The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Qun Kwa for Your Chinese-American Wedding
Qun Kwa is a traditional Chinese wedding gown that is embroidered with gold and silver threads. There's been a recent trend where more and more Chinese-American brides are choosing to wear a Qun Kwa on their wedding day to honor their cultural roots. It's easy to get confused by the many different styles of Qun Kwas and not know how to choose the right one.
Don’t worry, we've got you covered! If you are thinking about wearing a Qun Kwa at your tea ceremony or Chinese wedding banquet, here’s everything you need to know when it comes to choosing the perfect Qun Kwa for yourself.
You can also book a virtual appointment with us to get all your Qun Kwa questions answered.
What is a Qun Kwa?
A Qun Kwa is a two-piece traditional Chinese wedding gown embellished with auspicious patterns and motifs such as dragons, phoenixes, peonies and more. Qun Kwa (“裙褂“）means “skirt and jacket” so a Qun Kwa outfit consists of two parts: the top is “Kwa”, a brocade jacket, and the bottom is “Qun”, a long skirt.
The most common color of a traditional Qun Kwa is red. In Chinese culture, people believe that red can keep the evil spirits away, so red is often used to bring good luck at celebratory occasions. On top of the red fabric, a Qun Kwa is then embroidered with gold and silver threads, adorned with colored sequins or beads.
Why Choose to Wear a Qun Kwa?
Qun Kwas are timeless Chinese wedding gowns that embody many beautiful Chinese traditions and meanings. In ancient times, the mother of the bride would make a Qun Kwa by hand for her daughter. Every stitch conveys infinite blessings to the bride.
In addition, a Qun Kwa is traditionally embroidered with motifs such as dragons and phoenixes (the yin and yang symbols of marriage) that bring auspicious meanings. Therefore, wearing a Qun Kwa is a symbol of a happy and fulfilling marriage.
Besides the cultural meaning, many Asian brides love Qun Kwas because of its loose fit and flexible design. Unlike other tight wedding dresses that might make you feel constricted, Qun Kwas are great for movements like kneeling down during the tea ceremony. With a more comfortable and less form-fitting design, it also looks good on a variety of body types.
How to Choose a Qun Kwa
Are you considering buying a Qun Kwa but don’t know how to choose the right one? What are all the different design options? Well, we have all the answers for you.
Even though Qun Kwa designs might all look very similar to you, there are a few key differences among the designs and styles:
Types of Qun Kwa Designs
In general, there are three popular types of Qun Kwa – the most traditional Dragon and Phoenix Kwa, the slim-fitting Xiaofengxian Kwa, and the trendy Xiuhefu. These three types of Qun Kwas have their own unique features and you could choose the one that suits your taste.
You can browse our collection of Qun Kwa designs here.
1. Dragon and Phoenix Kwa
The Dragon and Phoenix Kwa has a brocade jacket with a zip down and straight long skirt. It is embroidered with the pattern of both a dragon and phoenix with gold and silver threads. Dragon and Phoenix Kwas usually come with a mandarin collar, three-quarter sleeves, and very intricate embroideries.
2. Xiaofengxian Kwa
Compared with the Dragon and Phoenix Kwa, the Xiaofengxian Kwa has a simpler pattern and fewer embroideries. The cut of Xiaofengxian is slimmer and it complements the bride’s figure. Instead of a straight skirt and zip-down jacket, Xiaofengxian usually has an A-line skirt and asymmetrical jacket design.
In ancient times, when polygamy was widely accepted in China, Xiaofengxian Kwa was worn by mistresses, while the Dragon and Phoenix Kwa was worn by the first wife. Even though it’s totally acceptable to wear a Xiaofengxian kwa in modern times, for superstitious reasons, some people still prefer the Dragon and Phoenix Kwa over Xiaofengxian.
The third option of Qun Kwas is Xiuhefu, a new trendy option for Chinese brides. Xiuhefu has a similar loose design as the Dragon and Phoenix Kwa but it has full-length sleeves. Compared with the Dragon and Phoenix Kwa, Xiuhefu comes with various embroidered patterns such as flowers and Koi fish.
The Five Tiers of Qun Kwas
Besides the three types of Qun Kwa, there are five price tiers according to the density of the gold and silver embroideries on the gown.
Since complicated hand embroidery takes more effort, labor, and time to make, a Qun Kwa with a higher density of gold and silver threads is much more expensive.
Price from high to low:
- The Qun Kwa King - embroidery covers 100% of the fabric
- The Qun Kwa Queen - embroidery covers 80-90% of the fabric
- Big Five Fortune - embroidery covers 60-80% of the fabric
- Middle Five Fortune - embroidery covers 55-70% of the fabric
- Small Five Fortune - embroidery covers less than 50% of the fabric
The Meaning of the Patterns
When choosing a Qun Kwa, you can consider choosing one that has your preferred patterns with different auspicious meanings. Here are some pattern options and their meanings:
- Dragon and Phoenix: a representation of the Yin (bride) and Yang (groom) that means a long-lasting marriage.
- Pomegranate: it implies the blessing of many offspring.
- Peony: It has a symbolic meaning of prosperity and wealth.
- Koi: It implies a wish for abundance.
- Bats: The pronunciation of bat in Chinese is “fu”, same as the word “fortune”, so it has a lucky meaning.
- Rice ear: Since rice is the most important crop in China, it represents harvest and peace.
Tips for Qun Kwa Inspection
Since Qun Kwas are exquisite wedding gowns, you might need to look at it very carefully to ensure its quality and fitting.
1. Check the embroidering
One way to know if a Qun Kwa has high quality is to check the embroidering. Good embroidered patterns should be delicate and vivid.
2. Check the sequins
If your Qun Kwa is adorned with sequins, check if they are too loose and may easily come off from the dress. They should adhere to the Qun Kwa tightly.
3. Check the fitting
Most importantly, a good Qun Kwa should fit your body and make you feel comfortable.
The Dos and Don’ts
In addition to the tips for choosing the right Qun Kwa, you might also want to know about some superstitions. Here are the dos and don'ts when it comes to wearing a Qun Kwa:
1. Have your mom help you put on the Qun Kwa
It’s a tradition for your mom to put on the Qun Kwa for you as it symbolizes your mom passing down her blessings and fortune to you.
2. Put your hair up
Traditionally, the bride puts her hair up when wearing a Qun Kwa because it represents her becoming a married woman. To help you create a flawless wedding hair up-do, we have some gorgeous Chinese hairpins for you to choose from.
1. Do not try on the two pieces of Qun Kwa together
It is believed that the bride can only wear the Qun Kwa once. Wearing a Qun Kwa multiple times means getting married multiple times. Therefore when trying on your Qun Kwa, do not try on the whole set. Instead, try on the jacket and skirt separately.
2. Do not choose Qun Kwas with pockets
A traditional Qun Kwa typically doesn’t have any pockets because people believe that pockets signify taking away the wealth of the family. If you saw a Qun Kwa with pockets, it’s inauthentic and inauspicious.
We hope that our guide gave you a better understanding of how to go about choosing a Qun Kwa for your Chinese wedding!
Among these different Qun Kwa designs, styles, and patterns, which one is your favorite?
Want to consult with an expert stylist?
If you need more info and help choosing a Qun Kwa, book a virtual appointment with us and see our Qun Kwas up close and personal. Or take our Style Quiz to get our personal Qun Kwa recommendations based on your preferences.
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