Traditions are a very important 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. If you have been invited to a Chinese wedding ceremony, you might be wondering what some of the popular Chinese wedding traditions are and what you can expect at a Chinese wedding?
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 on Chinese Wedding Traditions
If you have recently been invited to a Chinese wedding, then you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. We have put together our list of frequently asked questions regarding Chinese wedding traditions and what to expect at a Chinese wedding ceremony.
Chinese Wedding Traditions: What Should I Wear To A Chinese Wedding Ceremony?
The short answer is that you should wear anything except 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, a Chinese wedding tradition is that 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.
Chinese Wedding Traditions: How Long Is a Chinese Wedding Ceremony?
Modern Chinese wedding ceremonies usually only last for one day. However, traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies have been known to occur over the course of three or four days, depending on how many traditions are being kept.
Chinese Wedding Traditions: 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 You Should Know
The Hair Combing Ceremony
This is an important ritual that is performed the day before the wedding ceremony and is a classic Chinese wedding tradition. It symbolises the couple entering a new stage of adulthood in their prospective homes.
To cleanse off bad spirits, the bride and groom will shower with pomelo leaves and change into red clothes and slippers. Next, the bride will sit in front of a mirror, whilst the groom sits facing inside the house. The respective parents will prepare a pair of red taper candles and scissors, one stick of incense, a wooden ruler, a hair comb, and red yarn with cypress leaves.
A woman of good fortune will light a stick of incense and start the hair combing ceremony. Whilst the hair is being combed, the woman will recite blessings.
The hair is combed four times and the woman of good fortune will then clip the red yarn with cypress leaves and the ceremony is officially completed.
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 teacups. 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.
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 wedding photos to be taken, and a chance to share varying cultures with those closest to you.
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:
- The Chinese Tea Ceremony
- The Grand Wedding Banquet
- The Games For The Groom
- The Days-After Traditions
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.
We hope you have enjoyed this article on Chinese wedding traditions, and if you have been invited to a Chinese wedding, we hope you are well prepared for what to expect!