Can You Wear Red to a Chinese Wedding? The Complete Guide

Last Updated on June 23, 2024 by Jo

Can you wear red to a Chinese wedding?

Chinese weddings are steeped in tradition and rich symbolism.

From the colors worn by the bride and groom to the number of courses served at the reception, every detail carries meaning.

So what about guests?

What colors should they wear and avoid?

Read on to learn the dos and don’ts of wedding guest attire, including whether or not wearing red to a Chinese wedding is taboo.

Is Wearing Red to a Chinese Wedding Taboo?

Chinese Wedding
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In Chinese culture, red symbolizes luck and festivity. However, at weddings, red is traditionally reserved for the bride. Wearing a red dress or outfit as a guest is seen as rude and disrespectful, as it draws attention away from the bride. While Chinese weddings today tend to be less traditional, it’s still best to avoid wearing solid red if you will be attending one. Save that red dress for another occasion. Opt for safer colors like blues, greens, purples, or lighter pinks and pastels instead.

The Significance of Red in Chinese Culture

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In Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes luck, joy, and happiness. Red is prevalent during Chinese New Year celebrations and weddings. Red lanterns, clothing, and envelopes containing money are given as gifts. The vibrant hue signifies vitality, celebration, and prosperity. Red is also considered protective. However, despite its positive connotations, red is seen as the bride’s color on her wedding day. Wearing red would divert attention away from her. For guests, opting for a different festive color shows respect.

Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress Colors

Wedding: Image 3
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In Chinese weddings, the bride traditionally wears a red qipao dress. This vibrant red symbolizes luck and joy for the bride’s future. However, Chinese brides also wear dresses in other auspicious colors like gold, yellow, orange, pink, or blue. Gold or yellow represents royalty and wealth. Orange symbolizes happiness and prosperity. Pink conveys new beginnings and blue stands for harmony. While red is avoided by wedding guests, other festive colors like pink or gold are suitable. The color palette at Chinese weddings is filled with symbolic hues, representing the couple’s bright future together.

Modern Interpretations of Wearing Red to Chinese Weddings

Wedding: Image 4
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Nowadays, the traditional Chinese wedding color rules have been relaxed. While the bride still wears red, it’s become more acceptable for guests to wear red too. Some modern Chinese brides even encourage their guests to wear red, as they view the color positively.

However, it’s still advisable to avoid bright red outfits. Darker reds, like maroon or burgundy, are safer choices. Or opt for red accents with a dress or suit in a muted color. If in doubt, check with the couple getting married. The old traditions around wedding colors still influence choices, but there’s more flexibility in embracing red’s joyful symbolism.

Tips for Choosing Wedding Guest Attire Colors

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When selecting an outfit for a wedding, consider the formality, time of day, season, and couple’s cultural background. Ask the bride and groom if they have any color requests or guidelines. For Chinese weddings, avoid bright reds and match the formality of the event. Darker shades of red, like burgundy, are usually fine. For outdoor summer weddings, lighter colors breathe. In winter, deeper hues like emerald or sapphire complement the season. If you want to add a splash of color, add it with a scarf or accessory, not your whole outfit. Neutrals like black, gray, navy, or blush pink are always classic choices. Most importantly, choose an ensemble in colors and styles you feel great in. Just be thoughtful about standing out too much at someone else’s celebration.

Exceptions for Wearing Red as a Wedding Guest

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The easiest way to avoid any dress code confusion is to ask the bride and groom directly. Many couples now include dress code details on their wedding website or invitations. But if you can’t find any guidance, reach out to the couple a few weeks before the wedding.

Send them a text or email saying something like: “Hi! I’m so excited for your wedding next month. I wanted to check if you have any dress code recommendations or requirements for guests.” This gives them a chance to share any cultural traditions, preferred colors, or formal versus casual preferences. Knowing expectations ahead of time lets you pick an outfit that honors their wishes. Asking also shows you care about being a respectful and thoughtful guest on their big day.

Alternative Colors That Are Safe Bets

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If you want to steer clear of red or white, there are other hues that make great choices for Chinese weddings. Cool tones like blues, greens, purples, and grays are versatile options. They pair well with traditional Chinese dresses like qipaos or cheongsams. Neutral earth tones like tans, browns, and blacks are also safe bets. Just avoid bright neons or heavily patterned outfits, as they can come across as distracting or disrespectful. The couple likely wants all eyes on them for their special day. Sticking to more muted tones helps keep the focus where it should be – on the newlyweds!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Does Red Mean in Chinese Weddings?

In Chinese culture, red represents an auspicious and lucky color for weddings, symbolizing love, passion, and joy. Brides traditionally wear red wedding gowns, and wedding decor features red elements. People believe red wards off evil spirits and brings good fortune to the couple.

What countries wear red for weddings?

Besides China, wearing red for weddings is also a tradition in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Korea, and some parts of the Middle East. The color holds cultural significance related to fertility, prosperity, and new beginnings in these regions.

Is red too much to wear to a wedding?

It depends on the formality and dress code specified on the wedding invitation. Darker reds in an elegant dress or suit may be appropriate. Bright red dresses could be seen as drawing too much attention away from the bride. When in doubt, check with the couple getting married.

Is it Okay to Wear a Red Wedding Dress?

In Western culture, people view wearing a red wedding dress when you are not the bride as inappropriate, as it draws attention away from the bride. However, for Chinese or Indian weddings, red dresses may be perfectly acceptable if it align with that culture’s wedding traditions. Check with the couple first.


Red holds special symbolic meaning in Chinese weddings, representing love, passion, and fortune for the new couple. While the bride wears red at traditional Chinese weddings, guests should be cautious about wearing bright red so as not to upstage the bride. Subdued red attire may be suitable for a Chinese wedding if it aligns with the specified dress code. When attending weddings of other cultures, it is always wise to check with the couple before wearing red to ensure you do not accidentally break with their wedding traditions.

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