The Wedding Day! 大喜日
Fetching the bride 迎亲
If the bride’s family required a matchmaker 媒婆for the chinese wedding, she will accompany the groom to fetch the bride. The matchmaker, or Best man if there is no matchmaker, will carry a red tray containing a red packet with the bride’s price, a piece of raw pork front leg which is the mother’s reward for bringing up the bride, even number of oranges, dried persimmons, longan, lotus seeds, and magnolia petals (pak hup).
The red tray will be returned with the oranges replaced in even numbers to signify that the newly joined families will share their good fortune. An even numbered portion of the bride’s price will be returned in the red packet. Even numbered cans of pork trotters or a red packet may be used instead of the raw pork leg.
Bride’s younger brother to open the bridal car door 小舅开车门
The groom must not open the car door when he arrives to fetch his bride. The bride’s younger brother will pass him two oranges before opening the door. The two oranges will be left in the bridal car for good fortune. The groom will give this younger brother a red packet after he opens the car door. If the bride has no younger brother, a younger male relative or a younger male friend can play the role.
Kiss the bride! 亲亲新娘
The groom and the brothers’ troop will be served sweet desserts with pink rice ball and snacks at the bride’s home. The groom will enter the bride’s room and lift her veil to kiss her. Taoist couple will pray to the bride’s ancestors and family gods before leaving the bride’s home.
Chinese Wedding Ceremony 过门/拜堂成亲
The chinese were mainly Taoists or ancestor worshipers before foreign religions such as Christianity, Muslim or Buddhism enter China. Taoists believed in the power of heaven and earth to witness important events on earth. It was also believed that a parent or family elder must acknowledge a union for it to be official.
In traditional chinese wedding ceremony the bride and groom will first pray to heaven and earth, then to the groom parents or family elders and lastly bow to each other 一拜天地，二拜高堂，夫妻交拜. The three prayers sealed the marriage. The couple was escorted into the bridal chamber, the equivalent of the bridal room, to consummate their marriage.
Modern chinese wedding skip the ritual of the three prayers. The bride and groom will enter the bridal room directly after entering the groom’s home. Groom’s family members will hide in the house to avoid clashing of fortune with the new couple. After the family members have returned to the family hall, the couple will join them. The Taoist bride and groom will pray to the groom’s ancestors and family gods at this time.
Wedding Tea Ceremony 敬茶
Without the traditional three prayers, the tea ceremony becomes the most significant event in the modern chinese wedding ceremony. The bride and groom are formally introduced to each other’s family through this ceremony.
It will usually take place on the wedding day when most of the family members are present. If some members are not available, supplementary sessions can be conducted at the wedding dinner or at other convenient times and locations.
Sweet tea boiled with dried longan, lotus seeds and red dates are used for the Tea ceremony. The tea ceremony gifts such as red packets or jewellery are presented on the serving plate after drinking the tea.
Bride’s home visit 三朝回门
Traditionally the bride’s home visit is three days after the chinese wedding ceremony. For efficiency, modern chinese wedding usually compressed all the necessary events into a single day.
After the tea ceremony at the groom’s family home, the bride will change out of her western style wedding gown to symbolise passing of three days!
Bride’s younger brother to escort the bride home 小舅伴新娘回门
The bride’s younger brother will arrive at the groom’s home with a wedding basket 油篮 filled with toiletries, perfumed oils and make-up for his sister.
The bridal car will fetch the bride’s younger brother to the groom’s home. The groom will welcome the younger brother by opening the car door for him.
Gifts for the bride’s home visit 回门礼
The bride’s home visit is the couple’s first visit to her parent’s home as a married couple. Other than the gifts for her parents, the couple gives red packets to all the elder members and children in the family.
In the past, many dialect groups required gifts of a pair of sugar cane, at least a pair of live rooster and hen. These带路鸡 “dai lu ji” were supposed to lead the way. The return gift of a rooster and hen will be put under the bridal bed back at the groom’s home. It was believed that the firstborn will be male if the rooster came out first.
To simplify matters most of these gifts are no longer required or are replaced by red packets for modern chinese weddings. Nowadays, only symbolic items are required. Tangerines or mandarin oranges 橘子”Juzi” sounds like good fortune 吉 “Ji” in chinese and must be included as part of the gifts. If tangerines are out of season, oranges can be used instead.
If one of the bride’s parents is cantonese, the roast pig 烧猪is definitely required as part of the gifts for the bride’s home visit. For non-cantonese, sometimes roast pork 烧肉 instead of a whole roast pig is requested.
For teochew, two big red packets of their favorite traditional peanut and sesame candies豆条芝麻条 are usually requested. For hokkiens, combinations of popped rice blocks, or popped rice and sesame rolls, peanut chewy candies, bean paste cookies米方麻佬贡糖豆沙饼 are usually requested.
A portion of all gifts are returned to signify sharing of fortune between the two families.
During the bride’s home visit, a sweet soup with lotus seeds, dried longan, dates and pink rice balls will be served to wish the couple a sweet harmonious marriage.
The modern chinese wedding ceremony is completed after the bride’s home visit. The wedding banquet may be on the same day or another day as it is just an announcement and celebration of the marriage.
The couple and the parents will give red packets to all the helpers at the wedding including beauticians, drivers, bestmen and bridesmaids, matchmaker, photographers, videographers, receptionists and ushers, etc.
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