In most cultures, a wedding is a perfect occasion to splash out on lavish clothing, which might look very different from everyday wear. Here are some astonishingly beautiful traditional bridal outfits from around the world.
The weather in Kazakhstan can be extremely inclement, with winters getting as cold as minus fifty degrees Celsius. This may well be the reason for the fur trim which is often found at the base – and sometimes at the top – of the саукеле (saukele), the traditional headgear worn by Kazakh brides. Shaped like a cone, this impressive piece of clothing is often extremely ornate and topped with feathers. It was traditionally made by jewellers, often at considerable expense to the bride’s family, and ordered after the matchmaking arrangements had been finalised. Kazakh brides often wear white and/or red clothing.
Nigerian weddings, and wedding dresses, are often very colourful. The Igbo tradition of aso-ebi dictates that the bride and groom will each decide on the fabrics and colours that their respective parties should wear, which makes it easier to distinguish the bridal party and the groom’s party at the wedding and to tell them apart from the rest of the guests. The importance of this cannot be underestimated in a culture where there is often no set number of guests! Nigerian brides often wear a folded headdress called a gele.
Asian bridal dresses are often richly embellished with beads, sequins, metallic threading, and lace. Pakistan is another country, like Nigeria, where there isn’t one set colour for bridal wear. Instead, brides often choose the colour of their clothes based on factors such as which colours go well with their complexion. Pakistani wedding festivities often last several days, and the tell-tale of a person’s participation in a Pakistani wedding will be the henna decorations on their hands.
In traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies, the custom is for brides to wear a white kimono, white accessories, and even paint their face white. The colour white in this context symbolises purity and maidenhood, in a similar way to the European tradition of white bridal dresses. After the wedding ceremony, the bride changes into a colourful kimono – often a red one – to symbolise her entrance into her new family. Some Japanese brides will then change into another, less formal kimono for the wedding reception.
Traditionally, Norwegian brides wear the bunad, a type of folk costume that can also be worn on other special occasions such as christening parties and confirmations. Today, the most common event for which a bunad will be worn is the 17th May national holiday, which marks the anniversary of Norway’s independence from Sweden. Bunad styles vary greatly depending on the area, but will usually involve a dress or vest with floral embroidery, worn over a white shirt and shift. The outfit is completed with an apron and can include several accessories, such as headscarves, shawls, and jewellery. A bejewelled crown completes the bridal look when the bunad is used as a wedding outfit.
Whichever country you’re in, you will find few outfits as dazzling as those worn by brides!
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