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Evolution of Bridal Fashion: Transition from Red to Diverse Colours

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Red has long reigned as the undisputed staple color for bridal attire, revered for its timeless elegance and profound cultural significance. Its association with love, passion, and auspiciousness has made it the quintessential choice for brides across the globe, especially in traditional ceremonies. However, as the ever-evolving world of fashion continues to embrace modernity, a notable shift has emerged in the bridal sphere.

Red Bridal Lehenga from WNW
WNW's Darpan Collection

Brides, now more than ever, are venturing beyond the boundaries of crimson and scarlet, exploring a breathtaking array of alternative shades. This transformation reflects a desire for individuality and self-expression and underscores the evolving nature of bridal fashion in response to contemporary trends. In this exploration, we delve into the captivating journey of brides embracing hues other than red, uncovering the motivations, inspirations, and influences that are reshaping the bridal landscape.

Why Do Brides in India Traditionally Opt for Red Ethnic Bridal Wear?

There have always been several brilliant and spiritual meanings associated with the color "Red" in our culture. The auspicious color is all about adoration and devotion, from being acknowledged as the color of love to emphasizing the importance of ceremonies by donning a devout red thread. Red has always been associated with truth and purity when discussing the color's importance. An elegant red dulhan lehenga choli on a bride is as ageless as the tides. In India, letting your personality shine through in a crimson glow is always in fashion. The color red will always be associated with richness and majesty.

Mughal Influence: The Mughal Empire, which ruled over large parts of India from the early 16th to the mid-19th century, had a significant impact on Indian culture, including fashion. The Mughal emperors and their courts were known for their opulent and luxurious lifestyles. The Mughal influence popularized richly embroidered red bridal attire, which often featured intricate designs, gold threadwork, and gemstone embellishments. This influence can be seen in the elaborate and ornate red bridal lehengas and sarees worn by brides in India today.

Auspicious Colour: Red is considered the most auspicious color in Hindu culture. It symbolizes purity, passion, love, and fertility. It is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Many Hindu rituals and ceremonies use red as a dominant color due to these positive associations.

Connection to Hindu Deities: Red is often associated with Hindu deities like Goddess Durga and Goddess Lakshmi, who are revered for their roles in love, prosperity, and marital happiness. Brides wear red to seek the blessings of these goddesses for a blissful and prosperous married life.

Traditional Beliefs: In various Indian communities, there are traditional beliefs and customs associated with the color red. For example, in North India, red is believed to symbolize the strength and power of a woman in her new role as a wife and homemaker. It is seen as a color that signifies the bride's transformation into a responsible and loving wife.

Cultural Diversity: India is a country known for its cultural diversity. In the world of traditional bridal fashion, ethnic Indian wear for brides has also been diverse yet bound together by the knot of red.

1. In North India, especially in states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, brides often prefer vibrant and bold colors for their lehengas. Red is a classic choice, symbolizing love and passion. These lehengas are typically heavily embroidered with intricate designs and adorned with sequins, beads, and stones.

Kanjivaram Silk Saree for Wedding
Image Courtesy: Wed About

2. In South India, brides often opt for traditional silk sarees in shades of red, off-white, or cream. The most famous choice is the Kanjeevaram silk saree, known for its exquisite craftsmanship and rich texture.

Brides in Red Benarasi silk sarees for bengali wedding
Image Courtesy: Wedding Bazar

3. In states like West Bengal and Odisha, brides often wear vibrant red or maroon lehengas or sarees. Benarasi silk sarees are particularly popular for their intricate weaving patterns.

bride in red Bandhani Patola silk sarees for wedding
Image Courtesy: Karagiri

4. In states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, brides often choose red or vibrant colors for their bridal lehengas or sarees. Bandhani (tie-dye) and Patola silk sarees are famous choices.

Bollywood Celebrities Who Wore Red Ethnic Bridal Wear for Their Weddings

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja

Sonam Kapoor in red bridal lehenga
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Sonam picked a crimson bridal lehenga by Anuradha Vakil to wear for her wedding ceremony. The delicately crafted gold embellishments with floral motifs and lotus flowers increased its allure.

