Congratulations on your engagement. If you and/or your partner are of Chinese heritage or interested in incorporating Chinese wedding customs into your ceremony, we’ve highlighted some to consider.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Traditions
There are 56 ethnic groups in China. Therefore, traditional Chinese marriage customs are rich and abundant! Tradition is an important part of Chinese folk culture. Many of the most common and shared Chinese wedding traditions involve food and cakes. For example, during a formal Chinese wedding proposal the groom’s family will give edible gifts to announce the engagement. There are also “Double Happiness Cakes” that both families send to their guests along with invitations.
Chinese Tea Ceremony
Similar to many other cultures, the bride and groom’s families perform hairdressing and capping rituals for the couple. Following that, the groom goes to the bride’s home where he is blocked by the bridesmaids. During the Chinese Tea Ceremony both families are formally introduced during and drink Tsao Chün tea together. This tea is named after the Chinese kitchen God. After the tea is consumed, the couple receive lai see - a lucky red envelope - filled with money and sometimes jewels. A feast is served at the end of the wedding ceremonies.
More tea will be shared by the couple while the cross arms during the Chinese ceremony. They will also exchange rings. Although the family are the only guests invited to this intimate ceremony, once the banquet begins guests will join. It is a Chinese tradition for the groom to decorate the car in which he picks up his bride from the ceremony and brings her to the reception.
On the wedding night, the new couple’s room will glow with a dragon and phoenix candle representing good luck on the couple’s first night together as husband and wife. They will also drink wine from two cups bound with a red string. Finally, the bride will eat raw dumplings symbolizing her dedication to her future family and birth.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Invitations
Red is the color of the traditional Chinese wedding invitation. It is typically placed in a red envelope and has beautiful gold writing with the groom’s information presented first. Additionally, the invitation usually includes the Chinese calendar dates for the wedding banquet; order of birth and names of the bride and groom; names of the parents; the dinner venue; the time for the cocktail reception and time for dinner. Somewhere on the invitation you’ll usually find the ornamental double happiness symbol. This symbol represents marriage.
Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress | Qipao
Red is also the traditional color for a Chinese bride’s dress – called a qipao – and veil on her wedding day. The color red symbolizes happiness, prosperity and good luck in Chinese culture. Often time modern brides will change into a white bridal gown and then a third ball gown later in the evening. Additionally, some brides will wear a fourth dress at the end of the ceremonies to bid adieu to their guests.
Chinese Wedding Banquet
A Chinese wedding banquet is a very festive, lavish and costly affair teeming with traditions. When guests arrive they’ll sign their names in a book or on a scroll to present their gifts. The start of dinner marks the bride’s changing into her traditional red Chinese wedding dress. Food is abundant and there are usually six courses. Some of the delicious and symbolic foods you can expect to eat include: whole fish (representing abundance) and sweet lotus seeds (symbolizing a wish for fertility).
When the wedding is over, the traditions are not done. The morning after the wedding, the bride typically prepares a breakfast for both families. There, she will receive a small gift from older relatives and be formally introduced to the groom’s family. The elders will also give the newly married bride a formal title within their family.
The bride and groom will visit the bride’s family three days after the wedding. This symbolic visit marks a change: the bride is no longer considered a member of her family, but a welcomed guest in her parents’ house. During this visit, the groom is expected to present a roasted pig and partake in a meal with the rest of the family.
Check Out Some of the Chinese Weddings LifeStory.Film Has Photographed and Filmed: