The sari is one of India’s oldest surviving garments, with its roots dating back to 2800 to 1800 B.C. This classic Indian nine-yard attire has passed the test of time, undergoing a makeover for every generation, but never losing its relevance in the process. As the new-age Indian bride feels the affinity to go back to her roots, this time-honored drape is winning her favor. Its versatility is evident in the fact that it can be just as fitting for the wedding day as it can be for the pre-wedding festivities or trousseau.
“In the past, a certain degree of homogeneity had set into the Indian bridal scene. The mood is definitely one of change now,” says designer K. H. Radharaman. “The sari has made a stunning comeback in the minds of the next generation of brides. They are looking to own a piece of history and a true heirloom that can be passed on to the next generation.”
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The bridal look for the main day has always been a toss-up between the sari and the lehenga, but following the intimate wedding trend popularized by the pandemic, the sari has become favorable. Radharaman believes that brides are more prone to experimentation now—not just with their outfits, but with other elements of the wedding as well. So while classic heritage weaves are an enduring favorite, so are “handwoven saris with a contemporary twist and a new design language.”
What are the sari styles that the bride of today can opt for? And how can brides modernize their looks? With the help of Radharaman, we bring you the most current wedding sari trends below.
From Benarasi and Bandhini to Kalamkari, every Indian state is famed for its native weave—a must for brides who want to pay their lineage an ode with their bridal repertoire. Benarasi weaves are a particular favorite for the ceremony due to the rich workmanship and gilded highlights. Wear it with a classic blouse and uncut diamond jewelry for a fitting look. You can also opt for a handloom sari with a contemporary spin. “Our new collection ‘The Eternal Series’ is woven in a series of contemporized bridal motifs that are cross-cultural in their inspiration and appeal,” adds Radharaman.
Are you in possession of an heirloom sari that was passed down to you? No time like your wedding to bring it out! Wear that gota work (an appliqué technique) sari or Patan Potala (a double Ikat weave) for the prayer meet or welcome lunch. You can also upcycle the embroidered borders and motifs from a vintage sari and transfer the work onto a new fabric for a refreshed look.
Once often cumbersome, Indian bridal wear has now shed its weight to assume a lighter, more comfortable avatar. Designers are actively innovating with fabrics to offer brides lightweight variants that allow them to move around with ease during their celebrations. Anita Dongre has a range of breezy organza Benarasi saris while Advaya is famous for pioneering linen Kanjivaram saris.
Want to add a modern twist to the sari? Switching up the blouse is an effective way to do so. From capes to boxy crop tops, there are many styles to choose from. The off-shoulder neckline has definitely emerged as a popular pick of the season. It’s on-trend and allows you to infuse a hint of sexy into your repertoire. We recommend wearing it with a choker necklace and oversized stud earrings. Or go androgynous by throwing on a blazer or cropped jacket over your pallu (the loose end of the sari) with a belt to round it off.
Cinched waist? Yes please! If you lean towards a more contemporary sensibility, consider pairing your sari with an obi belt or your favorite designer logo belt. For bejeweled sparkle, wearing a more ornate precious or semi-precious belt, also known as the kamarbandh, is the way to go.
The easiest way to dress up your sari to make it wedding-appropriate is to play around with the drape of the pallu, or better still, add another one! Add a sentimental touch to your wedding outfit by borrowing your mother’s wedding sari or a family heirloom as your second dupatta. Choosing one in a contrasting yet complementing tone will elevate the overall look.
Inject flirty playfulness to your bridal wardrobe with a dance-friendly ruffled sari. This revival of the retro favorite is a winning choice for events like the mehndi or sangeet. Arpita Mehta’s signature ruffled saris are heavy on mirror work while Bhumika Sharma works with monotone designs and embellished blouses.
Plenty of Pastels
Think beyond the customary red! Though considered auspicious, brides are no longer barred from venturing beyond the crimson hue for their bridal garb. Pinks are just as popular, but what’s quickly becoming a go-to are soft pastels in tones previously considered unconventional. Mint, sage green, peach, powder blue, buttercup yellow—nothing is off-limits.
Ivory, shades of white, and ecru were once a no-go for many Indian brides. However, that is far from the case now, with many opting for this ethereal hue—especially for daytime nuptials. You’ll find multiple options in the collections of all leading bridal designers from Sabyasachi and Tarun Tahiliani to Anushree Reddy. And it helps that they are the perfect base to pair colored gemstone jewelry with!
The sari 2.0 combines the traditional drape with forward-thinking updates: Think iterations like the sari-gown and the jumpsuit-sari that are all about maximum impact with minimum effort. Gaurav Gupta’s cocktail sari gowns are sleek, structured, and avant-garde while Ridhi Mehra’s pre-stitched versions are as fuss-free as they come.
You don’t need to relegate the sari to the more traditional functions alone. Skip the gown in favor of a red carpet-worthy sari for your cocktail night or wedding reception. Choose one in deep jewel or blush shades with a generous drizzle of tonal sequins or crystal embellishments. Diamond jewelry set in white gold is an apt accompaniment to this look. Pro tip: Go high-octane glam with your make-up.