Prev Next

Elisabeth: It’s Alarming How Charming I (am supposed to) Feel!


This morning we have our intern writer Elisabeth here. Elisabeth converted to Islam (see her discussion of that and feminism) and is doing super super long distance wedding planning. Last we heard from her the venue and the date were picked. Today she’s discussing The Dress (cross-cultural style). And as someone who was similarly completely confused about their wedding outfit just a month before the wedding, I’m absolutely sure Elisabeth’s outfit is going to be the best ever, come September.

Elisabeth: Its Alarming How Charming I (am supposed to) Feel! | A Practical Wedding

Last week I took my dad on a field trip to Edison, NJ, which is apparently a huge local source of Indian and Pakistani clothing. My dad knows nothing about South Asian clothing, and is notoriously drawn to garish pinks, neon yellows and ugly oranges, and so in the car he told me, “Elisabeth, I am happy to give you my opinion, but I want you to keep in mind that I have horrible taste and almost certainly don’t care.” So we rolled into town and started shopping, my dad snapping pictures as I (awkwardly) modeled scarf after scarf in the mirror, pinks and purples and golds, with anxious and confused salespeople trying to get me to try on the matching outfits. No, I explained to them, I was not looking for an entire South Asian wedding suit—I already had a white dress. I only wanted the traditional rectangular scarf, known as a dupatta, that is typically embroidered or bedazzled in fabulous and beautiful ways. Judging by the reactions, this was an extremely unorthodox, and somewhat suspicious, approach to wedding shopping. We left with lots of good ideas, but no dupatta.

I am continuously surprised by how many people respond immediately to news of my impending wedding with a question about The Dress. Apparently The Dress is a Big Deal. Apparently it’s The Most Important Thing. Apparently any good bride has been dreaming of The Dress since she was four, and it is her first and only priority once she gets engaged. When she finds It and puts It on she will be The Most Beautiful Bride Of All Time. And then she will live happily ever after.

I’ve never been hugely invested in the concept of The Dress, and I am certainly not invested in the pressure that comes with it. Early on in the wedding planning process, when Amin and I were discussing how to blend our cultures in a pleasing and harmonious way, we talked about both wearing South Asian dress to the wedding. We both love South Asian clothing and it seemed like a great way to showcase his and his family’s culture (and I would get to wear beautiful and sparkly clothing in the bargain!). He was happy. His family was happy. And secretly, I was even more thrilled to agree to this, because I felt like it freed me my culture’s expectations surrounding The Dress. I could enjoy the benefits of beautiful clothing without having to find the most perfect white dress in existence. And with Amin’s family ready to help me navigate the complicated world of Pakistani fashion, I wouldn’t have to do it by myself.

And then, late at night, I was on the internet with a friend, surfing for wedding dresses. My wedding had made my friend obsessed with finding a dress for her own hypothetical future wedding, so we weren’t even looking for me. And then, accidentally, we stumbled across a Dress. It was for sale on a Chinese discount dress website, it cost less than $200, and it was perfect.

And not even a little bit Pakistani.

My thinking at this point was along the following lines: It’s gorgeous. It’s incredibly cheap. If I get it and hate it, it’s an expensive future Halloween costume (Princess Elisabeth!). If I get it and love it, we’ve just saved a bajillion dollars on a wedding outfit and I will look awesome. Plus, there’s all sorts of crafty things I can do to a simple satin dress to Pakistanify it.

I talked to Amin about it. He was attached to the idea of us wearing Pakistani clothes. Oh well. No biggie. I put it out of my mind.

Except it wouldn’t go. It lurked there, that Dress, singing its siren song. And suddenly all of those little logistical concerns about getting a Pakistani wedding outfit seemed really legit. How was I supposed to buy a Pakistani outfit anyway? I don’t know anything about buying South Asian clothing. And I wasn’t going to be anywhere near anybody who knew anything either—or, not for very long. And, said my mind, why is it so awful anyway that I might want to wear a dress from my own culture? Besides, it would offer me an opportunity to be really blendy and multicultural, and you know I love that stuff.

