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Complicated and Costly Chinese Weddings

A modern Chinese wedding combines traditional customs and modern styles, which is more interesting but also complicated and costly. In most cities, an intermediate wedding usually costs the new couple 70,000RMB(=$11,290) or more. If you want have a high-grade wedding, you should expect to spend at least 100,000RMB(=$16,129). But a young couple’s average monthly income is around 10,000RMB(=$1,612 two people), which has to cover the housing, water, electricity, food and so forth. So the cost of a wedding is really a big burden for them. Normally the families on both sides of the couple  will help them. It’s parents’ responsibility to support their kids for the wedding in Chinese tradition. That’s why the old generations always figure out ways to save money for their kids. Chinese people think  helping their kids to buy house or apartment is their duty, their obligation as a parent. I will talk about this idea in future blog. Let’s get back to our topic — weddings!  As so much money is spent on weddings, you would expect them to be very interesting. Let’s see what Chinese people do on their wedding day.

Before the wedding, there are countless things to prepare: the name list for invitation, the wedding invitation cards, the red envelopes, the wedding cake, the wedding pictures, the wedding rings, the preparation of bridal chamber and lots of plannings and arrangements for the wedding. 

Oh, one more important thing: children are invited to sleep or crawl on the new bed in the bridal chamber. This is a sign of fertility to assure that the couple can have a child of their own.

The first step of wedding is “Snatching the Bride”ceremony, which shows that the bride’s family won’t let the groom easily get their daughter. So they need to purposely make difficulties for the groom. I think it’s the most interesting part of the wedding. On the wedding day, the bride has to get up at 5:30 in the morning to do the make-up. This process normally takes two hours.

The groom has to decorate the main wedding car and the other cars. So the bride and groom stay in different places before the wedding day. Normally they stay at their own parents’ house. The groom brings his team to the bride’s place. The bride’s family will set up several different obstacles to stop the groom. For example they arrange kids in the yard to ask for candies, also in the downstairs some relatives stop the groom and his team using wines. Only after drinking three cups of wine can he go upstairs to meet the bride.

Just in front of the room of bride, there is another obstacle which is giving red envelops of money through the crack between the door and the floor. Until the groom’s team satisfies the bride’s team, they will not open the door for them.

So does the groom get the bride now? Not yet. The groom first has to look for the shoes of bride, which are hidden by the bride’s team. The groom has to bribe the relatives who know where the shoes are, until he finds them.

Then he can propose in front of all of the bride’s relatives and carry the bride on his back to the wedding car.

After the groom carries the bride to the wedding car, the whole wedding party goes around the city to show everyone their happiness and let the whole city be their wedding witness. Then the wedding car drives to the groom’s place. This time the groom has to carry the bride in his arms to his place.

Next the new couple meets the parents of the groom, and bride serves tea to the parents. The parents give money to their son and daughter-in-law, and give them their best wishes. In some places the parents will also give them a box of jewelry.

After meeting the groom’s parents, it’s time to head to the hotel. Normally the main wedding ceremony is held in the hotel hall. As I presented the first two pictures above. In China, the hotels usually have big halls and separate rooms for dining. The big hall is normally rented out for the ceremony, and, of course, new couples have to treat their relatives and friends to a great meal there.

The bride and groom have to stand at the gate of the hall to welcome the relatives and friends.  Usually the guests will give the new couple a red envelope of money. The money is much more than before as the time and price of goods changed. Now if you go to a friend’s wedding, you have to give him/her at least a 300RMB red envelope.

When the guests have arrived, the main wedding ceremony begins around 12:30pm.

First, accompanied by the wedding music, the new couple would walk through the guests  from outside the hall to the front stage.

The wedding host introduces the new couple. Then one of the relatives (normally the groom’s brother) will say some wishes to the bride and groom, and thank all the guests for coming. In the third step, the witness of wedding will read their marriage certificate and show it to all of the guests.

Then the parents of bride and groom come to the front stage. The new couple will do part of the very traditional formats, which we call “three bows”: The first bow is for the sky and the ground, which means showing the respect to the whole world; the second bow is for the parents to thank them for the gratitude, for the love and care; the third bow is for the bride and groom themselves, which shows their respect and love for each other.

After the “three bows”, the bride and groom will exchange the wedding rings, and help each other to put on the ring. Then they together will drink “cross-cupped wine”.

The new couple have to serve the tea for their parents on the stage, and make some promise for the other’s parents about loving the bride/groom in the future and taking care of each other. Then the parents will say their wishes to the new couple and thank all of the guests.

Now the young couple also adds some western elements into the wedding. Some of the weddings will have a wedding cake and a champagne waterfall. As to the modern western element, I guess my readers have already noticed that the clothes of bride and groom are very western-styled. I think from the 1990s, people like to wear the western wedding dress, which gives the bride the feeling of a princess. The traditional wedding color should be red, but now it has changed a lot.

In the following time, the guests can enjoy the sumptuous feast treated by the new couple and their families. The new couple hasn’t finished their job yet; they still cannot enjoy the food. Poor couple~ The bride has to change her wedding dress to a red traditional Qipao for toasting. They have to toast all the guests one table after another. To the leaders in their company or the old generations, they even have to toast person to person. Normally a wedding will have at least 20 tables of people, ten people will be seated around one table. So in total, they have to toast at least 200 people. That is not an easy job.

After toasting 20 tables of people and the guests finishing  their meal, the new couple could finally take a break and have some food. So far the main ceremony has already come to the end. The last step of the wedding is teasing the bride and the groom on wedding night.

It’s kind of public adults’ games to make fun of the bride and groom. So there shouldn’t be any old generations or kids there. When all the friends have tired of teasing the couple, it comes to the real end of the wedding. It’s really a long wedding day!

Thanks for reading~ :)

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