Singaporebrides | Essentials

October 2020

The Ultimate Chinese Wedding Customs And Traditions Guide For Modern Singapore Brides

Let our master Chinese wedding traditions guide help you ace the more traditional aspects of your wedding for a smooth-sailing happily-ever-after.

Chinese weddings are rife with ancient traditions and rituals that bless the newlyweds and their marriage with happiness, fertility, prosperity and longevity. As most of these traditions are passed down through the generations by word-of-mouth, modern brides may find it difficult to find sufficient information on the meanings behind these traditions and how to prepare for it.

In order to help brides understand the purpose of these ancient wedding traditions and guide them in their preparations, we’ve come up with the one and only master Chinese wedding traditions guide you’ll ever need for your wedding day.

1. Asking For Hand in Marriage (提亲)

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

Back in the day, grooms were required to pay a formal visit to the bride’s family to ask for her hand in marriage in a ritual that is known as 提亲. While this ritual is not as commonly practiced today, there’s nothing sweeter than a groom wanting to seek the approval and permission of his bride’s parents for their nuptials. For couples who wish to include this ritual into their wedding, you can do so by seeking an auspicious date to pay the bride’s parents a visit.

On the day of the 提亲, both the bride and groom should be dressed in proper attire to show respect to each other and their families. The groom and his parents should also bring along some gifts such as bottles of hard liquor, cakes or fruits as a show of good manners and sincerity. When asking for the bride’s hand in marriage, the groom should be courteous, sincere and respectful, especially if there is a discussion on the wedding date, where or how the wedding should be held at, or who should be invited, to avoid any unpleasant confrontations right from the start.

There are a handful of ‘don’ts’ you should take note of when practising this ritual. First, do avoid the first and seventh month of the Lunar calendar as it is considered inauspicious for Chinese celebrations. Secondly, don’t be late for your appointment with the bride and her family as it shows bad manners and disrespect. If you are caught in a traffic jam or a situation which would make you late, do call in advance to inform them that you are held back and will be slightly late to meet them.

2. The Guo Da Li (过大礼) Ceremony

Jessica and Jun Wen’s Cosy Wedding at Arbora at Faber Peak by Knotties Frame

Otherwise known as the Chinese betrothal ceremony, the Guo Da Li (过大礼) ceremony is an important Chinese wedding tradition where the first formal meeting between both the bride’s and groom’s families takes place. During the ceremony, several gift exchanges including the gifting of the 聘礼 (betrothal ang pao) and 嫁妝 (bride’s dowry) take place to bless the newlyweds and their marriage. Once the gifts are exchanged, the Guo Da Li ceremony is considered complete and the couple is now officially engaged. You can find more details on the gifting of the 聘礼 (betrothal ang pao) and 嫁妝 (bride’s dowry) in the link to our Guo Da Li guide.

3. A List of Guo Da Li Items According to Your Dialect Group

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

A variety of gifts will be exchanged between the groom and the bride’s family during the Guo Da Li ceremony, but not every couple will have the same items on their list as it differs from one dialect group to another. We’re prepared four easy-to-understand and downloadable infographics with a list of items required for the four different dialect groups to help couples better prepare for their Guo Da Li ceremony.

4. Chinese Traditional Wedding Pastries, Xi Bing (喜饼)

Wedding Xi BingImage by SingaporeBrides

Chinese traditional wedding pastries or xi bing (喜饼) are one of the items gifted to the bride’s family during the Guo Da Li ceremony. While these traditional pastries may be common and familiar to our parents and grandparents’, modern day couples do not know much about this cultural treat. To acquaint today’s couples with these traditional pastries, we’ve put together an easy-to-understand guide on the history of xi bing and where you can find them for your Guo Da Li needs.

5. The Gifting Of Si Dian Jin (四点金)

Nisa and Shaun’s Fairytale Solemnisation at [email protected] and Wedding at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy by Colossal Images

Literally meaning four pieces of gold, Si Dian Jin (四点金) is a gift from the groom’s family to the bride. Presented during the Guo Da Li ceremony, the gifting of Si Dian Jin represents the groom’s promise that the bride will always have a roof over her head and be well taken care of and provided for. For most families, Si Dian Jin is considered an heirloom and may be passed down to the couple’s daughter or daughter-in-law as their wedding dowry in the future.

6. The An Chuang (安床) Ceremony

Li Syn and Abel’s Floral-Filled Wedding at The Fullerton Hotel by Andri Tei Photography

The An Chuang (安床) ceremony, also known as the bed setting ceremony, is an important Chinese wedding tradition that you’ll be expected to practice to bless your union with an abundance of joy, harmony and offsprings. Traditionally, an auspicious time and date will be calculated for the an chuang ceremony, but today, the ritual is held any time between three days to a week before the wedding.

7. The Hair Combing (梳头) Ceremony

Kyra and James’s Beautiful Garden Wedding at Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa Singapore by Samantha from Bittersweet Photography

Known as 梳头, the hair combing ceremony is an age-old Chinese wedding tradition that represents the coming-of-age of the bride and groom as they prepare to leave their parents and start a family of their own. This important Chinese wedding tradition usually takes place on the eve of the wedding day but the actual timing of the ceremony differs between the dialect groups, and it is best to consult your parents or fengshui master on the best timing for your hair combing ceremony.

8. The Chinese Tea Ceremony (敬茶)

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

The Chinese Tea ceremony, or 敬茶, is arguably the most important wedding tradition in the Chinese culture. This time-honoured tradition represents the formal introduction of the newlyweds to their families as they pay respect to their elders and receive their blessings for their union. The ceremony usually takes place on the day of the wedding and involves a number of logistics and people. Learn more about this beautiful tradition and what you need to prepare for your Chinese wedding tea ceremony in our essential Chinese tea ceremony guide.


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

During some of these Chinese wedding traditions, a number of items are included and gifted for their symbolic meaning instead of their practical use. As these items are given as blessings for your marriage, you are not advised to donate, give or dispose of them. Find out what these items are and what you can do with them after you have completed these Chinese wedding traditions.

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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