Suffice it to say, this became one of those things I suddenly, irrationally, felt strongly about. And so, a month or two after our first conversation, when Amin asked me what my plans were for my clothing, I pointed him back to The Dress. And Amin, as it turned out, didn’t feel as strongly about this as I did. So I bought it.

And now that I’ve made this decision, the crazy dress pressure is back, worse than ever. My Western relatives and friends think I’m a little insane to be buying a wedding dress off a discount website, and Amin’s South Asian family is very skeptical of my half-baked plans to wear a dupatta instead of a veil. And since I’m basically making things up as I go along, I can’t say I’m terribly confident either. To make things worse, the dress got here, and was gigantic, and even though I ordered it big on purpose I was still incredibly, and irrationally, disappointed that my fairy godmother hadn’t arranged for it to miraculously fit me perfectly right out of the box. I looked like a tiny doll wearing a giant cardboard dress. The naysayers and the doubts got louder. I was going to be The Ugliest Bride On The Planet. Although I know I should not give into the hype, I have begun to feel as though the success of my marriage depends on my ability to be that perfect and gorgeous bride in the eyes of two very different cultures with two very different aesthetics. I may disappoint them both.

But oh well, right? We’ll figure it out. The dress is with a tailor. Amin’s cousin and sister have generously stepped in to help me with dupatta-shopping, so I’ll be in London and Houston over the next couple of weeks enjoying an impressive selection of South Asian goods, and Amin is going to get his outfit to me so I can drag it around with me and match it. We’re going to look awesome! Better than awesome. And since, bless him, he found an outfit which is also mostly white, it might even look like my white wedding dress was part of the plan all along. Fingers crossed.

Photo by: Hart & Sol Photo (APW Sponsor)

More in Latest in

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • vron

    Elisabeth – I ordered my dress on the internet and EVERYONE thought it was crazy! But on the day of they only mentioned how “perfect” it was. Eff them! Also do you think it’s an APW thing to refer to your wedding “outfit” rather than your wedding “dress?” It was definitely my style leading up to the day and I am going to interpret it as yet another way that APW reminds you to remember the forest over the trees. Thanks Meg!

    • meg

      I called it my wedding outfit too!!! Maybe it is an APW thing ;)

  • Megan (from Nova Scotia)

    Your plan for the wedding outfit is awesome, and you are going to be beautiful. So what if it’s a little unconventional? Keep being blendy ;)

  • Amy

    Oh, The Dress. I was so freaked out by the pressure to have The Moment When I Found The ONE that I almost refused to go wedding dress shopping in a store. I too, bought my $350 wedding dress online, ordered it smaller than I would have preferred, it came a week later and fit like a glove. (Like a really tight glove. Jogging, jogging, jogging.) I did eventually go try on dresses, but I couldn’t tell if I actually like the dress better at home, or if I just liked the experience of putting something on without the expectant smiles of 2 or 3 salesgirls. Either way, I still love my online dress. I feel like me. Not “bridal” or “most important day of my life,” but like me. I like not crying, not spending money and peeing by myself (it’s a tea length dress.) So there you go.
    I’m sure in a few years we’ll each laugh about our wedding outfit freak-outs, because that stress won’t last nearly as long as the marriage.

    • http://theroadto92912.blogspot.com Molly

      Peeing by oneself is a rarely discussed aspect of wedding dress shopping. Every bride-to-be has a list of qualities that she wants in a wedding dress. I firmly believe that “ability to sit on a toilet without helping hands” should be on the list.

      • http://www.3upadventures.com Beth

        I have recently realized that might be an issue with my dress. Not sure how I’m going to handle it considering that the friends I would be okay with helping me aren’t coming…

        • Denzi

          This may or may not work with your dress, but it’s worth doing a trial run (seriously! in your own bathroom at home! while you laugh your head off and/or cry because it’s a ridiculous thing to practice!) and try straddling the toilet backwards, i.e. facing toward the toilet tank. If you are wearing underwear, you will have to kick it off and then put it back on, but it means that any poof at your butt hangs off into the air instead of into the toilet, and any poof at your front you can hold up yourself while you go.

