There are many traditions that are often associated with a Chinese wedding. These may vary between the different areas within the vast country that is China, they may depend on family traditions and, to a large extent, they also differ according to a couple’s financial status.
The typical components in a Chinese wedding include:
A marriage in China is seen as a joining of the two families, not just the two individuals. Parents are heavily involved in engagement celebrations, although arranged marriages are no longer the norm in China. The groom’s family will usually present the bride’s family with elaborate gifts, including food and money. Tealeaves are almost always included as they have strong symbolic value – they symbolize a hope for children. A few days later the bride’s family reciprocates and sends token gifts to the groom’s family. After the exchange of gifts, plans are then made for the forthcoming wedding.
2. Setting the Date
The wedding date is typically selected by the parents. Traditionally, the groom’s family proposes several dates from which the bride’s family then makes the final selection. The dates are often based on the Chinese Tong Shu, an almanac containing lucky predictions for the year ahead. The Tong Shu is only published in Chinese. If your son or daughter plans to marry a Chinese person and you are following the Chinese wedding traditions, it helps to be able to understand some Chinese.
3. Inviting the Guests
It is normal for Chinese wedding invitations to be printed on red card or paper, and delivered in a red envelope. Red is seen as being a very lucky colour in the Chinese culture, and one that signifies happiness.
4. Preparing a New Bed
Most Chinese people like to sleep in a brand new bed after the marriage. It is one that nobody has ever slept in or sat on, with the exception sometimes of very young children or babies. Often, the groom’s family buys the bed and the bride’s family buy the bed linen. The new bed is a sign of a new start for the married couple.
5. Giving Gifts
A couple of days before the wedding ceremony, gifts are sent from the bride’s family to the intended couple. The gifts usually include two envelopes filled with money. The envelopes are red, and according to Chinese customs the amount of money must end with a nine.
7. The Wedding Day
The day usually starts with the groom, his best man, and ushers decorating a car and going to collect the bride. Before they can see the bride, however, they perform funny tasks and play joyful games with the bridesmaids. They also give money, in a red envelope, to the bridesmaids before being allowed into the house. The bride will perform a tea ceremony for her parents before leaving the house. Everybody will head to the marriage ceremony and the couple will be married. After the marriage ceremony there will be an elaborate tea ceremony for the groom’s family. The final part of the day is a huge and decadent dinner banquet, during which the wedding is celebrated and toasts are made.
If you are a guest at a Chinese wedding, knowing some of the language can help you to fully appreciate the day and join in with all celebrations for the couple. A great gift for the couple is money – remember to put the money inside a red envelope and ensure the sum ends with the figure nine! Have you ever been to a Chinese wedding?