Traditional Chinese wedding rituals date back thousands of years. In this vast country, practices vary from place to place. And over time traditions have been simplified. But there are certain customs you can expect to be part of a Chinese wedding.
Hair combing ritual
This ritual symbolises coming of age. It sometimes takes place on the morning of the wedding at the bride and groom’s respective homes. Each will have their hair brushed by a happily married woman/man (often their parents). Blessings are said with each brushstroke. Afterwards, the couple eats rice balls in syrup to bring sweetness and unity into their marriage.
Fetching the bride
Unlike Western weddings, the groom collects the bride on the morning of the wedding. When he arrives at the bride’s house, he has to overcome obstacles before he can take the bride away. This may take the form of playful teasing by the bride’s family and bridesmaids, in which he has to declare his love. Sometimes grooms can win over the bride’s party with gifts of money in red envelopes.
The tea ceremony
Traditionally, there are two tea ceremonies on the wedding day. The first is on the morning of the wedding before the groom arrives. The bride serves her parents tea to show her gratitude for their love and care. This is often a simple ceremony.
The second takes place at the groom’s family home after the marriage ceremony. This is a more elaborate affair. The newlyweds serve tea to the groom’s parents as a way of showing respect. This act also welcomes the bride into the family.
Nowadays, the tea ceremony sometimes takes place at the wedding. Or, on the morning of the wedding for both sides of the family at the same time.
Red is the traditional colour of Chinese weddings. It signifies happiness and good luck. Historically, brides and grooms would wear red costumes and headdresses. Modern Chinese brides and grooms often wear western-style wedding clothes for the ceremony. The bride usually changes into a red gown for the reception.
Chinese wedding ceremonies take place at the groom’s home before the family altar or at a local temple. The couple bows to heaven and earth in front of the altar, then they bow before the groom’s parents, and finally, each other.
The reception meal is the highlight of the wedding. Guests will be treated to an eight, nine or even ten course banquet and there will be plenty of loud and enthusiastic toasts afterwards. During courses, the wedding couple will disappear and change into different outfits. The bride will often change into three different dresses throughout the evening.
Entertainment might include a team of dancers performing the lion dance. Guests often let off firecrackers at the end of the reception to wish the newlyweds good luck.
Unlike Western weddings, couples usually have their wedding photos taken before the big day. They’ll often wear different outfits and pose for photos in stunning locations. Sounds like fun!
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