A White Girl at an Indian Wedding; In a Pursuit of a Lehenga Choli

„Yo, Teresa, Akhil is getting married in India in April, wanna be my plus one”?

„Sure! That sounds like fun”!

Little did I know what would be necessary to go through during two months prior that event. Well, after booking the tickets to India, the real fun started.

„Listen, Kamal, what outfits do I need for the thing”?

„I have no clue… And I’m not wearing any of that”.

„Whaaaat?“ (Yes, you are, you just don’t know that yet.)

Alright, luckily, the engaged couple created a wedding website with all the necessary information, for instance a list of events and suggested dress code. I still remember how did it feel after visiting that website for the first time.. How do I do this? Words like lehenga choli, salwar kameez or anarkali didn’t sound really familiar to me, neither the given„hints“ such as „Indian glamour“, „Indian chic“ etc. Basically I was to get outfits for 10 events within 3 days, of all the outfits, 7 were traditional Indian. Boom!

I gave up on asking Kamal for advice really soon because all I got was: „I have no idea“. (Sorry Kamal, you’re a nice person, you really are, but you SUCK at being Indian. Actually, I’m convinced you’re a fake Indian!) So I turned to good old Google for advice. After hours of researching, my head was about to explode. There are billions of Indian outfits out there and every extra hour of researching was creating bigger mess in my head. What styles are appropriate, what should stay covered, which colors are or are not allowed, what if those outfits vary depending in regions, what about jewelry, what about shoes,… Not to mention, that I as an extreme minimalist struggled a bit with the philosophy of an Indian outfit itself.

After all that research and getting some advice from „more Indian Indians“, I was still kind of stuck. I knew too little about the Indian culture, that’s a matter of fact. Indian weddings are known for their colorful and bright atmosphere, but also, on the other hand, I was warned that Indian weddings have turned into kind of pretentious display of wealth. My main goal was to make the effort and also, not to offend anyone by „not knowing“. I had to bear in mind that this wedding was going to be very traditional.

Alright, you might think that after finding my feet in the Indian dress code requirements a little bit, the rest was easy peasy. Unfortunately, that is VERY incorrect. The real struggle was to get those outfits. I’m not an activist and by no means have I mastered the zero waste approach andd other stuff, but I always try to think about the environment to the level that is doable for me so I try to get „local“ things first. After paying visit to three stores with „Indian“ clothes in Prague, I had to admit that wasn’t gonna happen.. The clothes there either were not Indian (just western clothes in crazy colors) or ugly as f… Hey! Just because it’s difficult, I will not settle for something ugly just because it looks Indian! You know, I’m a girl, I want to look good!

Not being able to get anything in my country made me think and actually gave a first useful hint. „Wait a sec. Maybe there were more girls in this country attending an Indian wedding, managed to get the outfits and since most probably they don’t need them anymore, they try to sell them online. Bingo! Just like that, I found my first anarkali dress. The seller was even so nice that she sent me the outfit letting me to check and try it on and send the money afterward. Such things still happen these days?

Step by step, little by little, I was collecting my modest Indian wardrobe. The next outfit I got was borrowed from my dear friend Eva, who was in India years ago and since she was attending a wedding there as well, she found a local tailor and got an outfit which was suitable for the Udaipur wedding as well. Luckily, we are the same size (we are the same size we were 10 years ago, isn’t that impressive :)?), Eva still had the outfit and her mum was super nice and willing to search for it in her house. Then I searched through second hand stores in Prague and even tried ebay. Unfortunately the reviews of the sellers there were terrible and I didn’t want to end up stuck with some „rags“.

Although I managed to put some outfits together, I was still missing the icing on the cake – a lehenga choli (also known as ghagra choli or chaniya choli), a three-piece heavy and heavily embroidered attire consisting of a looong skirt, a cropped top and a massive scarf called duppata. Since buying lehenga online was not an option, I tried to find a tailor in Udaipur, who would be willing to cooperate with me prior my arrival, to take my measurements real quick and sew my dress ideally until the next day. I succeeded and this is my big thank you to Mr. Ravi from Madhushree Sarees in Udaipur. We agreed on my budget and preferred colors for this piece and step by step, we put the perfect one together. I kind of enjoyed Mr. Ravi’s whatsapp messages with pictures of more and more fabrics. After landing in Udaipur, one of the first things we did was a trip to Madhushree Sarees. They took my measurements real quick and the next day Mr. Ravi delivered it to our hotel. He was so nice that he also showed me how to handle this masterpiece and how to pack it.

 So this is the story about a white girl getting ready for an Indian wedding. Some of you might think that I was too stressed about it and shouldn’t have cared that much. Nah, not my style. Whatever I want to do, I do it with all my heart. Honestly, this was a team work. Thanks Eva for your Indian outfit, thanks Simona for tailoring two dresses for me, thanks mum D for finding a nice choli in Wroclaw, thank you random people online, thanks Míša for your sparkling shoes and pretty much everyone who helped me not to fail on this mission 🙂 I don’t have pictures of all the outfits, so check out a sample if you like.




Thanks for stopping by!

About terissmile

Teresa is the name. I was born in the Czech Republic, but since I always leave a piece of my heart in every place I had chance to live for a while, I feel more like a child of the world. It all started with moments which had a huge impact on my emotional level and on myself as well. Moments seemingly ordinary and insignificant from the common point of view, more specifically emotions written in human faces. I started chasing those candid ephemeral moments that are there only for a second and then they are gone and lost forever - be it loneliness, fear, anxiety, astonishment, joy, love, disappointment, loss... But it´s all real. Real emotions of real people. I do not follow any rules in particular, the only thing I insist on is honesty and genuineness that help me to add life to possibly every shot I take. Since minimalism is my way, I try to keep them as minimalist as possible. That is how I create my world. Take a look if you like. https://thestoryofmylifebyterismile.wordpress.com/
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2 Responses to A White Girl at an Indian Wedding; In a Pursuit of a Lehenga Choli

  1. Mara Eastern says:

    Wow, so beautiful, you look great in the outfits! It surely was hard to do, to learn about all the requirements of traditional Indian dresses and to get several of them at once on top of it, but the result is worth it.


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