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Fascinating Chinese Wedding Traditions You Need To Know

29/01/21

Traditions are a huge part of Chinese culture, and that certainly doesn’t stop when it comes to Chinese wedding traditions. Of course, over the course of hundreds of years and plenty of generations, many have been modernised to suit the needs of contemporary Chinese couples.

However, at the heart of these updated rituals still lies fascinating traditions steeped in culture, respect, and family values. Here are some frequently asked questions surrounding being invited to a Chinese wedding:

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Wear To A Chinese Wedding?

The short answer is that you should wear anything but the colour red. Just as white is traditionally worn by the bride at a typical western wedding, red is usually the colour of choice for the bride to wear at a Chinese wedding. Even if they are opting for a white dress to begin with, Chinese brides often change into a red Chinese wedding dress later in the proceedings, so it’s probably better to play it safe and avoid red altogether.

The longer answer, however, involves not only avoiding red, but darker shades too. Steering clear of blacks, greys, or even navy blues is also advised, as they symbolise death and themes of bad luck: neither of these are particularly welcome on a wedding day! Opt for lighter colours such as violets and peaches, as these represent joy, new life, and new beginnings in various cultures.

How Long Is The Ceremony Usually?

Chinese wedding ceremonies, at least ones that are more modem in theme, usually only last for one day. However, traditional Chinese weddings have been known to occur over the course of three or four days, depending on how many traditions are being kept.

What Gift Should I Bring To A Chinese Wedding?

Unlike the majority of western weddings, a typical ‘wedding gift’ isn’t necessary, so a present registry will likely not be available. However, it is a tradition that guests present the betrothed with a sum of money displayed in a red envelope adorned with traditional Chinese characters which symbolise wealth and happiness.

The amount of money should be equaling an even number, with the number eight being particularly important to the sum. The number eight is often considered a prosperous figure in Chinese culture, whereas the number four represents quite the opposite.

chinese wedding traditions tea ceremony couple

Our Top Chinese Wedding Traditions

The Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony

The Chinese Tea Ceremony is an incredibly intricate and detailed component to a traditional Chinese wedding. The ceremony starts with both the bride and groom’s family members getting them ready for the day, both with hairdressing rituals and capping rituals.

At the ceremony, where the groom has already arrived and is being kept at bay by the bridesmaids, the two families have the opportunity to formally meet, get to know each other, and drink a Chinese tea called Tsao Chün out of delicate tea cups. Afterwards, the families offer the couple a red envelope which has been filled with money and sometimes other valuable items.

Similar to some western traditions, the groom often decorates his car before picking the bride and driving to the wedding reception together. At the reception, they exchange rings and drink Tsao Chün once more, before pressing on with the banquet. These repeating themes of respect, honouring one’s parents and acknowledging one’s upbringing are all essential to a Chinese wedding.

The Grand Wedding Banquet

This part of a Chinese Wedding is often incredibly expensive, and somewhat extravagant. The banquet begins with the wedding guests signing their names either onto a scroll or into a book, before presenting their presents (or envelopes) to the bridesmaids.

Traditionally, both sets of parents would have their own wedding banquets filled with a variety of symbolic foods, to wish luck, fertility, and happiness towards the couples’ new life together. Just after the meals commence the bride changes into a traditional red dress before everyone indulges in six courses where the groom will also be expected to change outfits somewhere between the third and the sixth dish.

For most Chinese Weddings, the banquet consists of six courses. However some have been known to be eight courses, and sometimes even ten. Once again, odd numbers and the number four are often considered to be auspicious in Chinese culture, so avoiding those are imperative.

chinese wedding traditions table setting

The Games For The Groom

The highlight for many guests who attend a traditional Chinese wedding will have to be Chuangmen, better known as games which were originally supposed to test the groom’s ability to provide for the bride and deem him worthy enough in the eyes of her family.

The tasks have been updated over the years in order to keep them contemporary enough for a younger generation, but often they focus on the groom having to overcome various obstacles to prove his devotion to his bride.

Nowadays, tasks such as having to eat a variety of flavoured foods, having to find the brides shoes, and even paying the bridesmaids in order to win their friend, and thus their approval have all been favoured by modern couples.

The Days-After Traditions

The day immediately after the wedding, the newly wedded woman would usually be expected to prepare breakfast for both her family and the family of her new husband. Older relatives would bestow small presents unto the bride, as the symbol of acceptance into her new family. These older relatives will proceed to give the bride her official, new, and formal title within their family.

Three days after the wedding, however, the newly wedded couple would be expected to visit the bride’s family. As the bride has already been accepted into the groom’s family, she is technically considered to be no longer a part of her own, and will thus be treated as a guest. The groom traditionally offers a gesture of food on this visit, which will then be enjoyed by the whole family during the course of the visit.

Although this is quite an old tradition, many modern couples choose to incorporate elements of this ritual into their more contemporary weddings. This can be an incredible opportunity for some really different and exciting photographs to be taken, and a chance to share varying cultures with those closest to you.

chinese wedding traditions wedding dress couple

Fascinating Chinese Wedding Traditions Conclusion

Chinese wedding traditions are steeped in culture and history, and more often than not, even more, ancient traditions are incorporated into the wedding ceremony and wedding reception than those mentioned above. However, no matter how many traditions a couple may want to stick to on their big day, the key rituals you might need to consider are:

  1. The Chinese Tea Ceremony
  2. The Grand Wedding Banquet
  3. The Games For The Groom
  4. The Days-After Traditions

If you’re looking to throw a Chinese Wedding in the Northamptonshire area, or any Asian Wedding for that matter, we can’t recommend our stunning venue, Kettering Conference Centre, enough. Based in a central location that’s easy for guests from anywhere to get to, you can put your trust in our dedicated team of professionals to ensure your wedding day goes off without a hitch.