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Chinese Wedding Traditions

Do you believe in destiny? Well, if you do, you are in the right place! The ancient Chinese had faith in fate. According to mythology, the gods tie a crimson ribbon around the ankles of the man and woman who will become a couple one day. As time passes, the string becomes shorter and shorter until it connects the two. With that, Chinese Wedding Traditions were born.


But, how do you know you've discovered your one true love or destiny? In China, the woman's "eight characters"--her year, month, day, and hour of birth--were written on a single piece of paper and set on the household altar. If nothing bad happened in the household after three consecutive days, including a medical condition or a damaged vase or meal, the relationship was allowed. The bride's family went through the same procedure. If all went well, the celebrations could begin.


Weddings are ritualized celebrations with symbolic features which is centered on good fortune of success, prosperity, and joy for the newlyweds from both their close companions and family members. If you or your future spouse is of Chinese descent, learning about these customs will help you decide if you want to include them as part of your very own wedding. If you want to know more than just the mythology and understand Chinese wedding traditions, then you sure are in luck to come across in this blog! With that, here are some of the most important Chinese wedding traditions and Chinese wedding customs for you to explore if you're planning to have a traditional Chinese wedding!


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Wedding photoshoot at Chinese temple



Guo Da Li 过 Ceremony



This ceremony, held on an auspicious occasion, frequently 2 to 4 weeks before the actual wedding date, is where both the groom and bride's families gather and officially recognize the coming together of the two families. During this event, the bride's family receives an abundance of presents.


As an official proposal to the bride's parents, the groom will offer betrothal gifts (gold precious stones, dragon and phoenix wax candles, whiskey or brandy, etc.) signifying wealth and good success, as well as blissful marriage before the wedding day.


A few days after the betrothal presents were presented, the bride's family will send out porters to the groom's home with an inventory of the dowry. This is to serve as an acceptance of the proposal and to demonstrate their want to maintain a good relationship with the groom's family. The dowry comprised of practical goods such as a chamber pot filled with fruit and strings of cash for the occasion. This procession provided a chance for the bride's family to demonstrate both their social position and their affection for their daughter, and rich parents frequently involved serving girls to care for their child at her new house.




The Marriage Bed Setting Ceremony


An Chuang Ceremony

Chinese Wedding Traditions include An-Chuang. An-Chuang, which takes place after Guo Da Li but before the actual wedding day, is a required rite for a happy marriage. In order to bless them with children, the parents place fresh bed linens or even an entirely new matrimonial bed in the bridal room, ideally in red or pink. Absolutely nobody is allowed to enter the bridal room, disturb any furniture, or have anything below the bridal bed from the time the bridal room is set up until the formal wedding day.


Following the installation of the bed, children were allowed onto the bed as a sign of fertility, the more the better. The bed was also strewn with red dates, oranges, lotus seeds, nuts, pomegranate and other fruits for the same purpose.


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Hair Combing Ceremony


Wedding hair combing ceremony essentials

The night before the wedding day, a hair combing ceremony is done to represent the couple approaching a new stage of maturity in their separate homes. The bride and groom will scrub themselves with pomelo leaves before changing into fresh crimson robes and shoes. The bride will face a mirror while the husband will face the interior of the house. A set of red taper candles and a pair of scissors, a single wick of incense, a ruler made of wood, a hair comb, and red thread with cypress leaves will be prepared by each of the parents.


A good fortune lady will begin the hair combing ceremony by lighting one stick of incense and two red taper candles. She would say blessings to the couple while brushing their hair.

Here are some of the blessings: long-lasting marriage, happy marriage, many descendants or children, luck and longevity.


After the bride or groom's hair has been brushed for a total of four times, the woman of good fortune will cut the red yarn with cypress leaves on their hair, and the ritual will be over.





Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony


Wedding tea ceremony at Clifford Pier, Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore

Similar to many cultures around the world, both families execute the bride and groom's hairdressing and capping rites. One of them is known as the tea ceremony. Beginning at the groom's home, the pair will offer tea and introduce family members by proper names while kneeling or bowing in reverence. The groom then proceeds to the bride's family home, where he is met by the bridesmaids.


During the Tea Ceremony, both families are properly introduced and they sip Tsao Chün, a Chinese tea, together. After finishing the Tsao Chün tea, the couple would be handed lai see, a fortunate red packet packed with money and occasionally jewelry, by the family. Following the wedding rites, a feast is provided.


Another one of Chinese wedding traditions is the groom must adorn the vehicle's exterior. He then drives his wife to a celebration. Throughout the Chinese ceremony, both partners will exchange rings and sip Tsao Chün tea while their arms are crossed, as is customary in China. The only visitors allowed to this event are the family, but after the meal gets started, the others will join.





Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress and Clothes



On the day of the marriage, it is customary for the woman getting married to wear a red gown, known as a qipao, and cover her face with a crimson veil. Red represents pleasure, wealth, and good fortune in Chinese culture.


