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  • Writer's pictureAnnabel Law

The Ultimate Guide To Guo Da Li In Singapore [2023]

Updated: Apr 24

Weddings are one of the things that girls, and some men, have been looking forward to since they were little kids. They used to imagine scenarios of their own weddings with their perfect and beautiful partners. Hence, when the time has come for their real-life wedding to come, they couldn't be more excited to plan it and make it live up to their expectations. However, these expectations aren't only coming from their little self and pretend marriage. The elders, or should we say the more traditional ones, also expects you to conform to customs and traditions such as Guo Da Li which just adds to your stress because you have no clue what is it.

Are you wondering what the Guo da li ceremony is and why do you have to think about it while you are in the process of wedding planning? Well, read this article to find out more about this Chinese betrothal ceremony. I hope this will make things a tad bit easier for you. Don't stress too much!

Included in this article are also some of the wedding shops that sell Guo da li items. The good news is, these are mostly located around Chinatown Complex in Singapore so you would not have to jump from one place to another or circle the whole country just to find the perfect items. Isn't that great?

What is Guo Da Li (过大礼)?

The Guo da li ceremony is one of the several Chinese wedding customs and is included in the traditional Chinese wedding ritual San Shu Liu Li (or Three Letters, Six Etiquettes). This is also known as the Betrothal ceremony wherein the groom offers betrothal gift money to the bride's family along with different wedding gifts. This is a way to express the groom's sincerity and gratitude to the bride's parents and the groom asking for his bride's hand. A promise that he will be a capable and dutiful husband. Similarly, this traditional ceremony also serves as a symbol to show that the bride's family accepts and wholeheartedly gives their daughter's hand to the groom.

This is not just a simple tea ceremony but one of the many Chinese joyous occasions embedded in Chinese culture. Guo da li serves as the family's blessing. It captures the essence of familial love and respect which is very important in our culture.

This ceremony sincerely wishes the couple an abundance of fortune, fertility, happiness, harmony, and peace to the soon-to-be-wed couple through the different items brought by each family. Typically, the groom will be the one to visit the bride's home or vice versa. But some couples choose to celebrate it in a much bigger venue.

The ceremony usually takes place in 6 steps:

First, the date should be selected

Second, it is a must for both the bride and groom's side to present. Make sure to not miss this or any of the steps.

Third, there will be an exchange of auspicious sayings as well as well wishes.

Fourth, the groom will now start to present the gifts he had brought

Fifth, the bride will return the favor and will return some gifts

Sixth and lastly, the closing will include the bride presenting her dowry to her in-laws and the groom's elder female relative or matchmaker will return to the groom's home.

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Is Guo Da Li necessary in Singapore?

I would not explicitly say that this is necessary since in this day and age, many of the younger people are opting to shy away from tradition and do their own thing. However, conservative families tend to give importance to tradition. Therefore, I would suggest making sure to check on the opinions and preferences of both of your future in-laws as some may not be satisfied if you do not follow the customs and traditions of Chinese weddings.

A lot of people believe that this ceremony and the concurrent blessing of the wedding to come will henceforth bring an abundance of fortune and luck to the soon-to-be-wed couple. Entering this new chapter in your life will entail a lot of changes and this blessing will surely help you. I hope you think about this.

What to Prepare for Guo Da Li?

Of course, prepare the groom's gratitude fee or the betrothal money. Next would be the first that you would offer to the bride's family and conversely, gifts and dowry from the bride's side. For the gifts, remember to only give those that will bring good fortune and make sure they come in pairs, at least.

Betrothal gifts or Guo da li items are chosen based on the different dialect groups namely Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, and Hakka. If in some cases, the marrying couple has differing dialect groups, it is advised that the non-perishables will come from the groom's family's dialect group and the perishables from the bride's family's dialect group.

Additionally, check on your gift items and their meanings. We would want our gifts to bestow good fortune on the receiver.

Generally, these items are typically present:

  • Black Red or Straw Basket

-which will serve as a betrothal basket to hold ceremony gift items

  • 1 big red packet with your betrothal gift money

-the bride price, or ping jin is a gift to the parents for taking care of the bride and bringing her up to be the best.

  • 2 pairs of Chinese wedding candles

-2 dragon and phoenix candles for the Shang Tou ritual

  • Traditional wedding cakes

-what is a celebration without a cake to share, am I right?

  • Black moss

-symbolizes an abundance of wealth to come

  • 8-12 oranges

-for good luck

  • Charcoal

-blessing for the bride

  • Double happiness stickers

-mainly used for home decoration

  • 2 sets of red banners (9.9 ft red cloth)

-which will be hung over the door

  • 1 pair of coconuts

-for multiple generations to come

  • Jewelry (for the bride) or gold jewelry

  • Dried longan

-for fertility

  • Red dates

-for good fortune

  • Lotus seeds

-having a lot of offspring

  • Dried melon slice

-sweet life for the couple

  • Lily bulbs

-for a harmonious and long-lasting marriage

  • walnut or peanut

-harmony within and between families

  • dried tangerines

-bring in good fortune and prosperity

  • 2 boxes of 5 elements seeds

-different grains such as red beans, green beans, wheat, soybeans, barley, rice

-Just like an abundant harvest represented by the seeds, the harvest may also mean children for the couple

Additionally, the Guo da li 过 大礼 items may also be added:

  • 12-16 apples

-these symbolize peace

Who needs to attend Guo Da Li in Singapore?

Needless to say, the groom's family should be there for this important formal meeting. The bride and her family should also be present. A female matchmaker or an elder female relative with good fortune will also help the groom in presenting the vast gifts he is bringing.

When Does Guo Da Li (过大礼) Take Place?

This usually takes place weeks before the actual wedding day. Some would do it months before the couple's marriage.

If you prefer to be on the more traditional side, a Feng Shui master may help you pick your auspicious date and avoid ill-advised dates.