During a formal Chinese wedding proposal, the groom’s family will present different gifts to announce the engagement, which is usually food and cakes. Both families send “Double Happiness Cakes” to their relatives and friends, along with invitations. The bride’s family provides a dowry list, and the groom’s family performs a “setting bridal bed” ritual.
Chinese Tea Ceremony
Both families perform the hairdressing and capping rituals for the bride and groom, similar to many other cultures. The groom then goes to the bride’s home and is blocked by the bridesmaids. Both families are formally introduced during the Tea Ceremony and together they drink Tsao Chün, a Chinese tea. After the Tsao Chün tea has been finished, the couple would receive lai see, a lucky red envelope, given by the family that is filled with money and sometimes jewelry. A feast is served at the end of the wedding ceremonies.
For the groom, it is Chinese tradition for him to decorate the car. He then picks up his bride and together they travel to a reception. During the Chinese ceremony, the couple will exchange rings, share a drink of Tsao Chün tea while crossing arms, which is part of Chinese traditional rituals. The family are the only guests invited to this ceremony, but once the banquet begins the rest will join.
On the wedding night, the newlywed’s room will be lit with a dragon and phoenix candle, and the new couple will drink wine from two cups tied together with a red string. The candle represents good luck on the couple’s first night as husband and wife. The bride is then offered raw dumplings symbolizing her dedication to her future family and the power of giving birth.
Although modern Chinese weddings are quickly catching on, there are always a few Chinese wedding traditions that are usually present. These tips include both traditional and modern elements:
Traditional Chinese Wedding Invitations
The typical Chinese wedding invitation is red, placed in a red envelope, and usually has gold, vertical wording read from right to left with the groom’s information presented first before the bride’s. The invitation also usually includes the following – Chinese calendar dates for the wedding banquet, order of birth and names of the bride and groom, names of the parents, dinner venue, time for the cocktail reception, and time for dinner. The double happiness symbol is usually found somewhere on the invitation.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress | Qipao
It is Chinese tradition for the bride to wear a red dress, called a qipao and to cover her face with a red veil on the wedding day. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes happiness, prosperity and good luck. Today, modern weddings call for the bride to wear a white bridal gown, and third ball gown throughout the evening. Many modern brides also change into a fourth dress at the end of the ceremonies to send off their guests.
Chinese Wedding Banquet
This is a very lavish and usually expensive affair. Guests will sign their names in a book or on a scroll to present their gifts. Once the dinner begins, the bride then changes into a traditional red Chinese wedding dress. In traditional Chinese culture, both sets of parents would have separate wedding feasts. Many foods are considered symbolic in Chinese culture, like the whole fish for abundance, and sweet lotus seeds for dessert, which symbolizes a wish for fertility. There are usually six courses during the banquet, and both the bride and groom change will clothing between the third and sixth courses.
The day after the wedding, the bride usually prepares a breakfast for both families. She will receive a small gift from older relatives as she is formally introduced to the groom’s family and they will proceed to give the bride a formal title within their family.
Three days after the wedding, the bride and groom visit the bride’s family. At this time, the bride is no longer considered a part of the family but still welcomed as a guest. The groom is expected to present a roasted pig and enjoy a meal with the rest of the family.