- 6 min read

Ultimate Guide to Wedding Qipao: Everything You Need to Know

img of Ultimate Guide to Wedding Qipao: Everything You Need to Know


When it comes to traditional Chinese wedding attire, the qipao (also known as cheongsam) is an iconic choice for brides. This form-fitting dress, with its rich history and cultural significance, has become a symbol of elegance and beauty in modern Chinese weddings. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins of the wedding qipao, its evolution through the years, and the various styles, fabrics, and accessories that can help you create the perfect look for your special day.

The History and Cultural Significance of the Qipao

The qipao has its roots in the traditional clothing of the Manchu people, who ruled China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). The original qipao was a loose-fitting, long robe worn by both men and women. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the qipao began to evolve into the form-fitting, stylish dress we know today.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the qipao became a symbol of modern Chinese fashion, with celebrities and socialites embracing the sleek, figure-hugging design. The dress was often made from luxurious fabrics like silk and featured intricate embroidery, showcasing the wearer’s status and sophistication.

Today, the qipao remains an important part of Chinese culture and is often worn during special occasions, such as weddings, by both brides and guests. Wearing a qipao at a wedding is a way to honor one’s heritage and celebrate the beauty of traditional Chinese fashion.

Styles of Wedding Qipao

When choosing a wedding qipao, brides have a variety of styles to consider. Some popular options include:

1. Traditional Qipao

The traditional qipao is characterized by its high collar, form-fitting silhouette, and side slits. This style often features intricate embroidery or brocade fabric, showcasing traditional Chinese motifs such as dragons, phoenixes, or flowers. Traditional qipaos are typically made from silk or satin and come in a range of colors, with red being a popular choice for weddings.

2. Modern Qipao

Modern qipaos offer a contemporary twist on the traditional design. These dresses may feature lower necklines, cap sleeves, or even sleeveless designs. Some modern qipaos incorporate Western elements, such as lace or beading, to create a fusion of Eastern and Western fashion. Colors for modern qipaos can range from classic red to pastel shades or even bold, non-traditional hues.

3. Convertible Qipao

Convertible qipaos are a versatile option for brides who want to switch up their look throughout the wedding day. These dresses often feature detachable skirts or trains, allowing the bride to transform her outfit from a formal ceremony gown to a shorter, more dance-friendly reception dress.

4. Fusion Qipao

Fusion qipaos combine elements of the traditional qipao with Western wedding dress styles. For example, a fusion qipao might feature a mermaid silhouette or a sweetheart neckline. These dresses offer a unique blend of cultures and can be an excellent choice for brides who want to honor their Chinese heritage while incorporating modern Western fashion elements.

Fabrics for Wedding Qipao

The choice of fabric can greatly impact the overall look and feel of a wedding qipao. Some popular options include:

1. Silk

Silk is a traditional choice for qipaos, known for its luxurious sheen and smooth texture. Silk qipaos drape beautifully and can be lightweight and comfortable to wear. However, silk can be delicate and may require special care.

2. Satin

Satin is another popular choice for wedding qipaos, offering a similar glossy appearance to silk but with a slightly heavier weight. Satin is generally more affordable than silk and can be easier to care for.

3. Lace

Lace qipaos have become increasingly popular in recent years, adding a touch of romance and femininity to the traditional design. Lace can be incorporated as an overlay, appliqué, or as a main fabric for a modern, ethereal look.

4. Brocade

Brocade fabric features intricate woven designs and patterns, often with metallic threads for added shimmer. Brocade qipaos are typically more structured and can create a regal, opulent appearance.

Accessories for Wedding Qipao

To complete your wedding qipao look, consider these traditional and modern accessories:

1. Hair Accessories

Traditional Chinese hair accessories, such as gold or silver hairpins adorned with pearls or jade, can add a touch of elegance to your bridal look. Modern brides might opt for a more Western-style veil or headpiece that complements the qipao’s design.

2. Jewelry

Classic Chinese jewelry, such as gold or jade earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, can enhance the traditional aspects of your qipao. For a more contemporary look, consider simple, understated jewelry that won’t overwhelm the intricate details of the dress.

3. Shoes

When choosing shoes to pair with your wedding qipao, consider both comfort and style. Traditional Chinese embroidered shoes can be a beautiful and meaningful choice, while modern brides might prefer classic pumps or strappy sandals in a complementary color.

4. Clutch or Purse

A small, elegant clutch or purse can be a practical and stylish addition to your wedding qipao ensemble. Choose a design that complements the color and style of your dress, and consider incorporating traditional Chinese elements, such as a silk brocade or embroidered pattern.

Tips for Choosing and Wearing a Wedding Qipao

When selecting and wearing your wedding qipao, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Start shopping early to allow ample time for alterations and customization.
  2. Consider your body type and choose a qipao style that flatters your figure.
  3. Pay attention to the fabric quality and workmanship to ensure your qipao looks and feels luxurious.
  4. Schedule fittings with a professional tailor to achieve the perfect fit.
  5. Practice walking, sitting, and dancing in your qipao before the wedding day to ensure comfort and ease of movement.
  6. Choose accessories that complement your qipao without overwhelming the overall look.
  7. Consider incorporating a qipao into your pre-wedding events, such as your rehearsal dinner or bridal shower, for a cohesive bridal style.


The wedding qipao is a timeless and elegant choice for brides who want to celebrate their Chinese heritage and incorporate traditional elements into their wedding attire. With a wide range of styles, fabrics, and accessories available, there is a perfect qipao for every bride.

By understanding the history and cultural significance of the qipao, as well as the various design options and styling tips, you can create a stunning and memorable bridal look that honors your roots and showcases your personal style. Whether you choose a traditional silk qipao with intricate embroidery or a modern lace design with Western-inspired details, your wedding qipao will be a beautiful and meaningful addition to your special day.

The Best Wedding Content

Curated and delivered to your inbox. One weekly e-mail featuring the best content for couples and wedding professionals.

Subscribe Now