Deepika Padukone

Deepika Pdukone in red Sabyasachi lehenga for her wedding
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

After Deepika wore a red Sabyasachi lehenga to her Sindhi wedding ceremony, several brides did the same. Her red bridal lehenga included the courtier's distinctive pattern, and the dupatta that she wore over her head had a Sanskrit chant specially stitched on it. It said, "May you always be fortunate," or "Sada saubhagyavati bhava."

Priyanka Chopra Jonas

Priyanka Chopra in red Sabyasachi lehenga
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Priyanka Chopra's wedding lehenga, another Sabyasachi bridal ensemble, featured tone-on-tone beaded embroidery all over the fabric. In addition, French knots and 3D organza flowers were stitched. She complemented her bridal outfit with a long veil, jewelry, such as a maang tikka, necklace, bangles, and specially designed kaleeras. This is a great choice if you want to choose a red color without any gold.

Katrina Kaif

Katrina Kaif in red Sabyasachi lehenga
Image Courtesy: PinkVilla

Katrina Kaif selected a brilliant red bridal lehenga with gold zardosi embellishments for the main day of her wedding celebrations. The red bridal lehenga, created by Sabyasachi, had a repeated jaal-like design on the skirt and small, detailed patterns on the half-sleeve blouse. Her ensemble was completed by a transparent dupatta with silver kiran lace and elaborate wedding jewelry, both by Sabyasachi.

Kajal Aggarwal

Kajal Aggarwal in embellished designer bridal lehenga
Image Courtesy: Wed Me Good

Kajal Aggarwal also decided to wear a red bridal lehenga to her wedding; Anamika Khanna created it for her. The stunning bridal lehenga included Kashmiri resham work and zardosi embroidery with a floral motif. This is undoubtedly a tempting choice for brides-to-be seeking to don a distinctive style that they may personalize.

Dia Mirza

Dia Mirza in red bridal saree
Image Courtesy: KoiMoi

Dia Mirza's bridal saree, which has intricate patterns all over it, was chosen from the in-house line Raw Mango, which is run by designer Sanjay Garg. It was the perfect choice for those seeking to take the ceremonial way with their appearance because it had intricate gold elements woven into it throughout the length of the saree and the border. Dia Mirza paired her saree with a matching blouse that had half sleeves and a clear pattern design to maintain a traditional look.

As with any fashion trend, bridal attire is subject to evolving tastes and styles. Over the years, there has been a shift towards experimenting with different colors and designs. Brides and designers have sought to break away from the traditional red lehenga to explore a wider spectrum of hues.

Why are Brides Choosing Other Colours over Red for Bridal Wear?

In the realm of bridal fashion, tradition has long held sway, with red reigning supreme as the emblematic hue of marital splendor. Yet, as the sands of time shift and cultural landscapes evolve, modern brides are boldly steering away from the conventional crimson path. Instead, they are casting their sartorial dreams in a kaleidoscope of pastel delicacies and vibrant shades that transcend the boundaries of tradition.

Western Influence: Exposure to Western wedding customs and the influence of Western bridal fashion have played a role in the shift away from red. Many brides have been inspired by Western wedding gowns and have incorporated elements of white, ivory, or pastel shades into their bridal attire. This influence has led to a more diverse color palette in bridal lehengas.

Individualism: Modern brides often want their wedding attire to reflect their personality and style. They may choose colors that resonate with them personally or have a sentimental significance. This individualism has led to a willingness to embrace a variety of colors for bridal lehengas.

Regional Variations: India's diverse culture means that different regions have their own wedding traditions and color preferences. In some regions, such as South India, brides have historically worn different colors like gold, off-white, and maroon. These regional variations have always existed but are now being more widely recognized and celebrated.

Celebrity Influence: Bollywood and celebrity weddings often set trends in bridal fashion. When prominent celebrities choose non-red bridal attire for their weddings, it can influence the choices of many brides-to-be. Celebrity weddings featuring unconventional colors have contributed to the diversification of bridal lehenga colors.

