What does a red wedding dress mean?

A red wedding dress is an unconventional choice that often has deep cultural or personal significance. While white and ivory gowns are customary in Western cultures, brides worldwide wear red shades and accents to convey different meanings.

Quick Answers

Here are quick answers to common questions about red wedding dresses:

  • In many Asian cultures, red symbolizes love, luck, and happiness for the bride.
  • In India, brides often wear red saris or lehengas, sometimes with accents like red dupattas.
  • In China, brides traditionally wear red qipao dresses decorated with intricate gold or silver designs.
  • For some modern Western brides, red represents their bold, passionate personality.
  • Alternative brides may choose red gowns to show their unconventional style.
  • Burgundy or wine red dresses offer a subtle take on the red wedding dress trend.
  • Accents like red shoes, sashes, or shawls allow brides to work in touches of red.
  • Red can symbolize falling in love again for remarriage or older brides.
  • Red and white gowns combine traditional white with the red color of luck and happiness.

Cultural Significance of Red Wedding Dresses

The potent color symbolism of red makes it a nuanced choice for bridal attire across cultures. Here are some of the commonly held meanings behind red wedding ensembles:

Chinese Traditions

In Chinese culture, red symbolizes love, prosperity, vitality, and happiness. Brides traditionally wear red qipao dresses often beautifully embroidered with phoenix and dragon motifs in gold thread. Red is considered lucky, so the redder the better! These ornate red gowns are paired with elaborate hair pieces and jewelry. Traditionally, Chinese brides would change into a red qi pao and phoenix crown for the tea ceremony after the wedding.

Indian Traditions

Red is the most popular bridal color in India. Brides wear red saris or lehengas, often with accents like red dupattas (shawls), chooras (bangles), and other jewelry. Red symbolizes fertility, prosperity, and marital bliss. Brides from South India often wear red and white two-tone saris. Red saris with gold accents are popular for Bengali and Marathi brides. Red bridal attire is customary across religions including Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, and Muslim weddings.

Vietnamese Traditions

In Vietnamese culture, red ao dai gowns are traditional for brides. Ao dai are form-fitting split tunic dresses worn over pants. Red symbolizes luck, happiness, and the potential for future children. Today, many Vietnamese brides opt for white gowns instead, saving the red ao dai for their reception or after-party. Those who do wear red often choose a red ao dai with intricate embroidery or accents.

Meanings Behind Red Wedding Dresses

For brides drawn to red wedding gowns, the choice is often deeply personal and symbolic:

Bold, Passionate Personality

Some modern brides choose red wedding dresses because the color suits their bold, fiery personality. Brides who wear red are confident, adventurous, passionate, and full of zeal for life. Rather than demure and subdued, they want a gown as vibrant and feisty as their spirit.

Unconventional Style

Brides seeking an alternative, edgy, or unconventional style frequently turn to red wedding dresses. While white and ivory gowns are traditional, red makes a daring fashion statement. A red gown shows the bride's creativity and originality.

Falling in Love Again

For older brides or those getting remarried, red can symbolize falling in love all over again. Red gowns are often worn by brides who want to recapture the excitement and passion of new love and romance the second time around.

Honoring Heritage

For cultural brides or those in intercial relationships, red gowns can honor their shared heritage. Brides may choose red dresses to respect traditions from their culture or their partner's. This shows how meaningful their diverse backgrounds are to their relationship.

Different Shades of Red Wedding Dresses

From bold brights to subtle deep hues, red comes in many shades suitable for wedding dresses. Here are some popular red wedding dress options:

True Red

Vibrant, true red makes the boldest statement. It has the strongest emotional impact. True red dresses may feature ruffled skirts, accent ribbons, or off-shoulder necklines.


Crimson is a rich, deep red reminiscent of rubies and rose petals. It has a romantic, luxurious look. Crimson gowns often have elegant drapes, trains, or mermaid silhouettes.

Wine Red

For brides who want a subtle red dress, wine red offers a darker, more muted red hue. Wine reds pair nicely with lace or chiffon. This is a great option for brides unsure about wearing a bright true red.


Deep burgundy wedding dresses have a vintage, Gothic vibe. This rich red-brown looks beautiful in velvets, satins, and brocades. It's ideal for fall and winter weddings.

Cherry Red

Playful cherry red dresses have a flirty, girly energy. They look youthful and fun with pretty accents like polka dots, pink roses, or bows. Cherry red flatters informal barn or backyard weddings.

