China is a large East Asian country with a long history and rich culture. Ceremonies are an important part of Chinese culture and if you attend a Chinese wedding, you will be amazed by the traditions. Given China’s history, families perform many ancient traditions today and some evolved into modern ones. Read this article if you wish to learn about Chinese wedding traditions and other important things like the significance of a red Chinese wedding gown.
Chinese Wedding Rituals
China has many ethnic groups and each has its unique traditions. But families perform some traditions at all Chinese weddings. Many families choose a matchmaker to find the best match for their children.
Red and gold are important parts of Chinese wedding decor and these colours complement Chinese wedding dresses perfectly.
Traditional Wedding Proposal
According to Chinese traditions, a formal Chinese wedding proposal must be presented. The groom’s parents visit the woman’s parents to present the wedding proposal. The bride’s parents accept the proposal and make plans for the betrothal negotiations.
Chinese Betrothal Ceremony
This betrothal custom’s name is Guo Da Li. The groom and his family present gifts symbolising prosperity, fertility, and good fortune to the bride’s parents. The bride’s parents return half of the gifts as a sign of accepting the proposal. The parents hand off the bride’s dowry to the groom’s family.
Picking the Wedding Date
The Chinese traditional wedding date can’t be just any date; it has to be an auspicious date. Many families consult a fortune teller, Chinese monk, Chinese calendar, or Feng Shui master for a successful marriage. The couple’s birthday and Chinese zodiac sign play a big part in choosing the wedding date.
The Wedding Invitations
For a traditional wedding, a red envelope holds the Chinese wedding card invitation. The red colour is auspicious in Chinese culture. The invitation is red with gold lettering and the Double Happiness symbol. The invitation tells you the wedding banquet dates, order of birth, names of the bride, groom, and respective parents, dinner venue details, and the cocktail reception and dinner details.
Preparing the Marriage Bed
The An Chuang or the marriage bed preparation happens two or three days before the traditional Chinese wedding. On the auspicious time and date, a female relative with good fortune dresses the bed in new red-coloured beddings and pillows.
Hair Combing Ceremony
This Chinese wedding custom takes place a day before the ceremony. This ritual showcases the bride’s transition from childhood into adulthood. The mother combs the bride’s hair and recites blessings.
Wedding Procession and Door Games
The procession is an ancient wedding in Chinese custom. Nowadays, the procession goes from the groom’s house to pick up the bride while firecrackers are lit and gongs are struck to ward off any evil spirits.
After the groom’s arrival, he engages in door games or Chuangmen. In these games, the bride’s family refuses to marry her off until the groom proves his worthiness.
For the wedding Chinese style ceremony, vows are exchanged and paperwork is signed at a local government office. Also, the couple holds an intimate ceremony, where they pay respects to family ancestors and deities at the family altar.
The significance of tea ceremony in Chinese wedding customs is to honour the parents and receive blessings. The couple kneels or bows while serving tea to the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. After each tea sip, the couple receives a red envelope with money or gold jewellery for blessings and an official welcome to the family.
The couple’s parents host a lavish wedding banquet after the ceremonies are finished. Sometimes, the bride may change from her Chinese wedding dress and Chinese wedding jewelry into a new dress. The couple receives red envelopes of money or jewellery as wedding gifts.
The banquet’s menu includes auspicious foods such as a fish course, a suckling pig, a poultry dish (usually chicken or duck), and a sweet lotus seed dessert. Traditionally, both families host a banquet separately, but for the modern Chinese wedding, the families jointly host the banquet.
Chinese Wedding Night Traditions
For the newlywed’s first night, the bridal bed is made with new red sheets. The mother-in-law places items such as a plate of dried longans, persimmons, lotus seeds, a sprig of pomegranate leaves, and red dates on the bed for a successful Chinese wedding night. Young children, especially young boys, jump on the wedding bed since this promotes fertility so that the new couple have children soon.
After the Wedding
The next day after the wedding, the bride introduces herself to the groom’s relatives and friends. She cooks breakfast and then she receives gifts or money from the guests. The family also gives a title to the bride based on her husband’s standing in the family.
Three Days After the Wedding
According to Chinese traditions, the bride and groom visit the bride’s parents three days after the wedding. The bride is considered no longer part of the family and now, she is welcomed as a guest. The bride’s family enjoys a delicious meal with the couple and the groom presents a roast pig as a gift to the bride’s family.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress
Since red is an auspicious colour in Chinese culture, the bride wears a Chinese red wedding dress. Red symbolises prosperity, happiness, and good luck. That’s why it is the colour of a Chinese traditional wedding dress.
White and black coloured clothes shouldn’t be worn by guests at the wedding; those colours are associated with funerals and are considered bad luck. Guests can’t wear red since the bride wears a red Chinese wedding dress.
Sometimes, brides wear multiple dresses during the celebrations. They will have the Chinese wedding dress traditional for the ceremony and the white traditional Chinese wedding dress for the banquet.
Modern Chinese Wedding Dress
These days, many couples have a western-style wedding ceremony. In that case, the bride might wear a white Chinese wedding dress compared to a Chinese wedding red dress and the groom wears a suit.
Chinese Wedding Customs
Weddings are an important part of any culture. They will bring family and friends together to celebrate the happy couple and showcase their culture. In Chinese culture, there are highly esteemed traditions such as a tea ceremony, wedding procession, hair combing, door games, and more. The bride in her traditional ancient Chinese wedding dress and the groom in his traditional red clothes make vows to each other. Guests feast on delicacies.
Chinese traditions have lasted for hundreds of years but there have been some changes like the adoption of western style traditions, the usage of a Chinese modern wedding dress and an ancient Chinese wedding dress by the bride, the wedding banquet hosted by the parents, and others. Even with these small changes, a wedding is still a celebration of Chinese heritage and culture.