1. Alia Bhatt in Manyavar’s Ad

Alia Bhatt in Manyavar bridal lehenga
Image Courtesy: Wed Me Good

As a part of the #DulhanWaaliFeeling campaign of Manyavar Mohey, Alia Bhatt is seen as a gorgeous and sassy bride walking down the aisle in a lavish maroon-coloured lehenga with embellishments, stealing the gaze of the groom in the advertisement as well as the heart of the viewers.

2. Katrina Kaif in Baar Baar Dekho

KAtrina Kaif in a floral lehenga for BAar Baar Dekho movie
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

Katrina Kaif was seen dancing effortlessly to the music of "Nachde Ne Saare" against the joyful backdrop of pink streamers and vibrant flower arrangements. With her fuss-free silhouette, the upcoming bride made the most of her moment in the limelight. Katrina Kaif wore a similar blouse with her lehenga, which she did not accessorize with a dupatta. This Boho aesthetic is ideal for a laid-back wedding when accessorized with jewelry.

3. Anushka Sharma in Sultan

Anushka Sharma, for her wedding scene in Sultan, is dressed in a custom-made traditional chikankari sharara from Sultan that was styled by Diva'ni and has kundan, gota, dabka, and naqshi embellishments.

4. Kareena Kapoor in Veere Di Wedding

A fashionable yet traditional ensemble was created by combining the colors gold and white with an off-the-shoulder beaded top from Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla's couture. The absence of a dupatta on Kareena instantly drew our attention. Instead, she was wearing a dupatta that was totally composed of baby's breath.

Designer Innovation: Fashion designers in India have played a crucial role in expanding the color options for bridal lehengas. They have introduced new color palettes, fabrics, and designs, giving brides a broader range of choices beyond traditional red.

Cultural Fusion: As India becomes more culturally diverse and cosmopolitan, some couples opt for fusion weddings that blend elements of different cultures. These weddings often incorporate a mix of traditional and contemporary colors in the bridal attire.

Symbolism and Significance: While red has traditionally been the go-to color for bridal lehengas, many brides now opt for hues that hold personal or familial symbolism. Some brides choose colors based on their birth month, zodiac sign, or a color that carries sentimental value in their lives. This personalization allows brides to infuse their bridal ensemble with a deeper connection to their own identity and experiences, making their wedding attire not just a fashion statement but a reflection of their unique journey and individuality.

Destination Weddings: These weddings, set against diverse and picturesque backdrops, encourage brides to embrace a broader spectrum of colors that resonate with their unique cultural blend, theme of the wedding, and personal style. Scenic beach locales inspire pastels and aquatic hues, while rustic or mountainous settings may call for earthy or jewel tones. This shift towards individuality and comfort has empowered brides to express their personalities through their choice of bridal attire, marking a departure from the longstanding tradition of exclusively opting for red.

Celebrities Who Have Opted for Ethnic Bridal Wear Colours other than Red

Mira Rajput

Mira Rajput and Shahid Kapoor on their wedding day
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Mira astounded everyone by choosing her delicate pink Anamika Khanna lehenga! Even her hair and cosmetics were subtle- a true reflection of her subtle classic taste. It almost seems as though she ignored the wedding manual and followed her own set of rules. We would rate her full wedding attire as a 10/10 because it had a bright yet subdued color palette.

Alia Bhatt: Reel & Real

Alia Bhatt in Manish Malhotra's bridal lehenga
Image Courtesy: Bollywood Hungama

Reel: For her latest blockbuster “Rocky Rani ki Prem Kahani”, we have seen Alia beautifully showcasing an orange lehenga from Manish Malhotra’s collection in the maximalist way- with heavy accessories and embellishments, with 2 dupattas.

Alia Bhatt in Sabyasachi Saree for her wedding
Image Courtesy: Hindusthan Times

Real: Alia Bhatt wore a stylish sari while the other Bollywood brides went for a lehenga. She chose an ivory Sabysachi drape and a matching shirt with short sleeves. Alia Bhatt wears a hand-dyed ivory organza sari with delicate tilla embroidery and an embroidered hand-woven tissue veil for the wedding ceremony.

