Traditional Chinese Weddings – Betrothal Ceremony – Guo Da Li (过大礼)

Traditional Chinese Weddings – Betrothal Ceremony – Guo Da Li (过大礼)

In a Traditional Chinese Wedding, the Chinese Betrothal Ceremony 过大礼 (Guo Da Li) is one of the important customary process where the Groom and his Family officially delivers Wedding Gifts to the Bride’s Family to show his sincerity in marrying their daughter. An Auspicious date is usually chosen for this event.

In return, the Bride’s family will return a set of gifts 回礼 (Hui Li) and also prepare the Dowry 嫁妆 (Jia Zhuang) for their Daughter.

Depending on the Chinese dialect groups (Cantonese, Hakka, Hokkien, Teochew), the sets of gifts are slightly different.

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Standard Betrothal Gifts items from the Groom for the Betrothal Ceremony 过大礼

  • Black and Red Basket (for the Hokkiens) or Straw Basket (for the Teochews) to carry the items
  • 1 Large Red Packet 红包 (Hong Bao) for the Betrothal Gift Money 聘金 (Pin Jin)
  • 1 Red Packet 红包 (Hong Bao) for the “Diaper Money” 洗屎喜包 to thank the Bride’s Parents for her good up bringing
  • 2 pairs of Chinese Double Happiness Wedding Candles 龙凤烛 (Long Feng Zhu – 2 Dragons and 2 Phoenix candles)
  • Pig Trotters (minimum 6) or a Roast Pig – Gift for the Mother-In-Law
  • 2 Hard liquor or wine – Gift for the Father-In-Law
  • Oranges (typically 8 or 12) – to symbolise Good Luck and Fortune 大吉大利
  • Apples (12 to 16) – to symbolise Peace
  • Peanut Candies (for the Teochews) – to symbolise blessings with Offsprings soon
  • Sesame Candies (for the Teochews) – to symbolise blessings with many Offsprings
  • Rice Candies (for the Hokkiens) – to symbolise blessings with Prosperity
  • Wedding Pastry – 老嫲糕 (Lao Ma Gao) (for the Teochews) – only if the Bride’s Grandmother is still around
  • Banana (for the Teochews) – to symbolise blessings with children 连招贵子
  • Black Moss 发菜 (Fa Cai) – to symbolise blessings to Strike Rich
  • Traditional Chinese Wedding Cakes and Pastries 喜饼 – for the Bride’s family to distribute to relatives
  • Charcoal 旺炭 – to symbolise Good Life and Fortune after Marriage for the Bride
  • Double Happiness Stickers 喜字貼紙
  • 2 sets of Red Banners 红彩 – to hang over the main door (1 for the Groom and 1 for the Bride)
  • A pair of Coconuts – to symbolise good fortune with Multi Generations 有爷有子
  • 2 tins of Tea Leaves and 2 packets White Sesame Seeds – to symbolise seeds growing into Trees
  • Jewellery for the Bride – 4 pieces of Gold Jewellery 四点金 (Bangles,
    Earrings, Necklace and Ring) or Gold Dragon and Phoenix Bangle – to be
    given by the Groom’s Parents during the Tea Ceremony – this was traditionally for the Teochews, but recent years, other dialect groups practiced this too
  • Gift Box 礼金盒 set (to be brought back to the Groom’s Home for the Setting Up Of The Bridal Bed 安床 (An Chuang) – the set consist of the following
    • Dried Longan – symbolises blessings for a Dragon Boy 早生贵子
    • Red Dates – symbolises blessings for Good Fortune 鸿运当头
    • Dried Lotus Seeds – symbolises blessings with many children 连连生子
    • Dried Melon Slices – symbolises a sweet Marriage 甜甜蜜蜜
    • Lily Bulbs – symbolises many years of marriage harmony 百年好合
    • Walnuts or Peanuts – symbolises Harmony in the Family 和和气气
    • Dried Tangerine – for Good Fortune and Wealth 大吉大利
    • Pine tree leaf 长寿 – symbolises Health and Vitality for couple. If Bride’s Family has Grandparents it also symbolises Longevity and Health for them
    • 5 Element Seeds/Colour Beans 5色豆 – symbolises blessings for the
      Couple to have Hundreds of Years of bountiful Harvests 百年好合五谷. They
      usually comprises of Red Beans 红豆, Green Beans绿豆, Soy Beans 黄豆, Black
      Beans 乌豆 and Black-Eye Beans 白眉豆

Returning Gifts from the Bride’s Family 回礼 (Hui Li)

  • A gift for the Groom (usually a pair of pants, watch, cufflinks, Gold Ring, a belt, or a wallet with a Red Packet)
  • 2 bottles of Orange juice or Soft drinks
  • Portion of the gifts – the Wedding pastries and Cakes – usually half of
    the items are returned, but it also depends on individuals
  • Tea leaves
  • Longan
  • A shirt for the Groom’s Father
  • A pair of shoes for the Groom’s Mother


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Dowry Items 嫁妆

– to be placed in the newly weds’ Bedroom or Bridal Chamber during the Setting Up Of The Bridal Bed 安床 (An Chuang)


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