Have you ever attend to a Chinese traditional wedding ? I do, and the least I can say, is that the ceremony is full of codes and conventions that I couldn’t imagine before. Even if nowadays Chinese people are influenced by western weddings, they still keep a lot of traditional conventions. I think that attending a Chinese wedding ceremony would be one of your best memories of your China travel. Here I will present some facts that you could only happen in Chinese weddings.

The average age of marriage is around 30, because they first want to have a stable situation (work, house, car…). And when they come to this big step, they’ll have to prepare the wedding ceremony. Chinese people don’t choose the date of the wedding by pure serendipity, they often refers to the astrology, in China marrying the year of your sign is a bad luck omen. In fact, they also refers to the zodiac for the best couple matches, for example is it said that a Sheep woman perfectly fits with a Ox man and Tigers and Dragons couples would have great troubles to come to an agreement. About the ceremony itself, only the family of the groom have to organize and cover all the charges of this event.

Chinese couples don’t marry in a church or city halls, they got married by registering at the Department of Civil affairs where all they do is sign some documents. That moment is not part of the ceremony. The ceremony takes place after. On the big day, the bride got prepared in her room during the morning, and waits until her husband comes to symbolically “kidnap” her from her parents’ and take her to the reception where they swap their wedding ring. The groom generally arrives with a group of six (lucky number in China) or eight (represents wealth) cars covered with flowers.

In general the reception takes place in a restaurant, and 100 or 150 people are invited. Parents and closest relatives are at the entrance of the restaurant to welcome the guests. At the entrance guests don’t offer gifts to the married couple but money and are registered in an account book. The bride arrives at the restaurant in a white dress, and then she wears the traditional red Chinese dress (Qipao) to have a toast on each table, and she finally wears a third dress for the rest of the reception. The banquet begins when the new married couple raise a toast in front of the crowd, then numerous dishes are served successively to each tables. Many kinds of meat, seafood and fish are served (sign of wealth) and when everyone is full the banquet comes to the end. And finally, after the reception, the new couple prostrate themselves in front of their parents and offer them a cup of tea. And it is only after this ritual that they call their parents-in-law “mother” and “father”.

And other funny fact, if during your China tour you ever take China Southern flights to go in the south you could see that before “kidnapping” the bride, the groom has to bang on the door with bank notes on the other hand. Is it said that the bride would only open if she thinks that it’s enough. Of course, I think that now people don’t do this anymore, or very few, but maybe in small villages this tradition still remains.

Jack Li
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