          • Elisabeth

            THIS is why this website is called A Practical Wedding. So that we get these sort of important tips.

            I am chortling just picturing this, but I think you may have a point, and I may have to test drive my dress. I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.

            Haha. I love you guys.

          • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

            THIS! This advice should come on a pretty, pink, scented piece of paper with every wedding dress ever sold.

      • http://turningtoward.blogspot.com Kara Haberstock

        Yes! I think that actually might be the first item on my checklist for dress shopping. Must be able to use the bathroom by myself. Also, nothing dragging on the ground because I almost guarantee I will trip on it. I’m hoping to find something very simple and un-fluffy. (I haven’t been dreaming of the dress since the age of four either.)

        And for the record, I think dress + dupatta sounds like an awesome idea. I wish you the best of luck, Elizabeth.

      • Kathleen M

        Haha, good criterion! However, I will say that one of the best moments of my wedding reception was when I got to be alone in the bathroom with my three best friends helping me pee, gross as it may sound. I reeeeally needed that few minutes of quiet and support.

        • Emily

          That thought had never crossed my mind until a few months before my wedding when my Maid of Honor said, “I can’t wait to be there to hold your dress up for you while you pee.” Luckily, my bridesmaids and I have all known each other since we were tiny, and have all seen each other in equally compromising situations. We just laughed and laughed through all of the potty breaks!

        • meg

          I was just going to say that. Peeing by myself was important for me, but my best times being a bridesmaid have been helping the bride pee. That makes for hilarious times, y’all.

      • Ashley

        Way to represent the “Pee” in APW!

    • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

      I also just came to the realization about peeing alone… I WISH WISH WISH that someone had given me a checklist with THAT on it instead of “feel like a princess” or “make your mother cry”.

      • Elisabeth

        Oh man. I totally had not considered this element, and I wish I had. I think my dress should be okay, but it’s definitely border-line.

        Oh well. Perhaps my sisters and I will be getting a lot friendlier than any of us wanted.

        • Another Meg

          This was actually one of the requirements for bridesmaids for me- someone I trust enough to say, “hey, come hold my dress up while I pee.”

        • http://meditatingontherain.wordpress.com aine

          I just took mine off altogether, we had a nice big bathroom to use, though.

    • katiebgood

      Peeing by myself was the one, single rule I walked into dress shopping (online) with. And it works!

  • Adi

    I think the white dress and the bling non-veil are going to be GORGEOUS. I’m actually having a hard time choosing a veil (we’re trimming it with the lace from my mom’s veil but still don’t know HOW) and now I kind of wish everyone hadn’t talked me out of MY Chinese dress and into a twelve hundred dollar budget-buster and basically, I am SO rooting for you. And a little jealous. <3

    • Elisabeth

      I think it’s amazing that you’re keeping the lace from your mom’s veil! And I’m sure your dress will look totally amazing. Maybe you can find another excuse to wear the chinese dress!

  • http://www.discoveredloves.blogspot.com Erin

    That picture is beautiful! I hope your dupatta looks like that! (or something else just as beautiful, I’m sure) :) Now I kind of want one…

    • Elisabeth

      I know, right? This photo is so lovely. I definitely hope mine turns out that well! We almost used a photo of me trying on dupattas and, let me tell you, it was not nearly as attractive.

  • Megan2

    “I have begun to feel as though the success of my marriage depends on my ability to be that perfect and gorgeous bride in the eyes of two very different cultures with two very different aesthetics. I may disappoint them both.”

    YES! Even though both my sides are still WASPy goodness, the pressure is still on … & only from myself.

  • http://www.breakingdownthebank.blogspot.com EmilyEF

    My first (and only, so far) dress fitting was a nightmare. There were so many things wrong with the dress (to my eyes), but somehow couldn’t get my feelings across to the tailor and sales girls. I still don’t feel happy with how I will look that day. However, what amazed me was how many stories about awful first fittings came out of the woodwork when I talked about how frustrating my experience was. I wish people had said that before I went to try on the dress!

