The Traditional Chinese Wedding Qun Kua


Timeless and elegant, the traditional chinese wedding kua is a popular choice amongst couples these days. In this article we tackle everything you need to know about this traditional garment – the significance, how to dress in one and where to shop.

What is the Traditional Chinese Qun Kua (裙褂)?

The traditional Chinese wedding ceremonial garb is known as the Qun Kua (裙褂). Unlike the white bridal gown, which follows fashion trends, the Chinese Qun Kua is timeless.

The Qun Kua is a two-piece jacket and skirt combo that is commonly found in red. Historically, it is made with silk but modern ukase are made with acetate satin to retain the red lustre over time. The Qun Kua (裙褂) is heavily adorned with gold and thread embroidered auspicious motifs symbolising blessings for the couple.

The Traditional Designs of A Qun Kua

The motif of a dragon and phoenix are essential to the traditionalist as the former represent masculinity and the latter feminine beauty. Both are required to symbolise the perfect union (Yin and Yang 阴阳). Other motifs like bats, clouds, goldfish, ducks and peonies are also auspicious symbols commonly seen on the Qun Kua.

There are distinct features between the kua. The Dragon Phoenix Kua (龍鳳褂) was historically worn by the first wives. It has a zipped jacket with a looser fit and a straight skirt. The Xiao Fengxian Kua (小鳳仙) has a more tapered waist and an A-line skirt was historically worn by concubines and mistresses. In modern times, these rules are less austere. Both sleeves are three quarter lengths to display the gold bangles that would traditionally be gifted to the bride by her family and in-laws. The loose skirt symbolises fertility which is why it cannot be substituted with a trouser.

The hem of the jacket is usually straight, symbolising a stable marriage, although occasionally one may spot a scalloped hem. To avoid bad luck, the outfit does not have pockets.

Dragon Phoenix Kua (龍鳳褂) | Source: Mint and Blush Rustic Garden Wedding in Cameron Highlands
Xiao Fengxian Kua (小鳳仙) Source: Chien Wei and Wun Han’s Enchanted Wedding at Saujana KL

Why You Should Wear a Qun Kua (裙褂)?

The Qun Kua is not to be confused with the QiPao (旗袍), known also as Cheongsam. The Qun Kua can only be worn by a bride during a wedding whilst the Qipao is a figure hugging one-piece that can be worn anytime. The designs of the Qipao can be unorthodox but the designs on the Qun Kua is non-malleable. Because of this, more modern brides are leaning towards the Qun Kua due to its austerity and rich heritage, an homage to their Chinese culture. Since the Kua has such rich traditions, many brides wear it during the Chinese Tea ceremony. The skirt is loose which makes it easier to kneel during the ceremony. The cutting is more forgiving and fits every body type and size well.

What Do I Need To Know When Shopping For A Qun Kua?

You’re probably wondering if this section is even necessary. Superstition mandates that when trying on a Qun Kua, a bride-to be have to try the jacket and skirt separately and avoid putting both on at the same time. She should only wear the complete Qun Kua once on her wedding day to signify that she will only ever be married once. If you’re planning to customise one, remember to shop more than 6 months in advance as the dress-making process is complicated.

How to Wear The Qun Kua?

The Qun Kua shouldn’t be too loose or too tight but tapered to accentuate the waist. The sleeves should be three quarter in length to reveal the wrist and hands.

#01 Hair and Accessories

An updo hairstyle shows off the neckline and the intricate embroidery. Remember that the Qun Kua is very elaborate, with beading and embroidery. Hence, there is no need to go overboard with the accessories. The bride is usually gifted with gold jewellery during the tea ceremony therefore you can forgo jewellery over the neck and wrist. Wear a simple earring and concentrate your jewellery on hairpieces instead.

#02 Veil (头纱)

The Chinese bridal veil is a 90x90cm square cloth typically made with silk. The bridal veil is removed by the groom in the bride’s chambers and symbolises a proclamation of the marriage vows. These days the veil comes in difference materials like organza.

Source: A Traditional Chinese Wedding at The Blue Mansion Penang

#03 Shoes

A traditional covered shoe with matching embroidery completes the look. However, the Qun Kua can be easily paired with simple neutral coloured heels as well.

#04 Undergarment

If you’re planning to go all out, a red silk undergarment is essential to complete the whole look.

#05 Belt

Traditionally, two pieces of similar vertical brocade are sewn at the front of the dress, these are known as the “children and grandchildren belts”, which symbolises fertility and future offsprings. Again, many modern brides make do without them.

The Qun Kua is a piece of art. The dragon and phoenix embroidery is done by hand and the look seamless. If you are planning on getting one custom made, bear in mind that it may take up to six months to complete. Alternatively, you could rent the whole garment along with the accessories needed.

Where To Shop

Ready to embrace the traditional Chinese wedding custom? Planning to rent a kua or make a purchase? Read on where to shop for you and your groom next.

READ NEXT: 9 Places to Buy or Rent Your Chinese Wedding Kua

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