What Are Chinese Wedding Traditions?（30+ Questions and Answers）
The Chinese are keen on preserving their culture, and they showcase their traditions on different occasions, including weddings. Statistics reveal that about 10 million people tie the knot in China every year. Chinese weddings are quite colorful. They represent the bond between the two lovebirds and the coming together of two families.
Wedding traditions represent the rituals that the Chinese observe during the celebration. We will look at how the Chinese marry in detail and highlight how wedding traditions have changed over time. We will also help you understand the wedding taboos that the Chinese believe in. Read on!
How do the Chinese marry
Though China has different ethnic groups, they also observe similar traditions regarding marriage. Chinese wedding traditions changed in the 1950s after introducing legal policies like the New Marriage Law. Such policies led to a change in the traditional structure of marriages in China. Before we look at how the Chinese marry today, we will discuss how marriages used to occur in the past.
Ancient Chinese wedding traditions
Before the freedom to pick one’s partner became the norm, arranged marriages were common in China. The Chinese did not have fixed spouses. One could have different sexual partners without society condemning them. Besides this, marriage between siblings was not prohibited.
Some of the legendary characters famous for doing this were Nuwa and Fu Xi. The two were siblings, but they chose to marry when the world had less population. According to Chinese wedding traditions, the bride had to use a fan to shield her face during her wedding to her brother.
People with the same surname were also allowed to marry during ancient times.
Marriage between siblings was banned by the end of the Neolithic age. During this period, exogamous marriages came up.
Though taking a partner from one’s family was now prohibited, a girl from another family could act as a wife to different brothers in a family. During the Zhou Dynasty, sorority marriage was allowed. A man could marry his wife’s cousins or sisters.
Modern Chinese wedding traditions
The Chinese wedding traditions have significantly transformed. Unlike in the past, when arranged marriages were the norm, people now have the freedom to choose who they would like to marry. In modern China, the secular ceremony now represents the official act of getting married.
Due to the high population of China, the law requires the couple to be above 20 years old to marry legally. Though Chinese law does not recognize marriage between individuals of the same sex, this is not considered a crime.
In this modern age in China, marrying a sibling no longer has a place. Unlike in the past when polygamy was allowed, monogamy is the norm in modern china. The government also discourages widow remarriage.
Chinese Wedding Process
chinese before wedding
In feudal society, men and women were not allowed to marry each other directly, and it was emphasized that “no rain without clouds in the sky, and no marriage without a matchmaker on earth.” Both men and women usually had to be introduced by a third party before they could get married. This kind of introduction is called “matchmaking”. After the establishment of New China, “matchmaking” was renamed “making introductions”. The person who did this kind of work was commonly known as a “matchmaker” and was also known as “the God of Love” or “the Red Lady” or “the introducer”.
Matchmaking is a skill, and the matchmaker not only needs to be familiar with the approximate situation of both men and women and their families, striving for a match between their backgrounds, but also must accurately reflect the actual situation of each side to the other and their parents, while at the same time try to conceal the bad and highlight the good, so that both sides can fully see each other’s strengths and be willing to reach a marriage agreement. In other words, the matchmaker needs to have a good “matchmaking mouth”. The matchmaker needs to be diligent in running errands, from the day when they begin to introduce and bridge the relationship between the two sides, they need to constantly shuttle between the two families, exchange information, convey each other’s wishes and requirements, and prevent unexpected changes from happening. Generally speaking, both the man’s and the woman’s families need to entertain the matchmaker. Rural people say that “the matchmaker has a hundred meals”, which is not an exaggeration and shows their diligence.
The matchmaker is an important role in the old-fashioned marriage. After the two families have obtained a basic consensus on the marriage, the matchmaker needs to guide the man to go on a blind date, exchange betrothal gifts on behalf of both parties, lead the man to complete the engagement ceremony, choose a good day for the wedding, guide the man to pick up the bride, and assist in the wedding ceremony until the “newlyweds enter the room”, and then the matchmaker can leave. If the matchmaker does a good job and both sides are satisfied, they will often maintain contact and become old friends; if the matchmaker does a bad job and both sides are not satisfied, they will usually blame the matchmaker and treat them as strangers.
By making a successful match, the matchmaker can receive some money and gifts, known as “thank you gifts for the matchmaker”. This money is generally paid by the man (if it is the man who goes to the woman’s family, then it is paid by the woman’s family), and the day before the wedding, it is sent to the matchmaker’s house along with chickens, pork joints, shoes and socks, and fabric. The matchmaker must go to guide the pick-up on the next day, which is called “rounding the matchmaker” or “starting the matchmaker” or “sending off the matchmaker”. The amount of money for the thank you gifts depends on the economic situation of the family, but regardless of the amount, it must be sealed in a red envelope, called a “red packet” or “envelope”. It is customary to write “seal for the envelope” on the red envelope.
Eight Characters and Zodiac Compatibility
Ancient people placed great emphasis on marriage compatibility. If a man wanted to marry a woman, he would first obtain the woman’s eight characters, then give them to a fortune teller to calculate whether they were a good match or not, commonly known as “jia wu jia.” If the woman’s fate was in conflict with the man’s or if their eight characters clashed, the two families could not form a marriage alliance. The woman’s eight characters could also be placed on an altar in the man’s home for divination. If nothing unusual happened in the next three days, the two families could become in-laws.
As for zodiac compatibility, there are many folk sayings. Compatible ones include: “A green rabbit and a yellow dog have always been a good match, a red horse and a yellow sheep have a long life, a black rat and a yellow ox thrive together, a blue ox and a black pig are happy to go to the ocean, a dragon and a rooster live long…” While incompatible ones include: “A white horse fears a blue ox, a sheep and a rat can’t carry a burden together, a snake and a tiger are like knives, a dragon and a rabbit fear communication, a golden rooster fears a jade dog, a pig and a monkey never agree on anything.”
After being matched by a matchmaker, the man often requests to meet the woman in person. This activity, in which the man visits the woman’s home with the matchmaker, is called “kan qin” or “xiang qin” in Chinese.
The date of the meeting is arranged by the matchmaker and communicated to both parties, so both sides need to prepare. In the past, this meeting was a critical point in determining whether a marriage could be successful, especially for the man, who must be particularly serious about it. Although gifts are not particularly important, usually consisting of things like cigarettes, alcohol, or snacks, they must be tailored to the recipient’s preferences and avoid taboo topics with the recipient’s parents. Dress should be dignified and modest, and behavior should be courteous and respectful. In ancient times, men could only secretly steal a glance at the girl through the matchmaker, but now both men and women can meet and talk directly, giving both sides a chance to get to know each other.
China is a country that emphasizes etiquette and subtlety. The results of the meeting are often not directly expressed, but indicated through various hints. In many places, after the man enters the house, the girl’s parents will first pour him a cup of hot tea. If the man likes the girl, he will drink the tea in one gulp. Then the girl’s parents will discuss the matter with the girl, and if they agree to the marriage, they will invite the man and the matchmaker to have a meal. If not, they will allow the man to say goodbye and go home. Some parents even ask the matchmaker to take away the gift that the man brought.
In some areas, in addition to the meeting, there is also the custom of “cha ren jia” or “kan dang”. This is actually a form of meeting, in which the man is brought by the matchmaker to meet the girl and the girl’s parents do not express their opinions on the marriage. Then the matchmaker takes the man to visit the girl’s family. In the Qi Yang area of Hunan province, it is called “kan dang”. During “kan dang”, the man’s parents should first offer a cup of tea, and then talk to the girl’s parents to understand the situation. If the girl’s parents agree to the marriage after visiting the man’s family and talking with his parents, they will drink the tea, and the man’s parents will immediately be considered as “in-laws” and treated with hospitality. Otherwise, the girl’s parents should immediately say goodbye, and the man should not force them to stay.
After seeing each other, the couple needs to go through the betrothal ceremony, also known as “guo li”. In the first step of “guo li”, the matchmaker sends the birthdates and eight characters of the groom to the bride’s family, and vice versa. Some superstitious parents believe that they are responsible for their children’s marriage, so they consult a fortune teller to see if the birthdates and eight characters match. If they do not match, they will need to reconsider the marriage. Nowadays, most people do not believe in this anymore, so even if they exchange the red envelopes, it is often just a formality, and some even skip the exchange of envelopes. After confirming that the birthdates and eight characters match, the matchmaker selects a good date for the groom to visit the bride’s family to formalize the engagement. Giving gifts is a big part of “guo li”, and the proposer (whether male or female) needs to give a significant gift to the other party. The gifts usually include meat, liquor, candy, snacks, clothing, fabric, and even jewelry and red envelopes, according to local customs. The specific amount varies from place to place and is usually negotiated in advance by the matchmaker and the two parties. The groom’s or bride’s parents should also consider the other party and try to be frugal and not ask for too much.
After the betrothal ceremony, the couple can agree on a date to obtain a marriage certificate and officially establish a marital relationship. Modern regulations require the couple to undergo premarital medical examinations before obtaining a marriage certificate. In some areas (mainly cities), the couple also needs to attend premarital classes. These are effective measures to ensure high-quality population and should be complied with.
Choosing an Auspicious Day
After obtaining the marriage certificate, the couple has legally established a marital relationship. However, in China, this is just the prelude to the wedding ceremony. According to tradition, the parents of the proposer need to choose an auspicious day for the wedding and inform the other party and the matchmaker. This is called “choosing an auspicious day” and “sending the wedding date.”
Choosing an auspicious day usually involves consulting astrologers or fortune tellers, or the family can choose a day themselves. Generally, as long as the day is auspicious, it is considered a good day. After choosing the day, the couple confirms the wedding date and sends out wedding invitations to invite friends and family to attend the wedding.
The wedding invitations are usually personally delivered by the proposer or their parents. When the guests receive the wedding invitations, except for special circumstances where they can only give gifts without attending, they generally need to visit the couple and congratulate them. Before congratulating them, they need to prepare gifts. The weight of the gifts depends on the relationship between the guest and the couple, the depth of their friendship, and the guest’s financial condition. The gifts for the groom’s family usually include a red envelope with money, and the envelope should have a blessing written on it. The gifts for the bride’s family are often sent spontaneously upon hearing the news of the wedding, rather than waiting for the wedding invitation to arrive. This is because the bride’s parents need to use the number of gifts received to determine the scale of the “wedding wine.”
Sending off the Bride
When a girl gets married, her family and friends will send her a batch of clothing or household items as a congratulations gift, which is commonly known as “sending off the bride”. The girl should then divide the “pomegranate” bread, white cakes, pork and other gifts that her husband’s family gave her during the engagement ceremony and share them with her family and friends as a gesture of gratitude.
Sending Betrothal Gifts
Two days before the wedding, the groom should bring the betrothal gifts agreed upon to the bride’s family. In Guangzhou, it is customary to give chickens (meaning vitality), coconuts (symbolizing father and son, family happiness), and cakes (given to the bride’s relatives) as gifts. In addition, they should also give a gift of money to show that the groom’s family is wealthy and will provide a good life for the bride after she marries into the family.
The bride’s family will also give a return gift, which may include betel nuts (symbolizing the groom).
The Night Before the Wedding
On the night before the wedding, the groom’s family should decorate with lights and colorful decorations, and both the bride and groom should bathe and fast. In the past, the bride would have her face plucked (using thin string to remove facial hair), do her hair, and tie a high bun, but nowadays, she typically styles her hair in an updo and does her makeup. On the night before the wedding, the groom’s family will find a woman who is considered to be lucky (meaning she has a happy family, living parents, and sons) to prepare the new bed. They will also place peanuts, red dates, walnuts, and other auspicious foods at the head of the bed, which signify a prosperous future with many children. The groom will have his hair cut, shave, wear a hat, tie a red thread around it, attach two red roses, and wear a long shirt and jacket. Later, it was changed to a uniform, but now it is mostly a suit and leather shoes.
Chinese wedding symbol
There are many symbols and customs associated with traditional Chinese weddings. Here are a few:
The color red: Red is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture, so it is often used prominently in wedding celebrations. The bride typically wears a red dress or gown, and the wedding decorations often feature red as well.
Double happiness symbol: This symbol is often displayed at Chinese weddings. It is a character made up of two copies of the Chinese character for happiness, and it is meant to represent the happiness of the bride and groom.
