significance. In a country that is so diverse, it was only a matter of time that diversity would trickle down to weddings.
Indian wedding traditions and fashion are undergoing a profound transformation- a move towards multicultural weddings. One of the most significant changes in recent years is the rise of multicultural weddings in India. Arpita Mehta believes this shift is driven by several factors. “I think that the growing sense of freedom, knowledge, openness, inclusivity, and comprehension has resulted in a rise in multicultural weddings within our nation,”
she observes. “It is imperative to uphold and show reverence for the customs and practices when planning for such weddings while also adding a contemporary and captivating twist. In our culture, weddings have long been characterized by their rich tapestry of customs and rituals. While these traditions hold a special place in the hearts of some, many are steering away from them. This delicate balance between tradition and modernity is at the heart of multicultural weddings in India.
Shantanu and Nikhil, known for their contemporary designs say “Multicultural weddings are on the rise in India, celebrating the diversity of couples’ backgrounds and incorporating elements from various cultures and traditions. This trend is driven by a multitude of factors, including increased travel and global mobility.” They
further say that a key change is that weddings have become far more intimate and there is no one particular tradition that has taken a shift, “It is the entire sentiment behind weddings that has become more personalized. The brides have actively taken centre stage, from their ensembles to their décor.”
Gone are the days when weddings adhered to rigid norms and cultural traditional, modern-day weddings they reflect the evolving culture of India. And Khushi Shah highlights the changing norms and growing acceptance of intercultural unions. This includes the
infusion of contemporary elements into traditional ceremonies.
As society evolves and couples embrace diversity, both wedding ceremonies and fashion have transformed in profound ways. “In our culture, weddings have always been grand and significant affairs. We cherish the idea of celebrating it as the most important day of our lives and weddings have evolved into larger-than-life
events, resembling movies,” aptly said Arpita Mehta.
“Multicultural weddings provide a wonderful chance to explore and discover various traditions, distinct styles of attire, and fascinating ways of life,” says designer Arpita Mehta, “It truly is an exhilarating and enriching experience.”
Fusing Cultural traditions In Fashion / Crafting a Multicultural Narrative In Fashion
Now as wedding traditions take a stark turn, Indian designers have found themselves embracing and celebrating the beautiful tapestry of multicultural weddings like never before. Designers are now committed to creating bridal wear that appeals to a wide spectrum of cultural backgrounds. Wedding attire, too, is experiencing a paradigm shift. Couples are increasingly seeking outfits that pay homage to their diverse heritages while celebrating their love.
Indian designers have skillfully integrated Western wedding elements into their collections while preserving the essence of Indian traditions. Bridal gowns adorned with intricate embroidery and traditional motifs have become the hallmark of this fusion. Designers have reimagined bridal attire for the phera ceremony, incorporating diverse cultural elements and colours that pay homage to both the bride and groom’s backgrounds.
Giving us an appropriate example of a shift in traditions and wedding outfits, Mehta shared, “The concept of Mehendi functions has evolved significantly. Many brides today are averse to traditional mehendi or its smell. From the conventional approach to modern pool parties, sundowners, and boho-themed events, there’s room for experimentation. We’ve designed outfits for brides for all these diverse themes.”
This shift in focus by Indian designers isn’t merely a trend rather a strong societal statement. It symbolizes a modern society that is breaking barriers, embracing diversity, and bridging the gaps between cultures.
Multicultural wedding fashion proves love transcends borders, and in an increasingly interconnected world, our fashion choices can reflect the philosophy. Another aspect of this evolution is the breaking down of gender stereotypes in wedding fashion. Couples are challenging conventional norms, with brides opting for tailored suits and grooms choosing vibrant colours and intricate designs, pushing boundaries and reimagining wedding fashion.
Shantanu and Nikhil feel that today’s couples, with diverse backgrounds and global experiences, seek weddings that reflect their unique stories. “Wedding fashion back in time was all about traditional Indian wedding attire for brides such as red lehengas and sarees and Grooms traditionally wore sherwanis or dhoti-kurta ensembles. Today, there’s a broader range of colours and styles, with many brides opting for pastel shades and fusion designs. Grooms also experiment with different styles, including Indo-Western outfits.
Indian weddings and wedding fashion have evolved to blend tradition and modernity. Couples prefer creating unique and personalized celebrations that are authentic to their individual tastes and preferences.”
Designer and their dream multicultural wedding couture
Shantanu and Nikhil’s vision extends to designing for diverse wedding traditions. They understand the importance of crafting ensembles that reflect the uniqueness of each wedding. For a queer wedding, they envision strong silhouettes and broad shoulder detailing, allowing the couple to stand tall and embrace their true identity. For a Punjabi wedding, bright hues and Phulkari
detailing merge with their signature cuts and drapes, bringing out the celebratory nature of the occasion. A Bengali wedding inspires deep hues of red and white, reminiscent of the traditional Tant Saree, gracefully draped into a saree gown with the quintessential
Shantanu & Nikhil touch. Lastly, for a white wedding, they infuse Italy’s grandeur, drawing inspiration from Baroque architecture with maximalist elements such as ornate veils, lace, and pearl danglings, adding a royal yet elegant touch to the classic white bridal gown.
Khushi Shah’s Shanti Banaras, renowned for its handcrafted silk, effortlessly interprets this textile into an array of cuts, colours, and textures for multicultural weddings. For a nikkah, a pastel-coloured silk sharara from Shanti Banaras offers an elegant and contemporary choice, allowing the bride to radiate grace and style. A classic red lehenga, another hallmark of Shanti Banaras,
is the perfect embodiment of tradition and grandeur for a Punjabi wedding. For a Bengali wedding, a red and white saree adorned with intricate zari work seamlesslyfuses tradition and modernity, creating a timeless look.
A silk kanjivaram saree, paired with temple jewellery, captures the essence of a South Indian wedding, infusing it with regal elegance. Finally, for a Christian wedding, a white dress or a cream-colored saree with a train and a veil transforms the bride into a picture-perfect vision of bridal charm.
Moving to Arpita Mehta’s creative process when designing for various types of weddings. Here are her thoughts on the ensembles she would create, “For a queer wedding, I would opt for twinning outfits or a tone-on-tone look, celebrating the uniqueness and togetherness of the couple. For a Nikkah ceremony, I’d design stunning shararas with intricate khada work,
capturing the essence of elegance and tradition. A Punjabi bridal creation would be beautiful red and gold lehenga symbolizing vibrancy and festivity. I would opt for a beautiful mustard sari for a Bengali wedding, reflecting the rich heritage and culture of Bengal. For a South Indian wedding, I envision ivory and gold silk saris, blending classic elegance with contemporary style and for a white wedding, I’d choose a Chikankari white sari, epitomizing purity and grace.” To conclude we can say that the shift towards
multicultural wedding fashion in India is more than just a passing fad. It is a celebration of love’s diversity and the world of fashion is evolving to embrace the beauty of multicultural weddings, making it a trend that’s here to stay.