Are you interested in having a traditional Chinese wedding? First, you’ll need to brush up on the customs and the timeline typically followed for such an occasion. While you can mix in a Western custom or two if you like, you need to be familiar with the Chinese wedding traditions in their purest form.
The Betrothal Package from the Groom
Gold jewellery as wedding gift
A couple of weeks before the day of the wedding, the groom presents the bride’s family with a betrothal package. Usually, this includes specific items, such as a cash gift, bride price, wedding biscuits, candles, incense, and other items. Vegetables and fruit are usually in the package, along with a red cloth and a plate of Chinese cakes.
The Returning Gift from the Bride’s Family
Chinese wedding gift basket
Next, the bride’s family makes a gift, in the form of a basket of treats for the groom’s family. Items like orange juice, Chinese cakes, mandarin oranges, apples, and a pristine pair of lotus roots are tucked into the basket. In addition, the bride’s mother would traditionally purchase a pair of new pants, a wallet, and a belt for the groom. As a gesture of generosity and goodwill, the bride’s family returns part of the bride price to the groom’s family.
The Dowry and the Bed Setting
At some point before the wedding day, the bride’s mother assembles the dowry. Among other things, the dowry includes a tea set, bedding, scissors, fans, face powder, a bedside lamp, a dining set, and facial towels. The couple’s bed is set with the fresh sheets and the dragon phoenix duvet, and then it is sprinkled with an assortment of dried foods like red beans, green beans, dried lychee, longan, and jujube. After the setting, everyone must avoid touching the couple’s bed.
The Hair Dressing of the Bride
Hair combing ceremony by rocksee on flickr
On the day of the wedding, the bride’s mother or another older woman in the family combs the bride’s hair, reciting special words for good luck.
The Gate Crash
Chinese Wedding Gatecrash by Jack Zhang on Flickr
Now it’s time for the groom to claim his bride. He arrives at the girl’s house with a roast pig. He also brings gifts of fruit and drink. Accompanying the groom are his brothers or other close male relatives and friends.
If the bride has a younger brother, the brother is the one who opens the door of the groom’s car. Sometimes the bridesmaids put the groom through a trial or a game before allowing him into the bride’s house.
The Tea Ceremony
Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony
When the groom comes into the home, the couple performs a tea ceremony, pouring first for the bride’s parents and then for other esteemed relatives. Younger relatives offer the bride and groom tea, and gifts are exchanged. The couple leaves the house under a shower of rice and proceed to the groom’s family home, trailed by bridal party members who are single. Another tea ceremony follows with the groom’s family. Sometimes, families arrange with a Singapore caterer to have lunch catered for all the relatives who are present in the house.
Chinese Wedding Banquet Table
After more festivities, the evening usually concludes with a grand banquet to celebrate the union. The couple, now newlyweds, is now ready to begin their lives together.
Whether you follow these traditions to the letter or simply assimilate a few into your wedding, remember that your marriage is about more than the union of you and your partner. It is the joining of two families and the continuation of centuries of rich culture.