  • JenMcC

    I love the idea of a dupatta non-veil, and I think it will look amazing. (In fact, I kind of want to steal the idea even though my fiance is not remotely South Asian.) I think what you’re doing sounds fabulous and you should feel great about it.

    Also, I would love to know where everyone is finding wedding dresses to buy online – because, so far, I am verrry much avoiding going to stores to try them on.

    • Elisabeth

      Okay, I got my dress at a place called Dresses Shop (yes, I know it sounds sketchy). You can find it here: http://www.dressesshop.com/.

      I’ll be honest, I had an amazing experience with them. I wrote them some questions about the dress and they responded within 24 hours. My dress was made, shipped, and arrived within a month and, though it was ginormous as I said, that’s because I ordered it a size up to ensure it wouldn’t be too small. The only caveat I would mention is that they wouldn’t let me ship the dress to a place different from my billing address, so that was a little frustrating (international wedding planning for the win!).

      That said, you might want to wait until my wedding pictures come out before you trust me on any of this!

    • katiebgood

      My dress came from Dillards and my MoH’s came from Macys and both were bridesmaids dresses! Don’t be afraid of department stores, you already know how their sizes work!

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Of all possible presumptuous questions related to wedding planning, I’ve found, “Do you have a dress?” to be less presumptuous than most. Obviously, you need clothes, so at least it’s not presuming about All. The. Things. Of course, you don’t need a dress or special clothes or new clothes. But if I were wearing clothes I already owned or didn’t want anything special, I’d be OK just telling the little old ladies at church that.

    The only thing I found presumptuous about their questions is they started a year before the wedding. That inspired the usual, “Am I doing something wrong? Am I supposed to care more?” uncertainties.

  • kckp

    I completely relate to your trepidation about South Asian clothes! I married an Indian guy, and I did wear an Indian outfit (a totally awesome red net lehenga choli) — but I basically had to take up fashion anthropology in order to figure out how to choose some freaking clothes. It was fun, but that can be high pressure too.

    Have you thought about going to a SA tailor while you’re in Edison/London/whatever and having them make you a dupatta that you’ll like? It would be pretty easy to pick out an embroidered/brocade border and have them put it on both the dupatta and the dress. Perhaps also some little blingy buttis so the body of the dupatta/dress isn’t empty. I know they can do this in India… seems like in the right neighborhood you could find someone to do that for you over here.

    • Elisabeth

      I love lehngas. They’re so swishy. I’m going to be wearing one at the walimah (the Pakistan party in December) and I am SO excited!

      And yeah, there are tailors around who (for a lot more money than you would spend in Pakistan or India) will craft a dupatta for you. Unfortunately, you need a pretty clear idea what you want in order to get that done. And I’m better at picking things off racks than designing them to taste. So that’s where my wonderful future sister-in-law is coming in. We’re getting all the relevant bits and bobs together and, with her expertise, will hopefully be able to design or discover the perfect thing with the right level of bling. Houston, apparently, has tons of South Asians, so that’s where I’m headed! Wish me luck!

      • http://threlkelded.net Emily

        You’ll probably be shopping in Little India, in which case, you must read this article:

        http://www.houstonpress.com/2011-05-26/restaurants/little-india/ :)

        • https://twitter.com/#!/marginfades @marginfades

          Enjoy your time in the Hillcroft/Harwin area, Elisabeth! It’s a treasure trove of South Asian clothing and food. I’m sure you’ll find the right dupatta there.

  • Abby J.

    Oooh! This, I can help with!!!

    I was struggling on how to blend my then-fiance (now husband)’s Anglo-Indian heritage with my own American-ness. I already knew I wanted to get mehndi on my hands but was unsure about how else to incorporate everything in my style. I knew from the beginning I wanted to wear a western style white dress. I even knew the details: I have always dreamed of a wedding dress a fabulous train. Then, I stumbled across a picture I randomly found on pinterest, with a bride wearing a red strapless wedding dress and a red bridal dupatta. I loved the idea so much I did something inspired by that picture with my own wedding attire.