Dragon and phoenix: These two mythical creatures are often used in Chinese weddings to represent the groom (dragon) and bride (phoenix). The dragon is a symbol of strength and power, while the phoenix represents grace and beauty.
Tea ceremony: The tea ceremony is a traditional Chinese wedding ritual in which the bride and groom serve tea to their parents and other elders as a way of showing respect and gratitude.
Wedding banquet: A lavish wedding banquet is an important part of many Chinese weddings. It is often a time for the families of the bride and groom to come together and celebrate the marriage.
Here are the translations of the wedding supplies and auspicious items mentioned:
Red Double Happiness Character (红喜字)
The traditional Chinese wedding often features the prominent red double happiness character, which is composed of two “喜” (xi) characters. It represents double happiness, extraordinary joy, and auspiciousness, symbolizing good luck and a happy life for the newlyweds. Nowadays, it is common for both the bride and groom to display the red double happiness character, especially in families with only one child.
Dowry Chest (压钱箱)
The dowry chest is one of the items brought by the bride’s family during the wedding ceremony, symbolizing their wealth. It is also a cherished possession and a collection of the bride. Typically, money is placed in the four corners of the chest, known as “压箱角” (ya xiang jiao) or “垫箱角” (dian xiang jiao). The amount of money placed in the chest varies based on the financial situation of the bride’s family, usually in even numbers.
Flower Candles (花烛)
Flower candles are exquisite candles used in traditional weddings, often adorned with beautiful and auspicious patterns. In the bridal chamber, a pair of red candles is lit simultaneously and extinguished together, symbolizing the newlyweds’ lifelong union and happiness.
Food-related auspicious items for weddings:
Tea holds significant importance in traditional Chinese culture, and in weddings, it represents blessings for fertility. Different regions and ethnic groups in China have various tea-related customs for betrothals. For example, in Gansu Province, tea leaves are given as part of the betrothal gift, and in Hubei Province, salt and tea are customary gifts exchanged during the engagement.
Scattering Fruits (撒账)
Scattering fruits, known as “撒账” (sa zhang), was a popular custom in traditional wedding ceremonies where a variety of fruits were scattered onto the marriage bed. The types of fruits used varied between northern and southern regions, with dates, chestnuts, peanuts, lotus seeds, lychees, and more being common choices. These fruits symbolize fertility, prosperity, and a colorful life.
Red Beans (红豆)
Red beans are traditionally used as a sweet ingredient in Chinese cuisine. In weddings, they symbolize the romantic and sweet life of the couple after marriage.
Red Eggs (红鸡蛋)
In some regions, there was a custom of placing red eggs in the dowry. These eggs were cooked and dyed red, then placed in a red lacquer container called “子孙桶” (zi sun tong), symbolizing the wish for the bride to bear many children. During the wedding, guests would ask for red eggs from the bride as it was believed to bring good luck and fertility.
Wedding Pastries (喜饼)
Wedding pastries, known as “喜饼” (xi bing), are traditional food items associated with wedding celebrations. They are purchased and distributed to share the joy of the newlyweds. Giving out wedding pastries signifies the announcement of the marriage and is a way to convey the happiness to every relative and friend.
What happens at a Chinese wedding
Besides knowing how the Chinese marry, you should learn what happens in such weddings before attending one. Chinese weddings are lavish ceremonies that include different rituals. Some of the crucial ones include the following.
Chinese wedding traditions tea ceremony
This is an intimate tradition that is observed during the wedding day and includes the families of the groom and bride. The tea ceremony gives the couple the chance to show respect to their families. Some of the people who attend this ceremony include in-laws, parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents.
The ceremony takes place in the couple’s family home. Before the tea ceremony, the couple wears traditional wedding garments. The couple has to serve the family Chinese tea called Tsao Chun while kneeling down. The tea can also be accompanied by traditional elements like dates and lotus seeds. This symbolizes the sweetness in the marriage. After serving tea, the family then gives the couple a red envelope containing jewelry or money. The red envelope is referred to as hong bao.
Chinese wedding door games
Besides this tradition, the Chinese also engage in door games that test the groom. Door games are referred to as Chuangmen. The bridesmaids prepare door games to assess how determined the groom is to marry his bride.
Though the door games sometimes vary from one Chinese wedding to the other, they are used to assess how well the groom knows the bride. The bride’s family only marries her off after the groom passes all the tests and proves himself.
Chinese wedding history
Chinese weddings have been in existence from 402 and 221 BC. The Chinese prohibited practices such as free courtship and freedom to choose a spouse in the past. Parents’ desires played a big role in determining whether a couple could get married.
Things such as love between a couple did not matter in the past. A couple often got married without knowing one another. Some of the main things that parents looked for before choosing partners for their children included social status.
Chinese weddings included six stages, commonly referred to as six etiquettes. This includes the marriage proposal, birthday matching, presenting gifts, choosing the wedding date then the ceremony.
According to legend, the earliest marriage relationships and wedding ceremonies in China began with Fuxi’s marriage customs and Nuwa’s matchmaker agreements. The “Outer Records of the Chronicles” states, “In ancient times, men and women were not distinguished. Taihao initiated the custom of marriage and used pairs of deer hides as a ceremony.” From then on, the pair of deer hides became a classic bridal gift. Later on, in addition to the “ceremony of the pair of deer hides,” it was necessary to “inform the parents.” During the Xia and Shang Dynasties, the ceremony of “meeting the bride’s family in the courtyard” and “meeting the bride’s family in the hall” appeared. The Zhou Dynasty was the culmination of etiquette and rituals, and a complete set of marriage rituals gradually formed. The “Book of Rites” contains detailed regulations, and the entire set of ceremonies is called the “Six Rites.” The Six Rites became the template for traditional Chinese weddings and have been passed down to this day.
The wedding ceremony during the Zhou Dynasty inherited from ancient times until the Xia and Shang Dynasties, and was integrated during the founding of the Western Zhou Dynasty through rituals and music. It flourished during the gentlemanly demeanor of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, and has remained the blueprint for Chinese weddings for three thousand years, ultimately becoming a brilliant sight.
At that time, the wedding ceremony was also called the “Hun ceremony.” There were no extravagant bridal gifts, no ostentatious scenes, and no noisy feasts. The Hun ceremony emphasized the husband and wife’s duty and the bond of marriage, and did not consider it a matter for noise and bustle. The Hun ceremony was simple and clean, without the later complex rituals such as covering the head or making noise in the bridal chamber. The couple “ate together in the same enclosure and drank from the same cup,” and then entered the bridal chamber hand in hand. The next day, they would pay respects to their uncles and aunts, and three months later, they would report to the family temple. From then on, the bride officially became part of the husband’s family clan.
The Hun clothes during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties were not the bright red ones that people today misunderstand. They were dignified black ceremonial robes (black, which is red in the midst of black, is a color that symbolizes the most sacred of all, according to the Five Elements concept). The bride’s family kept the candles burning for three days, missing their daughter who had gone far away. The groom’s family did not hold any celebrations for three days, comforting the bride who missed her parents. The entire ceremony was peaceful and solemn, but the quiet and meticulous rituals had a powerful impact. The quiet and beautiful ceremony that began at dusk reflected a long-lost civilization breath, which was pure, beautiful, and great Chinese civilization, that speaks directly to people’s hearts.
It is unknown when weddings gradually started to be held during the daytime. Perhaps it was due to the wars after the Han Dynasty, which made the nights unsafe, or maybe it was because wedding ceremonies became more elaborate and longer, which led to them being held in the morning and lasting for a whole day.
Unlike modern weddings, weddings in the Pre-Qin and Han dynasties were very formal, with the bride’s father receiving the groom outside the gate. Moreover, the groom was subjected to various tests and challenges. During the Tang Dynasty, weddings began to feature elements such as a decorated carriage, the groom being brought into the bride’s home, and the observation of flower and candle rituals.
As wedding ceremonies began to include congratulatory guests and banquets, the festive atmosphere expanded gradually. In ancient rites, weddings did not involve music or feasts for guests, and only a special seat was prepared for the newlyweds in the bridal chamber. In later times, the banquet for guests became an essential part of weddings, and the “noisy room” became a preserved program. Perhaps the most familiar wedding custom today is the exchange of vows between the bride and groom, including bowing to heaven and earth and to each other’s parents.
Looking at these two traditional Chinese wedding models, it is not difficult to see that with China’s long history, vast territory, and diverse cultural genes, the degree of change is natural. Having experienced many ups and downs in national fortunes, Chinese weddings have slowly evolved over time.
Interestingly, from the revisions of the ritual books from various dynasties, we can see the ancient Chinese attitude towards these changes: a preference for the marriage system in the Zhou Dynasty and tolerance for the secular marriage system. Therefore, the ideal and the secular are not contradictory but have their own markets. This is perhaps one of the characteristics of Chinese culture; the ancients had given
Chinese wedding clothes
Traditional Chinese wedding dress
The bride’s wedding dress is often red since this color symbolizes good fortune and happiness. This dress is called Qipao, and it often comes in a silver and gold design. While some Chinese brides wear a one-piece frock, others prefer to wear a two-piece wedding dress called Qun Kwa. The bride also puts on a covering veil that contains colorful patterns.
Traditional Chinese men’s wedding clothes
The groom can wear a traditional tang outfit to the wedding. This includes a jacket and a long sheath, and it goes well with the bride’s qun kwa. Tang suits for the groom also feature dragon embroidery. In China, a dragon symbolizes power and honor. Alternatively, the groom can also wear a mandarin collar jacket.
Traditional Chinese wedding gifts
Besides the red envelope that we mentioned, traditional Chinese weddings also have other gifts. For instance, the groom’s family prepares 12 gifts to present to the bride’s family during the wedding ceremony. Some of the wedding gifts include firecrackers, candles, cookies, cakes, shoes, purses, clothes, jewelry, and money.
Traditional Chinese wedding hairstyles
Chinese brides match their dresses with unique hairstyles. They use different accessories on their hair to match the unique patterns of their dresses. Apart from choosing an ideal hairstyle, the bride should also prepare for the hair combing ceremony, which represents the transition to adulthood.
Traditional Chinese wedding food
Good food is important in a traditional Chinese wedding. The Chinese often prepare ten-course meals for guests. The menu often includes rice balls which symbolize a happy life. A fish course also forms part of the traditional wedding food since the Chinese believe that it symbolizes abundance.
They also serve pig which symbolizes that the bride is pure, and duck or chicken, which is a sign of peace. Sweet lotus seed is also present in traditional Chinese weddings since it represents fertility.
Do Chinese weddings have alcohol?
Chinese people believe that weddings are important events in life, and every detail should not be taken lightly. Alcohol is an important element in welcoming guests, and it is essential for a wedding. Chinese culture has a saying that “there is no banquet without alcohol,” indicating the importance of alcohol at weddings. Therefore, when planning a wedding, it is essential to select the appropriate alcohol carefully.
Wedding alcohol mainly refers to the types of alcohol used at weddings: Baijiu (Chinese white liquor), red wine, beer, Sprite, and Coke. These alcohols have symbolic meaning in the wedding in their name and packaging.
“Xi Jiu” (喜酒) is often synonymous with weddings in China. Preparing Xi Jiu (喜酒) is equivalent to preparing for a wedding, and attending a wedding is also attending a Xi Jiu (喜酒) ceremony. Of course, alcohol is an indispensable element at wedding banquets. It can help the newlyweds and guests communicate better and build stronger relationships. However, many people do not understand the culture of Xi Jiu (喜酒) customs. In this article, we will introduce the cultural significance of Xi Jiu (喜酒) hidden in Chinese wedding customs.
wedding feast Etiquette
Chinese wedding banquet etiquette is complex and particular, from seating arrangements to menu composition, from dining etiquette to food placement, all of which have a set of etiquette rules. As a traditional ceremony in Chinese weddings, drinking alcohol has a profound cultural significance, such as expressing gratitude to the in-laws, drinking “cross-cupped wine” (交杯酒) to symbolize sharing joy and suffering with the partner, and toasting to parents to show respect and gratitude.
