Custom made wedding dresses are the traditional wedding attire for much of Western society. But across the globe, there are as many different styles of wedding dress as there are styles of ceremony. Here are a few of the alternatives seen across the world, many of them are derivatives of the formal wear seen in the countries and cultures listed.
In West Africa the most notable item of wedding clothing isn’t the women’s custom made wedding dress, but the men’s dashiki: a colourful garment that covers the top half of the body. The dashiki is worn as regular clothing, not just wedding wear, but in West Africa it is usual for the groom to wear a white dashiki. In monotheistic religious ceremonies in West Africa, notably Christianity and Islam, white represents purity. In these ceremonies, the bride will usually wear a kaftan or blouse and skirt set that matches the colour of the dashiki.
The native American alternatives to custom made wedding dresses are more culturally specific and vary between the different groups. Wedding clothing tends to be hand-woven and decorated in ribbon-work and beads.
In England, custom made wedding dresses are the order of the day for women, while morning suits are the standard formal dress for men – often finished off with a top hat. For Scottish grooms, the kilt has become fashionable in some circles, although there is a move amongst many young couples to avoid the tackiness associated with the ‘national dress’.
The suit for men and dresses, usually white, for women tend to be the preferred wedding clothing for European couples, in line with most of the Western world.
Asia, with its myriad cultures is a continent with just as many variations on traditional custom made wedding dresses. In Eastern Asia, traditional clothing is the attire of choice for couples getting married. The Japanese kimono is worn by both men and women. The traditional kimonos are made from yards of fabric skilfully folded and tucked to form a voluminous gown.
In China, the cheongsam is favoured for women. It is a figure-hugging dress decorated in intricate patterns. The male version is known as the changshan, a slightly looser garment, but also worn at weddings and other formal occasions.
At many Indian weddings, brides and the other women involved in the ceremony wear brightly coloured saris, decorated with gold accessories and other ornamentation.