Tag Archives: Weddings

Weddings

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.

Chinese dating, love, and funerals

If you are new to Chinese dating, the one thing you’ve probably already picked up on is that the customs in China are a lot different from those in the West. You might expect Chinese customs for funerals to be different as well, but did you know that they are actually a lot like Chinese weddings?

Chinese wedding

Let’s start with the phrase “hongbai xishi,” which means “red-white happy events.”  In China, red is the symbolic color for weddings and white represents funerals.  Lots of companies even market themselves as hongbai xishi experts, which means you could find your wedding and funeral planner all in the same person!

Although both events might involve some celebration, how else are Chinese weddings and funerals similar?  Here’s a look at a few:

  • Lots of food. Weddings and funerals always involve lots of food, but in China, this goes beyond what you might expect.  In China, there seems to be banquet after banquet set up much like a wedding reception, right down to the tables and flowing alcohol.
  • Money.  Money plays a big role in Chinese weddings and funerals.  At weddings, couples are typically presented with that iconic red envelope stuffed with money.  However, the same goes for Chinese funerals.  Guests typically present the bereaved family with the same.
  • Processionals.  At weddings, the bride is lifted and her dowry items follow with jubilance. At funerals, it isn’t quite the same, but there is an ornate procession to the tomb filled with colorful clothing and traditional white caps of mourning.  There is also somber music for the funeral procession.
  • Firecrackers.  The Chinese like to send newlyweds and the recently deceased off with a bang!  Firecrackers are used at both weddings and funerals.  They can be used as an explosive good-bye and to wish people well on their next journey.

If your Chinese dating grows into something more serious, you will undoubtedly attend both Chinese weddings and funerals, so don’t be shocked at the similarities.