Once the wedding banquet has reached a certain stage, the newlyweds must toast each guest according to their rank. The newlyweds should personally pour the guests’ glasses and lift them up for the guests, but the guests are not obligated to drink the whole glass at once. After the guests put down their glasses, the newlyweds should thank them and refill their glasses before toasting to the next guest. As guests, when drinking Xi Jiu (喜酒), they should offer their congratulations and blessings to the newlyweds, as well as drink in moderation, to ensure a healthy and happy atmosphere at the wedding.
wedding feast Culture
From traditional Chinese culture, we can see that alcohol is not only a drink that can enliven the atmosphere when inviting friends over, but also a drink that can bring auspicious meanings to the wedding celebration. Alcohol is associated with the “nine” sound, which has the largest number in Chinese culture and represents auspiciousness. It is also similar in sound to “long-lasting” (久), which is the most desired blessing for Chinese newlyweds. Therefore, alcohol becomes the “VIP guest” of the wedding banquet and is a must-have for Chinese weddings.
Nuerhong yellow wine
Nuerhong is a type of yellow wine from Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China. It is also made from glutinous rice and added with brown sugar, which gives it a unique flavor. This wine has six different tastes, including sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy. It is also more nutritious than other types of wine, containing essential amino acids that can provide warmth and heat to the body in cold weather, dispel cold and dampness, and enhance the body’s resistance. It has excellent health benefits.
In Shaoxing, it is a tradition to brew several barrels of yellow wine when a daughter is born and store them underground. The wine is then taken out to entertain guests at the daughter’s wedding. After long-term fermentation, the wine becomes very mellow and is considered the best among yellow wines.
Chinese wedding noodles
The noodles eaten at weddings are called “longevity noodles” or “heart-easing noodles,” symbolizing a wish for the couple to live a healthy and long life, grow old together without worries, and enjoy a happy and carefree life. This is an old tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, adding to the festive atmosphere of weddings. The bride and groom should eat the noodles from both ends at the same time and finish them all. If dumplings are also served, they should not be left uneaten. If the newlyweds cannot finish them, the elder members of the groom’s family should eat them to avoid losing any blessings.
Noodles represent a wish for the newlyweds to have a long and happy life together. It is believed that the noodles should not be bitten in the middle, as this would bring bad luck to the marriage. Eating noodles at a wedding also represents the family’s blessings for the couple. In addition to noodles, it is also traditional to serve dumplings, which symbolize the hope for the couple to have children soon. The long and unbroken noodle represents the hope that the couple’s marriage will be long-lasting and happy, while the “heart-easing” noodles represent the harmony and love in the family.
Chinese wedding eggs
In traditional Chinese culture, red-colored boiled eggs are used as a symbol of good luck and are often given as gifts during weddings and the birth of a child. The Chinese word for “chicken” sounds like the word for “good luck”, so the eggs are often dyed red and given as “Xi Dan” or “lucky eggs” to guests as a way to symbolize the couple’s hope for a happy and prosperous future together, as well as the hope for the birth of children and grandchildren.
During weddings in rural areas of Hunan and Hubei provinces, eggs play an important role in the celebration. In the morning of the wedding day, the groom’s relatives and matchmaker must eat eggs before setting off to the bride’s home, to symbolize prosperity and a frequent visit. When the bride arrives, the bride’s family presents eggs to the groom’s party, always in pairs, to symbolize the joining of two families. The bride and groom also each receive a bowl of eggs and chicken legs to wish them a happy and fulfilling marriage.
On the morning after the wedding, the groom’s mother steams a chicken with dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula) and presents it to the newlyweds. Inside the chicken, there are two cooked eggs. The bride and groom each eat an egg to symbolize their hearts coming together, never to be separated. They then share the chicken, and if they cannot finish it all, they continue eating it throughout the day until it is gone, as a way to symbolize their commitment to each other and their future together.
Chinese wedding dumplings
The tradition of eating dumplings at weddings is quite common in northern China, as dumplings are a must-have dish for festive occasions. Moreover, eating dumplings has many auspicious meanings such as “early birth of a noble child,” “reunion,” “fortune,” and so on, which are sincere blessings for the newlyweds.
Eating dumplings is a northern Chinese custom for newlyweds. Dumplings are also known as “jiaozi,” which sounds like the word for “exchange,” signifying the transfer of the bride from her family to the groom’s family.
When eating dumplings, others may ask whether the dumplings are “sheng” (raw) or “shou” (cooked), but the question sounds like asking whether the new couple will have a child soon, which represents a good wish for the couple to have a baby early.
Eating dumplings at weddings has many good meanings, such as wishing for a happy marriage, a lot of children, and prosperity. Usually, the groom feeds the bride dumplings, and the guests ask the bride whether the filling is “sheng” or “shou,” and she answers “sheng,” indicating a good omen for the couple to have children soon.
The number of dumplings also has specific meanings. There should be “one pair for heaven, one pair for earth, one pair for father, one pair for mother,” and “one pair for oneself for each year of age.” Some people also put sugar, peanuts, or dates in the filling to indicate a sweet and happy life or an early birth of a noble child.
Before the bride arrives, people eat dumplings to express their hope that the newlyweds will be prosperous and lucky. This is called “shangma jiaozi” or “sending off dumplings.”
After the bride arrives, the couple feeds each other dumplings, and others ask whether the dumplings are “sheng” or “shou.” The couple should answer “sheng” together, signifying a good omen for the couple to have children early.
In conclusion, eating dumplings at weddings is a meaningful and cherished tradition in northern China, symbolizing blessings for the newlyweds and their future.
chinese wedding Tangyuan
Tangyuan is round, so people attribute to it a beautiful meaning of reunion and harmony. It is hoped that the newlyweds will always stay together and never experience a broken relationship, and that they can balance their busy work with their family. When eating tangyuan, it is important to choose an integer number of them.
Family happiness and harmony are the key themes of the custom of eating tangyuan at weddings. It symbolizes the new couple’s reunion and happiness, and is believed to bring good luck. It also represents the sweetness of the newlyweds and the happiness of their family. In ancient China, there were many customs and traditions surrounding weddings, and eating tangyuan was considered an auspicious food, representing reunion and harmony.
When it comes to the quantity of tangyuan to eat, people often choose an integer number because they hope that good things will come in pairs. If you don’t have a big appetite, two tangyuan is enough to fill your stomach. This is especially important for the bride, who wants to maintain her figure and look good in her wedding dress. Some people eat six tangyuan, which is just enough to fill their stomach before noon, since the wedding day is busy and there may not be time for a proper lunch. Six tangyuan also represents a smooth and happy marriage. Eight tangyuan symbolize complete happiness and prosperity.
There are many other wedding customs, such as the groom eating tangyuan with his relatives and friends before leaving to pick up the bride. The mother of the bride feeds her daughter tangyuan, while the bride cries. The groom presents a bouquet of flowers to the bride’s family when they meet, and the bride’s friends may playfully block his way, but he must offer a red envelope to pass. The bride says goodbye to her parents, while the groom bows to them. The bride is then escorted to the car by a respected female relative, who holds a bamboo plaque or black umbrella over her head to protect her from the sun.
In Chinese weddings, “happiness candies” are part of the bride’s family’s “six-color gifts” or “twelve-color gifts” given to the groom’s family. They are usually given out when the bride gets in the wedding car and when the couple enters the bridal chamber. The candies represent the sweetness of the wedding and the hope for a happy marriage.
Traditionally, there are four types of happiness candies, also known as “four-color candies”: rock sugar, winter melon candy, tangerine candy, and longan candy. These represent the four seasons, sweetness, and growing old together.
Each type of happiness candy has a specific meaning:
Rock sugar represents early childbirth and a prosperous family
Soft candy, such as cotton candy, represents a future with many children and grandchildren
Lollipop has two different meanings, one is not commonly used because it is believed to be bad luck as it represents a bachelor, and the other represents having a baby boy in the future
Milk candy represents growing old together
It is also possible to make your own milk candy, and this carries the additional meaning of a handmade, special gift for a happy marriage.
chinese wedding fruits
What fruits can be used for a wedding reception?
For a Chinese wedding, it’s common to choose fruits that symbolize good fortune. For example, apples represent safety and peace, grapes symbolize a house full of children and grandchildren, and tangerines represent good luck and happiness. Other options include longan and lotus seeds, which represent early birth of a son.
What fruits are usually avoided at a wedding reception?
Some fruits, despite being delicious, are avoided due to their pronunciation being similar to unlucky words. In particular, peaches, pears, strawberries, and mulberries are typically not used in wedding fruit arrangements.
【Dates】: Symbolize a sweet and happy marriage
【Longan】: Symbolize completeness and fullness
【Jujube】: Symbolize having a son at an early age
【Pomegranate】: Symbolize having many children and grandchildren
【Waxberry】: Symbolize living happily after marriage
【Mandarin oranges】: Symbolize good luck and well wishes
【Sugarcane】: Symbolize rising up and having a better life
【Apples】: Symbolize safety and peace
【Persimmons】: Symbolize fulfillment and success
【Mangoes】: Symbolize devotion and true love
【Honeydew】: Symbolize a sweet and happy life
【Dragon fruit】: Symbolize having a vibrant and prosperous life
chinese weddings nuts
The “early birth of a noble child” is a custom that is highly valued by both male and female elders in marriage customs. It means the hope of having children early. Usually, it is prepared in advance on the night before the bride’s wedding day and laid on the wedding bed on the wedding day.
One of the four things for the early birth of a noble child in marriage is “red dates.”
The word “date” in “red dates” sounds the same as the word “early” in Chinese. In most parts of China, it is a tradition to put red dates on the bed in the new home during the wedding, which is believed to symbolize the hope of having children early. Red dates also symbolize a prosperous and happy life, hoping that the newlyweds’ life will get better and better.
One of the four things for the early birth of a noble child in marriage is “peanuts.”
The word “birth” in “peanuts” is the same as the word “giving birth” in Chinese. The older generation believes that peanuts symbolize multiple children and grandchildren, symbolizing a colorful, happy, and peaceful life. Nutritious peanuts represent people’s yearning for a good life and the fruitfulness of success.
One of the four things for the early birth of a noble child in marriage is “longan.”
The word “gui” in “longan” sounds the same as the word “noble” in Chinese. Longan is both nourishing and rich, and it has the meaning of having a noble child. Therefore, on the wedding day, dried longan will be placed on the new couple’s bed as a blessing for them to have a noble child soon.
One of the four things for the early birth of a noble child in marriage is “lotus seeds.”
Lotus seeds represent “continuous children,” which means a prosperous and thriving family. There is an old saying that goes: “There are lotus on the top and lotus roots below.” It means that a perfect match between husband and wife, and they will have continuous love and offspring. Lotus seeds also have the meaning of “heart,” which symbolizes the mutual love between husband and wife. So, the beautiful wish for the new couple is to have a happy and prosperous marriage with lots of children and grandchildren.
Many families like to use jujubes, lychees, or sorghum to make fruit plates for weddings because “jujube” sounds like “early” and “lychee” or “sorghum” sounds like “son.” It implies the wish for the early birth of a son. Some families also use jujubes, peanuts, or longan to make fruit plates, which means the hope for the early birth of a noble child.
How to arrange “early-born auspicious children”?
Randomly scatter the items and don’t care too much about the shape. While saying good words, sprinkle the mixture of red dates, peanuts, longans, and lotus seeds that have been prepared in advance directly on the wedding bed or sprinkle them in the center of the bed.
The most basic way is to arrange four layers around and gradually form a heart shape or a circular shape from the inside out. For example, heart-shaped symbolizes love and being single-minded; round symbolizes harmony and beauty. Two connected hearts can be placed to symbolize being together. The arrangement of red dates, peanuts, longans, and lotus seeds also varies: they can be mixed and poured into a mold in advance, or they can be filled in order from the inside out according to the “early-born auspicious children” sequence.
Arrange the red dates, peanuts, longans, and lotus seeds into the shape of the characters “early-born auspicious children”. As we all know, these items represent the blessings and expectations of family members for the newlyweds to have children early and auspiciously. Therefore, many bed arrangements will arrange red dates, peanuts, longans, and lotus seeds into the shape of the characters “early-born auspicious children”. They can be placed under the pillow, in the center of the bed, or on the edge of the bed.
In addition to red dates, peanuts, longan, and lotus seeds, the following fruits can also be prepared in the fruit plate:
Ginkgo nuts: Also known as silver apricot, ginkgo nuts are white in color and symbolize the wish for the couple to grow old together.
Pistachios: The name of pistachios already sounds lucky, representing the wish for the newlyweds to always be happy.
Melon seeds: Like lotus seeds and chestnuts, melon seeds symbolize the wish for the couple to have children as soon as possible.
