Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

September 2020

A List of Guo Da Li Items According To Your Dialect Group

Not sure what you’re supposed to prepare for your Guo Da Li ceremony according to your dialect group? We’ve got your back.

The Guo Da Li (过大礼)ceremony is an age-old Chinese wedding tradition that is meant to bless the newlyweds with a blissful, happy and fruitful marriage. It is traditionally a Chinese betrothal ceremony where both the bride’s and groom’s family meet formally for the first time and exchange gifts to represent their sincerity and promise to marry and take care of the bride after marriage.

The Guo Da Li (过大礼)Ceremony

Calista and Christopher’s Big and Gorgeous Wedding at Raffles Hotel Jakarta by Iluminen

The ceremony usually takes place two to four weeks before the wedding, where the groom makes his way to the bride’s house accompanied by a matchmaker or an elder female relative with good fortune to present to her family a variety of gifts that represent fertility and prosperity.

Traditionally, several gift exchanges will take place between the groom and the bride’s family during the Guo Da Li ceremony, where the groom will present auspicious and meaningful items such as Chinese traditional pastries known as xi bing (喜饼), some oranges, a pair of dragon and phoenix candles and a gift box or Li Jing He (礼金盒) consisting of jewellery such as Si Dian Jin (四点金) or a pair of dragon and phoenix bangles for the bride, depending on her dialect group, and dried goods such as red dates, dried longan, lotus seeds, and more.

The Hui Li (回礼)

Angie and Kelvin’s Neon-Lit InterContinental Singapore Wedding by Antelope Studios

To show their acceptance of the marriage, the bride’s family will then gift him with a watch, cufflinks or wallet with a red packet, and a portion of the gifts that they received from him, and more in an exchange known as Hui Li (回礼), the returning of gifts.

The bride’s family will also present the groom with her dowry or Jia Zhuang (嫁妆),as a symbol of their family’s wealth and prosperity, and blessing for the newlyweds’ marriage. The bride’s dowry usually includes a piece of furniture such as bed, mattress or dressing table, a sewing box set, a tea ceremony tea set, and more. Once the exchanges are complete, the Guo Da Li ceremony is deemed to have successfully concluded, and the couple officially betrothed.

A List of Guo Da Li Items According To Dialect Group

Although xi bing, oranges, a pair of dragon and phoenix candles are included in most couples’ Guo Da Li ceremony, not everyone will have the same items on their list for their Chinese betrothal ceremony because the items needed differ from one dialect group to another.

To help couples preparing for their Guo Da Li ceremony, we’ve listed the items each of the four dialect groups require and placed them in a neat infographic so that you can save it to your smartphone, tablet or computer and refer to them anywhere and everywhere, whenever you need to.

For Cantonese Brides

Download Guo Da Li List For Cantonese Brides

For Hakka Brides

Download Guo Da Li List For Hakka Brides

For Hokkien Brides

Download Guo Da Li List For Hokkien Brides

For Teochew Brides

Guo Da Li List for Teochew Brides

The Modern Day Guo Da Li Ceremony

Charlene and Brian’s Chinoiserie Wedding Photography in an Old Kampong Attap Roof House by Maritha Mae Photography

While most parts of the traditional Guo Da Li ceremony and the items exchanged remain the same in today’s modern weddings, some adaptions have been made to simplify and tone down this meaningful Chinese wedding tradition. For instance, grooms today omit the inclusion of a separate Li Jing He (礼金盒). Instead, the bride’s jewellery and other necessities are gifted as it is, together with the rest of the items from him.

“As modern couples adopt a more simplified version of the tradition, a lot of items that were traditionally required are now excluded, such as the dressing table, sets of new clothes and toiletries, towels for the groom’s relatives as well as some of the traditional food given by the groom,” Michelle from The Chinese Wedding Shop adds.

“Some of the more important items that modern couples still include in their Guo Da Li ceremony are the tea and bowl sets, a pair of maple, sewing kit, baby prosperity set, mini clogs, candles, oranges, dowry and the bride’s jewellery, and so on,” Michelle continues.

“While the Si Dian Jin jewellery and the pair of dragon and phoenix bangles are traditionally gifted to only Teochew and Cantonese brides, brides from other dialects have adopted these practices as well in modern weddings in Singapore,” Michelle informs. “Most Cantonese and Hakka brides will receive the dragon and phoenix bangles while the Hokkien brides will receive a pair of bangles that may not necessarily bear the dragon and phoenix motifs.”

Ultimately, the infographics on the items required for the ceremony according to the different dialect groups serve as a reference and a start for couples who may not know what they need to get for their Guo Da Li ceremony. Discuss the list of items required with your fiancé and families and come to a mutual agreement if you’d like to include or exclude, or replace any item with something more practical or suitable for your lifestyle and preference for your ceremony.


Source for infographics: House of Etiquette

Credits: Feature Image from Charlene and Brian’s Chinoiserie Wedding Photography in an Old Kampong Attap Roof House by Maritha Mae Photography

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A List of Guo Da Li Items According To Your Dialect Group