Indian bride and groom in mint green wedding outfits

Why You Shouldn’t Go To India To Buy Your Wedding Clothes (And 5 Places To Go To Instead)

Ever seen an episode of TLC’s “Say Yes To The Dress?” It used to be a guilty pleasure of mine before Bravo upped their game (I know you’re as obsessed with the  Real Housewives as much as I am). I lived vicariously through each excited bride that walked into the impressive Kleinfeld’s in NYC, a boutique that seems to positively overflow with gorgeous wedding gowns. I’m gonna be honest here, I got *way* too invested in each bride’s storyline. That neckline is *not* working on you. YAS go for the Pnina Tornai! Who CARES if your friends don’t like it, you better say yes to that dress! Inevitably I’d end the show with a sappy smile on my face as the sales associates delicately placed tiaras and veils on each bride-to-be while everyone’s eyes filled with tears, mine included (it gets me every. Damn. Time.) When I eventually got engaged many years after my “Say Yes To The Dress” obsession had died down, I realized that there were certain TV show truths that were lies in the world of South Asian weddings. First, I’ve YET to hear of an Indian mom getting teary eyed at the sight of her daughter in a lehnga. We’re used to healthy helpings of parental skepticism and criticism, and YES that even applies to shopping for our wedding outfits. Second, we have no equivalent to the Kleinfeld’s showroom in NYC. There is no beautifully bedecked boutique with wedding gowns to fit a range of tastes, prices, and sizes with kind and dedicated staff to boot. Definitely not in our hometowns, and certainly not in the bustling streets of NYC. No, what we get instead of a weekend trip to New York and the excitement of walking into Kleinfeld’s is a flight to India and the curiosity of what stores we’ll find when we land.

I don’t know about any of you, but I was thrust back into that teen angst type of anger at the wedding industry when it came time to shop for my wedding outfits. You’re telling me that I have to find the time to fly to India, with no earthly idea on what stores to shop at, and *hope* that I’ll find something in the limited time I have to spend there? On top of that, cross my fingers that the alterations go well and that every single outfit will get shipped back to the US on time. Talk about a risky – and EXPENSIVE – purchase. Let’s also not forget the stereotypical shopping experience in India, where you tell the staff that you’re looking for a peach lehnga and instead they bring out a purple one instead. So what’s a bride to do? How about – wait for it – you DON’T go to India…and travel somewhere close by instead? Where your travel time (and expense) is cut in half and you already know what stores to go to and what to expect? Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Here are 5 places that you can visit in lieu of a trip back to the motherland.

Surrey, British Columbia

Surrey is located just outside of Vancouver and has a healthy concentration of Indian restaurants, grocery stores, clothing boutiques, and jewelry stores. As a matter of fact, it’s like a little piece of Punjab right on the Pacific coast. A lot of Indian stores are in one convenient location – the Payal Business Centre. Looking for a dholki for your mehndi? How about some fabric for head coverings or safas? And the main event, you and your partner’s wedding outfits and jewelry? You can literally find all of those things in one shopping center. Check out our Surrey shopping guide to see specific boutique recommendations. I’m biased in favor of Surrey because I had an amazing time shopping there for my wedding outfits. I didn’t know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of boutiques there and the quality of their clothes. The best part was that I found my wedding lehnga at the first store that we went to, Made in India. And a bonus was that my family and I also got to spend some time in Vancouver eating incredible food and doing some sightseeing. https://www.instagram.com/p/B7L0my4lJMS/

Toronto, Ontario

Toronto isn’t just the home of the Raptors and Drake, it’s also another unexpected spot to do some serious wedding shopping at places like Sia Importer. Heard of the cutting edge South Asian designer Mani Jassal? Check out her boutique in the city’s Yorkville neighborhood. Oh, and be sure to follow it up with some delicious baked goods from Mani’s sister Simmy, a French-trained pastry chef and owner of the bakery Wake and Bake. https://www.instagram.com/p/B8MBb_LAvdg/ If you’re searching for a convenient one-stop location to do the bulk of your wedding shopping, you’ll want to visit Little India on Gerrard Street, home to boutiques like Chandan Fashion (who, by the way, has a KILLER in-store Black Friday sale). You may also want to venture to the neighboring areas to find some more boutiques with quality clothes and jewelry, like Sahiba Fashions in Brampton, Amara Couture in Etobicoke, and Rano Boutique in Woodbridge (all available by appointment). https://www.instagram.com/p/B5ZPHuelcmL/

Fremont, California

Anyone up for a trip to sunny California? Fremont is a well-known locale to get your wedding shopping done. Surrey-based Wellgroomed has a second location in Fremont, so you don’t even have to leave the country to experience their beautiful ready-made options or talk one-on-one with staff about custom work. VAMA Designs is another well-known boutique with high quality designs. And a bride favorite, Evotique, also calls Fremont home. https://www.instagram.com/p/B7prgkNFGDn/

New York

A Kleinfeld’s visit may not be in the cards for you, but don’t cross New York off of your list just yet. Canada-based Crossover Bollywood Se only recently opened up their New York location (score!). And you can also check out popular designs from Harleen Kaur, Holi Chic, and Terra Inde. Another favorite store is less than an hour away in Piscataway, NJ, and that’s Sajda by Suman. Round out your trip with a visit to Broadway and a pasta binge at Eataly (I know, I’m SUCH a tourist) and you can chalk your shopping trip up to a NY success. https://www.instagram.com/p/B4xrr0slsVG/

Online

Okay so this last option isn’t technically a ‘place,’ but it’s the perfect solution for those of us who don’t have the time, energy, or extra money for a flight to find wedding outfits. And it doesn’t get easier than picking out your outfits from the comfort of your couch with a glass of red wine in hand. Thankfully a lot of designers and boutique owners recognize the need to accommodate long-distance shoppers and you’ll find that a lot of them, including those named above, can help you out via FaceTime, Skype, and even Whatsapp. Thank you, technology! A few of our favorites are the size-inclusive Anis Collections in Maryland, Sani in North Carolina, Bisou NYC, and Instagram-based Luxie Couture, Poonam’s Kaurture, and Zardozi Couture. And not only can you visit California-based Evotique in person, but it’s also a bride favorite for long-distance purchases for clothing AND jewelry. And how ’bout some high-fashion looks for the fellas? PA-based Rivesse is perfect for them. https://www.instagram.com/p/B6rzN7iJVIt/ Have you discovered any other sweet spots for wedding shopping? Share for our other readers and brides-to-be in the comments below!

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Raj Desai

Founder & Chief Visionary, proud fur mom of 2, amateur artist, Netflix binger, wino, and chocolate addict.

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