Why are Chinese weddings such a delicate matter? We round up 10 interesting and unique facts about Chinese wedding traditions that you didn’t know.
Proverbs & Cultural Beliefs
A wise Chinese proverb says: “TO FORGET ONE’S ANCESTORS IS TO BE A BROOK WITHOUT A SOURCE, A TREE WITHOUT A ROOT”.Chinese people are, indeed, deeply connected to their cultural traditions and beliefs. That is why Chinese wedding is abundant in rituals and customs. Each tradition is meaningful, each and every one bears a sacred value. Let’s take the bride’s wedding dress color in the Celestial Empire. Red is the main option to choose from as it is believed to bring prosperity and happiness to the newly created family.
Do your horoscopes align? What is the prophecy of the sage about your marriage? The bride and groom pay extreme attention to the fortunetelling and signs from Above before tying the knot. People in China believe in soulmate relationships and want to make sure they have chosen the right person to spend life with.
According to the old ritual, the groom has to pay the bride price to his future parents-in-law. Traditionally it is done by giving them sweets, alcohol, Dragon and Phoenix tea collections representing Yin (feminine energy) and Yang (masculine energy). The bride’s family prepare gifts for the groom and his relatives as well. Cakes are considered symbolic wedding invitations for the guests so the groom has to make sure he has enough of the tasty treats to distribute before the ceremony starts.
Although Eastern culture is different from Western in various ways, Chinese brides have something similar to the bridal shower. Surprisingly, the attic is the usual place for a party with girlfriends. They bring the wife-to-be gifts, sing songs, and discuss the Big Day.
The last preparations for the wedding are the most significant ones. The bride should do cleansing rituals. As a rule, she usually takes several hot baths with herbs. It is believed that the bath with grapefruit nectar has a special power. It protects the new family from all the evil and destruction that might come their way. Another interesting custom—the hair of the bride should be combed by a happily married woman who has children.
Finally, the bride puts on her wedding gown and bows to her parents, thus expressing gratitude for raising her. She doesn’t forget to thank her ancestors, bowing to the old pictures and portraits. It might seem weird but, as it was mentioned before, the connection between generations is unbelievably strong in China.
Undoubtedly, the wedding gown deserves a separate mentioning. Not only it is lavishly decorated with pearls and rhinestones, but it is considered a family relic and should be carefully preserved after the ceremony. The headwear of the Chinese bride resembles a crown. It is embedded with feathers, beads, and coins. To show the wealth of her family, the bride can change gowns during the celebration. In that case, she usually gives preference to orange or pink dresses.
The Big Day
Another huge part of the wedding ceremony is the bride’s resettlement to the house of the husband’s parents. Her way to the new home is accompanied by loud fireworks and firecrackers that are aimed at driving away dark energy from the couple. Before entering the house, the bride has to step on a beautiful rug. It symbolizes the new beginning of her life.
While Western brides have something old, something new, and something blue, their Chinese counterparts carry a small mirror. It’s believed that if the bride catches a sun ray with the mirror, she lights up her way to the bright future.
Following ancient Chinese rituals, the wedding begins at the altar. It’s noteworthy that the ceremony must begin in the second half of the hour, that is when the minute hand crosses the thirty-minute line and begins to climb up the dial. This custom is connected to the fact that a new family should be born on the rise.
A tourist may be puzzled by the attitude to religion in China. A Buddhist monk, a Taoist priest, and a Christian pastor can be invited to the wedding at the same time. It’s done to strengthen the future family.
At first, the young people pray to the gods, who are obliged to bless their union in heaven. Afterward, the newlyweds express gratitude to the elders of the family, parents, and guests for coming to the celebration of their love. The oath is followed by a tea ceremony, during which the new wife offers tea to the relatives of her husband. In response, they give her jewelry and money wrapped in red paper.
There is also a tradition performed by the friends of the groom. They have to hand accessories called “happiness for two” to every guest. Men usually pin it to their clothes and women clip it into the hair. After the newlyweds drink the glass of red wine, everyone is invited to sit down and enjoy the celebration.
The bride and groom aren’t only the centers of attention. They have to amuse guests by showing their own acting talents: they sing, perform folk dances, show off the extravagant headwear. Fortunately, by the end of the wedding celebration, they pass the torch to the actors hired to entertain the audience.
After The Big Day
The purchase of the marital bed is the groom’s responsibility. Per Chinese beliefs, children should be the first ones who are invited to sit or jump on the bed. It is done to attract the higher energies which are in charge of fertility and motherhood. For the same purpose, the couple’s marital bed is traditionally embellished with fruit, lotus grains, and other symbolic attributes.
As you can see, a typical Chinese wedding is an event full of mystic rituals and ancient traditions. Traditions that are impossible to neglect. Even though over the years a lot of Chinese people immigrated and left their motherland, they still try their best to preserve the experience of their ancestors.
At the end of the day, a child is a reflection of his parents. As another wise Chinese proverb says: “ONE GENERATION PLANTS THE TREES, AND ANOTHER GETS THE SHADE”.
Our experience at helping plan many different weddings of all shapes and sizes means we are perfectly suited to bring your Chinese wedding day into modern times while remaining loyal to those everlasting traditions.