Walnuts: Walnuts represent the wish for the couple to have a harmonious and peaceful marriage.
The Symbolic Meaning of the 8 Treasures in Wedding Customs
Comb: The Chinese proverb “combing to the end once, combing white hair to the eyebrows twice, and combing for grandchildren thrice” reflects the meaning of the comb, which symbolizes lifelong love and companionship, and wishes the couple a happy and long-lasting marriage.
Ruler: The ruler is a measuring tool, and in the context of marriage, it is used to measure the standard of happiness, wishing the newlyweds a hundred children and grandchildren, and a long-lasting happiness. It is also a blessing for the couple’s future success in life and career.
Money Box: The ninth treasure of the wedding customs is the money box, which is one of the bride’s dowry gifts. It indicates that the bride’s family is wealthy and also serves as a place for the bride to store her cherished items.
Scales: The scales are taken from the traditional wedding ceremony where the groom lifts the bride’s red veil. As one of the nine treasures, it is a gift from parents to their daughter on her wedding day, wishing her a happy and harmonious marriage.
Mirror: The mirror represents completeness and beauty, and symbolizes the bride’s beauty and grace. It is a wish for the bride’s happy and sweet marriage, and a hope that she will maintain her youthful and beautiful appearance throughout her life.
Measuring Container: Originally used to measure grain, the measuring container is used in the wedding ceremony to demonstrate the wealth and prosperity of the groom’s family. It also symbolizes the rich and worry-free life the daughter will have after marriage.
Scissors: As one of the “six essentials” in traditional wedding customs, scissors are mainly used for cutting clothes. In the context of marriage, they symbolize the luxurious fabrics and successful future life that the bride will enjoy.
Abacus: An abacus is a tool used for calculating income and expenses in daily life. As one of the nine treasures in wedding customs, it represents the newlyweds’ ideal and plan for a peaceful and prosperous life, and the ability to invest and manage their finances wisely to gain wealth and abundance.
Chinese wedding flowers
Traditional Chinese weddings are never complete without flowers. These are used as decorative elements at the wedding. The Chinese incorporate some of the common flowers in their weddings, like lilies, lotus, peonies, and orchids.
Each flower signifies something. For instance, lilies represent a happy union, while the lotus symbolizes purity based on Chinese culture. On the other hand, orchid flowers symbolize fertility and love, while peony represents wealth and peace.
what flowers are good luck for a Chinese wedding
1: Red Plum Blossom
For a traditional Chinese wedding, red plum blossoms are a popular choice. They embody the beauty and elegance of Chinese culture. If the wedding takes place in the fall or winter, decorating the venue with red plum blossoms is a beautiful option. For example, placing a few branches of osmanthus in an antique vase adds both beauty and a light fragrance.
The peony is a favored flower of Empress Wu Zetian and symbolizes nobility and elegance. Using a bouquet of colorful peonies in a Chinese wedding is very festive and adds a touch of luxury.
How can flowers be used in a traditional Chinese wedding? The lotus is a popular choice, favored by poets and scholars for its pure and beautiful nature. As a hand-held bouquet, it is particularly exquisite.
The rose, like the peony, is a flowering plant and has a similar appearance. Its colors vary, and the buds bloom into beautiful, seductive flowers. As a basic flower, it is suitable for many purposes.
The camellia is one of China’s ten famous flowers. It pairs well with roses for creating arches or as a bouquet. The white camellia is particularly beautiful and would complement a bride wearing a white wedding gown.
6: Osmanthus Tree
Although the osmanthus tree does not stand out as a decoration due to its hard petals, its strong fragrance can be used to enhance a bouquet, much like sunflowers. It adds a poetic touch to the overall design.
These flowers are associated with joy and happiness in Chinese culture and are often used in weddings. They are also believed to bring longevity and good fortune.
These elegant flowers are a symbol of love, fertility, and strength in Chinese culture. They are often used in weddings to represent the couple’s love and commitment.
bad flowers at Chinese wedding
In Chinese culture, certain flowers are considered unlucky or inappropriate for weddings. Here are some examples:
White flowers: White is traditionally associated with mourning and funerals in Chinese culture, so white flowers such as white lilies, white chrysanthemums, and white roses are often avoided at weddings.
Sharp or thorny flowers: Flowers with sharp or thorny stems, such as cactus, are considered inauspicious for weddings because they symbolize conflict and disagreement.
Clocks or watches: Although not flowers, clocks and watches are also considered bad luck at Chinese weddings because they symbolize running out of time or the end of a relationship.
Pears: Pears are considered bad luck at Chinese weddings because the word for “pear” sounds similar to the word for “separation” in Chinese.
Cut flowers: Cut flowers are generally not recommended for Chinese weddings because they symbolize a short life span or a short-lived relationship.
It’s important to note that regional and personal preferences may vary, so it’s always best to check with the couple or their families before choosing flowers for a Chinese wedding.
Chinese wedding taboos and things to avoid
According to Chinese culture, a couple should not attend joyous events within three months of their wedding. The Chinese believe that this can result in a doomed wedding and marriage. The bride should keep off baby showers before her marriage since this can make her lose a good fortune. Rather than attending such events, couples can send gifts.
Use wrong colors
We mentioned that red is the main theme color in traditional Chinese weddings. The wrong use of colors is considered taboo in such weddings. If, for instance, you are a guest, you should not wear red to the wedding since this is specifically meant for the bride. You should also avoid dark colors since they symbolize bad luck.
Using the matrimonial bed
Though not every modern Chinese wedding prepares the matrimonial bed, this was a common practice in the past. The couple’s bedroom is decorated using red lamps and gold and is blessed. Once the matrimonial bed is blessed, the Chinese believe that no one should sleep on it. Breaking this taboo could bring bad luck to the newlyweds.
Serving fish cut into portions
During traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies, fish is often served whole. Serving fish that is cut into portions is taboo according to their culture. This is because a whole fish intact symbolizes abundance. Cutting the fish could bring bad misfortune to the couple.
Wedding Day Etiquette
Greeting the Bride’s Family
On the morning of the wedding day, the groom and his party bring six or twelve gifts and set off in a red or flower sedan with colorful flags, a band, and firecrackers to the bride’s home. As they approach the bride’s home, they set off more firecrackers, and the bride’s family responds in kind, indicating their readiness to receive them. The matchmaker alights from the car first, followed by the others, and the groom is escorted out by the bride’s younger relatives. The matchmaker formally introduces the groom’s family to the bride’s family, starting with the groom’s side. The groom presents the gifts to the bride’s family, who accept them and offer a red envelope in return. The gifts are then placed in the living room, and the matchmaker hands over jewelry, the list of gifts, and other items to the bride’s parents, who collect the gifts and place them on the ancestral altar.
The bride’s uncle lights candles and incense, and the bride’s parents pay homage to their ancestors and inform them of the marriage and pray for their blessings.
Before setting off for the wedding, the bride eats tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) with her parents, siblings, and close friends to signify their separation. The mother feeds the daughter the tangyuan, and the bride weeps.
After meeting the bride’s family, the groom must give flowers to the bride. At this point, the bride’s friends will intentionally block the groom, and he must go through a series of intellectual and physical challenges, including singing love songs if necessary, before being allowed to enter the house.
Finding the Red Shoes
When the bride leaves for the groom’s home, he searches for her red shoes and helps her put them on. Then the bride is carried on the back of her brother or uncle to the sedan or sits on a chair and is carried to the sedan. In some places, the bride takes off her old shoes and puts on new ones on a red carpet or cloth before getting into the sedan. However, in any case, the bride leaves her home with her feet off the ground.
The bride should say goodbye to her parents, while the groom only needs to bow and show respect. In some places, the bride is expected to cry before leaving for her new home.
The bride should be escorted to the wedding car by a senior female relative holding a bamboo plaque or a black umbrella, as the bride is the most important person and should not be exposed to the sun. On the other hand, it is hoped that the bride will have a happy and fulfilling life like this senior female relative.
Before the bride gets on the wedding car, a young boy should hold a fan for her, and the bride should give a red envelope in return as a gesture of thanks.
When everyone is leaving the bride’s home, they should not say goodbye to the bride’s family.
After the bride gets in the car, the bride’s parents should pour a bowl of clear water (or rice, red beans) on their daughter, which symbolizes that their daughter is like water that has been thrown out, and they wish their daughter to have food and clothing, and to have success in everything.
After the wedding car starts moving, the bride should throw the fan out of the window, which means that she will not bring any bad temper to her husband’s family. The young boy should pick up the fan and return it to the bride’s family, who will then give a red envelope as a token of appreciation.
Setting off Firecrackers
Firecrackers should be set off all the way to the groom’s house when the wedding car leaves the bride’s home.
Taking a Lucky Route
The wedding procession usually takes a big circle and does not return on the same route. In the Jinzhong Qixian area, according to the position of the villages, there is a saying that they should enter from the north and leave from the south, or enter from the west and leave from the east. The wedding procession should also carry a red felt or red cloth, which, besides being used for the bride to step on when getting in and out of the sedan chair, should also be used to cover the sedan window and the bride when passing temples, wells, or grinding stones, to prevent evil spirits from interfering. When the wedding processions of two families meet, they should exchange “needle and thread” to dispel disasters. Nowadays, when wedding processions meet, they exchange handkerchiefs as a token of this traditional practice.
Entering the House
Entering the house means that the bride officially enters the groom’s family and pays respects to the elders.
Touching the Oranges
When the wedding car arrives at the groom’s house, a child holding two oranges should welcome the newlyweds. The bride should lightly touch the oranges and then give a red envelope as a token of appreciation.
When the bride gets out of the car, a male elder from the groom’s family holds a bamboo plaque over her head and helps her enter the hall.
It is important to avoid stepping on the door threshold.
The bride should step over the threshold and cross a fire pit, as well as step on and break some tiles on the floor.
Elders from the groom’s family introduce the bride to the family, and she changes her way of addressing them.
Bowing to Heaven and Earth
The couple bows to Heaven and Earth, and then to the groom’s parents, while throwing rice and other grains on each other. After the ceremony, they bow to each other before entering the bridal chamber. People with certain zodiac signs should avoid attending, and a fire pit should be set up at the entrance to the bridal chamber, with a bowl of water nearby to symbolize harmony between water and fire. The bride should hold the door lock when entering the room.
Once the bride is seated, the groom quickly lights a “longevity lamp.” The lamp is filled with oil, lit, and placed high in the room, and must burn all night without being extinguished, symbolizing a long and prosperous life.
In the bridal chamber, the groom and bride drink from two cups joined by a red string. They take a sip or two, and the remaining wine is shared among young women and children. Some young men may also compete to drink the remaining wine.
Avoid sitting on a new bed
On the wedding day, no one is allowed to sit on the new bed, and the bride cannot lie down on it to avoid getting sick and staying in bed for the whole year. In addition, from the day the bed is set up until the night before the wedding, a male child who is not yet of age should sleep on the bed with the groom.
Wedding Ceremony and Banquet
After the wedding ceremony, the bride sits in the new room and does not go out. The groom must go out and entertain the guests. If the banquet is held in a hotel or restaurant, both the bride and groom must go out and entertain the guests and offer them drinks.
The seating arrangements for the banquet should be arranged according to the guests’ seniority and status, known as “qing ke” or “qing ke”. The seating order is based on the principle of seniority and status, with guests seated from high to low and from right to left.
The main seat should be placed in the center of the hall, and the “da qin” should sit in the first seat on the right side, with the groom’s father or uncle sitting in the first seat on the left side. The rest of the guests should be seated according to their seniority and status. In addition to the main seat in the hall, the second most honorable seat should be set up in the new room, with the bride’s mother sitting in the first seat and the groom’s mother or aunt accompanying her. The seating for other seats should also be arranged in order of seniority and status. After the seating arrangement is determined, the emcee announces the start of the banquet with music and firecrackers.
Toasting to the guests
After the banquet starts, when the fish is served, the bride changes into a traditional dragon and phoenix robe to toast the guests.
The dishes and drinks served at each table should be the same. However, the table of the “da qin” and “da qin of the bride’s family” must have a steamed pork knuckle. In addition, the groom should be waiting at the table to pour wine for the “da qin” and offer hot towels to show respect.
