Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The story of a qipao - part 1

I grew up in Hong Kong, so I still follow many Chinese traditions. I really wanted my culture to be represented at my wedding. One of the most common things for a bride to do in HK is to change into many different outfits during the reception, some as many as 5, 6 times. I decided to follow the idea (but not to the extreme) and wear a qipao, a traditional garment, at some point during my reception. I immediately looked to my mother for help, and looked through pictures of what she wore at her wedding. My mom actually wore a qua, which is most commonly worn during the wedding tea ceremony and looks like this:

My mom also changed into an evening dress. In fact, she still had both of these items stored in the house. Despite the fact that they were both not qipaos, I tried them on to see if I could incorporate either into my wedding. The answer was no, because the height difference between my mom and me made both outfits look far too short on me!

I shopped around in Boston and NYC in search of a qipao but choices were limited. Most had very similar patterns, and if you want anything slightly more unique, it would cost you much, much more. Luckily, my parents went on that aforementioned HK trip six months before my wedding. I saw that as the perfect opportunity to have a high quality and affordable qipao custom-made for me. I scoured the internet looking for measurement instructions and came across this helpful guide. Then I had my mom take all my measurements. Lastly, I gave her pictures of styles I preferred, especially one that my husband’s god sister wore for her wedding.

A month later, my parents came back from a very fruitful trip and in one of the suitcases laid an exquisitely crafted qipao. It turned out to be pretty expensive (though still less than if I had it made here in the U.S.), but the amount of handiwork is incredible and truly made it worth the price. There was so much beading all over the gown:

I was amazed that it fit almost perfectly since I was not there in person to be fitted. Full disclosure – my mom did end up altering the dress just a little bit the month before the wedding because I had lost some weight (blame it on stress!) and she also took the opportunity to make the slits on the sides not as high. I really loved wearing it for a portion of my wedding reception. I wore it for the bouquet toss and the father and daughter dance!

The qipao in action:

Photos above courtesy of Sun Photographics

Stay tuned for part 2 - the story of Emilie's qipao.


Samantha Shih said...

I'm totally on the fence about the qipao thing. Thanks for the post! You guys look so beautiful in your qipao!

Juliana Nguyen said...

Hiii =) I want to get my qipao custom made too.... i know what i want but i dont know where to get it done =( help!

Jolee said...

Would you mind sayinig approximately how much it is to get one custom made in HK and NYC? Thanks!

Pink Orchid Weddings said...

The qipao that was custom made in HK cost approximately $350 USD. From what I've heard in NYC, a custom made dress will start around $400+