Modern weddings require the bride-to-be to put on a white bridal gown as well as an additional ball gown through the rest of the night. Many modern brides additionally wear a fourth gown to send out their guests at the final moment of the ceremony.


It's lavishly decorated with gold phoenixes, the bride's emblem, as well as chrysanthemums and peonies, emblems of riches and good fortune. The bride donned a phoenix crown, a headpiece of kingfisher feathers and pearls, and a scarlet veil to protect her from the skies until she arrived at her husband's house. The bride would change several times throughout the wedding day, which might be an indication of the bride's family's affluence. Orchids are becoming the flower preference for the fashionable bride.


The groom's attire is simpler. A black silk coat is worn over a dark blue embroidered dragon robe. A black hat with red tassels serves as the headpiece.






Wedding Banquet



This Chinese wedding tradition which is a wedding banquet is an extremely luxurious and often expensive event. To deliver their presents, visitors are going to write their full names on a scroll. After the supper, the bride dresses into her customary red Chinese wedding gown. Both sets of parents would have individual wedding feasts in traditional Chinese culture.


Many meals in Chinese culture are regarded as symbolic. The menu for the evening includes auspicious meals such as a fish course to represent abundance, a suckling pig to represent the bride's purity, a fowl dish (typically chicken or duck) to represent unity and harmony, and delicate little lotus seeds for a sweet treat, which represents a hope for fertility. During the dinner, there are normally six courses in total, and usually the bride and groom change their attire during the third and sixth meals.


A slideshow of childhood images from both families is a must-do, as is the loud "yam seng" (cheers) toast offered towards the conclusion of the wedding banquet to congratulate the groom on earning his bride's hand.




Chinese Wedding Colors

A Chinese bride doesn't put on a white bridal gown. The highlight of the big day is the use of bright and warm colors. Their wedding colors are vibrant and cheerful, particularly red.

Bride's don't wear white as it is associated with funerals in the Western Style. White gowns are used by a few modern Chinese brides who attend a western wedding. The wedding images of the vibrant wedding serve as excellent memory keepers.




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Choosing a Lucky Wedding Date

Fortune tellers determine auspicious days based on a person's date of birth (day and hour) after consulting the Chinese calendar. At the start of the Lunar New Year, street sellers and booksellers sell almanacs with predictions for the full year. These two-inch-thick paperback volumes include an abundance of information on Chinese traditions. It is claimed to be the world's oldest ongoing publication.


Additional Chinese Wedding Traditions

Aside from the traditions mentioned above, there are a few more Chinese wedding traditions to bear in mind while planning a Chinese wedding.



Red Envelopes

While wedding registries featuring anything from kitchen appliances to honeymoon money are widespread in Western-style nuptials, this is not usually the case with Chinese weddings. Red envelopes, referred to as hong bao, are instead commonly given to couples at wedding rituals.



Door Games

The day's celebrations include Chuangmen, commonly known as door games. The activities vary, but traditional games include evaluating the groom's understanding of the bride, eating something hot, sour, bitter, and sweet to demonstrate that he is capable of going through each phase of marriage, and at least one painful obstacle.


The groom will also be required to hand over a red envelope containing money in order for the bridesmaids to "surrender" their friend. Only when he has won all of the trials will he be permitted to enter the bride's room, where the final obstacle is to find the lost wedding shoe, place it on the bride's foot, and then bring her out to the living area for the Chinese tea ceremony.



Umbrella

A Chinese superstition holds that if a bride walks outdoors with a crimson umbrella, she will have potential for fertility in her married life. It's not unusual to see a bridesmaid allocated the responsibility of holding the bride's umbrella. A rice sieve may be employed in place of an umbrella. The bride is the most important person on the wedding day, yet to avoid a battle with the divinities, a rice sieve serves to obstruct the bride as she leaves her house and enters the groom's home.



Lucky Colors

Red and gold are the two most commonly utilized colors in Chinese wedding color combinations. Red is by far the most common color for all important ceremonies in Chinese custom, including weddings. The color red is connected with a variety of good characteristics, including success, fidelity, respect, reproduction, and love. As a result, traditional Chinese bridal gowns are often crimson. Gold is also typically used as a beautiful wedding accent since it represents riches and prosperity.


Although red will most likely be the dominant color on the wedding day, visitors should refrain from wearing it since it is intended for the couple of honor, as the bride usually wears a red gown. This crimson bridal gown is referred to as a qipao in Mandarin and a cheongsam in Cantonese. At Chinese weddings, guests should avoid wearing black or white. Because black and white are traditionally worn at funerals, they are considered unlucky. Instead of those, guests must opt for purples, pinks, or warm colors.

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Annabel Law

Annabel Law has 15+ years experience as a wedding photographer. Annabel Law Productions has shot over

600 weddings in Singapore and overseas. She is the only female Canon EOS master and she has been

featured in Straits Times, Business Times, Mothership and many more. Annabel offers wedding photography, wedding videography and boudoir photography services. 

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