Rose Red

Rose red dresses have a romantic, feminine allure. They resemble the soft blush color inside rose blossoms. Delicate lace and tulle rose red gowns are lovely for garden weddings.

Red Wedding Dress Accents

Many brides who want just a touch of red opt for white or ivory gowns with red accents:


Wide red sashes are a popular accent for wedding gowns. They cinch and define the waistline. Sashes look best on A-line or ballgown silhouette dresses.


Metallic red embroidery adds delicate pops of color and dimension. It looks beautiful on lace or tulle gowns. Red embroidery offers detail without overpowering the dress.


Red floral appliques, beading, or embroidery resemble blossoms on the gown. Roses, poppies, peonies, and cherries make vivid red floral accents.


Brides can accessorize with red necklaces, earrings, or bracelets. Red jewels like rubies, garnets, or red spinel provide eye-catching pops of color.


With a white dress, red bridal heels make a fun splash of color. Shoes may be true red or metallic “ruby slippers.” Add red soles for a hidden detail.


Brides can wear stunning red shawls or wraps over their shoulders, especially during weddings at cooler times of the year.

How to Style a Red Wedding Dress

Red wedding dresses beg to be styled with glamour. Here are tips for complementing your red bridal look:

Metallic Shoes and Jewelry

Pair red dresses with metallic shoes and jewelry for added glitz and sparkle. Gold and ruby red is a classic color duo. Silver and red has an elegant yin-yang contrast.

Nude Makeup

Let the red gown stand out by keeping makeup soft and neutral in beige, taupe, and nude tones. Use makeup to subtly enhance your features.

Statement Lips

Make your pout pop with red lipstick that matches your dress. Go for sexy red stains, cherry red, or blue-red hues. Avoid orangey reds that may clash.

Loose Styled Hair

To offset the drama of a red dress, wear hair in a soft updo or loosely curled. Avoid severe tight buns that look too harsh.

Dark Nail Polish

Pair red outfits with vampy nail polish in dark red, black cherry, or oxblood shades. Metallic burgundy polish also complements red dresses.

8 Red Wedding Dresses for Inspiration

Bride Dress Style Description
Meghan Ballgown Fitted burgundy ballgown with off-shoulder neckline and full tulle skirt
Blake Mermaid Figure-hugging wine red strapless lace mermaid gown with daring thigh-high slit
Alicia Sheath Elegant crepe sheath dress in ruby red with boat neckline and low v-back
Emma A-Line Rose red tulle a-line gown with sweetheart bodice and tiered full skirt
Olivia Trumpet Sexy satin trumpet silhouette gown in rich crimson with halter neck
Sophia Short Flirty cherry red short lace dress with illusion neckline
Isabella Strapless Elegant strapless chiffon dress with ruched bodice in romantic rose red
Mia Skirt/Top Two-piece gown with red lace crop top and full tulle skirt in wine red

As you can see, red wedding dresses come in diverse silhouettes from sleek sheaths to full ballgowns. Brides can select their perfect red shade from bold true reds to softer burgundies. Whether you go for an all-red dress or just a touch of red accent, this powerful hue is sure to make a memorable statement on your wedding day!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to wear a red wedding dress?

While untraditional, it is absolutely acceptable to wear a red wedding dress if that is your preference. Red dresses are customary in many cultures and are gaining popularity in modern Western weddings. The important thing is to select an outfit that makes you feel confident, beautiful, and authentic to who you are.

When should you not wear red to a wedding?

It is best to avoid wearing red if you are a guest at a wedding and not the bride. Red dresses may distract from the bride’s gown or cause confusion since red is strongly associated with bridal attire. As a courtesy, opt for other festive colors like gold, silver, purple, or navy blue.

What does red mean at a Chinese wedding?

In Chinese culture, red is the traditional bridal color that represents love, prosperity, happiness, and vitality. Chinese brides often wear stunning red qipao dresses sometimes elaborately embroidered with gold dragons and phoenixes. Red is considered lucky and auspicious.

Can you wear red to an Indian wedding?

Red is the quintessential bridal color in Indian culture, but female wedding guests can certainly wear red Indian outfits like saris, salwar kameez, or lehengas. Just avoid extremely bridal looks like red lehengas with dupattas or choodas. Opt for plainer, toned-down reds instead.

What colors go well with a red wedding dress?

Elegant color pairings with red wedding gowns include metallic tones like silver, gold, bronze and copper. Black and white looks striking with red. Soft blush pink, navy blue, and rich purple complement red beautifully. Avoid mixing red with orange or neons.

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