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Chinese Traditional Wedding Ceremony


In Chinese people's eyes, sweet marriage begins with a ceremonial ritual which is well-organized and elaborately prepared. According to traditional Chinese culture, a formal wedding ceremony includes the following steps:

"Hair Dressing" Ritual

At dawn on her wedding day (or the night before), the bride bathed in water infused with pumelo, a variety of grapefruit, to cleanse her of evil influences. A good luck woman attended the bridal preparations. She spoke auspicious words while dressing the bride's hair in a style of married woman. After completing her wedding preparations, the bride bowed to her parents and to the ancestral tablets and awaited the arrival of the bridal procession from the groom's house.

Wedding Procession to the Bride's House

The dim of firecrackers, loud gongs and drums marked the start of the wedding procession from the groom's home. The groom led the procession accompanied by a child as an omen of his future sons, and the bridal sedan chair was preceded by attendants with lanterns and banners, musicians, and a dancing lion or unicorn. Upon arrival, the bride's friends would not let them in until they handed out lucky red packets of money.

Brides Journey to the Groom's House

The good luck woman employed by the bride's family would look after the bride and carry the bride on her back to the sedan chair. Another attendant might shield the bride with a parasol while a third tossed rice at the sedan chair.

Afterwards, firecrackers were set off to frighten away evil spirits as the bride departed in the sedan chair. The physical movement symbolized the transfer of the bride from her parents' family to her husband's.

Arriving at the Grooms House

The bride was required to step over a saddle or a lit stove to cross the threshold, since the words for "saddle" and "tranquility" sounds the same in Chinese, and the fire would cast out of evil influences. After these rituals, the groom could finally raise the red scarf and view the bride's face.



In contrast to the elaborate preparations, the wedding ceremony itself was simple. The bride and groom were conducted to the family altar, where they paid homage to Heaven and Earth, and the family ancestors. Then the bride and groom bowed to each other. This completed the marriage ceremony, except in some regions, where both also drank wine from the same goblet, ate sugar molded in the form of a rooster, and partook of the wedding dinner together.


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