    I ended up purchasing a traditional, lace-edged ivory mantilla veil, after not being able to find a workable white dupatta. It sits on ones head in much the same way as a dupatta but is rounded and not rectangular. Instead of wearing a tiara, I wore a maang tikka (dangling forehead jewelry) I DIY’ed to match the rest of my jewelry when I couldn’t find one I liked.

    Elizabeth, if you’d like to see that red dress+dupatta image I mentioned, or even my own wedding pics, let me know. I can also point you in the direction of the online dupatta retailers I looked at.

    • Fermi

      I want to see it! It sounds so pretty! :)

    • Elisabeth

      I definitely want to see it! It sounds totally gorgeous. And I would love it if you could point me to some online retailers.

      It makes me so happy how much knowledge this community has tucked away in various corners! And it makes me feel so much better to know how many people are out there doing stuff similar to what I’m trying to pull off!

      • Abby J.

        Here’s the link I found for the bride with the red dupatta:
        http://www-static.weddingbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/06/phoca-t01.jpg

        I found it on WeddingBee’s boards, back before I discovered APW, so I don’t know the original source.

        I’m uploading a private photobucket album for our pictures. We haven’t shared them online yet so I don’t want to pass on a public link, but please email me at ciarrann (at) yahoo (dot) com and I’ll send you a link to the album. I’m trying to pick out photos that really show the shape of my veil and how it worked.

        • https://twitter.com/#!/marginfades @marginfades

          I had a traditional South Asian wedding, but I’m sighing over all this brainstorming – wish APW had been around when I got married! I really wanted to do a lot of cross-cultural elements, like what’s being dreamed up here.

          So exciting!

          • https://twitter.com/#!/marginfades @marginfades

            Elisabeth – it may be difficult to purchase a dupatta (particularly one with a lot of zari/zardosi) by itself. You could always purchase the full lehnga/choli (or salwar-kameez) set, and keep it to change into for the reception, 1-year anniversary pictures, or another special occasion.

            You didn’t mention a specific dupatta color, but I’m imagining white because of your dress. Whatever you choose will be stunning – I can’t wait to see pictures! So excited for you, and all of this cross-cultural creativity! :)

    • meg

      DUDES. We all want to see it. Wordless Wedding?

  • KB

    “Although I know I should not give into the hype, I have begun to feel as though the success of my marriage depends on my ability to be that perfect and gorgeous bride in the eyes of two very different cultures with two very different aesthetics. I may disappoint them both.”

    I’ve had the SAME problem, albeit not with two very different cultures, but just one culture and my own weird brain. For months, I’ve been telling everyone that I just do not care about the dress. I think it’s ridiculous to spend a small fortune on a piece of clothing that is made up of enough fabric to cloth a small village – not to mention that that small fortune could also be going towards a lot more booze for our reception. I thought that I’d end up just getting the simplest, cheapest dress in the store, possibly through a sample sale, and be done with it.

    How wrong I was…I went dress shopping and I found out that the sexy-yet-simple look I was going for looked absolutely awful on me. I looked like the Pillsbury dough girl come to life – but with a row of rhinestones under the boobs. And even though I found a dress that is Maybe The One, I’m just SO disappointed because I subconsciously wanted that moment when you realize you have found The One True Dress of All Time. But then I realized that I was never the type of person to engage in that type of magical thinking – hell, it took me years to realize I should be dating my friend who is now my fiance :-) It would probably take twice as long to find the dress to marry him in!

    • Em

      I hear ya, sister! I really wanted to wear the dress my mom and HER mom wore, but it just doesn’t fit me right. So I went shopping with my mom and sister and tried on everything from from simple knee-length bridesmaid dresses to a swishy 3 grand concoction of chantilliy lace — and nothing felt quite right. I mean, of *course* it felt yummy in the expensive dresses– but it didn’t rise to a level of yumminess to justify that kind of money to me. I felt torn, and grumpy. Nothing felt right.

