Chinese wedding ceremonies are known across the world as one of the most lavish affairs that celebrate the love between a happy couple. There are old and modern Chinese wedding traditions that add flair and cultural significance to your big day.
If you and your spouse have talked about planning your special day with this East Asian culture in mind, you might need help with navigating Chinese marriage customs.
Find out everything you need to know about Chinese wedding customs here with our guide at YeahWeddings!
What are Chinese Wedding Customs?
With a population of over a billion people that speak hundreds of languages, China is a source of endless inspiration for wedding traditions!
Learn all about Chinese marriage customs today!
Pick Your Wedding Date
When planning their ceremony and reception, some couples in the western world finalize a date based on their preferred season. Others choose their special day as a way to stay within their wedding budget.
For their Chinese marriage festivities, many brides and grooms will pick their wedding date based on their zodiac signs and consultations from religious figures.
March, July, and September are viewed as unlucky months on the lunar calendar to tie the knot. Death-related festivals are held during these times and are believed to bring bad luck to a Chinese couple.
Attend the Guo Da Li
The Chinese betrothal ceremony, also known as the Guo Da Li, involves a formal gathering between the families of a Chinese bride and groom.
This meeting usually takes place two to four weeks before the wedding day and becomes another opportunity for the family to exchange blessings.
In the same way as Filipino wedding traditions with the Pamamanhikan, the groom is expected to bring presents like wine and oranges to the bride. The Guo Da Li becomes different when the bride’s family returns half of the gifts as a symbol of their well wishes towards their Chinese marriage ceremony.
Include the Double Happiness Symbol
The double happiness symbol, or Shuāngxǐ, has become one of the most recognizable images on Chinese wedding decorations.
Shuāngxǐ is made of two connected copies of xi, which translates to happiness and feels especially appropriate for portraying the feeling that are shared between a Chinese bride and husband.
Wear Red and Gold
At Chinese wedding ceremonies, the newlyweds are expected to wear red and gold as representations of honor and wealth. Guests should stay away from wearing these colors so they don’t steal any attention away from the bride and groom.
The qipao is a red Chinese wedding dress that is typically styled as form-fitting and floor-length. Some of the most popular bridal accessories for a Chinese marriage celebration are pig necklaces and phoenix bangles.
Another option for a Chinese bride to wear during her wedding ceremony is the qun kwa. This ensemble is most popular in the southern region of the country and consists of a brocade jacket and long skirt.
When choosing what to wear to a Chinese wedding, the groom can match with his fiance by wearing a Tang suit in the same color. He can find this attire in other colors like ivory, navy, and gray.
Plan a Tea Ceremony
After the couple has exchanged vows during a traditional Chinese wedding, it’s customary for the newlyweds to serve tea to the older members of their family. The drinks are commonly made with sweet ingredients like red dates or lotus seeds.
The tea ceremony dates back to the Tang dynasty and becomes an opportunity for the bride and groom to honor their mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and more.
During this part of a Chinese marriage ceremony, the newlyweds will receive advice and best wishes from their family members in return.
Gift The Couple with Red Envelopes
In the Western world, many couples create a wedding registry to ensure that their guests will pick something that they’ll enjoy after their romantic celebration.
Chinese wedding ceremonies have more of a straightforward expectation. It’s perfectly acceptable to give cash or gold jewelry to the bride and groom in red envelopes, known as Hong Bao, as a gesture towards their future prosperity.
Comb the Bride’s Hair
The Chinese combing ceremony is a short and meaningful tradition that originated from ancient times.
A Chinese bride and groom begins this custom by bathing in water mixed with pomegranate leaves and pomelo to cleanse their bodies. They’ll change into a new set of pajamas and sit in front of a table that faces an open table with lighted phoenix candles.
The parents of the wedding couple will comb their hair while reciting a litany of Chinese blessings. This tradition ends up with the bride and groom eating rice balls together, which represents the future of their future and round marriage.