Before the banquet ends, the matchmaker has already left, which is known as “tao xi”. If the matchmaker does not leave, the “wash matchmaker” will smear his face with the bottom of a pot. After the banquet ends, the “da qin” should retire to the hall and rest for a while, eat some snacks, and exchange polite words with the male elder of the groom’s family. After the tables are cleared and the floor is swept, the “da qin” should get up and say goodbye.
Seeing the guests off
“Seeing off the da qin” is another lively scene, where all the dignitaries of the groom’s family send the guests off at the door, and firecrackers and music are played to show respect. The groom and his parents should accompany the guests to the village entrance.
Chinese have the custom of “nao dongfang” (literally “noisy bridal chamber”). In the past, many newlyweds were not familiar with each other or even strangers before marriage, so spending the wedding night together may make them feel uncomfortable. “Nao dongfang” can undoubtedly help the new couple break the ice and overcome their shyness through public games. However, nowadays, “nao dongfang” is mainly used to express blessings to the newlyweds. The programs in “nao dongfang” include:
Chopstick grabbing: Put a pair of chopsticks in a bottle, leaving only a very short part exposed, and let the groom and bride use their lips to grab the chopsticks out. In reality, this is just a kissing performance.
Banana eating: Tie a banana with an elastic rope and hang it at a height that the groom can reach by jumping. The groom pulls the banana down with his mouth, and the bride peels it with her mouth. Then they eat the banana together. To prevent the rope from bouncing back, one person needs to do the action while the other person must bite the banana tightly. This requires the cooperation and understanding between the two.
Match lighting: Insert a match into a red date and let it float in a bowl of water. Tie a lit cigarette to a red string and let the groom and bride hold the string with their mouths at both ends. They need to use the lit cigarette to light the match in the bowl together. They must hold their breath and use their teeth and eyesight to achieve success.
Marble picking: Prepare a plate of glass marbles and let the groom and bride each hold a chopstick to pick out the marbles together. You can also have a competition between several couples at the scene, and the losing couple must perform a program.
Poetry competition: If the groom and bride are literature lovers, then let them have a poetry competition. The groom starts with a line of poetry, and the bride needs to continue the poem with a line that has at least one word that is the same as the last line. If someone cannot continue the poem, they lose, and the losing person must perform a program.
“Saxi Bed” is a game performed by the bridegroom’s sister-in-law during the wedding night. It involves singing and dancing while scattering nuts, dates, peanuts, longans and other items on a tray covered with red paper. The bride sits on the bed, and the sister-in-law throws the dried fruits onto the bed while singing. The people in the room join in the singing and laughter, creating a lively and joyful atmosphere.
This game is a folk group activity, with all the people in the room playing a role, but the sister-in-law is the main character and responsible for creating a lively atmosphere. Therefore, the sister-in-law is carefully selected by the groom’s family before the wedding, just like the selection of the wedding emcee. In some places, one or two sister-in-laws are chosen from among the relatives and neighbors.
The selected sister-in-law must first be a “lucky person” with both sons and daughters; she must also be able to sing and write lyrics. In addition, she must be articulate, quick-witted, good at observing and adapting to the situation. Furthermore, as the game lasts for a long time and the lyrics are lengthy, sometimes requiring improvisation, the sister-in-law must have a strong memory and be able to accurately describe the scenes and objects she sees using the lyrics.
As the chosen sisters-in-law, they feel proud to receive the attention of the groom’s family. They will do their best to help adjust the atmosphere of the wedding night.
According to Chinese wedding customs, on the third day of the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom return to the bride’s family home together, which is also known as “hui men”. The bride’s family sends a car to pick up the newlyweds, and this is an essential etiquette.
During the “hui men” ceremony, the bride and groom must take the same route as they did during the welcoming ceremony. The groom must not come empty-handed and should bring gifts for the bride’s parents. The types of gifts can be chosen by the newlyweds themselves, but they must consist of four different kinds, in order to have a lucky even number.
On the day of the “hui men” ceremony, the bride’s parents should prepare a banquet to welcome the groom. The groom is the guest of honor and sits at the head of the table. The bride’s close relatives accompany him. Before the banquet, the bride’s sisters-in-law will make dumplings for the groom. They often play pranks by adding chili peppers and grass stems to some of the dumplings, making the groom embarrassed and causing everyone to laugh. Some clever grooms will use chopsticks to open a dumpling before eating it to check for spicy ingredients. Some honest and sincere grooms accidentally eat the spicy dumplings and are left with tears streaming down their face, while the sisters-in-law laugh heartily and the atmosphere is lively.
After the meal, the groom should spend some time chatting with his in-laws, listening to their advice, and then say goodbye and return home. He should also proactively invite his parents-in-law and siblings to his own home and invite friends, relatives, and neighbors.
This tradition, from the son-in-law’s perspective, expresses gratitude to the bride’s father and mother for their kindness, and the desire to meet and get to know the bride’s relatives and friends. From the daughter’s perspective, it represents the intention not to forget the parents’ upbringing and care even after getting married and starting a family.
What is the ritual ceremony before wedding?
What is a Chinese dowry?
Dowry is the property and assets that a woman’s family prepares for her to bring to her husband’s family upon marriage, such as a house, a car, clothing, furniture, and other household items. Customs and traditions regarding dowry vary across regions and ethnic groups. According to traditional Chinese beliefs, the dowry is a gift from the woman’s parents to the husband’s family, and it belongs entirely to the husband’s family. Even in the event of the husband’s death or divorce, the woman is not permitted to take the dowry with her. As the purpose of giving a dowry is to display the economic strength of the woman’s family and to secure her position in her husband’s family, the amount of the dowry generally reflects the status and background of the woman. In ancient times, wealthy families would give enormous dowries to demonstrate their wealth and power. Although there have been some changes in the amounts of dowries and bridal gifts in some rural areas in the 21st century, dowries are still generally more substantial than bridal gifts in more developed regions, often consisting of a car and a house. In ancient times, dowries were used to supplement household expenses, support the husband’s education or business, raise and pass on to children, and sometimes to enable the husband to take concubines.
Gift money / jewelry
Cars / houses
In addition to the groom’s dowry, the bride’s family also prepares gift money and jewelry, but usually less than the groom’s.
Appliances: air conditioners, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, rice cookers, microwave ovens, steam irons, etc.
Furniture: sofas, dining tables, wardrobes, dressing tables, etc.
Daily necessities: 10 kitchen bowls and dishes of different sizes, cups, washbasins, cutlery, etc.
Bedding is a necessary part of the dowry!
Usually, an even number of sets is prepared for good luck. Whether you buy 4, 6, or 8 sets, it is now the mainstream.
4 sets of bedding symbolize double blessings
6 sets of bedding symbolize smooth progress
8 sets of bedding symbolize a prosperous life
10 sets of bedding symbolize perfection
Some couples prepare 4 sets of bedding each, symbolizing stability.
From a practical perspective, 2 or 3 sets are enough. One thick set for winter, one thin set for summer, and one for spring and autumn are very practical.
In the southern region of China, apart from the phlegm basin, there are also customs involving the use of toilet bowls and foot basins. In ancient times, women used to give birth at home, and these utensils were specifically prepared for daughters giving birth. They would place red dates, peanuts, longan, and lotus seeds in the toilet bowl and phlegm basin, symbolizing the wish for an early birth of a noble child. As the use of toilet bowls is no longer prevalent nowadays, foot basins are included as a substitute for this custom.
Other traditional items:
Dowry trunk: this is the legendary “bottom of the trunk,” and there will be red envelopes inside!
Descendant bucket: wrapped in red cloth on the outside, containing 8 items, including red peanuts, red dates, longan, 5 red duck eggs, popcorn, a bundle of chopsticks, a pack of toilet paper, and a small bundle of cypress twigs.
Another bucket is filled with rice, and on top of it are red dates, longan, small bundles of cypress twigs, and red “happiness” characters, all wrapped in red cloth.
Some places also prepare four gifts, red handkerchiefs, and longevity lamps.
betrothal gifts in china
There are generally two meanings of “betrothal gifts” in Chinese culture: one refers to a gift presented as a sign of respect when hiring someone, and the other refers to the money or gifts exchanged between engaged couples as a symbol of their intention to marry.
The amount of “betrothal gifts”
It mainly consists of two parts: gifts and cash. There is no standard amount for “betrothal gifts”, and it is usually determined based on the economic situation of the individual or family, as well as the couple’s plans for their married life.
Timing of giving “betrothal gifts”
It depends on whether the elders need to follow local customs and practices. If one party’s parents have specific requirements, it is best to follow them. If there are no specific customs, the “betrothal gifts” can be presented to the other party’s parents during the engagement banquet. If there is no engagement banquet, it can be presented to the parents when they meet before obtaining the marriage certificate.
Eight necessary items for traditional Chinese betrothal gifts
The saying goes, “One stroke with the comb from the top to the bottom, two strokes to make the white hair even with the eyebrows, and three strokes to fill the hall with grandchildren.” The comb symbolizes “tying the hair” and is especially meaningful for elderly couples, wishing for a lifetime of love and companionship.
A tool for measuring, it is used metaphorically in marriage to represent the standard for measuring happiness. It symbolizes having many offspring and a long-lasting, happy marriage, while also wishing the new couple a prosperous and successful life.
The ninth treasure of the nine treasures, the money box is one of the gifts given by the bride’s family during the wedding ceremony, indicating that the bride’s family is financially well-off. It is also used by the bride to collect precious items after marriage.
Derived from the traditional wedding ceremony in which the groom lifts the bride’s red veil with a ruyi balance, it is now one of the nine treasures given by the bride’s parents to their daughter on her wedding day, hoping that she will have a happy and contented life with her husband.
Represents completeness, fullness, and the bride’s beauty. It is a wish for the bride to have a sweet and happy marriage, and for her to maintain her youth and beauty even as time goes by.
Originally used to measure grains, it is now used in the wedding ceremony to display the family’s wealth and affluence, indicating that the couple can lead a rich and comfortable life after marriage.
One of the “six essentials” in the traditional wedding ceremony, scissors are mainly used for cutting clothing. In the wedding ceremony, they represent the new bride’s gorgeous clothes and the bright future she will share with her husband.
A tool used for calculating income and expenses in daily life, the golden abacus in the wedding ceremony symbolizes the couple’s ideal and plan for a peaceful and prosperous life. It also signifies their ability to invest and manage their finances wisely, creating a prosperous and abundant life together.
How much is a typical betrothal gift?
There is no legal regulation on the cost of betrothal gifts, which means that the amount given depends on how much the bride’s family requires and how much the groom’s family is willing to give. Currently, the minimum price for dowry money is 88,000 yuan (approximately $13,500 USD). If the price of “three golds” is included, then the betrothal gift would require a cost of at least 100,000 yuan (approximately $15,400 USD).
88,000 yuan is the most common amount for dowry money, which is neither high nor low. The final amount of the betrothal gift still depends on the actual situation of the groom’s family. If the groom’s family does not have that much money but the bride’s family insists on a high amount, the groom’s family can refuse.
Furthermore, if the dowry money has been given and the couple has not registered for marriage or have not been living together, the groom’s family can request that the bride’s family return the dowry money. If the bride’s family refuses to return the money, the groom’s family can seek legal means to protect their own interests.
How many days is a Chinese wedding?
A typical wedding for a couple usually lasts no more than one day, usually around 2-4 hours. If the wedding lasts too long, it not only makes the couple especially tired and exhausted, but also can be quite expensive.
In addition, there are regional differences in wedding customs between southern and northern China. Weddings in the north typically start at noon, while those in the south usually start in the evening.
What is the customary wedding time in northern China?
The customary wedding time in northern China is at noon, and the wedding banquet usually starts around 11am to 12pm, for example, at auspicious times such as 11:28am, 11:58am, or 12:06pm.
The wedding ceremony usually lasts for 2-4 hours and typically ends around 3pm to 5pm. If the wedding progresses slowly, it can take up to one day to complete, but generally it does not exceed one day.
How long does a typical wedding last in southern China?
Wedding customs in southern and northern China are quite different, including the start time for the wedding. In the south, unlike the north, weddings are usually held in the afternoon or evening, with the wedding banquet typically scheduled from 6pm to 8pm. However, the duration of the wedding is similar to the north, usually around 2-4 hours.
Who pays for wedding Chinese?
