Chinese Wedding Traditions and Customs
The wedding date is picked carefully according to astrological signs and birthdates, and the ceremony begins on the half hour to cement the couple’s good fortune. The night before the wedding day, the bride is bathed in citrus-infused water to cleanse her of evil influences.
Many modern brides change into three different outfits throughout the night. The three dresses include a traditional white dress, a traditional Chinese bridal dress for the tea ceremony and a cocktail dress to send off the guests. The bridal headpiece is a phoenix crown made of kingfisher feathers and pearls with a red veil to shield her from the heaves until she reaches her groom’s home. The groom typically wears a blue dragon robe with a black silk coat and a black headpiece with red tassels.
On the day of the wedding, the groom is typically placed through a series of tests or stunts by bridesmaids to prove his worth before he is allowed to pick up his future bride. Traditionally, he would carry out the stunts until he would present them with red envelopes of money. When the bride arrives at the groom’s home, she is greeted by firecrackers and gongs and she will have to jump over an iron basin lit with charcoal to represent prosperity and keep evil spirits away.
If the ceremony is held outdoors, consider presenting your guests with paper parasols or silk painted fans. During a traditional tea ceremony, the bride serves tea to her parents and her new in-laws as a symbol of respect. To update the tradition, the groom can serve tea with his new bride. The color red represents celebration and prosperity, and the Chinese character "xi" or double happiness bestows the wish of a happy life for the couple. Incorporate these characters by having double happiness favor bags or double happiness chopsticks for wedding favors.
The bride and groom are required by etiquette to make the rounds and toast each table individually to the loud cheers of the group visited. Sometimes members of the wedding party can be called upon to drink in place of the bride and groom.
Chinese weddings are filled with symbolism and the wedding cake is no exception. It represents a ladder that the couple will climb to success and so it has many layers and is cut from bottom to top. A traditional reception will feature 9-10 courses and will usually include lobster and chicken because they symbolize the dragon and the phoenix respectively.