Who fits you just right?

Harshini Vakkalanka |

For all those brides who don’t want to buy off the rack, Harshini Vakkalanka puts together a guide to bridal couture

According to Melissa Baran’s piece in stylemepretty.com’s blog Little Black Book, the typical budget for the bridal outfit is 10 per cent of the wedding budget.

The actual amount, will of course, depend on the total wedding budget and if she can afford it, any bride would love to go in for a custom-made outfit.

If the go-to designers for luxurious bridal couture are Vera Wang, Vivienne Westwood or Naeem Khan in the West, in India it means making an appointment Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Manish Malhotra or Neeta Lulla.

With the boom in the Indian wedding ‘industry’, there are several more designers offering a whole range of price points for custom-made bridal wear today.

So how does it work?

“Planning for your wedding ensemble should typically start atleast two months in advance - a customised ensemble will take time to create. Starting in advance would mean you have researched all the styles available — brides today literally have the world at their feet, thanks to the Internet, so use websites like Pinterest to organise your look,” writes Karishma Swali in myshaadi.com.

Before approaching a designer, the bride needs to ensure she has an idea about the kind of outfit she wants to wear. This would depend on several factors including the wedding venue — whether it is indoors or outdoors, near the sea or on the lawn, a destination wedding or a heritage wedding; season; cultural backgrounds and traditions involved; and of course, her own personality and tastes.

The bride should keep in mind that it takes a few weeks,on average, for the designer to put together an outfit and a week or two for the fittings and alterations.

Once she chooses the designer, who fits her personality best, she must be able to give him(or her) a budget so the designer knows what s/he can work with.

“The first step is for her to identify what kind of ensemble she wants for her wedding day and what her design preferences are. Once identified, she can pick the designer who's work she loves best and whom she thinks would be able to translate her vision into a reality with their design expertise and guidance. For example, many confident, flamboyant brides wanting to be head turners at their weddings have approached me and chosen a quirky and eccentric Manish Arora outfit for their big day,” says ace designer Manish Arora.

“If she is choosing her own outfit, she also has to decide what her body type is, what colour goes well on her because she has to be comfortable in her outfit in order to be able to carry it through the rituals,” adds Sirisha Reddy, a young Hyderabad-based designer.

Manish’s outfits feature bold colours and designs for the new-age bride showcasing the season’s dominant trends — Victorian and neon floral embroidery with colour blocking, iznik tapestry, mirror work, retro styles and edgy silhouettes.

“Indian by Manish Arora offers brides a wide variety of options to select from including embellished sweatshirts, lehengas, printed sarees, long jackets, denim flared skirts with off-shouldered to crop top blouses,” he says.

Masumi Mewawalla of Mumbai-based Pink peacock Couture explains to the Indian Express how it’s a good idea to thoughtfully experiment with the look, different drapes and embroidered lehengas matched with subtle cholis for a royal look.

According to Masumi, the colours in season are shades of blue, wine, purple and pink although pastels continue to remain favourites. Of course, there is always the option of going for the traditional, auspicious red for the bridal lehenga or saree.

“Always select the colour of your bridal outfit according to your skin tone. Most colours go well with the women having a wheatish complexion. Pick a colour that will bring out the warmth in your complexion. If you have a fair complexion, opt for any shade of blue or bright shades of pink and red,” suggests designer Sumona Parekh.

“If you are planning to tie the knot this wedding season, then we can give you specific options in blue- scuba blue or royal blue. You can also pick up a dress in tangerine, but the colour of the year is marsala. If you have an olive skin tone, you can pull off any rich and dark colour quite well. So, colours like classic blue, marsala, burnt orange and brick red are just perfect for you.”

Brides today also opt for different outfits for pre-bridal events before the actual wedding. They need to keep her outfits ready for the engagement, reception/cocktail function, and sangeet/mehendi before the actual wedding. They usually go for Western or Indo-Western outfits for these events, while sticking to the traditional outfit for the actual wedding.


“India is known for its colourful weddings. The colour red is no more reserved to bridal wear. There is a paradigm shift in the colours, style and clothing worn by the Indian bride. We have taken up to creating a full-fledged wedding collection from sarees, to kurtas and bridal lenghas,” says designer Nidhika Shekhar.


“Brides today go for minimalism either in couture or in makeup and styling. We have not just played with colours but with cuts and silhouettes as well. We have offered them jackets with lehangas, long blouses, cold shoulders with different textures, gowns with dupattas and much more. We use rich Indian fabrics to create an Indo western look.”


Accessories have to be well planned as they can make or break a complete look, adds Masumi. “The bride’s jewellery needs to be well thought out with traditional jewellery for the big day and more fun ,statement pieces for the pre-wedding look. A single strong piece or a heritage jewel such as a mangtika or a passa can also be worn. It’s all about balance and comfort.”


It is also important to keep in mind the re-usability factor. What is the point of spending so much on a bridal outfit, if can only be flaunted once? Though brides can always pass on their outfits as heirloom pieces, there are other ways to address this today.


Sirisha adds, “I design my outfits in such way that they can be worn in different ways for different occasions, so the money is well-spent. I specialize in creating six-piece or four-piece bridal sets that can be mixed and matched to be worn again.”