Traditional Taiwanese wedding banquets often include 5 or more dress changes for the bride, but since our banquet was smaller and more informal (and I'm lazy), I only wore two dresses: my traditional red qipao and a vintage blue silk satin cocktail dress.
With my Dad and Mom
I had my qipao custom-made at a store in Taipei (there is an English Web site, but if you need something translated, please leave a comment). It is gorgeous and fit wonderfully, but I made the mistake of choosing a brocade that was very stiff. I only saw it on the shelf and didn't think about how it would drape on my body. On the other hand, a qipao's job is to "hold" you in and "mold" your figure. Sounds creepily like a full body cast, right? But that is supposed to accentuate your curves.
Here are some photos of my qipao in action at our May 16 wedding. I was sorta able to do the can-can with my cousins and aunts in it!
I ordered my second dress from CalendarGirlVintage on Etsy because I really wanted a vintage dress as my second outfit. Their customer service was wonderful. I didn't want to distract from its unique shelf neckline, so I wore my dress with a simple crystal necklace and earrings that I purchased from a Korean vendor in Shida night market who imports accessories from his home country.
Our banquet coordinator tried to kick us out early by making Ron and me stand by the door with a tray of candy as a cue for guests to leave, but none of them even noticed us standing there because they were still eating and talking. So Ron and I took advantage of our impromptu alone time to take dorky photos of me with my candy stash.
At this point, one of my cousins walked over and said, "What are you doing!?! We're taking family photos! Hurry up!"
Our photos don't do justice to the dress at all, so here is a picture from CalendarGirlVintage's listing.
The neckline is amazing -- almost like origami -- and there are multiple darts on the bodice and all around the waist to make sure it fit like a glove. Satin is an extremely hard fabric to work with, so I really commend the person who made this dress so many years ago.
It's been a crazy week for me. I went from the high of the banquet and my parents being in Taipei to the deep sadness of having our family's beautiful cat, MeiMei, pass away so unexpectedly. But the banquet was a truly great experience and a wonderful memory, just like our wedding last spring. One of the reasons I wanted to move to Taiwan and learn Mandarin was because I wished to have a closer relationship with my relatives. I don't get to see them often and it was a treat to have so many of them under one roof. Our San Francisco wedding and our Taiwan banquet were different in many ways, of course, but both of them felt authentic to our relationship, and the mixture of cultures that we both carry into it (and the fact that I got to wear a vintage dress was awesome, too).