Chinese traditional wedding is not your ordinary wedding. There are ancient marriage customs that both parties have to follow. The full ritual was so complicated that even within the span of the Warring States period, the etiquette underwent changes and simplification. What remained constant were the chief objectives: joining and enhancing the two families and ensuring succession with numerous descendants. Reverence to parents and ancestors omens to encourage fertility and wealth, financial and social obligations contracted by both families at the betrothal, extensive gift-giving etiquette, and the bride’s incorporation into her husband’s family. It is practiced in honor of family value and respect to a committed relationship, the marriage.

Years and months of planning are being done by both the bride and groom themselves and of course their family and friends. As you continue to read, we will share with you some Chinese wedding customs and rituals before the actual wedding.

The Proposal and Betrothal:

Everything will begin with a marriage proposal and acceptance. It will all happen with a go-between who will work with opposing sides in order to bring about an agreement. The gentleman's parents will send a present to the lady's parents with the help of the go-between to express their feelings about the match. If the proposal is accepted the go-between will return to the gentlemen's side with the date and hour of the girl's birth recorded on a formal document.

The important parties in proposal and betrothal negotiations were the parents of the prospective bride and groom, rather than the bride and groom themselves. If everything will turn out fine, the two families arrange to meet. Each family evaluated the other in terms of appearance, education, character, and social position. If both were satisfied they would proceed to the betrothal. The groom's family will present various proposal gifts that represent fertility and prosperity in Chinese culture, also known as "Grand Gift" or "Guo Da Li". All gifts should come in even numbers, meaning "good things double" in Chinese culture. And that is where the two of them will be officially engaged.

Chinese wedding cakes, Wedding Dowry & Bridal Bed Setting (An Chuang):

Families will make wedding announcement to their relatives and friends by sending out "Double Happiness Cakes". This is the Chinese style wedding cakes also known as "Dragon & Phoenix Cakes". The wedding cakes will be presented to the bride's family by the groom's family as part of the proposal gift. Bride's family will then present some of the cakes to worship their ancestors and the rest of will be sent to friends and relatives with wedding invitations. The quantity of cake sent will depend on seniority of guest or relationship with the family. The dowry will then be prepared by the bride's family. Dowry is mostly composed of daily necessities for the new home. This is an opportunity for the bride's family to display their love for their daughter as well as their wealth. The groom's family will invite a female relative or friend to set the bridal bed in the house of the groom. The bride's family will send dowry to the groom’s family a few days before the wedding.