Guo Da Li: A Step-By-Step Guide on The Chinese Betrothal Ceremony
Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

July 2015

How to Ace Your Guo Da Li (过大礼)

Most soon-to-be-wed couples are aware that they have to go through the Chinese betrothal ceremony, Guo Da Li (过大礼), before their wedding day. What they are unaware of is what should be said or done during the ceremony. To help our couples pass their Guo Da Li with flying colours, here’s a low-down on what needs to be said or done before, during and after the Chinese betrothal ceremony.

Guo Da Li Preparations

The first step to your Guo Da Li should be the picking of an auspicious date and time for the ceremony to be carried out. Typically, the ceremony takes place two to four weeks before the actual wedding day. After you’ve picked out a date and time, head to any Guo Da Li shops to procure the necessary items needed for the ceremony.

Who Is Involved

Traditionally, the groom will be accompanied by an elderly female matchmaker with good fortune. Because matchmakers are few and far between today, this role is now undertaken by the groom’s elderly female relative, usually a married aunt who has children. In the event that the groom has no female elderly relatives that fit the bill, an older married female cousin can also fill the shoes of a matchmaker.

What To Say

Kelly’s Oriental Wedding by BobbyKiran Photography

Joyous occasions such as the Chinese New Year, birthdays and weddings are usually peppered with auspicious sayings, and your Guo Da Li ceremony is no different. The groom’s elderly or older female relative should:

  1. Congratulate the bride’s parents on this joyous matrimonial match and occasion the moment she arrives at the bride’s door step.
  2. Bestow the couple with well wishes for their marriage and bless them with many off-springs.
    (祝福 <Couple’s names> 永结同心、恩爱到白头、连生贵子)

When to Begin the Exchanging of Gifts

Once the auspicious and congratulatory sayings have been said, and the necessary introductions exchanged, the groom will present his future in-laws with the Guo Da Li items, which usually comprises of oranges, canned pig trotters, Chinese traditional xi bing (喜饼), boxes of Western cakes or xi bing to be distributed among the relatives, bottles of wine and two red packets – one for the bride’s price (聘金) and the other to thank her parents for taking care of her and raising her all these years (断奶钱).

When Should Hui Li Be Conducted

Hui li (回礼), otherwise known as the returning of the gifts, takes place after the groom has presented his gifts to his in-laws. Except for the 断奶钱 red packet and wine, the bride’s parents will reciprocate his generosity by returning half of the items they were gifted, including the bride’s price. In addition, they will present the groom with the bride’s dowry (嫁妆), including her wedding jewellery (四点金) and tea set, among other items meant to bless the couple with a happy and fulfilling marriage.

What Happens After Guo Da Li and Hui Li

After all gifts have been exchanged and received, the couple and the groom’s female relative will travel back to the groom’s place, where the bride will show her in-laws her dowry. These items are then kept aside for use on and after the wedding day. Do note that the bride’s dowry items should not be touched by pregnant ladies or children to avoid the clashing of fortunes.

Learn more about Guo Da Li and where you can shop for the necessary items, and read up on the origins and significance of Xi Bing in a wedding.

Credits: Feature Image and Dowry Set by SingaporeBrides.

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