Traditionally in China, the groom’s family is expected to pay for the wedding. However, in modern times, it has become more common for both the bride and groom’s families to share the costs or for the couple to pay for the wedding themselves. The specific arrangement varies from family to family and is usually decided through negotiation and discussion.
What are the six etiquettes for Chinese marriage?
In Chinese society, etiquette is the most strict thing. Especially in weddings, there is a strict procedure that generally follows the “six etiquettes,” including: the proposal, asking for the name, presenting the betrothal gifts, presenting the gifts, setting the wedding date, and the wedding ceremony.
How did the “six etiquettes” come about?
The earliest recorded mention of the “six etiquettes” can be found in two books, “Yi Li – The Book of Rites: Rites of Marriages” and “Li Ji – The Book of Rites: Marriage Rites.” From an objective perspective, the concept of the “six etiquettes” emerged during the Warring States period and was gradually developed and refined by the Confucian school of thought.
The main form of the proposal is for the man to invite a matchmaker to visit the woman’s family and express his intention to marry her. The matchmaker will then ask for the woman’s name, age, zodiac sign, and birthdate, and consult a fortune-teller to see if the couple’s astrological signs are compatible.
If the signs are compatible, then the following etiquettes will take place.
Bridal Gift Giving
In Chinese society, the etiquette surrounding marriage is extremely strict. The “six rituals” are typically followed, including the steps of “na cai”, “wen ming”, “na ji”, “na zheng”, “qing qi”, and “qin ying”. These rituals have their origins in ancient texts such as the “Yi Li” and “Li Ji”, and were gradually standardized through the influence of Confucianism.
The second step in this process is “wen ming”, or asking for the name of the bride-to-be. This step comes after the potential couple’s birth charts have been compared and deemed suitable for marriage. The exchange of names carries a certain weight and is similar to modern engagement in Western culture.
The third step is “na ji”, which originally involved seeking divine guidance for the marriage from the ancestors in a temple. Over time, it evolved into a custom known as “xiaopin”, where the groom presents gifts to the bride, typically clothing and jewelry, as a symbol of his sincerity and commitment. The bride will then respond with gifts of her own, often practical items such as shoes or writing utensils.
The fourth step, “na zheng” or “bridal gift giving”, involves the exchange of a dowry between the families. In ancient times, the dowry was typically in the form of cloth or other goods, while in modern times, it often includes money or other valuable items. The exchange takes place a few days before the wedding ceremony and involves the presentation of elaborately decorated gifts to the bride’s family. The bride’s family will then distribute these gifts to friends and relatives as a way of announcing the upcoming wedding.
This etiquette, also known as “cuizhuang” in modern times.
“Qingqi” refers to informing the bride’s family of the auspicious day for the groom to marry the bride according to the Chinese calendar. On the wedding day, the groom’s procession, including a team of escorts, sedan bearers carrying the bridal sedan, and a carriage carrying the groom and his party, arrives at the bride’s home to welcome the bride.
The musicians play the instruments continuously while the groom’s party hurries the bride to get ready to board the bridal sedan, while the bride’s family intentionally delays the process until the bride is ready.
It is worth mentioning that both sides must maintain an appropriate level of etiquette and cannot miss the auspicious day for the wedding procession, which is in line with the joyous occasion.
“Yingqin” is the most elaborate and formal ceremony in Chinese wedding customs.
Although the name has changed slightly over time, the etiquette has remained the same. The groom must go to the bride’s home to greet the bride with proper etiquette, which is called “qin ying.”
Through the long period of evolution, customs have changed in different regions and times. However, if the groom fails to go to the bride’s home to welcome the bride, it will be a severe violation of the Chinese tradition of “emphasizing the importance of marriage.”
In ancient China, weddings were typically held at dusk or even in the middle of the night. Therefore, the “Yingqin” ceremony had to take place after dusk, or even at midnight.
How much money do you give at a Chinese wedding?
In Chinese culture, it is customary to give money as a wedding gift instead of physical items. The amount of money given as a gift can vary depending on several factors, including the closeness of the relationship with the couple, the region of China, and the individual’s financial situation.
As a general rule of thumb, it is customary to give an even number of bills or notes as an auspicious symbol of good luck. The amount given is usually in multiples of 100, such as 600 yuan or 800 yuan, depending on one’s budget and relationship with the couple. In some regions, giving an odd number of bills or notes is avoided as it is associated with funerals and considered unlucky.
It is always thoughtful to give an amount that reflects your relationship with the couple and their wedding expenses. Typically, close family and friends may give more, while colleagues or acquaintances may give a smaller amount. Ultimately, the amount of money given is a personal decision, and it is important to give with sincerity and well wishes for the couple’s future.
Why Does the Bride Cry When Getting Married?
Marriage is supposed to be a happy occasion, with the groom welcoming the bride with a smile. However, in some parts of China, it is customary for the bride to cry before the wedding. The saying goes, “No tears, no good fortune.” Crying before the wedding is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
Crying before the wedding is not just about saying goodbye to the bride’s family and going to her husband’s family; it is also a way to express filial piety. It is a way to show respect for one’s parents and to acknowledge their upbringing. If the bride does not cry, she may be seen as unfilial and forgetful of her family.
The custom of crying before the wedding is believed to have originated from the Song Dynasty, when Princess Yongning married and asked her family for a dowry of 100,000 guan. When her request was denied, she cried all night. Since then, crying before the wedding has become a tradition in some parts of China.
In modern times, the tradition of crying before the wedding has become less common, but it still exists in rural areas. It is now seen as a way to add to the festive atmosphere of the wedding and express gratitude for one’s family. Overall, the tradition of crying before the wedding is seen as a way to show respect for one’s family and express the emotions of the bride on her wedding day.
How long do brides in China cry before wedding?
In some parts of China, it is a traditional custom for the bride to cry before her wedding as a way to express her sadness of leaving her parents’ home and becoming a wife. However, the duration of crying can vary depending on the region and family customs. There is no fixed time for how long the bride should cry, but it is usually long enough to show her emotions and respect for her family. In some cases, the bride may cry for hours, while in others, it may only last for a few minutes.
Why do Chinese brides wear red?
In China, red represents auspiciousness and celebration. For example, phrases such as “big red and purple” and “red and fiery” represent success, smoothness, and completion in one’s endeavors. Marriage is a major event in one’s life, so to seek good luck and joyfulness, people naturally wear red clothes.
Although white wedding dresses have become popular and Western-style weddings have become customary, in recent years, there has been a trend toward retro behavior, with people attempting to hold Eastern-style weddings. However, after being westernized for too long, the white wedding dress has become beloved, but on the day of the wedding, the red wedding dress is indispensable.
The Chinese people’s obsession with red is mainly due to their worship of fire and the sun. One of the most important reasons why humans can be distinguished from other primates is because the appearance of fire allowed people to eat cooked meat. Therefore, red can both ward off evil spirits and symbolize joyfulness.
When the bride goes to her husband’s home, if she wears a white wedding dress, she must press red paper at every intersection and set off firecrackers to fend off evil spirits. For girls who marry far away, wearing red clothing directly when going to her husband’s home saves a lot of trouble and also continues the ancient tradition of warding off evil spirits and blessing the bride.
During the toasting ceremony, the bride must wear red clothing, which is different from the clothing worn when leaving her parents’ home. It should be lightweight and easy to move in, as it is necessary to greet relatives and friends while being elegant and comfortable. A red outfit is full of blessings and joyfulness.
Whether warding off evil spirits or celebrating joyfulness, these are blessings that our ancestors have passed down for thousands of years. We should all strive to carry them forward.
How many times does a Chinese bride change her dress?
In Chinese wedding customs, the bride typically wears several dresses throughout the wedding ceremony and reception. The number of dress changes can vary depending on personal preference and regional traditions, but it’s common for a Chinese bride to change her dress three times.
The first dress is usually a traditional red qipao or cheongsam, symbolizing good luck and happiness. The second dress is typically a white wedding gown, representing purity and innocence. The third dress can be a cocktail dress or an evening gown, worn during the wedding reception or banquet.
However, it’s important to note that these customs are not strictly followed and some brides may choose to wear fewer or more dresses.
Which month is lucky for marriage?
In Chinese culture, there are certain months that are considered lucky for marriage, while others are considered unlucky. The eighth lunar month (which usually falls in September on the Gregorian calendar) is generally considered the luckiest month for marriage. The number “8” is considered lucky in Chinese culture because it sounds similar to the word for “prosperity” or “wealth”. Additionally, the seventh lunar month (which usually falls in August on the Gregorian calendar) is considered unlucky for marriage as it is believed to be a ghost month when the spirits of the dead come back to earth. Many people avoid getting married during this month to avoid bad luck.
How old is the average bride in China?
The average age of brides in China varies by region, but according to the latest available data from the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, the average age of first-time brides in urban areas was 26.4 years old, while in rural areas it was 23.9 years old. However, it’s worth noting that these are just averages and many brides in China get married at different ages depending on various factors such as personal preference, education, career, and family traditions.
What is the lucky number for wedding?
In Chinese culture, the lucky number for a wedding is 9, which represents longevity and eternity. It is also considered an auspicious number in Chinese numerology, as it sounds similar to the word for “forever” in Chinese. Other lucky numbers for weddings include 6, which sounds like the word for “smooth” or “well-off”, and 8, which sounds like the word for “wealth” or “prosperity”.
day after wedding party in China
Newlyweds should try to wake up early on the second day to greet their parents and prepare breakfast for them as a sign of filial piety.
Prepare gifts to bring back to the bride’s family. Typically, on the third day after the wedding, the couple will visit the bride’s family together, so it is important to remember not to go back empty-handed.
After the wedding, the couple will embark on their married life together and will need to make plans and set some ground rules. Therefore, on the second day of the marriage, the couple can discuss their thoughts and plans for their new life together.
After receiving so many red envelopes with money on the wedding day, it’s time to check if the amounts are correct and feel happy about it.
After the wedding, many relatives and friends will come to attend the wedding, and it’s a rare occasion to spend time with them. If there’s nothing important to do on the second day, it’s recommended to spend more time with them.
chinese wedding decorations
Bridal Sedan: The bridal sedan, as the core part of traditional weddings, became popular in the Southern Song Dynasty. There are two types: sedan carried by four or eight people, and dragon sedan or phoenix sedan. The sedan body is covered with red curtains and a green canopy, with dragons and phoenixes on top and silk tassels hanging from the corners. In wealthy families, there are five carriages for the groom, three carriages for the bridal sedan, and one carriage for the female companions. The other two carriages are for the male attendants. When returning home, the bride, groom, and send-off party each sit in one carriage, and there are two blue sedans covered with blue cloth, with the groom and best man sitting in one carriage each.
Flags, Gongs, Umbrellas, and Fans: They are placed in the middle of the welcoming procession and before the flower embellishments, making the whole welcoming ceremony lively and spectacular.
Firecrackers: Firecrackers are lit along the way as the wedding procession moves, to express congratulations.
Phoenix Crown and Xiapi: Regardless of wealth, families of daughters are very particular about wedding clothes. They wear a red jacket inside, embroidered shoes on their feet, a tassel on their waist, an embroidered flower skirt, and a “phoenix crown” made of decorative balls, pearls, and jade, connected by braids. They also wear a “xiapi” made of embroidered brocade with various auspicious patterns draped over their shoulders.
Veil: In ancient times, brides wore a red cloth veil with their phoenix crowns and xiapi to cover themselves from shame and evil, as red represents good luck.
Horse Saddle: “An” sounds the same as “peace” in Chinese, symbolizing “peace and longevity”. It is often placed on the threshold of the bridal chamber to show that the bride is stepping over the saddle and will have a peaceful life. When the bride steps into the threshold with one foot lifted, the saddle is removed by the groom’s family, which perfectly illustrates the saying, “a virtuous woman does not marry twice, and a good horse does not need a double saddle.”
Fire Pot: It is a pot of fire placed at the entrance of the house, which the bride steps over to symbolize a lively and prosperous married life.
Altar of Heaven and Earth: Often placed in the courtyard, the altar is adorned with measuring instruments such as measuring cups, rulers, scissors, mirrors, abacuses, and scales, known as the “six proofs”. They indicate how much food, fabric, clothing, appearance, accounts, weight and value of goods the family has. In folk customs, only when the “three matchmakers (matchmakers) and six proofs” are complete, can the marriage be considered reasonable and legitimate. When the auspicious time comes for the wedding ceremony, it is commonly known as “worshipping the heaven and earth”, which is presided over by the master of ceremonies, with the bride and groom bowing to the heaven and earth and then to their parents.
