Weddings in China have changed a lot since the ancient time. However, Chinese weddings now incorporate both traditional Chinese customs and Western wedding customs. Due to the wide range of ethnicities and the vast landmass, wedding ceremonies can vary for different backgrounds, cultures and regions. If you are preparing for a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony, then here are a few things to consider and be aware of.
Taking It Back To The Traditional Origins Of Weddings
Chinese people treat marriage very seriously! This is completely understandable since most Chinese families now have only one child, and this means family members treat their child as if the world revolved around them. When it comes to a wedding, we think it is not only the joyful union of the newlyweds, but also a long term union of two families.
In ancient times, marriages were completely arranged by their parents. When the male’s parents found a girl that they thought would be a good candidate for their son’s wife, they would send a matchmaker to the girl’s home and negotiate the possibility of the marriage. Usually an agreement would be reached if the two people had the same family backgrounds (in terms of wealth, social status, ethnic group, etc). The term “门当户对” (men dang hu dui, literally means “the door must match the opposite party”) is a Chinese saying to describe the traditional practice. This practice reflected a marital culture in the old days: marriage was regarded more like a commercial transaction instead of a match of true love.
Although an arranged marriage is a rather controversial practice since it violates a couple’s freedom to choose, many people do still see the value of the practice because they think a marriage would be more stable if the two people were from similar family backgrounds. Nowadays people have all the freedom to choose their future husband/wife, but their marital values are still influenced by the idea of matchmaking and “men dang hu dui”.
“Men dang hu dui” is just a start. Once both parties agreed on the marriage, the parents of the boy and girl consult a fortuneteller to make sure the couple is compatible. Names, birth dates, birth years, birth places, and zodiacs are analyzed to determine if the couple’s “ming” (fate) is compatible for each other. Once everything is considered perfect, parents of both parties refer to the old calendar and find an auspicious date to arrange the wedding. There is so much more to know more about ancient Chinese weddings, go here for more ancient wedding details.
Modern Day Traditional Chinese Weddings
For a traditional Chinese marriage ritual, there are noteworthy variations such as the traditional color of the bridal gown and the essential decorations.
Today, most brides in modern cities such as Beijing dress in white attires owing to the sway of Western culture. Traditionally the bride’s outfit is red right through the ceremony as well as the reception. After the ceremony, the bride wears a red dress. These outfits are just as sophisticated as the American wedding dresses. By tradition, Chinese brides wear something red to accompany the outfits, likewise some American brides wear something blue.
Most American wedding ceremonies are held in churches where it is quiet and peaceful. Traditional Chinese weddings are held in large banquet halls in restaurants that are hired prior to the ceremony. Nowadays, several Chinese couples opt to have a wedding ceremony held in open-air locations or other scenic places.
The Ceremony and Reception
Contrary to American wedding ceremonies, the Chinese groom and bride see each other throughout the wedding day and between the preparations for the wedding. The mood is stress-free, the bride and groom can talk to each other and with their guests before everybody is seated for the ceremony. In American weddings, the wedding ceremony is completed with the exchange of vows. Exchange of vows is an essential part of the wedding day, and it is done in silence. However, in a Chinese wedding the momentous part of the ceremony is the reception part characterized with a fête and wishes for success, and it has no ceremonial silence. Contrary to American weddings, the ritual and reception are combined into one event, and it takes place in the same venue. Both American and Chinese banquets have formal seating arrangements with the important tables placed on a stage or in the front.
In a Chinese wedding party, the host makes announcements at the reception to entertain guests and the couple. The giving of toasts is a modern addition to the Chinese wedding ceremony. This habit is borrowed from the American way of toasting. In an American wedding reception, speeches are made by the groom, bride’s father, the best man and in most cases the maid of honor.
In Chinese weddings, there are no wedding registries. Money is given as a gift in red envelopes. Gift cards or checks are not used in Chinese it is just hard cash. Chinese couples spend a lot of their time after the reception to count how much money they have been given by their relatives and friends.
After the Reception
In American weddings bidding, the couple goodbye is imperative. This is celebrated by decorating the bridal car with streamers, ribbons, and washable paint and cheering as they drive away. The party can go on even after they leave. However, in Chinese weddings, the bride, groom and their relatives form a guard of honor at the doorway as guests leave. This guard of honor lasts for a couple of minutes after the tenth, and the final dish of the wedding is served. It is inappropriate to leave a Chinese wedding before the final meal is served.
Enjoying The Differences In Culture
At Morris House Hotel, we relish in hosting a variety of weddings as a way of celebrating different cultures, go here and here for different wedding traditions. We are an ideal venue for your dream wedding as we always endeavor to ensure the smoothness of your dream wedding.