For the Chinese people, the purpose of marriage is to continue the ancestral line and to create alliances between two families. As the world changes, Chinese wedding traditions have evolved and changed as well. Unlike before, only a few traditionsin weddings had survived the centuries and became a part of the modern day weddings. However, there are still families who wish to include traditional practices in their wedding plans.
In the ancient days, communication is done through letters which played a vital role in the betrothal and wedding process. Three letters being sent during those times. First is the request letter which serves as a confirmation of the formal arrangement of marriage. This is sent by the groom’s family to the bride’s family along with gifts. The second letter is called the gift letter. It serves as a gift record that describes the value of each gift. The third one is the Wedding letter which is given to the bride’s family on the wedding day itself.
In other countries nowadays, the bride’s family handles the expenses of the wedding because it is said to be the “bride’s day”. In some other countries, both the bride and the groom take care of the wedding expenses. However, for Chinese wedding traditions , it is the “groom’s day”. This means the groom’s family handles all the festivities before, during and after the wedding.
Before the big day
Before the wedding, a Chinese bride is isolated with her closest friends. In this custom, the bride-to-be symbolically mourns the loss of family and friends. On her wedding day, the bride is bathed in water which is infused with pomelo in order to cleanse her from bad influences.
Choosing the wedding date
A traditional Chinese couple is very picky when it comes to choosing the date for the wedding – it should be a lucky one. Most Chinese families choose a wedding date which is according to the lunar calendar. Aside from that, they also make sure that the moon and stars are properly aligned on the chosen date. It is also customary that the couple should marry on the half-hour rather than at the top hour of their wedding day. In this way, the hands of the clock are moving up instead of down. This is associated with the belief of Chinese wedding traditions that the couple could begin their lives on an upswing if that custom is followed.
Chinese Wedding Traditions – The Colors
The color red plays a vital role in the wedding festivities of the Chinese people. Red is considered by then as a bold and lucky color. In addition to this, the color signifies love, prosperity and happiness; therefore, everything is in red – wedding invitations, gift envelopes and the bride’s wedding dress. It is also important that the symbol for double happiness is placed on Chinese invitations, envelopes and wedding decorations, and accessories.
A new bed for the couple
In traditional Chinese families, the parents of the couple usually provide a new bed complete with pillow cases, comforters, pillows and sheets. A night before the wedding, the groom is required to sleep on the bed and a young nephew will have to jump up and down the bed to give luck to the couple. It is said that this practice gives hope on the fertility of the couple and will make them produce an heir soon.
The Big Day
On the day of the wedding, the couple will need to serve tea to both parents and family and guests. In return, they will be presented with jewelry and money placed in red envelopes.
There will be three different dresses for the bride for Chinese wedding traditions. The white dress with veil is worn during the wedding ceremony. The second wedding dress, a traditional Chinese wedding dress is used at the banquet. The last dress is called the bride’s going away dress. This dress is worn before the bride leaves the banquet.
The feast or wedding banquet is an important part during the wedding. Wedding banquets are to thank family and friends for the kindness they have shown throughout the years. Most feasts will serve a twelve course meal including delicacies like roasted pig and shark fin soup. Sometimes fried rice and abalone will also be served
A post wedding ritual for Chinese wedding traditions happens after the day of the wedding. The bride should wake up early to honor her ancestors. On this day, the bride is formally introduced to the groom’s family, relatives and friends. Older relatives will be giving her small tokens. Three days after the wedding, the bride will visit her family where she is welcomed and received as a guest.