Weighing Pole: After entering the bridal chamber, the groom uses a weighing pole to lift the bride’s red veil, symbolizing that they have found their perfect match.
Flower Candle: Large red candles are used during the wedding ceremony, lit in the hall and bridal chamber. They are called “flower candles” because they are often adorned with gold and silver dragon decorations.
Chinese Wedding Firecrackers/Fireworks
Why do we set off firecrackers during weddings?
Setting off firecrackers during weddings is a Chinese tradition and a way to symbolize happiness and prosperity. Therefore, it is customary for Chinese people to set off firecrackers during weddings in order to bring good luck and prosperity to the newlyweds.
In China, setting off firecrackers is a way to spread good news. Besides weddings and birthdays, firecrackers may also be set off to celebrate major events such as the birth of a child or outstanding achievements, in order to let the neighbors know about the happy news.
Setting off firecrackers during weddings is also a way to seek blessings from the gods, hoping for a prosperous career and a successful life together as a couple, and to drive away evil spirits and misfortune.
There are four specific points to note when setting off firecrackers during weddings:
Set off firecrackers when the wedding car leaves: When the wedding procession leaves, the lead car should set off firecrackers to drive away any bad luck on the road. Generally, it is recommended to set off two thousand firecrackers.
Set off firecrackers when leaving the bride’s house: Setting off firecrackers when leaving the bride’s house has the same meaning as when leaving the groom’s house, which is to drive away evil spirits and ensure safety. Generally, it is recommended to set off five thousand firecrackers.
Set off firecrackers when the wedding car arrives at the bride’s house: This is simply a signal to let the bride’s family know that the wedding procession has arrived. Generally, it is recommended to set off five thousand firecrackers.
Set off firecrackers when arriving at the groom’s house: When the bride arrives at the groom’s house, there is a “door-opening ceremony” and this is the key moment to set off firecrackers. You can also add some ceremonial cannons and colorful smoke to create a festive atmosphere.
Fan for Chinese Wedding
A fan can be a great accessory for a Chinese wedding, as it not only serves as a functional item to keep guests cool, but also carries symbolic meanings. In Chinese culture, the fan represents blessings, good fortune, and happiness.
Here are some ways that fans can be incorporated into a Chinese wedding:
Wedding favors: Miniature fans can be given out as wedding favors to guests, as a way to thank them for their attendance and to provide them with a useful item to keep cool during the celebration.
Decorations: Fans can be used as decorations throughout the wedding venue, such as hanging them from the ceiling or using them as centerpieces on tables. They can also be used to create a fan arch for the bride and groom to walk through.
Accessory for the bride: The bride can carry a fan as part of her wedding outfit, as a traditional accessory. The fan can be decorated with intricate designs or personalized with the couple’s names or wedding date.
Generally, two fans are prepared for a Chinese wedding, called Hehuan fan, Xi fan, or Tuan fan. When the bride is ready to leave her parents’ home, one of the fans with red packets tied to it will be thrown away. This represents the bride getting rid of her bad habits and temper, and changing her attitude. A family member from the bride’s side will pick up the fan. The other fan is taken to the groom’s home and placed on the bedside table or dressing table in the new room. The fan left at the bride’s home is hidden by the groom’s side, so that the bride’s parents cannot find it. Alternatively, it can be hidden in the groom’s sleeve or placed under the bride’s pillow. Not throwing away the fan means not losing oneself (one’s character and personality). Discarding the fan symbolizes the bride letting go of her bad habits and taking her strengths with her to her new home. In terms of the symbolism of the Chinese wedding fan, the round shape of the Tuan fan represents the wish for the newlyweds to have a harmonious and happy life.
Performance: In some Chinese weddings, a fan dance performance may be included as part of the entertainment. This can involve a group of dancers using fans to create beautiful movements and patterns.
Overall, incorporating fans into a Chinese wedding can add a touch of tradition and symbolism to the celebration.
candles for Chinese weddings
Candles are an important part of Chinese weddings and are often used in various ceremonies and rituals. They symbolize unity, warmth, and happiness.
During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will light a pair of candles, which represents the joining of two families and the beginning of a new life together. The candles are typically placed on a table in front of the couple, along with other ceremonial items.
In some regions of China, candles are also used in pre-wedding rituals. For example, during the hair combing ceremony, the bride’s mother will light a candle and hold it over the bride’s head as she combs her hair. This is said to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
In other regions, candles are used during the wedding banquet. Red candles, which symbolize good luck and happiness, are placed on each table as decoration. The bride and groom may also light a candle together before making their entrance into the banquet hall.
Overall, candles play an important role in Chinese weddings and are used to symbolize various aspects of the marriage and the new life together.
Chinese Marriage transportation
Chinese traditional wedding transportation varies depending on the region and the customs followed. Some of the most common modes of transportation used during Chinese weddings include:
Bridal Sedan Chair: A bridal sedan chair, also known as a “huadian,” is a covered chair carried by four or six bearers. It was a common mode of transportation for wealthy families in ancient times. The chair was decorated with red silk, tassels, and flowers.
Decorated Car: A decorated car is a modern mode of transportation used in Chinese weddings. The car is usually decorated with red silk, flowers, and balloons.
Horse-drawn Carriage: A horse-drawn carriage is another traditional mode of transportation that was used in ancient times. It is not as common now, but it is still used in some areas.
Wedding Motorcade: A wedding motorcade is a group of decorated cars that follows the bridal car in a procession. It is a common mode of transportation used in modern Chinese weddings.
Wedding Boat: In some areas of China, couples may use a decorated boat to travel to their wedding ceremony or reception if they live near a body of water.
In general, the mode of transportation chosen for a Chinese wedding depends on the couple’s personal preference, cultural traditions, and regional customs.
chinese man best man and bridesmaid
In Chinese weddings, there are often two main roles for close friends or family members of the bride and groom: the “best man” and the “bridesmaid.”
The best man is known as the “xiong di” in Chinese, which literally means “brother.” He is usually a close friend or family member of the groom and plays an important role in the wedding ceremony. The best man is responsible for tasks such as helping the groom get dressed, accompanying the groom to the bride’s home, and assisting with the tea ceremony.
The bridesmaid is known as the “ji e” in Chinese, which means “sister.” She is usually a close friend or family member of the bride and plays an important role in the wedding ceremony as well. The bridesmaid is responsible for tasks such as helping the bride get dressed, accompanying the bride during the wedding procession, and assisting with the tea ceremony.
It is also common for the best man and bridesmaid to give speeches during the wedding banquet, expressing their well wishes and congratulations to the newlyweds.
jade girl and golden boy
“Jade Girl” and “Golden Boy” are terms commonly used in Chinese culture to refer to a perfect couple or a match made in heaven. The term “Jade Girl” represents the image of a beautiful and virtuous woman, while “Golden Boy” represents a handsome and talented man. The two together represent a harmonious and ideal relationship, often used to describe a happy marriage or a successful partnership.
The concept of “Jade Girl and Golden Boy” originated from ancient Chinese myths and legends, where it was believed that the Jade Emperor would match couples together based on their compatibility and personalities. It has since become a popular cultural reference in Chinese literature, film, and music, often used to describe the perfect romantic relationship.
Interesting details about Chinese weddings
Crossing the fire pit: In some regions, there is a tradition of crossing the fire pit during weddings, which symbolizes the couple’s life becoming increasingly prosperous and flourishing. Many people choose to cross the fire pit during their wedding to embrace this beautiful meaning.
Walking down the aisle with the father: The bride walking down the aisle with her father symbolizes the protection and care provided by her father from birth to marriage. When she reaches the altar, the bride hands herself over to the groom, signifying that her father’s duty of protecting her is now entrusted to her husband. This tradition represents the significance of a woman’s marriage and the family’s blessing to the newlyweds.
Toasting the wedding cup: One of the essential rituals during a wedding is the bride and groom toasting with the wedding cup. This tradition dates back to the Qin Dynasty in ancient China. The bride and groom each hold half of a gourd cup and drink from it, symbolizing the union of two individuals into one. This tradition represents the hope for an everlasting, harmonious marriage, and the commitment to sharing happiness and hardship together.
The bride’s bouquet: The tradition of carrying a bouquet dates back to ancient Europe, where men would pick wildflowers on their way to propose to a woman and present them as a gift. If the woman accepted the proposal, she would take one flower from the bouquet and place it in the man’s pocket, which is the origin of the boutonniere. The person who catches the bride’s bouquet is said to be the next to get married, which is a romantic legend that symbolizes joy, happiness, and fashion.
Standing positions of the bride and groom: The bride stands on the left side of the groom, which originated from ancient times when the groom had to protect the bride from potential rivals. By standing on the left side of the groom, he could easily draw his sword with his right hand to defend her from harm.
Jiefa：”Jiefa” was originally a part of the coming-of-age ceremony. For men, it was held at the age of twenty, and for women, it was held at the age of fifteen or when they reached puberty. In ancient times, both men and women had to keep long hair, and during the coming-of-age ceremony, their hairstyles had to change. Men had to tie their hair, while women had to twist their hair into a bun, wrap it with a black cloth, and secure it with hairpins.
After the coming-of-age ceremony for men and women, it meant that they could get married. In ancient times, one could tell if a young person had come of age just by looking at their hairstyle. Therefore, ancient people also attached great importance to weddings. The Book of Rites records: “The wedding ceremony will join the two surnames, serve the ancestral temple, and continue the family line. Therefore, gentlemen attach great importance to it.” In the Han Dynasty, “Jiefa” became an important ritual in weddings. What does “Jiefa” mean? On the night of the wedding, the newlyweds would each cut a strand of their hair and tie them together to signify their eternal love, which is the process of “Jiefa”.
worshipping heaven and earth：Baitang, also known as worshipping heaven and earth, is a traditional custom in Han Chinese marriage ceremonies that originated around the Northern Song Dynasty. It is popular in various regions of China. During the wedding ceremony, after the bride and groom worship heaven and earth, they perform a ritual of worshipping the ancestors, the groom’s parents, and elders. It is also known as the ceremony of “Baitang” to worship heaven and earth, ancestors, parents, and the couple’s mutual respect.
What are the taboos of laying a wedding bed?
Marriage is a big event, so laying a wedding bed is also important. Here are some taboos of laying a wedding bed:
When setting up the bed, you need to choose an auspicious day and place the new bed in the position of the old bed.
On the day of the wedding, it is recommended to use mainly red bedding as red is a traditional color for weddings. Typically, four sets of bedding, one pair of pillows, and two cushions are used.
When laying the bed, the person doing it will sprinkle peanuts, lotus seeds, longans, and other dried fruits on the bed, representing the wish for the couple to have a child soon.
The person laying the bed should be a woman who possesses one of the Five Blessings, which include having living parents, having children, having a harmonious marriage, and having a happy family, to bring good luck to the new couple.
The bed should be swept before being laid, and then the dried fruits are sprinkled on top. The person laying the bed should also say auspicious words while doing it.
A clever boy is typically chosen to sit on the bed to press it down. If there is no boy available, a doll can be used instead to avoid leaving the bed empty.
When setting up the bed, the door should face the window and not a cabinet or a mirror, otherwise, it may bring bad luck.
Elderly people who live alone, unmarried girls, divorced people, and pregnant women should not touch the wedding bed.
The bride should not directly lie on the bed on the wedding day. She should wait until nighttime; otherwise, it is said she will become ill.
Auspicious words for laying the bed:
This is a popular saying used during the process of laying the wedding bed:
“We lay the bed this year, and next year, a son will be born, smart and successful. We sprinkle longan and peanut, wishing for an early and prosperous child. At two years old, the child will enter school, at four years old, the child will write excellent articles, and he will excel in both literature and martial arts. He will rise to the top and go abroad to study. Four sides of the bed represent the son becoming a county magistrate. We tidy the four sides of the bed to represent the son becoming a prime minister. The bed is filled with happiness and prosperity, and the son becomes a general. The bed is filled with colorful wishes, and the son becomes a CEO.”
