They say, accessories are like vitamins – you can’t do without them and you should supplement your style liberally with them.
In fact, aside from your clothes, it is your choice of accessories that give you a way to express to the world about the kind of woman that you are – bold, sophisticated, smart or even fiery.
It goes without saying that on the most important day of your life, you would want to complement your wedding dress with the best of the Indian wedding accessories that make a statement. To help you do that, today we tell you about the must-have accessories for Indian brides to put together a look that is in keeping with the tradition and makes heads turn as well.
Hindu traditions prescribe the ‘Solah Shringar’ or 16 adornments for the Indian bride in order to achieve an ethereal glow that is the ultimate symbol of femininity and fertility. Aside from treatments like washing the bride’s oiled hair with a herbal hairwash, applying the ubtan on her skin and adorning her hands with mehendi, the list largely comprises of ornaments and jewellery that could add to the bride’s regal splendour. Here’s a detailed top to toe look at the accessories so that on your wedding day, you can be dressed to the nines, in sync with what the tradition dictates.
Starting from the top, you would need hair accessories that will give your hairdo a festive spin. Usually crafted from metal with a golden plating, these Indian wedding accessories are fancier versions of pins and clips that actually serve the practical purpose of holding your hair in place while also adding a dressy touch to your hairdo.
The traditional version of the hair accessories is designed for a conventional hairdo like a braid or a plait. You will find disc shaped pins or clips that are inserted along the entire length of the hairdo, between the braids. These are called ‘Billai’ and can be found nestling between the hair and the floral adornments. Traditional South Indian brides also wear a sun and a moon shaped broach on either side of their hair partition – to invoke the blessings of both the Gods. The sun for brilliance and health and the moon for peace of mind and lasting love. In case the bride is wearing her hair in a bun, she may choose to adorn it with a disc shaped studded broach called the ‘Rakodi’.
North Indian brides, should they choose to wear a braid, finish their plait with a ‘Paranda’ which is a coloured tassel that is tied at the end of the plait. These decorative thread tassels are found in a variety of colours and designs and you can choose one to match your outfit.
The maang tikka is one of the most important Indian wedding accessories that is worn on the forehead. The parting in the middle of the hair is called the maangwhile the round jewel that adorns it is the tikka, earning this bridal accessory the name ‘maang tikka’. We consider it to be important because it is one of the few bridal accessories that even the simplest of the brides wear, just to set themselves apart from the other ladies who are overdressed with an unwarranted amount of jewellery for a wedding guest.
A simple maang tikka can be a dainty gold or gold plated piece with an engraved design and a few beads as hangings. If you want to make a statement, you can pick a larger maang tikka that is encrusted with coloured stones and adorned with large beads, with the piece almost covering your entire forehead. To make sure that your maang tikka can be worn with every possible outfit, you can go in for pieces that are encrusted with kundan, polki or pearls.
Some Indian brides also wear a maang tikka with a maatha patti – an elaborate headgear that includes a band like ornament that covers their hairline and frames their face with a beautiful arrangement of stones and pearls.
Of late, some brides are also leaning towards wearing a passa – an ornament similar to the maang tikka, albeit worn on the side of the forehead rather than the center. It has a very Persian vibe to it and can be worn with lehengas and anarkali suits during your wedding reception. You can wear the passa as is or pair it with a simple maang tikka in the center, as Dia Mirza did at her wedding.
After the maang tikka, the next accessory that should be a part of your bridal attire is the bindi. What used to be a humble red dot made with the auspicious sindoor as a part of the bridal makeup is as elaborate as any other piece of jewellery today. Bindis come in the form of a sticker in various shapes and sizes, studded with beads, stones and pearls, earning them a place in our Indian wedding accessories list.
Even though bindis are traditionally deep crimson in colour, you can shop for a bindi that matches your outfit in terms of colour and embellishment. The size of the bindi is best kept inversely proportional to the size of your maang tikka. It can be big and prominent if your maang tikka is small or a small little symbolic dot if you are wearing a big maang tikka – you don’t want to go big on both. In fact, if wearing a bindi is not mandatory in your community, you can actually skip it and let your maang tikka hog all the limelight.
Nath or Nose Pin
Another accessory that has been a part of the bridal ensemble for centuries is the nath or nose pin. There was a time when every Indian woman would get her nose pierced before the wedding since the nath was an important part of her bridal attire. A delicate gold ring or stud, often with an attached beaded chain that connects the nath to the earring would adorn every bride’s nose. However, with changing times, it has become an optional accessory today what with many women choosing to skip the piercing.
