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What happens before a Chinese wedding?

Weddings are a significant celebration of love and union all over the world, and China is no exception. Chinese wedding traditions go back thousands of years, and while they differ significantly by region and ethnicity, they all share some core rituals. One of the most crucial pre-wedding customs in China is the Guo Da Li – the formal proposal by the groom to the bride’s family. In this article, we’ll discuss the details of what happens before a Chinese wedding, focusing mainly on the Guo Da Li ceremony.

Betrothal Gifts

The Guo Da Li, also known as the Betrothal or the “Grand Gift,” typically occurs a few weeks before the wedding. It starts with the groom’s family visiting the bride’s house to present the betrothal gifts to her parents. These gifts usually include two types – one is for the bride’s family and the other for the bride herself.

The first set of gifts is presented to the bride’s parents as a demonstration of gratitude and respect towards the bride’s family. The contents of the gifts tend to vary from region to region, but some common items are listed below:

– Red Packets: Red envelopes filled with money, called hóngbāo (红包) in Chinese, are a critical component of Chinese culture and are typically given as a sign of good luck and respect to elders and family members.

– Tea Leaves and Sesame Seeds: Tea and sesame seeds are believed to signify fertility and prosperity and are thus given to the bride’s family as a symbol of wishing them good luck and fortune.

– Dragon and Phoenix Wax Candles: Dragon and Phoenix candles symbolize the unity of the two families in a marriage. These candles are lit during the Guo Da Li ceremony and are a sign of respect for both families.

– Wines and Spirits: Usually, two types of spirits are given: one made from sticky rice and the other from sorghum. They represent the prosperity and growth of the newly formed family.

The second set of gifts is offered to the bride herself as a symbol of the groom’s love and commitment towards her. The most common items in this set of gifts are:

– Gold Jewelry: Gold is a symbol of wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture, and it is considered very auspicious to receive gold jewelry as a present.

– Double Happiness stickers: These stickers, called Shuang Xi, represent joy and good luck. They are typically placed on all of the wedding decorations, including the bride’s wedding dress.

– A Red Engagement Dress: A red engagement dress is traditionally worn by the bride to symbolize her purity and loyalty to the groom.


After the gifts have been exchanged, there is typically some negotiation between the two families regarding the wedding details such as the date, time, and location of the ceremony. This negotiation process is known as the “asking for your daughter’s hand” ceremony.

During this process, the bride’s family may provide the groom’s family with a list of requirements, including the bride’s dowry and the amount of money to be paid to the bride’s parents. In some instances, a prenuptial agreement is introduced, outlining the details of how the couple’s finances will be handled during marriage.

Setting the Date

After the negotiations have been finalized, the groom will receive a wedding date officially. Before the wedding day, the couple may hold a “hair combing ceremony,” symbolically washing away bad luck and evil spirits and combing their hair towards each other’s direction to ensure mutual respect and support during marriage.


In conclusion, Chinese weddings are full of rich traditions, and the Guo Da Li ceremony is a significant part of this. The ceremony is an opportunity for the groom to express his love and commitment to the bride and show his respect towards the bride’s family. It’s a beautiful way of showcasing some of China’s ancient cultural heritage and is a must-see for anyone attending a Chinese wedding. We hope that with this post, you have a better understanding of what happens before a Chinese wedding.


What is the ceremony before marriage?

Before a wedding, there are various ceremonies and rituals that take place, depending on the culture, religion, and traditions of the families involved. One such ceremony that has become increasingly popular over the years is the Sangeet ceremony. The word “Sangeet” literally means “sung together,” and it is a pre-wedding party that celebrates the coming together of two families.

The Sangeet ceremony is an Indian tradition that is usually held a day or two before the wedding. It is a time when the bride and groom’s families come together to sing, dance, and celebrate the upcoming wedding festivities. The ceremony showcases the cultural richness of the Indian culture and serves as a platform to display the love and unity between the bride and groom’s families.

The Sangeet ceremony usually takes place at the bride’s home, but it can also be held at a separate venue depending on the number of guests. The ceremony is typically organized and led by the women of the family and revolves around traditional folk songs and dances. The bride, groom, and the rest of the family members participate in the dances, creating an atmosphere of joy, excitement, and happiness.