“One sprinkle brings wealth and honor, two sprinkles bring gold and jade, three sprinkles bring early success, four sprinkles bring a harmonious and blissful marriage, five sprinkles bring a house for the couple, and they pay respect to the prime minister, six sprinkles bring long-lasting love, seven sprinkles bring the couple growing old together, eight sprinkles bring the eight horses bringing the couple back to their hometown, nine sprinkles bring a long life, and ten sprinkles bring great auspiciousness. The newlywed’s room is filled with a beautiful dowry, with cabinets and boxes on both sides and a bed in the middle. The bed is covered with cotton quilts, and a pair of mythical animals will send a child to the couple. The boy and girl will become an unbeatable pair, with their youthful beauty and good fortune like two immortals. Hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, they will be happy and in love for a hundred years.”
Chinese wedding taboos
In Chinese culture, there are many taboos and customs surrounding weddings that are believed to bring good luck and fortune to the newlyweds. Here are some common wedding taboos in Chinese culture:
Avoid getting married during the Ghost Month (the 7th lunar month) or on certain unlucky days according to the lunar calendar.
Avoid getting married on a day that clashes with the zodiac animal of either the bride or groom.
The bride should not wear all black or white, as these colors are associated with mourning and death. Red is the most auspicious color for the bride’s dress.
Avoid giving gifts that include clocks or anything related to the number four, as it is associated with death.
The groom should not see the bride in her wedding dress until the wedding ceremony.
The bride should not wear her entire bridal outfit before the wedding day, as it is considered bad luck.
The bride should not wear any jewelry or accessories that were previously owned by someone who had an unhappy marriage or divorce.
The wedding ceremony should not take place in a temple or near a cemetery, as these places are considered unlucky.
The bride and groom should not take wedding photos before the wedding ceremony.
The couple should not wash their hair on their wedding day, as it is believed to wash away good luck.
Observing these wedding taboos is believed to bring good fortune and happiness to the newlyweds in Chinese culture.
marriage of chinese ethnic groups
The Dai people in Xishuangbanna have a custom of “female marrying male,” which is different from the traditional Chinese practice of male marrying female. This custom has been continuously passed down through the long historical evolution, maintaining the unique characteristics of the Dai ethnic group. “Female marrying male” refers to the custom where a boy reaches a certain age and must be married off, while a girl must bring the boy back to her family’s home, and the husband will live with the wife’s family. This custom, also known as “son-in-law marriage” or “bridegroom entering the bride’s family,” originated from the Zhou Dynasty and is a long-standing cultural phenomenon that reflects not only the remnants of the primitive maternal system but also distinct ancient and contemporary characteristics.
The Li people have a custom of choosing partners through singing during the spring and summer seasons. Unmarried men play the mouth organ, while unmarried women play the nose flute, and they sing Li songs. If they are attracted to each other, they gradually approach each other until they become a couple. If they are not compatible, they will not force the matter. After they agree to be a couple, they will inform their parents and the man’s family will then hire a matchmaker to arrange the marriage. The Yao and Zhuang ethnic groups have a more widespread and grand tradition of selecting partners through singing.
The Tujia people have a custom called “crying marriage.” A month or half a month before the wedding, the bride-to-be cries every night according to the customs. On the eve of her wedding, she will cry continuously for three to seven nights. All the sisters in the village who are close to the bride will come to accompany her and cry with her. The content of the crying marriage is rich, including “crying to parents,” “crying to wear flowers,” “crying to eat farewell meal,” “crying to leave the boudoir,” and “crying to get on the sedan.” The bride will cry until her eyelids become swollen and her voice hoarse. The harder she cries, the more people will say that the girl has potential or talent. During the crying marriage, the bride’s uncles will invite her female relatives to dinner, which is called “sending-off meal.” Similar crying marriage customs exist in other ethnic groups, such as the Yi, Hani, and Gelao people. For example, in the Gelao ethnic group, if someone cries to their relatives or elders, they must give them “tear money.”
The Achang people conduct marriages in order of seniority. If the eldest son is unmarried, the second son and second daughter cannot get married. If the older sister is unmarried, the younger sister and younger brother cannot get married before the older sister. If the younger siblings get married before the older siblings, they must hold a “crossing ceremony” and give their older siblings some money as an apology and respect. Other ethnic groups, such as the Uyghur and Dongxiang people, also have similar customs. In the Achang ethnic group, the youngest son inherits the property, while the eldest son and the second son can each obtain a portion of the property and establish their own households.
Mongolian families typically consist of married couples and unmarried children. When a son gets married, he usually sets up his own yurt near his parents’ yurt and they continue to herd together. However, in agricultural and semi-agricultural areas, there are also large families living together for several generations. In terms of inheritance, in the past, the eldest son of a noble family usually inherited the property, while younger sons inherited more in commoner families, because the first thing to be divided when splitting the family was the eldest son, leaving the younger sons to inherit the “hearth”.
For the Bonan ethnic group, the bride does not eat at the groom’s family for three days. After the welcoming ceremony, guests gather for a meal, but the bride is absent, as it is customary for the bride to not eat the food of her husband’s family for three days and only eat the food brought by her own family to show gratitude for her parents’ upbringing. After marriage, the woman cannot initiate a divorce, and the right to divorce is entirely in the hands of the man. If divorced, the woman has the freedom to choose to remarry but must return the “returning wealth gift” to her former husband and complete a 120-day “peace period”. If she becomes pregnant, her child still belongs to her former husband.
For the Tatar ethnic group, the groom “marries” into the bride’s family, then brings the bride back to his own family. Both the groom and the bride must live in the bride’s family for a period of time, usually three to six months, and some even have to have a child before returning to the groom’s family. The Tatars treat their son-in-law as warmly as their own son. During the time they live in the bride’s family, the father-in-law and mother-in-law must offer the son-in-law the best food and make him feel at home.
The Buyi ethnic group holds at least two wedding ceremonies for young men and women. The day before the wedding, both sides send gifts, such as tobacco, to the village elders and invite the whole village to drink and eat. Three years later, if the couple is still in love and getting along well, they can hold the second wedding. At that time, the wife will bring the children to live with the husband’s family. The second wedding is more formal and grand than the first. The bride will be adorned with flowers on her head, dressed up beautifully, and accompanied by many people to the groom’s house.
For the Blang ethnic group, the bride does not move to the groom’s family. Instead, the bride stays in her own family for three to five years. During this period, if there is any busy farming season or something important happening in the groom’s family, the groom’s mother or sister will bring the bride to help. During their time helping in the groom’s family, the bride and groom live together and eat together. After every task is completed, the bride will return to her own family. This cycle continues for several years until the bride becomes pregnant. At this point, it is considered inappropriate for her to continue living in her own family, and she moves to the groom’s family.
In the Korean ethnic group, the most important celebration is the “Silver Wedding,” also known as the “Return Wedding,” which is a grand ceremony held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of marriage. To hold a Silver Wedding, the couple must have been married for 60 years and meet the following three conditions: both spouses are alive, all their biological children are alive, and none of their grandchildren have died. If any of their biological children or grandchildren have died, they cannot hold a Silver Wedding. Therefore, it is a great honor for a family to hold a Silver Wedding, and relatives and friends come to offer congratulations. The couple wears their wedding clothes from when they were young and enter the venue arm in arm. Guests raise their glasses to offer blessings, making the occasion more lively and grand than a young couple’s wedding.
The Naxi and Mosuo people living by the Lugu Lake are the most distinctive ethnic groups. They are known as the “mysterious daughter country,” which is one of the most mysterious and interesting cultural phenomena for both domestic and foreign scholars and tourists. After a girl becomes an adult, her family builds a marriage house next to the ancestral house, and she can find a lover, called “A Xia” in the local dialect. If a man falls in love with a woman, he will arrange a daytime appointment and visit her room, also known as the “Flower Building,” around midnight. Traditionally, he rides a horse but cannot enter through the main door. Instead, he must climb through the window and hang a symbolic item, such as a hat, outside the door to indicate that they are on a date and not to be disturbed. He must leave before dawn and can only leave through the main door.
When the Pumi people hold a wedding, there is a custom of the newlyweds taking turns to eat a bowl of rice. After the newlyweds stand next to the bed, the matchmaker brings a bowl of rice, a bowl of vegetables, and a pair of chopsticks, and directs the groom and bride to take turns to eat. The groom takes the first bite and then feeds the bride, and after the bride takes a bite, she feeds the groom. They continue taking turns until they finish the bowl of rice and vegetables. It is said that this represents the unity, harmony, mutual respect, and love between the newlyweds. After eating, the groom and bride bow to each guest who has come to congratulate them as a sign of gratitude.
In Tibet, monogamy is the dominant form of marriage. However, there are also some places where polygyny and polyandry exist, which is a relatively special family structure in our eyes. Polygyny and polyandry have a long history in old Tibet. The nobility and privileged classes practiced polygyny, and some commoners also practiced polygyny. Such families generally mean that the husband marries a wife and lives with his wife’s sister, forming a de facto marital relationship. In such families, the sisters share the husband equally, without the distinction of wife or concubine, nor any distinction of status. In contrast to polygyny, there are also many families with polyandry, which are generally brothers sharing a wife, and in some rare cases, friends sharing a wife. The wife is first married to the eldest brother and later lives with the younger brother. According to the customary law of old Tibet, a man with multiple wives could only marry sisters, and a woman with multiple husbands could only marry brothers.
Qiang ethnic group’s wedding ceremony includes a grand event called “Hua Ye”, which is usually held on the night before the wedding day. It is basically an entertainment party arranged for the bride and groom. Also known as “women’s Hua Ye”, it is hosted by the bride’s family who prepares two barrels of wine to entertain guests who come to celebrate and give gifts. One barrel is for men, and the other is for women. The next day, the groom’s family uses a flower sedan and drum music to escort the bride from her family’s home to the groom’s family. The bride’s family invites two men to accompany their daughter to the groom’s home, usually her uncle, cousin, or brother. On the third day, guests have breakfast and gradually leave. The couple then returns to the bride’s family’s home, which is called “Hui Men”, and brings a big toad, a knife, a barrel of wine, and offerings to the gods.
The Miao ethnic group has a wedding custom called “Qiang Hun” or “grabbing the bride”, but it is actually a polite and civilized tradition. After the groom “grabs” the bride, they do not immediately go to the bridal chamber, but instead go to the home of the groom’s closest friend. The hostess then cooks a pot of rice, some cooked eggs, and serves the bride with pickled fish. If the bride refuses to eat, the young men will force-feed her the eggs, saying, “Even if you’re not hungry, you have to eat. We can’t afford to let our new daughter-in-law get too thin.”
On the second day after the groom “captures” the bride, the groom’s family invites three respected elderly people who have a certain relationship with the bride’s family to come to the bride’s village and settle down. They bring gifts such as meat, rice, and wine to congratulate the bride’s parents and inform them that their daughter has been chosen by the groom, and she has now arrived at the groom’s home. They request the bride’s parents to allow this marriage proposal. If the bride’s parents agree, one of the three people will go back to report the good news, and then the engagement and wedding banquet will be held. If the bride’s parents are hesitant due to lack of knowledge about the groom’s family background and character, the three elderly people must stay for ten to fifteen days to persuade them and complete the marriage proposal.
In some parts of the Dong and Yi ethnic groups in the border areas of Hunan, Guangxi, and Guizhou, the ancient custom of “capturing” brides still exists. The way of “capturing” varies from place to place, but it is generally voluntary for both men and women. On the night of the wedding, the bride is deliberately hidden, and the groom comes to “capture” her in the middle of the night, carrying her on a sedan chair, and triumphantly bringing her home.
According to the Yi family rules, when the bride leaves her family, her feet must not touch the ground or soil, otherwise there will be a risk of not having children. The bride must be carried by her younger brother-in-law and helped onto the horse. There are also various rules during the journey home. If the road is steep and narrow and horses cannot be ridden, the bride must be carried by her younger brother-in-law in turns. When crossing rivers, someone must carry the bride across, and her embroidered shoes must not touch the water.
The Yi people believe that clean water can drive away evil and bring happiness. Therefore, when a Yi couple gets married, they must have a water-splashing ceremony. To withstand this test, the groom’s family selects an unmarried man who is both physically strong and smart to fetch the bride. He must be able to endure the cold from being splashed with water and complete the arduous task of “capturing” the bride.
Chinese weddings are quite interesting. While some of the customs are no longer observed, others are still part of modern Chinese weddings. Whether you are getting married into the Chinese tradition or are planning to attend a Chinese wedding, you should understand their customs.