But many brides end up taking to the modern ‘press’ versions of the same, just on the day of the wedding since they feel that the bridal look is incomplete without it. These nose pins or rings can just be pressed onto your nose for a day or you could even cleverly stick on a fancy bindi on your nose instead of a nose pin. In case you are among the women who have their nose pierced, you could adorn it with a gold, diamond, kundan or polki nose pin.
The traditional nath is a more elaborate accessory, comprising of a ring with studded stones and a dangler and perhaps a chain even that goes all the way till the ears. The accessory is back in vogue after Sonam Kapoor and Vidya Balan teamed it with their sarees on the red carpet at Cannes and Bipasha Basu made it a part of her bridal ensemble recently.
If you choose to wear a nose accessory, first be sure to check for the style that is prescribed by your community. Then go about choosing a design that conforms to the norms and also matches your earrings and maang tikka to maintain consistency.
Enter the most important, versatile and eye catching accessory among all the Indian wedding accessories. Earrings are perhaps the first accessory that most people’s attention turns to, thanks to them directly being in the line of sight. Wedding earrings are traditionally prominent and heavy, made of fine materials like gold, diamond and other precious stones.
As a bride, you have a plethora of options to select from when it comes to earrings – be it diamond studs, golden chaand balis or antique finish jhumkas with pearl danglers – there is a style to please every bride. Precious studs with heavy stones are usually made in traditional designs to do justice to the occasion that they are being crafted for. So forget about wearing lightweight, modern pieces for your wedding in case you are wearing studs. Studs with diamonds, emeralds and rubies are bride-worthy and yet versatile enough to be paired with other outfits in the future as well.
But our advice to brides-to-be is to shop for danglers or chandelier earrings if possible, since they add a feminine, almost playful grace to your bridal ensemble. Pick them in prominent designs, it is your wedding, after all! Jhumkas, chaand balis and shoulder grazing chandelier earrings in gold, diamonds, kundan or polki are rich and extravagant, adding the requisite bling to your bridal attire. While shopping for such large earrings, remember to keep your outfit and the other accessories in mind. You can’t wear diamonds earrings set in platinum if the rest of your jewellery is made of gold. Consistency is the key to maintain a uniform look that comes together nicely.
As always, the pieces that you pick should be versatile. It is easy to invest in a pair of expensive and extravagant earrings for the wedding, but if it they are too flashy for any other occasion, then they will most likely remain untouched after the wedding. Pick pieces that stand out for their design and craftsmanship rather than the size of the diamond or the amount of gold in them – this way, you can flaunt them at other weddings and festive occasions as well.
A bride’s neckpiece is the focal point of her attire – it has the ability to make or break an ensemble. A bride customarily wears more than one neckpiece in her bridal attire – a short, close necklace or choker and a longer necklace at least. Beyond this, the number of necklaces you wear is dependent on your taste and jewellery budget.
Preferably, a day event like the wedding would call for Indian wedding accessories in yellow gold that will stand out against the outfit and look great in daylight. Wear a choker if your wedding blouse or choli does not have too many embellishments and has a neckline broad enough for the choker to shine through. Else, settle for a simpler short gold necklace that will let your blouse do the talking. The necklaces can be plain gold or encrusted with diamonds, rubies, emeralds or even polki stones, depending on your outfit and taste. Gold neckpieces look ravishing against vibrant lehengas and sarees while diamonds complement understated colours better. Stone jewellery can be chosen as per the colour of your bridal outfit. Once you have picked your short necklace or choker, go on and pair it with a longer neckpiece with intricate detailing that will fall well below your chest. You could intersperse these two with a medium length necklace as well. The longest neckpiece can have a statement pendant that will nicely round up your set of necklaces and give them a tiered look.
While buying your neckpieces, remember that you will also end up wearing the holy ‘mangalsutra’ soon after the wedding. So ensure that the lengths of all the pieces is such that they all look good together without coming in the way of each other.
n case you do not want to go through the drill of mixing and matching pieces for the perfect look, we suggest that you invest in a single multi-layered statement piece like Bipasha Basu did at her wedding and reception – one jadau piece with pearls, diamonds and other precious stones that will make people go wow.
For an evening do, like the reception, we’d recommend that you go in for dazzling pieces in diamond and precious stones that will catch the light and look great in pictures. You don’t have to overdo anything. Even a simple diamond necklace has the ability to add class and panache to your outfit, without requiring any other supporting accessory to make an impact. But if you want to go big, do so by adding not more than another tier – too many diamonds can end up making you look like a christmas tree! Again, as always, the rule of thumb is to match your neckpiece with the earrings.