The Sangeet ceremony often involves a lot of preparation, including rehearsals, costumes, and decorations. The women of the family usually coordinate and plan the event, selecting the songs, dances, and themes. The event is not limited to family members and can be attended by friends and other members of the community.

The Sangeet ceremony is an excellent way to kick start the wedding festivities and to bring the families together. It sets the tone for the wedding, helping to create an atmosphere of love, togetherness, and happiness. It is an essential part of the entire wedding experience and ensures that the bride and groom’s families have lots of happy memories to treasure for a lifetime.

What are the six etiquettes of Chinese marriage?

Chinese culture has a rich history when it comes to marriage and weddings. One of the unique aspects of Chinese weddings is the presence of six etiquettes that must be followed. These etiquettes represent different aspects of the journey towards getting married and the ultimate goal of a happy and prosperous union.

The first etiquette is the proposal, which is known as “nà cǎi.” It involves the groom or his family formally proposing to the bride’s family and asking for the bride’s hand in marriage. This is considered an essential step in the process of getting married and requires an exchange of gifts and a formal agreement between both families.

The second etiquette is known as “wèn míng.” This step involves finding out the bride’s full name and her birthday. In Chinese culture, the zodiac sign and other important astrological factors govern marriage dates, and it helps to know the bride’s astrological chart to select a date for the wedding that is ideal for the couple.

The next etiquette is “nà jí,” where the couple consults with a fortune teller to determine whether their union will bring good luck or not. This step is essential in Chinese culture, where it’s believed that a couple’s future prosperity is partly dependent on their compatibility with each other.

The fourth etiquette, “nà zhēng,” involves the groom and his family sending gifts to the bride’s family as a token of appreciation and to show their sincerity in wanting to marry their daughter. The gifts usually include money, jewelry, and other valuable items.

The fifth etiquette is choosing a ceremony date or “qǐng qī.” This step is critical and requires a lot of attention to detail. The couple must choose a date that is auspicious and coincides with important cultural and astrological events. It’s common to consult with an astrologer and choose a date that fits both families’ schedules.

The final etiquette, “qīn yíng,” involves the big day, the day of the wedding ceremony. This is when the bride is finally brought to the groom’s home, and both families come together to celebrate the union. The wedding ceremony is usually elaborate and involves ancient traditions that are still observed in modern Chinese culture.

The six etiquettes of Chinese marriage represent a unique aspect of Chinese culture. These etiquettes are essential to help the couple navigate the different stages leading up to their marriage and ensure a happy and prosperous union. Understanding and following these etiquettes are a sign of respect for Chinese culture and traditions.

What is the traditional wedding process?

The traditional wedding process usually involves several steps that have been followed for centuries. The process begins with the engagement, which is a promise to marry, and then moves on to the planning and preparation phase.

One of the first steps in the planning phase is setting the wedding date. Traditionally, this was done by consulting with a priest, pastor, or other religious leader who would select an appropriate day for the wedding based on religious beliefs and customs.

Once the date is set, the couple will typically work on their guest list, invitations, and wedding attire. In many cultures, the bride will wear a white gown, while the groom will wear a formal suit or tuxedo. It is also customary for the bride to have a bouquet of flowers, which is often given to her by the groom.

On the day of the wedding, the groom and his groomsmen will typically get ready and take photos before the ceremony. The bride and her bridesmaids will also get ready and take photos, often with the assistance of a hair and makeup artist.

The wedding ceremony itself usually takes place in a religious setting, such as a church or synagogue, although secular locations are becoming increasingly popular. The ceremony typically involves the exchanging of vows, rings, and a blessing by the religious leader. After the ceremony, the newlyweds will often exit the ceremony venue to cheers and well wishes from their guests.

Next, the reception typically takes place in a hotel ballroom, banquet hall, or other party venue. Guests will usually enjoy a sit-down meal while listening to speeches from the bride and groom, their families, or other important guests. Then the newlyweds will share their first dance together as a married couple, followed by dancing with guests.

The traditional wedding process generally includes an engagement period, planning and preparation phase, ceremony, and reception. While individual customs may vary according to regional cultures and religions, many couples today still follow these traditional practices in their weddings.