Chinese dating: the basics of marriage customs

If you haven’t figured it out by now, many Chinese dating and marriage customs are quite different from those in the West, so what happens when Chinese dating leads to marriage? Here are some things you should know:

wedding bouquet in hands of the bride

  • When a woman gets married in China, she leaves her family and lives with her husband’s family instead. She then becomes the “property” of her husband.
  • Although arranged marriages were once very common, they are now quite rare and thought to be old-fashioned. However, in observance of tradition, the parents usually plan the wedding.
  • In Chinese culture, one must “save face” and avoid embarrassment as well as conspicuous displays of prosperity and wealth, which is even more important if it is the eldest son who is marrying. Failure in this department could actually lower the family’s social status and bring shame to them.
  • Planning a Chinese wedding is time-consuming and involves several stages including information gathering, negotiation and engagement. Planning begins when the couple announces their intention to marry.
  • The information-gathering period involves both families sitting down and meeting without the couple. They will discuss their backgrounds and develop a rapport.
  • Negotiation occurs when both families are satisfied with each other. During this period, a female relative of the groom will visit the bride’s family and ask for her hand. This is when a date and time for the wedding is set as well as the dowry, guest list, and other details.
  • The engagement period only occurs if wedding preparations will take a long time or if the couple wishes to take it slow. This only happens with the bride’s parents’ consent. In China, engagement is more of an indication that the couple intends to marry rather than a binding commitment to do so.

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