17 Chinese Wedding Traditions That Have Stood the Test of Time
By Eivan’s Wedding Team
Despite civilization, weddings traditions are still observed in China. The Chinese traditions are to esteemed highly in their community. This group of people is famous for observing and keeping to their culture than other tribes. 10 million couples get married across the world each year. There is a good number of Chinese who are not shy to showcase their wedding traditions.
Chinese wedding traditions come with a disclaimer. There are over 55 ethnicity groups living in China. All have very distinct wedding traditions. A wedding is different in each of these ethnic groups. Nonetheless, there are a few basic wedding customs that cut across these groups.
Lets Discover Their Traditions
Yuelao – The god of matchmaking
In China, they have a matchmaking god Yuelao. Yuelao is in charge of people’s marriage. He unites two people by tying a red string around their ankles of the future husband and wife.
In the ancient days, most young men and women would go to Yuelao temple to pray for a perfect match. It is still done today in these modern times.
Making a proposal
After a young man found his future wife, his parents would visit the girl’s parents to ask for a marriage proposal. After they accept the proposal, they plan for a formal meeting to negotiate the betrothal.
The matchmaker did all the work of negotiations. In modern Chinese weddings, most young people do not use a matchmaker any more.
Betrothal gifts and dowry payment
Before engagement, the Chinese customs required betrothal and dowry payment to take place. The groom’s family presents customary grand gifts. These gifts include various proposal gifts symbolizing prosperity and fertility.
These gifts are to appreciate the girls’ parents for raising her. The girls’ family sends the dowry consisting of jewelry. This show their support for their daughter getting married to the young man.
The betrothal and dowry customs are an important part of the Chinese. Only after this, then are the two considered officially engaged. The day of the wedding was also agreed upon.
Chinese wedding colors
Did you know a Chinese bride does not adorn a white wedding dress? Bright and warm colors are the highlight of the big day. Their wedding color is a bright warm color especially red.
White which is the Western Style associates with funerals. Some modern Chinese brides who go for a western wedding wear a white dress. The wedding photos are of the colorful wedding make great memory reminders.
The Wedding Date
Traditional Chinese culture requires couples to seek advice in choosing an auspicious date. They seek advice from fortune tellers, monks or the Chinese calendar.
Their wedding date is relative to their birth dates. There are certain dates that should they should avoid because they are unlucky. The unlucky days are the 18th of March, August and September.
Traditional Chinese weddings have red wedding invitations placed in a red envelope. The wording is usually in red or gold and placed vertically in Chinese writing.
The Chinese calendar date is first, followed by the birth dates for the bride, groom and their parents. The diner venue, time and cocktails are all noted down. The Chinese double happiness symbol is somewhere on the invitation.
Picking the bride for the wedding day
Chinese traditions start with picking the bride on the wedding day. The groom leads a loud procession to the bride’s home. This procession lights firecrackers and plays loud musical instruments.
This is to show how happy the groom’s family is to receive a new bride. A child walks at the front to symbolize the grooms desire to have children.
The hair combing tradition
Yes, the hair combing ceremony is a Chinese wedding custom. It takes place the day before the wedding ceremony at the bride’s home. It signifies a transition from childhood to adulthood.
The brides’ mother or a close relative performs the hair combing ceremony. Dragon phoenix candles are lit and blessing lines recited as the bride’s hair is being combed.
This beautiful tradition provides a special moment between the bride and her mother. Modern Chinese weddings still encourage brides to undergo this tradition.
Games played by bridesmaid
When the groom arrives at the bride’s house, he has to haggle with the bride’s friends. They make her perform stunts and won’t allow him to pass until he hands them red packets full of money.
When the groom finally sees his bride, they both bow down to the bride’s parents. This is a sign of respect and blessing before returning to the groom’s house.
The door games
Chinese door games known as Chuangmen are important. They originated from the idea that the bride is a prized daughter who is worth much. The bride’s family refuses to marry her off until the man proves himself.
The Chinese customs calls for the groom to play some entertaining door games. These games are a part of the procession or played at the banquet. Until the groom has completed all tests the bridesmaid will not allow him to see the bride.
The wedding celebration
Chinese wedding ceremonies are small and more formal. The ceremony is in a government house or a courthouse with very few people in attendance. According to the customs, prayers are an integral part of the ceremony.
The tea ceremony
The tea ceremony is to honor parents and always begins with prayer.
Popular tea varieties used include
- orange blossom
- black dragon
- green tea
The couple kneels on tea pillows facing the parents and take turns serving tea to each set of parents.
Chinese newlyweds receive gifts of red envelopes or hong bao. Guests present these envelopes full of money. When gifting the couple, the number 4 and its multiples is bad luck as it stands for death.
Multiples of 8 are usually good luck, thus making them the best to gift. Older relatives also give meaningful bracelets and necklaces to the bride and groom.
The grand Chinese wedding banquet
Each of the two families hosts their own wedding feasts. In China, wedding celebrations go for some days. The wedding banquets are a big affair with colorful decorations and lots of meals served. There are five to ten courses of food served. The fish ‘yu’ is an integral part of the feast.
They serve it to represent plentiful. It is also garnished on the soup to depict fertility for the newlyweds. Lotus seeds are traditional desserts that are a symbol of fertility. The modern Chinese wedding reception is jointly celebrated by both families.
The wedding night
The first night of the newlyweds will see the bride’s mother or mother in law prepare the bridal bed. The bridal chamber is unique for every couple.
It consists of new red sheets, a plate of dried longans, red dates, lotus seeds, permissions and a sprig of pomegranate leaves. Young boys jump on the bed before the wedding night to promote fertility in the new couple.
The next day after wedding
The day after, the bride gets up early and greets the groom’s family members and relatives. She is then introduced to the whole family on this day.
She prepares breakfast at the groom’s home for all the family. In return, she receives gifts or cash from all the guests. She is also given a title by the groom’s parents according to the seniority of her husband in the family. The title is her identity among her extended family.
Third day celebrations
Chinese couples love celebrating weddings. After three days, the couple visits the brides’ family. By this time, the girl is no longer considered as a part of her household, she is a guest. They enjoy meals with the family and spend some quality time together as per the wedding customs.