For anyone who’s been to a Chinese wedding, you’ll know that there are certain traditions and rules that everyone, including the guests, needs to follow. As a wedding guest, what you wear to a Chinese wedding is very important. Here are 9 unspoken rules of what to wear to a Chinese wedding. You can thank us later!
1. Don’t wear red
Chinese brides usually wear red on their big day, so wearing red as a guest will be considered impolite. After all, you don’t want to look as if you are trying to upstage the bride! Choose a different, more subtle color for your dress, or shirt if you are a man. You really don't want to be known as the guest who tried to compete with the attention of the bride!
2. Wear warm tones, if you can
Purple, pink, and peach all symbolize new life and happiness in Chinese culture, so wearing these colors indicates that you are supportive of the marriage, and also helps to bring good luck and happiness to the new couple. These are also good color choices because they tend to be flattering on many different skin tones and hair colors, and can work in almost all seasons. Wearing yellow or orange is also considered acceptable.
3. Avoid wearing too much black or white
Both white and black symbolize mourning and death in Chinese culture. Wearing these colors to a wedding could bring bad luck to the couple, and is just considered impolite, so they should be avoided. However, you can get away with wearing black or white accents on your dress, especially if the couple is modern or easy going.
4. You can include festive accents, as long as they fit the dress code
Little touches of gold, which is a popular color in Chinese culture, can really spice up your look without breaking the dress code. You can also include little touches in your outfit that are inspired by Chinese culture, like a mandarin collar on your dress. Especially if you are going to a wedding of a Chinese couple that is held in another country, or aren’t both Chinese, this can show the couple that you respect their culture and that you are excited for their marriage. However, overdoing the oriental accents in your outfit could look like you are trying too hard.
5. Dress length depends on the specific wedding
While there are aspects of a Chinese wedding that are very traditional, brides still like to make their wedding celebration their own. Generally, you should check with the couple, if you can, to see how formal they want the wedding to be before you buy your dress or suit. Unless the invitation specifically indicates that it is a very formal event, above the knee is your best bet for skirt length. If the wedding is very traditional, you'll need to double check with the bridal party for specific guidelines.
6. Keep it classy!
Short dresses should still cover everything - being too flashy or too exposed can be considered impolite, just as they would at most weddings around the world, not just in Chinese culture. And even if the wedding isn’t particularly formal, you should still make an effort to look nice.
7. Wear something that represents you well
Especially if you are attending a wedding where you don’t know very many people, you should really consider what your outfit is saying about you. In traditional Chinese culture, the way you present yourself could have an impact on your family’s honor. Even though many families are more relaxed now, you’ll still want to consider how to best represent you. This means that you should stay away from neons, overly flashy silhouettes or detailing that may be perceived as trashy. Chinese tradition is still considered more on the conservative side.
8. Separates are just as acceptable as dresses
Some Chinese weddings are not nearly as formal as western weddings, and it’s usually totally appropriate to wear a skirt and a blouse instead of a dress, especially if you feel like you would be more comfortable in it. At some Chinese weddings, you will stick out more if you dress too formally than if you don’t dress up at all. Of course, this varies with each wedding so it’s best to double check with the bride and groom, or with someone who is closer to the bridal party.
9. Make sure your dress stretches!
Chinese weddings are known for their incredible food, and you’ll be expected to at least try every course. If you wear something that’s too tight around the midsection, you may be regretting it by the end of the night! Drapey fabrics are an awesome choice, because they are not only elegant, but they cover up problem areas without restricting your movement.