      The difference was that the last shop we visited does their own alterations in-house, and they had no judgement. After trying on dresses that cost more than my car, and after my sister was done trying on bridesmaid styles, I pulled a floor-length bridesmaid dress off the rack for her (in hunter green), and tried it on myself when she wasn’t interested. And bless the wonderful saleswoman in the store, she clamped it back with those enormous clips like it was any of the designer gowns I’d tried on earlier, and started explaining to me what they could (and couldn’t) do to add in some of the lacy elements I’d liked in the expensive dresses. And she threw on a sash and some keyhole straps, and plonked a veil on my head…..and it was just sort of quiety clear what I was gonna do. I needed her help to figure it out, but it’s exactly *me* — you can tell in the (admittedly hilarious pictures): I’m on a raised platform in a green dress (*not* ideal for my coloring) with a big poufy veil…and an enormous smile on my face.

      All of which is to say, hang in there! There are wonderful people out there who will help you figure out what you want in a way that feels right to you. And for me, quietly realizing what I want was the exact same thing as “the moment! (TM)” — it’s just about how I tell myself the story.

  • Teresa M

    Hi! You’re going to be ok. The whole process has been plagued by doubt for me. I have been a thus far 3 dress bride. When I was finally SURE about my choice, the fact that I’d sent my mom and FMIL waffely, uh is this the one?!?! emails before sent them into having strong opinions mode and they didn’t like it.

    They didn’t even read that the email said “This is my dress and I love it!.” So, if you have a vocal peanut gallery, just figure out how you feel before you tell other people about it. Except your Future Husband. He knows you don’t have to have it all together and the same secure position all the freaking time.

    Good luck!!

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    “And so, a month or two after our first conversation, when Amin asked me what my plans were for my clothing, I pointed him back to The Dress. And Amin, as it turned out, didn’t feel as strongly about this as I did. So I bought it.”

    I love this logic. This is how Bunny and I make so many of our decisions (wedding related and otherwise) when we can’t completely agree.

  • http://www.withbrio.com Leah K.

    I’ve just been lurking in the background, quietly devouring every post on APW that I can get my hands on… and then I read THIS post, and I had to say something because seriously, from the reactions I’ve been getting, I thought I was the only girl in the world to order a dress from some slightly-sketchy online-only, made-in-China vendor!!

    … case in point: Visa shut down my credit card after I bought the dress (apparently it was outside my normal purchasing pattern???) and when I called to explain that this was a legitimate purchase to the visa guy, his response was “ohhh, how nice, it’s a Chinese wedding!”… no, no Mr. Visa man, it’s not a Chinese wedding… it’s a Canadian-American-Mexican wedding with a SUPER affordable dress :P

    (which, by the way, arrived 15 days after I ordered it and fits like a glove… it’s being altered right now, but all said and done I think my total dress cost will be about $250!)

    So THANK YOU for sharing your story, and I can’t wait to see pictures of all the gorgeousness!! <3

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    I’m trying to navigate this myself. My fiance is Indian-American. I bought a white dress from J Crew, but am trying to find a way to surprise him with mehndi. I wasn’t planning to wear a veil, but now you’ve got me thinking about a dupatta. We do plan to have Indian food for the rehearsal dinner and ask everyone who has it to wear traditional Indian clothing.

  • Ecka

    I strongly recommend you talk to your fiance before buying a duputta to wear with a bridal dress.

    In Indian culture the duputta is the gift of the groom’s mother to the bride and there is a specific pre-wedding ceremony where the duputta is blessed and given to the bride to be with the bridal jewelry, the henna paste for the mehndi & so on. The gift is symbolic of the acceptance of the bride as being as her own daughter. You risk deeply offending his parents if you show up unexpectedly with a duputta you’ve purchased without telling them.

    • Elisabeth

      Hey! Thanks for the warning. This is the sort of pothole I’m always terrified of falling into. Luckily, my fiance is on board, well aware of my plans, and so is his mom, so I presume if there were a problem I would have heard about it by now. Perhaps this is a difference between Pakistani and Indian culture, perhaps this is a Muslim vs. Hindi thing, or maybe it’s just his family. That sounds like a lovely tradition, though!

