You are here: Home > Wedding Coloring Pages, Free Printable Fun! Flower Girls Dresses, First Communion, and More! > Wedding Coloring Pages that are free and Printable > Tips & Articles on Weddings, First Communion, Baptism, and more! > Wedding Traditions and Customs > Chinese Wedding Customs

Chinese Wedding Traditions and Customs

Chinese Wedding take place around the world mixing Western and Chinese Traditions and Customs, an example is the bride often wearing a Western Wedding Dress for pictures, and later changing into a QiPao Chinese Dress. Chinese Weddings locations vary from the new Chinatown of Monterey Park and Rowland Heights in US to Taipei, Taiwan, to China. Chinese Wedding Traditions and Customs vary slightly, but most Chinese weddings have the same core parts.  Chinese Wedding Customs have changed over the past one hundred years.  For example my Grandmother in her wedding picture wore a Chinese Dress, but my Mother and I at our weddings wore both a European style wedding dress and a Chinese QiPao, mixing both Western and Chinese Wedding Customs.

Traditional Chinese Wedding Customs in olden times had the marriages arranged by the parents of the bride and groom. Children did not have a say in who they would wed. Often times the couple was chosen while the children were still very young or not even born yet. The idea was to keep rich families together, so the line of heritage would stay strong through the centuries. Many of the ancient Chinese wedding customs are not enforced today, but some still are to a more modern extent.   Today, Chinese Weddings/Marriages are usually not arranged, with young couples often meeting in college and at work.  If the parents do not agree on the suitability of the other partner with a Chinese culture that has a lot of respect for parental opinion, this may present challenges to the couple and even prevent the marriage.


Importance of Birth Dates and the Family Tree

Chinese Wedding Customs have the first step finding out that the couples birth dates are acceptable. The couple must see a fortuneteller who decides if there will be good or bad fortune for the married couple, based on their birth dates. If no bad fortune is found, then the two families exchange their family tree (family records), and proceed with wedding preparations.  It's also possible to get different opinions from several different fortune tellers.  The traditional Chinese calendar is used to arrive at what will be a lucky day for a wedding with the input of a fortune teller.  Because of this some dates have a huge amount of Chinese weddings.  If there are problems with a fortune teller not finding the correct information, there are always others.

Formal Gifts for the Bride's Family

About one month before the wedding date, the groom's family will send initial gifts to the bride's family. A lucky day has to be chosen for this event. A lot of times the groom's family will send the formal gifts at this time as well, but in ancient days the initial and formal gifts were given on two separate occasions. Typical gifts in modern times are dried seafood, fruit baskets, and other nice items. In ancient days the groom's family would send chickens and other livestock.  Gifts are given at the Engagement Ceremony, and for those more traditional this includes fruit such as oranges (wealth), a whole pig dyed red, etc.  For example August 8, 2008 was considered a lucky day, since 8 means wealthy in Chinese, so it was a triple 8 day and there were many Chinese Weddings on this day.
 
The groom's family will pays for the wedding expenses. The two families will negotiate how many guests will be invited to the wedding. The bride's family sets the number of guests to be invited, but the groom's family may try to negotiate this number to keep costs low.  Gifts from the wedding guests are cash given in Red Envelopes, which helps with the costs of the wedding.  Having the Grooms Family pay is different than the American Wedding Customs, where the Bride pays the Wedding Costs.  Many couples now days will often pay for their own wedding without help from the parents, especially with the increase in average age of Chinese marrying.

The Bridal Bed

The ancient custom was to have a new bed for the wedding couple that was dressed with red linens. In modern times a couple often times cannot afford a new bed, so they simply put red linens on the current bed, as symbolism of the old custom. In some cases couples will just buy new linens that are not the traditional red, so this custom is not strictly adhered to nowadays.

Pictures

Pictures are a huge part of the wedding process.  Couples in the US will often go back to Taiwan to get the pictures done.  At the wedding, a huge picture of the couple is often displayed at the entrance.  A book of pictures is produced and they are incredible.  A large picture of the bride and groom is usually placed at the entrance table to the banquet, so the pictures are done in advance before the wedding.  Later the picture is usually hung over the bride and grooms bed.

Gifts for the Groom's Family

This custom has pretty much gone the way of the wind. It used to be that the bride would honor the groom's family with gifts on the wedding day. Nowadays a bride might give the groom's family jewelry that she receives as a gift on the wedding day.


Wedding Day Customs

Visiting the Bride


On the day of the ceremony, the groom and his groomsmen will decorate a car and drive over to the bride's house. The bridesmaids will greet the groom and his men, and ask the groom a set of tricky questions. The groom must answer these questions, and possibly perform some acts of strength, such as push-ups, to prove that he is strong enough to care for the bride. Once he passes these obstacles, the groom must pay the bridesmaids red packets, which are a symbol of good fortune, and then he can visit with the bride and her family.  This part of the Chinese custom varies.  I have also read of where the groom needs to bribe his way into the house with gifts of red envelopes.

Tea

The bride and groom will share with both families on separate occasions. First, the bride and groom will share tea with the bride's family, and then they will go and do the same with the groom's family. The superior person, usually oldest, in each household has the first cup of tea, and then others join in the act.

The Wedding Banquet

The wedding banquet is still a time-honored Chinese Wedding Tradition and Custom that is kept even today. The wedding banquet is the most important part of the Wedding . This is the time that the parents get to announce the marriage of the couple and be respected by others in attendance. The wedding banquet is often said to be more for the parents recognition than for the couple. In fact, the parents invite their relatives and friends, and only friends of the bride and groom are invited, if agreed by the parents.
 
A traditional wedding banquet consists of 12 courses, including an appetizer, main dishes, fried rice and noodles, a dessert, and fruit. Only the best foods are served at the feast. Expensive beverages are also consumed during the feast.  Cost per person in the US are around $50 per guest.  During the wedding, the couple will go from table to table with a drink.  The groom will toast the table and take a sip.  Another custom is by hitting glasses with chopsticks, it signals the bride and groom to kiss each other.  To make the maximum amount of noise, a half empty glass works best.
 
Guests generally give the bride and groom monetary gifts in a red envelope as part of the Wedding Tradition. These gifts will rarely cover the entire cost of the wedding banquet, which is something many couples rely upon when paying for their own wedding. It is definitely something couples must take into account when they know how many people will be in attendance at the wedding, so they can plan to keep banquet within their budget.  During the wedding the bride will often first be seen in a Western Style White Wedding Dress.  This is about three generations old (I have a picture of my Mother in a White Wedding Dress), but my Grandmother wore a traditional Chinese Dress for her wedding.  During the wedding the bride will change into several QiPao's Chinese Dresses that are often custom tailored so they fit exactly.

Additional Information

The official color of a wedding day is still red, as it was in ancient times. As time goes on, it appears that more and more Western customs and traditions are gaining popularity and becoming part of the Chinese Wedding Tradition and Customs, but it is nice to see that some of the ancient wedding customs are still being performed today.