Traditional Chinese Wedding Day
This would be the actual day where the bride and groom becomes a married couple. Once again, there are traditional rituals to follow.
Before this day the bride’s dowry would have been sent to the groom’s house. The dowry represented her social status and wealth, and would be displayed at the groom’s house. The most common dowries included scissors like two butterflies never separating, rulers indicating acres of fields, and vases for peace and wealth.
At dawn on the wedding day, after a bath in water mixed with grapefruit juice, the bride puts on her new clothes and a pair of red shoes to await the so-called “good luck woman” to arrange her hair in the style of a married woman.
For the Chinese, Red symbolises good luck, and adds to the joyful atmosphere of festive celebrations like the Chinese Lunar New Year and weddings. Red is the primary colour seen in all clothings and decorations for these occasions.
The bride’s head would then be covered with a red silk veil with tassels or beaded strings that hang from the phoenix crown. She waits for her future husband to escort her home, as married women give her advice on how to be a good wife.
Meanwhile, the groom prepares himself to receive his wife. He wears a long gown, red shoes and a red silk sash with a silk ball on his chest. The groom then kneels at the Ancestral Altar where his father puts a cap decorated with cypress leaves on his head to declare his adulthood and family responsibility.
Fetching the Bride (迎亲 Ying Qin / 接新娘 Jie Xin Niang)
In a Traditional Chinese Wedding, the groom will send a bridal sedan chair (or a decorated donkey, depending on finances and traffic conditions) over to the bride’s family to bring the bride home. There will be a troop of escorts and musicians, playing cheerful music all the way to the bride’s home. A child carries a bridal box among the crowd, reflecting the bridegroom’s expectations for a child in the near future. Gifts are also brought to the bride’s family at the same time.
The doorstep of the bride’s house is heavily guarded by the bridesmaids or the bride’s sisters. It is customary for the bridesmaids to give the groom a hard time before he is allowed to enter the house. The groom must rely on his own wit, courage and his friends to get pass the bridesmaids. He also must negotiate the distribution of the red packets containing money with the bridesmaids and sisters so he can take his bride home.
Bride Leaving the House (出门 Chu Men)
The matchmaker (spokeswoman) will carry the bride on her back. The bride’s feet cannot touch the ground until she arrives at the groom’s house. In some regions, the bride’s relatives will throw rice into the air, hoping that the chickens around will eat the rice instead of pecking at the bride. Sometimes, a red umbrella is used to shield the bride as the opening of the umbrella will symbolize her bringing many descendants to the groom’s family.
As the bride leaves the house, her parents and her relatives will bid her farewell as she rides the carriage and leaves home. Wealthy brides often have servant girls who will follow her to the groom’s family and continue to serve her. These maids are known as ones who ‘accompany the marriage’.
Bride Arriving at the Groom’s Home (过门 Guo Men)
After the bride arrive at the groom’s house, the couple will worship the Heavens, the Earth and the Ancestors (拜堂 Bai Tang).
Then they will serve tea (奉茶 Feng Cha / 敬茶 Jing Cha) to the groom’s family according the their seniority and the relatives will give them red packets or bridal jewelry in return.
The Wedding Banquet (喜宴 Xi Yan)
To celebrate the marriage, the groom’s family will throw a huge wedding feast. In the old days, some villagers may use up to seven continuous days to entertain the relatives during a wedding.
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