Arm bands or baaju bands as they are called, are said to ward off the evil eye when worn, making them an all the more integral part of the bride’s Solah Shringar. They are bracelet-like accessories that are worn on the upper arm, above the elbow, usually over the blouse or the choli.
These Indian wedding accessories can either be made of solid gold plated metal, in which case they are slid onto the arms above the elbow or they can be made like a chain which is secured around the upper arms by a hook. Arm bands with fancy designs avoid the need for embellishments on the arms of your blouse or your choli. But since brides do not find much use of the band after the wedding, you could go in for rented armbands to match your outfit. Another option is to choose armbands in contemporary designs that can be paired with your fusion outfits later on as a enticing hand accessory.
After the arm bands come the bangles that adorn your wrists. Bangles are an integral part of the bridal ensemble, so much that many brides continue to wear a dozen bangles called the ‘chooda set’ for almost a year after the wedding, signifying their newly acquired marital status.
As a bride, you will be using your hands extensively during the various rituals at the wedding. Naturally, they will be in focus in many of your wedding photographs. Goes without saying that you should make it a point to dress up your hands with bangles for the shots to come out beautifully.
Traditionally, red and green glass bangles are considered to be auspicious for the bride. But don’t let that stop you from adding more colours to your bridal bangles. Pick bangles in colours that match your lehenga and contrast them with gold or pearl bangles to put together a striking set. In case you are wearing diamond or polki bangles, we’d recommend that you skip the glass bangles altogether and wear them alone so that they get all the spotlight that they deserve. Same goes for gold bangles – wear the thin and delicate ones in the center, flanked by the intricate and elaborate bangles on the side. As with all the other Indian wedding accessories, don’t overdo the number of bangles you are wearing. A dozen of them look good, alright, but too many bangles will make it very cumbersome for you to use your hands during the wedding.
Your mehendi covered hands are further beautified with Indian wedding accessories like arm bands and bangles. In the process, do not forget your graceful digits – pick rings make them look all the more charming.
As per tradition, a bride is supposed to wear eight rings altogether on both her hands, a number that is derived from the design of the haath-phool ( that roughly translates into hand flower), an accessory that comprises of four rings that are connected through delicate chains to a floral medallion that covers the back of the palm. With a haathphool in either hands, the bride literally has her hands full with accessories. Nowadays, brides tend to skip the haathphool altogether in favour of individual rings that match their bridal jewellery. You could pick a mix of gold, diamond and stone rings that blend well with your bridal ensemble. If you are anyway not following tradition, then a pair of rings on each hand are more than enough to add some glitter to your fingers.
Indian wedding traditions outline the waistband among the mainstays in the bridal outfit. The waistband is not just an ornamental accessory but also serves the practical purpose of holding your outfit in place, especially if you are wearing a saree.
Usually made of gold or other metals, the band is a thick belt-like ornament that goes around the waist and is secured at the back. In case you prefer to wear something light, you could try a more delicate chain that looks like an extended version of the anklet. While the chain may not be able to hold your saree pallu in place, it definitely does define your waist and breaks the monotony of the saree at the waist.
While large, chunky anklets are in vogue now, we feel that they exude a very bohemian appeal that is best avoided during the wedding. Choose classic pieces in silver or gold plating which can be worn with any festive outfit for that added grace to the outfit. Before you buy a pair, check the jingle of the bells once to ensure that they are pleasing and not jarring to the ear.
Last but not the least, the bridal attire is completed with a pair of rings that go on the second toe, next to the big toe. In fact, in India, the toe rings are a mark of a woman being married, so much that even today, many people directly check a woman’s feet to see if she is married. The toe ring is usually made of silver and can be a plain band in its simplest form. Of course, as with all the other Indian wedding accessories, toe rings have also got a designer spin now and are available in designs with embellishments ranging from stones, enamel to pearls. Toe rings in elaborate designs look great in pictures and we definitely want you to choose a pair with the same kind of effort that you put into picking your necklace. However, should you wish to wear them on a daily basis even after marriage, you can get an additional pair in a simple design that will not be uncomfortable under your shoes.
As we come to the end of the list, we should mention that this is only a broad compilation of some of the prescribed Indian wedding accessories as per traditions. Every part of the country that follows a particular tradition can have a different interpretation of the same or can have totally different accessory prescribed for the bride. In case you come from a region that has other interesting Indian wedding accessories and want to share the story behind their significance, we’d love to hear from you!