I’m a west coast girl. Most of my wedding experiences are wearing a “Sunday best” outfit and a pair of heels for a 6-hour event. Heck, I was born in Alaska where wearing a pair of Xtra Tuffs (iconic Alaska rubber boots) under a wedding dress isn’t unheard of.
Contrast that to meeting my East coast boyfriend where black-tie formal is normal. I knew I had to up my wedding guest attire. But black tie formal is nothing compared to a full 3-day wedding experience that is a true, authentic Indian wedding, which naturally is his family’s fantastic cultural heritage.
When his sister announced her engagement, I knew I’d finally have a chance to experience one of these epic, Indian weddings that white people always want to get invited to. And if you’re white and clueless like me, admit it, you’ve seen them and have always wanted to be invited!
While on a layover, we had the chance to meet up with his family in New York and stop into dress shops in Queens. The experience was enlightening, hysterical, and dare I say chaotic, certainly one of those ‘first time for everything” moments you never forget.
“I don’t think it fiiiiitsss.” I tried to tell the dress saleslady as she shoved me out of the dressing room in front my his mom and sister.
Desperately trying to convince us that my size 34DD boobs fit into the A cup dress, I was nearly busting out of the seams with laughter at the thought of showing up to my future sister-in-law’s wedding with a top 4 sizes too small with my underboob on display.
Ok, so our first dress shopping experience was a bust, but I did learn the difference between a Sari and a Lehenga. I also confirmed the underboob/ stripper look was not a good look for her wedding. And, finally, I couldn’t do this on my own and absolutely needed his mom and sister’s help!
So I made the trip back to New Jersey for a 48-hour whirlwind shopping trip.
Here are 4 things I learned as a clueless white girl shopping for an Indian dress.
- Don’t take photos. The dresses in all of these shops are handmade, one of a kind. Though its super tempting, you’ll get yelled at if you get caught taking photos. So bring your phone into the dressing room or be discrete, unless you enjoy being called out awkwardly in the store “No photos!!”
- Don’t knock it until you try it. I chose a dress and color I had no idea I would like! (see above). But trying them on gave me a better idea of what might look good.
- Don’t wear red. That’s the brides color mmkay? Black and white should also probably avoided as they can be associated with mourning.
- Do bring a big suitcase! These dresses are H-E-A-V-Y. So if you plan on packing them, bring an extra large suitcase. They can each weigh several pounds with all the embellishments.
- Do check Facebook marketplace. If you’re not going the store shopping route, look on Facebook Marketplace or other second hand options. Note: There are options on Amazon, but know that you risk wearing something similar to another person at a wedding spanning several hundred people.
- Do ask the opinion of someone who knows! To me, all these styles look lovely. I love sparkles and anything shiny, but thank god for the help of my boyfriend’s family to makes sure I looked classy and not like “that white girl trying too hard”. So if you have someone who knows the lay of the land, bring them along or ask them before making your purchase.
- Do choose wisely. All sales are usually final.
- Do try getting your jewelry on Amazon – it’s much less expensive! Here is the set that I purchased.
Let me know what you think in the comments!