As Elegant As a Chinese Bride

One of the most prominent features of a Chinese wedding is the wedding dress. Traditionally the Chinese bride will wear three wedding dresses. The first is a traditional white dress with veil. This is worn during the wedding ceremony. The second wedding dress, a traditional Chinese wedding dress is worn throughout the banquet. The third is the bride's going away dress. She changes into this just before leaving the banquet.

Since red is the color of luck in Chinese culture, the traditional Chinese wedding dress for the bride is normally all red. Often the dress is embroidered with many designs made of gold or silver thread. The most typical designs on the dress are those of the dragon and phoenix, showing the union of male and female sides.

In ancient China, aside from the elaborate dress, much attention would be paid to the hair. Very complex headdresses would adorn the bride, often so heavy the bride could do nothing but bow her head and keep it steady. A veil would sometimes be present, either strings of beads or a solid piece of fabric covering the face.

In more modern Chinese weddings these days, it is not unusual to find Chinese women dressed in a traditional Western white gown. Though the color white is associated with death, the acceptance of this practice shows the growing influence of other cultures on the Chinese. During a modern wedding ceremony, it is not uncommon for the bride to change her outfit three or more times during the night. The more dresses, the more prominent the family. Most of the dresses worn these days arise from the Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China and are called Qi Pao.

Interestingly enough, the men, while still dressing formally and more decorative than normal, would not wear red. Men are more commonly in the normal black or grays, or dressed in their formal station clothing. This is very much like Western cultures in that aspect.