Chinese Wedding Dress Etiquette

by Andrea Nicole

Chinese brides traditionally have three different dresses for the day, including a white gown.

beautiful bride image by chinatiger from Fotolia.com

In Chinese culture, marriage is a very important and significant life event for both the bride and the groom, as well as their families. There are many customs involved in a traditional Chinese wedding and specific etiquette regarding the attire worn. Colors are significant, especially the lucky color red. Modern Chinese brides often choose to incorporate some or all of these traditions, including attire, to honor their culture and highlight the importance of the wedding for bringing two families together.

Bride: Wedding Ceremony

Chinese brides traditionally have three different dresses for their wedding. A white, western-style dress and a veil are worn for the ceremony. Before she is dressed, she will have a bath in pomelo-infused water, which is believed to cleanse her of bad influences.

Bride: Wedding Reception

Chinese brides wear a traditional dress for the tea ceremony and wedding banquet, and the style varies depending on what part of China her family is from. Northern brides wear long, one-piece gowns, which are known as cheongsam. Southern Chinese brides wear a two-piece hung kwa, consisting of a jacket and long skirt. These dresses are typically red, which is a symbol of both love and prosperity. The dress is never black, blue or gray, which could be bad luck for the couple.

Traditional dresses have detailed embroidery in gold and silver thread and may include a phoenix, which is symbolic for the female half of the male/female power balance. If the bride's family is very wealthy, she may have even more dresses to change into throughout the banquet. The bride may also wear an elaborate headdress to match her gown.

Bride: Going Away Dress

The bride wears a third dress for leaving the wedding reception. This is usually a cocktail dress, which is called a song ke, which means "see the guests off."

Groom

Chinese grooms wear the traditional costume of a long black silk coat over a dark blue robe (or just the robe) and a black cap with red tassels. The robe usually includes a dragon, which is symbolic for the male half of the male/female power balance. The groom's parents traditionally dress him at the start of the day. For the reception, the groom changes into a tuxedo or dark suit. The groom should always wear traditional garb when the bride does.

Bridal Party

The modern bride may choose to have her bridesmaids wear either cocktail dresses or longer gowns, or the traditional Chinese cheongsams. The groomsmen wear tuxedos or dark suits for the ceremony and reception, though they may wear traditional robes in colors such as gold or light blue for the tea ceremony.

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About the Author

Andrea Nicole has 15 years of writing experience and has written for The Age online in Australia. Her primary areas of expertise are marketing communications and travel. Nicole holds a master's degree in media and communications from Swinburne University of Technology as well as a Bachelor of Science in communications and sociology from the University of Miami.