12 Chinese Wedding Traditions Important to Know
Lively and full of color, Chinese weddings are lavish affairs that are as much about the happy couple as they are about their respective families. A celebration marked by rituals and traditions, many symbolic aspects focus on blessings of prosperity, abundance, and happiness for the couple from both friends and family members.
To learn more about Chinese weddings, we consulted experts Celia Yu and Nicole Froelich. “Chinese weddings can last the whole day because of all the Chinese wedding traditions,” shares Yu. The length and size of the party largely depend on what both families agree to and their requirements, as well as the provinces, different traditions, and rituals.
Meet the Expert
- Celia Yu is the owner and lead wedding planner at Big Day Service, a wedding planning company based in San Francisco that specializes in weddings full of cultural heritage, authenticity, and timeless moments.
- Nicole Froelich is an expert destination wedding planner and owner of Nicole Please. Based in Hong Kong and fluent in Mandarin, German, Swiss-German, French, and English, she’s pulled off picture-perfect weddings in Spain, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and Italy.
“Ultimately it consists of two main parts,” adds Froelich. “Where the Chinese tea ceremony is intimate and only for both families, the Chinese banquet (in Western weddings, it’s the wedding reception) is for the guests of the couple and both families.”
What should I wear?
Just as donning an all-white dress to a Western wedding is frowned upon, wearing red is best avoided at a Chinese wedding. The bride will change into a red dress at some point in the festivities, so it’s best not to upstage her. Somber hues like dark blue, black, and grey are not advised as they can symbolize bad luck, death, or mourning for the marriage. Warm tones like purple, peach, and pink, however, are welcome as they signal new life and happiness.
Should I bring a gift?
Instead of a gift registry, it’s customary for guests to present the wedding couple with a red gift envelope containing money. The envelope should be decorated with auspicious characters—such as happiness and wealth—and containing a sum in even numbers and preferably containing the numeral 8 as it means prosperity in Chinese. Avoid giving odd numbers, or amounts ending in 4s.
How should I give the red packet?
Before entering the wedding banquet, guests should hand over the red packet to a bridesmaid who will take note of the amount of money received in a record book. If the couple is later invited to their guest’s wedding, it is expected for them to gift them a higher sum of money than they were given.
If I prefer to give a gift, what should I avoid giving?
The gift needs to be at the same value as the intended red packet. It cannot be anything that symbolizes the numeral four or involves four items as the number means death. Consider giving a couple’s massage voucher or an experience they can enjoy together. For relatives, fine jewelry, gold, and diamonds are also acceptable.
How long is the ceremony?
Read on for the most common traditions and practices you’ll see at a Chinese wedding click the red link.
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