Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Experiences Shopping for Indian Bridal Wear

As you may have read in a previous post, one of the reasons I went to India in January was to do my wedding shopping. And by wedding shopping, I mean buy my bridal outfits. Of course, we had to buy other things like gifts, and items used during the ceremony, but the largest and most fun purchases were the outfits I am going to wear for the wedding reception and ceremony.

Traditionally, in the Gujurati (the type of Indian I am) culture, we wear a Panetar Saree, which is a white saree with a red border. A saree consists of wearing a petticoat skirt, a blouse, and the saree itself, which is 6 meters of fabric draped around the body. Examples of Panetars are pictured below:

Then for the reception, we wear a Chaniya Choli or Lengha (skirt) type outfit. This consists of an embroidered skirt, blouse, and a dupatta, which is a wide scarf (approx 1m x 2m) that can b draped around the body in various fashions:
So my plan was to follow the tradition. I tried on a few Panetars, and quickly realized the style just did not suit me. I looked twice my size, and I looked twice my age. Not exactly the look I was going for as a bride. So then I ended up mixing the traditional and modern and getting a Panetar style Chaniya Choli, so it is a Chaniya Choli style but in white and red. I am not going to post pics of the outfits I purchased. The first time I want anyone (other than my parents) to see the outfits will be as I walk down the aisle on my wedding day. =)

I did purchase my outfits in Mumbai, though I looked in a couple different cities in India. Mumbai is the largest, most populated city, and can be called the Paris of India. All the celebrities live in Mumbai, all the hottest styles are first seen in Mumbai and then filter through the country, and the best selection of clothing is in Mumbai. Since the best of the best merchandise is in Mumbai, it is also more expensive than other cities. All this I have just stated is not merely my observation, but a fact. Every family member, friend, shop owner admitted that the styles I would see in Mumbai, I would not find anywhere else in the country. And they were right. A girl I met in a shop in Mumbai had already bought her wedding outfit from Ahmedabad, and was looking only for her reception. But she liked the merchandise in Mumbai so much that she ended up buying a new wedding outfit!

That being said, here are a few tips I would like to share when shopping for bridal wear in India:

  1. Try and go to Mumbai or Delhi (the capital of India) first and check out the selection. Then go to other cities, suburbs and all, and look at the styles and prices. You can compare the styles and prices with the larger cities and get an idea of what you want and what will fit in your budget. If you find something you like in the smaller cities, purchase it. If not, you can go back to Mumbai or Delhi and get whatever you like.
  2. Have an open mind about what you like. If you are dead set on a certain color or cut, chances are you will fall in love with something different, and then be confused because it is not what you originally wanted. Try on as many outfits as possible, including the colors and cuts that are not your number 1 choice. You will be surprised as to what you find flattering on yourself.
  3. Take into consideration how your outfit will look in pictures. The most popular colors in bridal wear are red and gold. Everywhere I went, people kept showing me gold outfits. I was open to it, until I realized that it just doesn't look flattering on my skin tone in pictures. My skin tone is too similar to the gold color of bridal wear, and the monotone look just doesn't look very nice. I didn't want my skin to blend in with my outfit, I wanted some contrast, so I went with color. Most places will not let you take pictures of their outfits, because they don't want pics in the wrong hands and risk having the styles copied, but if you explain to them you want to see what the outfit will look like in pictures, they will let you take a couple, as long as you delete them right away.
  4. Remember to take a camera with you. Why? Re-read #3 above.
  5. Take a few people with you. You will definitely need some opinions on what does and does not look good. It is sooo easy to get confused once you wear a few different outfits and like all of them. Having others point out things you may not realize, will help in the decision making process.
  6. If possible, take some locals with you. They will know the best shops and it will be easier to bargain. A lot of bigger shops are fixed price nowadays, especially in Mumbai, so as much as you try, you won't even be able to drop the price by 1 rupee.
  7. Have fun! This is your bridal wear after all, and you (hopefully) won't be shopping for bridal wear every again, so make the most of the experience!
Another thing I want to share is for those of you who are considering buying your bridal clothes in your country and not in India, I have some interesting info for you. The following outfit, as all the other pics in this post, are from a well known store in Mumbai called Pramanik.
The outfit above is listed online for $532. I saw a very similar outfit, similar type of embroidery, same color, same style, at a store in Cerritos, California (also known as the Little India of Los Angeles) for $5100. I am not joking. That is almost a 10X markup! People think its crazy to fly halfway around the world to shop for bridal wear, but once you learn the price difference, it really makes sense to pay the $1500 airfare to fly to India. Even if you and your mom flew, that would be around $3000, and you bought a $1000 outfit, it still comes out to be cheaper than the one outfit I saw in LA. And if you went to India, you would be buying more than one outfit, so all together, if you add up the savings of everything you could purchase there, it really comes out to be cheaper than buying things in the States.

By now you might be tired of my ramblings so I will end it here. If you have any questions about wedding shopping in India, please feel free to email me!

12 comments:

  1. Great tips! I love shopping in India! If I ever get a chance to go back I'll be sure and check out the place you mentioned.

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  2. $5100!! I know it's beautiful, but you are totally right! It's better to go to India for yourself. And then you have the added benefit of the real experience.

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  3. @Neena Next time you go I have some great shopping recommendations!

    @Hope I know, isn't that crazy! Exactly why I decided it was worth it to fly there and then do my shopping.

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  4. KC...next time you are in Delhi - check out Moolchand...its the BEST "traditional" store to shop it. Best selection and quite reasonable too.

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  5. A Designer bridal wear comes in various shades and mind-blowing designs. Zari work, mirror work, stone work, embroidery work, zardoi work, kundan work, pearl work, etc are able to make Indian wedding designer saris more and more elegant and beautiful.

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  6. Designer clothing now has become a prominent choice in the wish list of lifestyle dressing. When it comes to Designer Clothing in India, one has the wonderful blend of cultural essence of India with the modernity of global fashion. The best of Indian designers could be one’s best bet to become cynosure of all eyes. Amazing cuts and finishing in these designer clothes have made India such a huge hit in world fashion.

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  7. Saree is one of the most ethnic Indian wear. try G3 fashions, which is one of the best online Indian clothing shop, excellent collections of Sarees, designer Sarees, Partywear Sarees and Latest Saree collection. Make this festive season exquisite by buying latest bridal sarees from G3 fashions surat.

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  8. bridal sarees design is awesome, i like it, Make this festive season exquisite by buying latest wedding sarees from paris sarees.

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  12. great tips .its necessary that bride makeup is match with Bridal wear

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