Anushka Sharma

Anushka Sharma in her Sabyasachi lehenga for wedding
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Anushka Sharma's hand-embroidered Indian lotus patterns combined with European fauna and flora were sewn onto her delicate blush pink silk lehenga. Pink rhinestones also covered the Sabyasachi lehenga. Her 'tilla' work silk floss, gold, and silver lehenga was created. Her flowery lehenga was embroidered in the style of the Renaissance using metal threads, pearls, and beads.

Natasha Dalal

Natasha Dalal in her wedding lehenga
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Natasha Dalal chose a light gold lehenga from her own line for her wedding. The dupatta and blouse of the designer's light gold lehenga were beautifully detailed with flowers. Natasha Dalal chose a striking diamond and emerald necklace, pair of earrings, and maang tika to go with her heavily decorated lehenga.

Kiara Advani

Kiara Advani and Sidharth Mlahotra in Sabyasachi wedding collection
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Kiara Advani, the bride of 2023, wore a stunning handcrafted ombre lehenga in the color empress rose created by renowned fashion designer Manish Malhotra. The Roman architecture's beautiful needlework details were accentuated by the color scheme, which was inspired by Kiara and Sidharth's shared passion for the city of domes. The Swarovski crystals used to adorn the outfit give the pastel lehenga some sparkle.

Athiya Shetty

Athiya Shetty in her bridal lehenga
Image Courtesy: PinkVilla

The pink zardosi lehenga with pearl accents that was worn by Athiya Shetty during her little wedding was the center of attention. The zardosi floral blouse, dupatta, and veil with a pearl scallop finish were worn with the Anamika Khanna lehenga with elaborate layers, beautiful antique gold zardosi, and distinctive chikankari embroidery.

Richa Chaddha

Richa Chaddha in Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla designed Wedding Ethnic Wear
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Richa wore a stunning off-white chikankari kurti by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla with elaborately embroidered borders and a yoke. She paired it with a trailing gharara that was intricately stitched and embellished with pink and aquamarine beads. She finished the regal appearance with a train and a net dupatta that was elegantly embellished with Swarovski crystals in an all-over design. The color scheme changed to honor the fine craftsmanship and needlework applied to the pastel silhouette.

Kareena Kapoor Khan

Kareena Kapoor Khan in her wedding sharara
Image Courtesy: Vogue India

Brides all around the world have come to respect the tradition of dressing traditionally for their weddings, and Bollywood diva Kareena Kapoor Khan is one of them. For her own nikaah in 1962, Sharmila Tagore, Kareena Kapoor Khan's mother-in-law, too wore a traditional sharara. A tissue rust-orange kurta, a matching dupatta with heavy gold embroidery, and shararas with a contrasting mint green border made up the sharara ensemble. Complex zardosi and gota work were combined to create the appearance. Ritu Kumar, a seasoned designer, restored and enhanced the bridal item for Kareena and Saif's wedding.

As the winds of modernity sweep through the ever-evolving landscape of bridal fashion, it's undeniable that the once unwavering grasp of red as the prime choice is loosening. Brides today are exploring a captivating array of trending colors, breathing new life and individuality into their wedding attire. Despite changing fashion trends and the availability of a wide range of colors and designs for bridal wear, red continues to be a preferred choice for brides in India. It is a timeless and classic color with immense cultural and emotional significance. While the allure of red may be experiencing a shift, its cultural and symbolic significance remains eternal.

The rich tapestry of emotions and beliefs that red weaves into the fabric of weddings cannot be easily unraveled. It embodies love, passion, strength, and above all, auspiciousness. The timeless beauty of red in bridal attire is an enduring tribute to tradition and heritage that transcends generations.

In the world of bridal fashion, the trends may ebb and flow, but red's place in the heart of ceremonies and cultures is steadfast. It serves as a reminder that while modernity allows for the exploration of new horizons, some traditions are woven so deeply into the fabric of society that they withstand the test of time. As brides continue to rewrite the narrative of their weddings with a palette of colors, red will forever remain a poignant reminder of the timeless love stories that unite generations past, present, and future.


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