The history of wedding dresses in Srilanka

Wedding dresses of past decades in Sri Lanka

According to the dramatic changes of the fashion designing industry, the styles/designs of the wedding dresses are updating time to time frequently. Even though, we live in a different fashion era with the new trends, technology and demands, the past fashions have had an impact on the present day outfits as well. For the reason that, the fashion is an ongoing circle and it is adopting the previous designs and trends. Rapid search engines of internet, Social media, Novel fabrics and technologies, 3D printing and consumer behaviors have led to a vibrant fashion world and it is same as in the wedding dress designs around the world.

Influenced by Castes

Due to the rules and regulations of castes, Occupations and nationalities of past decades there were different types of wedding costumes/outfits in Sri Lanka. Being a colony of Portuguese, Holland and Britain has influenced the designs, styles of usual and occasional outfits of locals. According to the past documentaries, images and memories of the old people, there were several types of wedding outfits in the country.


Around last century in Sri Lanka, the castes and religions have had a major impact on wedding outfits.” Radala, Goyigama, Salagama, Durawa, Karawa” were the main casts of Highlands and southwestern of Sinhala, Buddhist people. Therefore, their costumes have made to suit their rules and believes.

Wedding dresses of past decades in Sri Lanka
Wedding dresses of past decades in Sri Lanka


The Tamil cast system has solider religious ties than its Sinhalese equivalent, same as Sinhalese there were casts according to Northern and Eastern societies as well as Agricultural and seaside societies. “Vellalar, Pallar, Nalavar, Koviar in Northern part , “Karayiyas, Thimilar, Paravar, Mukkuvars” in Coastal communities were the main Tamil castes but there were many more castes according to their occupations as well.

The following images will show the way they have used to prepare their outfits.

Old Tamil wedding dresses
Tamil Wedding Dresses


The Sri Lankan Muslims (Moors) adopted the customs of Arab and the language of Tamil according to their ancestors. There were no castes among the Sri Lankan Moors but different types of nationalities and habitats have influenced their costumes, outfits during the past decades.

Muslim wedding dresses
Muslim’s wedding dresses


Burghers (A Sri Lankan minor nationality formed by blending with Portuguese, Dutch and British immigrants in the past). There were no castes among the Burghers but their dress patterns and designs have influenced by other reasons such as British/Dutch influences.

Weddings Of Burghers in Srilanka
Weddings Of Burghers in Srilanka

Main influences for the changes of wedding dresses and costumes in Sri Lanka

Adoptions of other nations and religions (British, Dutch, Portuguese and their religion such as Roman Catholicism/ Cristian)

In time to time, there are different type of customs, believes which lead to amend the style of the wedding dresses. For instance, the Burgher people are following western style same as Europe countries. As a result of that, some Sinhalese people would like to add a color for their occasion by wearing western style bridal gown as “Going away dress”.

Changes of the technologies and Novel fabrics

The methods that preparing the material/fabrics have improved in many ways such as synthetic silk material by using new technologies and machineries. There are a different types of novel fabrics which import from another countries as well.



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