China is a large country with a large population and with many minority people groups. The government publishes there are fifty-six minority groups in China. There are some who believe there are near 400 groups. Each minority group has its own language and culture! So, when I write about Chinese culture, it’s the culture that I have been exposed to in the Northwest Province of Gansu.
I love weddings! We have been to four weddings in China. I personally think Western Weddings are much more beautiful, with the lovely words of the vows and promises of fidelity, the candlelight ceremony, the exchange of rings and then the reception after the beautiful ceremony.
To begin with the Chinese wedding has no ceremony that we’ve seen. It’s more like the Western Wedding Reception. But I’m getting ahead of my story.
I’m told that, on the morning of the wedding, the bride will get up very early, about 4 or 5 a.m. Her first order of the day is hair and make-up. The brides here have the make-up professionally applied and very heavy, like a showgirl or stage actress. When this is completed, the bride gets dressed. Many brides in China choose to have what they call a Western Wedding. This means they will wear a white wedding gown. Most of them choose to change dresses at some point during the wedding because red is the traditional Chinese color for wedding dresses and is considered to be very lucky. So, they begin in white and change to red. The wedding clothes are rented for the bride as well as the groom.
At a predetermined time, often about 9 a.m. the groom will come to the bride’s home. The children of the family will lock the door and refuse him entrance until he pays them money in the little red packet envelopes used for this purpose. Then the groom has to answer some hard questions, like, “How will he support his bride?” And perhaps a friend has hidden the bride’s shoes and they will tell the groom he has to find the shoes. If he cannot find the shoes, he may have to pay money to the bride’s friend to find them for him! Then, the groom will have to talk with the parents and give them a large sum of money for the “bride price.” I have written about these customs before and had been told that this happened only in Old China but have since learned it is still traditional today!
It is also customary for the bride’s female relatives to cook breakfast for the bride and groom and the food is traditionally noodles with a kind of egg soup, which is to symbolize prosperity and fertility in the marriage. The bride and groom must also “kowtow” to the parents. What is “kowtow”? It is bowing on all fours and touching the head to the ground.
Then, it’s time to go to the wedding. The wedding is usually held in a large banquet room of a hotel. Cars are rented for the wedding party and decorated with flowers. Sometimes in the city, they also rent a Mickey and Minnie Mouse in a fancy old convertible to be in the procession.
Now, about the wedding party. It is made up of friends but not bridesmaids and groomsman, best man, and maid of honor. And the friends must be paid money to participate!
Part 1 | (Part 2)