      • Ecka

        If you’ve discussed it & they know your plans you’ll be fine (your original post said you were planning to surprise your fiance).

        The duputta (aka “chunni,” which is also what the ceremony is called) issue is a big one mostly for Punjabi Hindus & Sikhs, but other communities too (Pakistani Muslim tradition is a bit different, traditionally the entire valima outfit for a new bride is given by the groom’s parents).

      • luckyfatima

        I hate to say it, but , errr, I don’t think combining a red bridal dupatta with a white Western gown sounds like a good idea. It just wouldn’t look right. I also had the same thoughts: in the US, no one is going to sell you a bridal dupatta from a 3 piece outfit. (Maybe you could buy a whole used outfit on ebay and just use the dupatta.) Anyway, perhaps you will prove me wrong and make the combo work.

        A couple of things, ECKA is absolutely correct in her comments (it is not a Hindi, uh, scratch that, Hindu! vs. Muslim thing at all). His family should be guiding you and traditionally, they would be providing the dress for this function, and have several special ceremonies surrounding the outfit and the bridal dupatta. I am surprised that they haven’t had a dress made for you. The details will depend on what ethno-linguistic community he is from. Pakistan is not at all monolithic culturally speaking, and things vary greatly by ethnicity, so you will need guidance from his family and from people of the same ethnic background, not just from any random Pakistani, to know exactly what would be expected of you traditionally. Not that you have to follow that tradition, as your traditions deserve equal value and importance in your own wedding, of course.

        I saw in a comment above that you will be having a valimah. Why not just go for white-dress for the main ceremony, and desi duds for the valimah?

        I am also a white American Muslim and I got married in Karachi. I wore a rough cotton yellow shalwar qameez for the day I signed my nikah nama. (A special red dupatta was placed over my head for that.) My mom hosted an afternoon wedding luncheon and I wore a white dress on that way and my husband wore a suit. My dress was actually a white lehenga, but I felt I was honoring my U.S. tradition by wearing white. Then I wore a red dress to a combined rukhsatee/valeema (not traditional at all to combine the parties, but we were a mixed couple, not traditional.) Somewhere in between all of that, I had a mehndi party and wore the same rough cotton shalwar qameez, which is what was done traditionally, but these days many brides also wear expensive mehndi outfits, too. Just letting you know what I did so you can see how another person did the intercultural wedding thing.

        I wish you the best of luck on your planning!

  • Hannah

    I’ve actually been on the hunt for a dupatta as well. Just the dupatta and not the whole outfit and it’s proved extremely difficult. No one seems willing to just sell the dupatta on its own.

    Whyyy? I’m trying to offer them my hard earned money, please take it and sell me the dupatta!

    • Ecka

      Because if they sell you just the duputta from an outfit they can’t sell the rest of outfit to anyone else, no one will buy it without the duputta. Why should they then take a loss on it? Your options are to either have a duputta custom made or buy the entire outfit.

  • Andrea

    So, dupatta in the picture. Buy the outfit. Wear dupatta with white dress. Wear whole outfit to your Pakistani reception. Done ;)

    To make the look work, I recommend shoes/flowers/purse in the same shade as the dupatta, and stick to tints and shades, not bright fire-engine red, especially if you are blonde. Too much contrast. Ballet pink is nice, muted maroons (not big brash jewel tones), even a blue one – how about it for your something blue?

    EDIT: I got inspired and searched on eBay – found this interesting orange (!!!) one that I think would look lovely with a wedding dress: http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANTIQUE-ORANGE-BRIDAL-DUPATTA-WEDDING-LACE-WORK-VEIL-SCARF-FABRIC-STOLE-NET-/170880038842?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27c93e77ba – and if you got it and didn’t like it, you’re just out $13 plus shipping.

  • Pingback: Smalls Smalls » Lauren Silva Rhinestone Bra Strap Flower Link Style