The Chinese Wedding Dress
In Las Vegas we see cultures collide every day. Old customs meet new traditions by planning or by nature. The same can be said for Chinese weddings and the wedding dress in particular.
China is a centuries-old country steeped in tradition. The customs of its people have evolved over time, yet have the same basic foundations they once did.
Even though the white wedding dress is considered a Western tradition, the women of northern china have been wearing them long enough for historians to write about them. Traditionally this dress, or Qi Pao, is more of a frock decorated with elaborate gold and silver designs. Farther south a similar tradition involved a two piece dress. The bead work for both typically involved a phoenix and dragon.
Over the years these dresses became much more modern and even fashionable in the Western hemisphere for occasions other than weddings. The dresses became form fitting often with a high neckline.
A splash of red was often found in the veil. The Chinese veil held much of the same meaning as it does in western cultures. It kept the beauty and purity of the bride hidden from her groom until after the ceremony was complete.
After the ceremony brides often change to a more traditional dress. They would attend their reception after a tea ceremony in a long red dress. These silk dresses are often short sleeved or sleeveless and adorned with fantastic beadwork or other decorations. With the ceremony over, the dress is almost always form fitting to display the brides charm and special grace.
At the end of the reception the bride is required to see her guests off in a cocktail dress appropriately called a “Song Ke,” loosely translated “See Guests Off”.
Part of the beauty of American weddings is watching many cultures mix into one. Multi culture weddings are often the most exciting to attend. The guests often witness rituals they rarely see, like a bride changing her dress throughout the evening.