Complete Guide to Chinese Wedding
Chinese wedding culture is a vital part of Chinese tradition. Many rituals and customs have been lost in course of history, but many are observed even today. It is practiced in honor of family value and respect to committed relationship, the holly marriage.
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Chinese Wedding Customs and Rituals Before the Wedding
Proposal & Betrothal
In Chinese Culture, a marriage is considered the joining of two families. Thus the parents of the bride's and groom's get involved in their wedding planning from very early on. Two families pick an auspicious date as the Betrothal Day. This is a formal meeting between the parents of the perspective bride and groom. The groom's family presents various proposal gifts that represents fertility and prosperity in Chinese culture, which is also known as "Grand Gift" or "Guo Da Li". All gifts should come in even numbers, meaning "good things double" in Chinese culture. Thus, the two are considered officially engaged.
Chinese Wedding Cakes
After the betrothal meeting, both families will make wedding announcement to their relatives and friends by sending out "Double Happiness Cakes" along with wedding invitations. This is the Chinese style wedding cakes also known as "Dragon & Phoenix Cakes". These are baked cake with dragon and phoenix imprint on the surface. Some styles have fillings made of lotus seed paste, red bean paste or green bean paste.
The wedding cakes are usually presented to the bride's family by the groom's family as part of the proposal gift. Bride's family will then present some of the cakes to worship their ancestors and send the rest of cakes to friends and relatives along with wedding invitations. Quantity of cakes to be sent depends on seniority of guest or relationship with the family. Nowadays, the wedding cakes are usually served to the guests at the wedding instead of the western style wedding cakes.
Chinese Wedding Dowry
The bride's family then prepares dowry and give a list of the dowries to the groom's family. Dowry is mostly composed of daily necessities for the new home, such as bedding, linen and dining set, etc. In the old Chinese culture, girls start learning needle work at young age, and prepare plenty of shoes, socks, table cloth etc, as part of her dowry. This is also an opportunity for the bride's family to display their love for their daughter as well as their wealth.
Bridal Bed Setting (An Chuang) Ritual.
A few days before the wedding, the bride's family send dowry to the groom's family, or the couple's new home nowadays. The groom's family will invite a respected female relative or friend to "set the bridal bed" at the new home. In some part of China in the old days, a unmarried young boy will be invited to sleep in the bridal bed the night before the wedding to bring fertility to the newlyweds.