This Chinese marriage custom symbolizes the couple’s transition into adulthood as they leave their families and start their own.
Throw A Fan
During a Western wedding celebration, a bride will symbolically pass off her good fortune to the next guest through the bouquet toss.
While this tradition doesn’t typically happen during Chinese marriage ceremonies, a similar custom involves casting away bad luck and starting fresh.
Before the couple rides off in their wedding transportation, the bride will toss a fan that can be picked up by any of her family member
Hire Lion Dancers
Bring your traditional Chinese wedding dreams to life by including a dancing lion as entertainment for your guests!
The performance usually lasts about fifteen to twenty minutes and is believed to cast away any evil spirits from ruining the couple’s married lives together.
Test The Groom
Translated in English as “Chinese door games,” chuangmen comes from the idea that a groom should prove his worthiness to the family of the bride. These modern Chinese wedding traditions can be played during the tea ceremony or banquet.
In the present day, many couples will use this opportunity during their Chinese wedding to create some unforgettable memories.
The simplest form of these Chinese wedding traditions involves asking the groom about his relationship with the bride through trivia questions. Feel free to create a list with a mix of obvious and difficult answers!
If the groom is feeling adventurous during his Chinese marriage celebration, nothing is more entertaining than a taste test. Give him some foods or drinks with bitter, spicy, and sweet flavors to symbolize the moments of your upcoming married life and be prepared to laugh at his funny reactions!
For a creative groom, he’ll appreciate nothing more than the opportunity to express his love on your traditional Chinese wedding day. Ask him to perform a sweet serenade that’ll make everybody’s hearts soar!
Serve Chinese Food
Chinese wedding ceremonies typically include banquets with ten-course meals as a way to demonstrate the future prosperity and generosity of the couple.
Shark fin soup is one of the most popular dishes for Chinese nuptials. If you and your spouse prefer an eco-friendly option for your banquet, go with a dish that replaces the meat with crabs and scallops!
You can never go wrong with serving Peking duck during your traditional Chinese wedding. Originating from Beijing, this meal consists of thin shavings of the waterbird with Mandarin pancakes with scallions and hoisin sauce.
Give your guests the full experience of a Chinese banquet by serving abalone and sea cucumbers. Don’t think twice about including mushrooms and broccoli with this delicious dish!
If you want to include Chinese desserts on your special day, Tangyuan proves to be an excellent choice. These sweet rice balls can be filled with black sesame seeds or anything else!
During the wedding planning process, couples should be aware of any marriage superstitions that might affect their Chinese marriage ceremonies.
In the same way as “13” is considered unlucky in Western society, “4” carries a negative connotation in Chinese culture since the name, “si,” sounds like the word for “death” in Mandarin. Consider excluding this number with your Chinese wedding decorations.
Guests should keep in mind that, according to Chinese wedding customs, wearing white or black attire as solid colors will bring misfortune. These outfits are commonly worn during funerals as symbols of mourning and death. Don’t be afraid to wear black or white as accents!
Pears are another symbol of bad luck during a Chinese wedding celebration. These fruits are translated in Mandarin as “li,” which is the same word for separation so it is believed that sharing pears will eventually cause the couple to divorce.
Play Chinese Music
A traditional Chinese wedding isn’t complete without playing some romantic songs in Mandarin!
Eason Chan’s “Time Flies” never fails as a memorable song for a Chinese marriage ceremony. This timeless tune will definitely leave a lasting impression on your entire guest list.
“Love You Only” is an essential for any couples who are curating their playlist for Chinese wedding ceremonies. Ekin Cheng’s song works especially well as background music for the first dance!
If you’re searching for a Chinese wedding song with a 90s vibe, Jacky Cheung has got you covered with “Love is Eternal.” This stripped-down tune has pulled at people’s heartstrings for over two decades!
As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, China has plenty to offer for wedding traditions.
If you’re including Chinese wedding customs on your special day, we would love to know in the comments! Don’t hesitate to tell us about any Chinese wedding traditions that we may have missed in our guide!
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