Chinese Weddings 

Chinese weddings are always incredibly beautiful, full of vibrant colors, auspicious symbols, and steeped in traditions that date back centuries. Becoming a married couple is the union of two families with heritage and deep-rooted culture. It’s important to understand the cultural differences and traditions of a Chinese wedding that have been a part of this culture for many generations.

The History and Symbolism of Chinese Weddings

The First Dynasties 

Chinese weddings originated in the ancient China of the first dynasties circa 2650- 221 B.C. Ancient Chinese weddings symbolized a union between a man and woman, the continuity of their ancestors, and the potential to continue their families’ legacies.

Red Clothing 

In traditional are red clothing was an important part of the wedding and still is today. Red was chosen as the color for Chinese weddings because of its intense cultural symbolism. Red is seen as a lucky color in Chinese culture and has been traditionally associated with joy, prosperity and good fortune.

The Matchmaker 

Arranging and attending a marriage has been a long and ritualized process, traditionally passed down through the generations. The Chinese matchmaker was a person who assisted in arranging the marriage and was seen as a symbol of luck. The matchmaker, usually an elderly relative or other respected appointment by the family, had several duties that included ensuring that the dowry was settled, exchanging biographies of the bride and groom, introducing the couple to each other, and negotiating the wedding arrangements.

The Engagement Ceremony 

The engagement is known as “pai tou fa,” a formal ceremony that signals the intention to get married. In traditional Chinese engagements, the bride and groom’s parents visit the groom’s family and present them with gifts, including two sets of red garments, roasted nuts, wine, and tea. Upon accepting the gifts, the bride and groom are officially engaged.

The Wedding Date 

Chinese weddings are usually planned to take place on a lucky day in the Chinese calendar. Each year there are a few auspicious dates that are considered lucky days to start the marriage. These dates are based on astrology and the Chinese calendar.

The Tea Ceremony 

The traditional tea ceremony is an important part of Chinese weddings. Before the ceremony, the bride and groom, along with their parents, will pay their respects to their ancestors at the family altar. Then the parents of each family will exchange offers of tea to honor the union.

The Bridal Dowry 

The bridal dowry, referred to as “niang dai,” is still seen as an important tradition in Chinese weddings. A matchmaker usually helps with the selection of the items that go in the dowries, including clothes, jewelry, gifts, and even money.

The Wedding Banquet 

Chinese wedding banquets are lavish celebrations for family and friends that can last for many hours. They are usually held in a Chinese restaurant or banquet hall and are usually festive affairs full of decorations, food, music, and of course, happy couple.

Mealtime Customs 

During the meal there are certain customs as well. Guests will toast the couple and their families, exchange gifts, and even share in Chinese couple games. The night usually climaxes with the bride and groom drinking the sacred wine, which signifies their union.

The Gifts 

It is traditional for the bride and groom to give out gifts to their families, called “lianli,” which is a token of gratitude and respect. The bride and groom will also exchange gong fu teas when visiting each other’s family.

The Honeymoon 

Chinese weddings are not complete without the honeymoon. Traditionally, the newly married couple will go to the bride’s family home to spend the first night of the honeymoon. The following days are spent visiting famous places in China as well as temples to pray for good luck and health for the couple.

Chinese weddings are truly a special event. There are countless traditions and symbols that are still observed to this day, such as the presentation of red clothing and the bridal dowry. It’s amazing to learn about these traditions, dating back many centuries, that hold such rich meaning. There is no better way to express love and commitment between two people than with a beautiful Chinese wedding.