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Our 101 Guide to the

Chinese Wedding Dress

Celebrate your culture in style. Discover the Chinese wedding dress right for you with our Style Quiz. 

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The Story Behind Cheongsams

The cheongsam (or qipao) originated nearly a century ago in Shanghai as a modern take on the Manchu dress, and remains one of the most iconic pieces of Chinese fashion.  If you're getting married and looking to honor your own or fiancé's Chinese heritage, then the cheongsam can be the perfect addition to your wedding.

Traditional cheongsams

If you’re a fan of tradition, a Chinese wedding dress like our Gemma dress offers the same look and feel you would have seen on the streets of Hong Kong in the 1950s. Its beautiful red brocade fabric is striking and familiar, giving off an elegant vibe. Make it your own by customizing it with your preferred fabric pattern.

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Mermaid styles

Mermaid-style dresses are popular in Western weddings and blend the best of both cultures. Red cheongsams like our Vera Dress combines the traditional mandarin collar and form-fitting top with a flowing skirt for a freeing update on the classic silhouette.

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Modern cheongsams

If you’re a fan of the details like the mandarin collar but want your own spin on it, consider our modern styles. Our Marilyn Dress offers a similar upper structure, but with softer details like floral embroidery and comes in a variety of colors like wine red or white.

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Common Questions about Chinese Wedding Dresses

  • What do Chinese brides wear for their wedding?

    At most Chinese weddings, the bride wears a cheongsam or qipao. Brides with backgrounds from Southern China may prefer to wear a two-piece dress named Qun Kwa (裙褂). Both dresses are typically red and often elaborately adorned with gold dragon and phoenix symbols.
  • What’s the difference between qipao and cheongsam?

    The term “cheongsam” originated in the south while "qipao" is primarily used in the north. It’s largely a linguistic difference, with cheongsam representing the English version of the Cantonese cheuhngsaam, which literally means long dress. Both describe the traditional Chinese one- or two-piece form-fitting dresses made of fine silk and feature a mandarin collar.
  • What are the traditional elements of a Chinese wedding dress?

    1. The material

    Qipaos can be made of many different materials, but the traditional ones are typically made of brocade or silk fabric decorated with embroidery on top. Often, the embroidery features floral designs, a phoenix and/or dragon. In Chinese culture, the dragon and phoenix together symbolizes good luck and a harmonious marriage.

    2. Color

    There is no one color associated with qipaos, but for Chinese weddings, red is the way to go. Red in Chinese culture symbolizes everything you could ever want - good luck, happiness, and joy. That’s why the envelopes you get for Chinese New Year is also red. Brides, therefore, also wear red during their weddings for good fortune.

    3. Mandarin collar

    The most iconic part of any qipao. The mandarin collar was popularized after the Manchurians overthrew China’s current ruling dynasty to form the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century. The collar was one of the traditional features on the Manchu gowns.It is an unfolded, upright collar that goes around the neck and typically is two to five centimeters in height. For comfort, most are around 3-4cm.

    4. Pankou Knots

    Pankou is the Chinese name for the traditional knotted buttons used on qipaos. They are also often called frog fasteners. Traditionally, they come in various animal and floral designs and are made of silk or satin wrapped around a stiffening material such as copper to help hold its shape.

  • Should I wear a cheongsam at my wedding?

    Many modern Chinese brides choose to wear a cheongsam for at least part of their wedding. If you have the flexibility of changing into different outfits throughout your wedding festivities, then wearing a cheongsam is a gorgeous way to add a little Chinese flair to your bridal look. It’s not uncommon to see a modern bride walk down the aisle in a white wedding dress, then appear at the reception in a red cheongsam. The classic dress also provides practical aspects for the bride. Though form fitting, it’s comfortable to wear and makes it easy to dance, walk, and kneel (perfect if you’re having a traditional tea ceremony).
  • What makes East Meets Dress different?

    While planning my wedding, I struggled to find cheongsam outfits that were designed with the modern woman in mind. The choices seemed to be dealing with sketchy sellers on Alibaba or impatient grannies in Chinatown. That’s why my Maid of Honor and I decided to start East Meets Dress. We make it easy for you to find a dress you love, with free shipping and customer stylists to help. Our dresses can also be custom sized, so whether you're curvy or petite, there's a dress for you.
  • Which Chinese wedding dress style is right for me?

    Read about the different styles, and then take our Style Quiz to find the style that's right for you. Take our quiz ->

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