don’t take off your wedding shoes to enter the homes!
Traditionally chinese wedding shoes were usually red or pink with embroidery of double joy [双喜], peony [牡丹] or other auspicious flowers. As shoes [鞋] “xie” sounds like harmony [偕] in mandarin and are of a pair [一双一对] they became an important icon in chinese weddings.
In modern chinese wedding both bride and groom will wear NEW wedding shoes to match their clothing. They will not remove their wedding shoes throughout the chinese wedding ceremony, including the tea ceremonies and bride’s home visit.
When can you remove your wedding shoes?
The modern custom is to remove the wedding shoes only after returning to the groom’s home or bridal home after the bride’s home visit to her parent’s home.
Do buy comfortable shoes or have them custom made as you will stand and walk around a lot on your chinese wedding day!
Wedding shoes in ancient China
During the Southern Dynasties [南朝] (AD420-589), the groom’s family would include a pair of silk wedding shoes as part of the Betrothal gifts.
During the Later Han [后汉](AD947-950), chinese red wooden clogs [木屐] with colorful ribbons were worn by ladies as wedding shoes. Today, some chinese still include two pairs of red wooden clogs as part of the bride’s dowry.
Yellow is also an auspicious color used in ancient China for wedding shoes. The bride wore a pair of yellow fabric shoes [黄道鞋] for boarding the wedding sedan [花轿]. These were changed to a pair of red wedding shoes just before the wedding ceremony.
A custom of throwing the red wedding shoes to the innermost recesses of the bridal bed was also practiced. The shoes were never to be removed. This symbolized that the bride would never marry twice in her lifetime [此生不二嫁]. It was also believed that the earlier the wedding shoes disintegrated, the earlier the bride would have a baby.
Another type of wedding shoes made of soft sole was called the “sleeping shoes” [睡鞋]. On wedding night, the groom would take off the “sleeping shoes” for the bride. Together, they would admire the picture in the shoe’s inlay before retiring to bed.