In China, the style of ceremony dress varies from region to region, but typically, the bride's gown is red and features an embroidered phoenix, the female half of the traditional symbol for bride and groom. For a northern Chinese bride, the wedding dress is generally a long, form-fitting, one-piece gown called a qipao or cheongsam. In Southern China, the wedding dress (hung kwa) is often two pieces: a long, decorative jacket over a long, embroidered skirt. Today, many brides tend to skip the traditional jacket over their dress, and expand the color palette to blue with black embroidery or gold with white embroidery.
In the most elaborate of affairs, the bride may also wear a tiara-like accessory made of gilded silver and decorated with feathers and pearls to represent the phoenix. Traditionally it features a red silk cloth to veil the bride's face as she makes the transition from her family's home to her husband's. Because it is usually very heavy, modern brides may wear it only for a short portion of the wedding day for show and photos.
[ TREND ALERT ]
Not wearing a qipao? Wear red shoes with your white wedding gown to show off your heritage.
Not planning to wear a qipao
? Wear red shoes with your white wedding gown to show off your heritage.
The groom's attire is not as complicated or as elaborate as the bride's. Usually he wears a black silk coat over a dark blue robe embroidered with a dragon. The traditional cap is black with red tassels. However, many contemporary Chinese-American grooms skip the coat and just wear the dark blue robe.
[ TREND ALERT ] Take a cue from the bride. If she's wearing a qipao, keep the balance by wearing a traditional robe. When she changes into her reception dress, that's your cue to change into a tux or a suit and tie, depending on the formality of your wedding.
Brides may choose to have their bridesmaids wear a contemporary style of dress or follow suit with the bride and don traditional cheongsams in an array colors.
[ TREND ALERT ] For a formal wedding, choose form-fitting, black, one-piece cheongsams for your maids. Springtime preppy more your style? Look for strapless, pale pink cocktail dresses and give each maid an orchid for her hair.
Nowadays, groomsmen generally wear tuxes, even if the groom wears a robe for the ceremony. But for the traditional couple, you may want to have your groomsmen in traditional robes for the tea ceremony. Robes come in a number of colors -- for formality, go for all gold robes with blue lining or light blue robes with dark blue lining. The guys can then change back into their tuxes or suits and ties for the reception.
[ TREND ALERT ] Sticking with the Western garb for guys? Have each groomsmen wear burgundy or white orchid boutonnieres.
Guests should dress according to the formality of your event. If you're getting calls from guests who aren't sure what to wear, enlist a helpful attendant to spread the word about the dress code.
[ TREND ALERT ] Don't stop with your bridal party when it comes to flowers. Honor your parents and grandparents with special corsages and boutonnieres made of plum, lotus, or orange blossoms.
Check out some of our favorite Qipao from real brides!
-- Anja Winikka