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What Goes Into A Traditional Chinese Wedding?

Young couple performing a traditional chinese wedding ritual

Weddings are expensive, and a traditional Chinese wedding is no different. It is usually an elaborate celebratory event that includes many symbolic and cultural traditions, and Chinese families would often splurge on these celebrations as they are often seen as major milestone events.

Parents of the bride and groom see the wedding as a symbolic event to mark the date their children have grown up and are starting a family of their own, and the amount the groom’s family splurges on the wedding is often seen as symbolic of the family’s wealth – and an indicator that the bride would be well taken care of financially when she is part of the groom’s family.

As such, traditional Chinese weddings often involve expensive banquets and ceremonies. If you are planning to get married soon and intend to have a traditional Chinese wedding, this is the perfect article for you.

Below, we will be sharing with you the ceremonies that are part of the wedding celebration as well as the various costs.

1. Chinese Betrothal Ceremony

Traditional Chinese wedding and Chinese betrothal ceremony

One important tradition in a Chinese wedding is the Chinese Betrothal Ceremony (also known as “Guo Da Li” in Chinese), which acts as a formal proposal to the bride’s family by the groom.

It is traditionally seen as a symbol of the groom’s sincerity towards marrying the bride, as well as a symbol of the groom’s assurance to the bride’s family that she will be well taken care of after marriage.

This ceremony is usually done on an auspicious date 3 to 30 days before the wedding ceremony.

In this elaborate and significant ceremony, many items would be brought by the groom’s family to be given to the bride’s family, such as:

  1. The dowry for the bride
  2. Jewellery for the bride
  3. A betrothal basket consisting of wedding pastries, wine, cakes, and mandarin oranges, dragon and phoenix candles, “Shuang Xi” (double happiness) stickers, red clothes, seeds, and more.

The dowry for the bride is often seen as the most important portion of the ceremony, given by the groom (or his family) to the bride’s family. It is also known as the “bride price” and is sometimes negotiated between the bride and groom’s families before agreeing on a sum. In Singapore, the dowry commonly ranges from $1,888 to $8,888.

It is also customary for the bride’s family to return a portion of the dowry to the groom’s family as well.

The betrothal basket usually costs between $150 and $250 and can be bought in various shops in Chinatown or even online.

2. Returning of Gifts

Traditional Chinese wedding returning of gifts

After the Betrothal Ceremony, the bride’s family would usually show their acceptance of the groom’s family’s gifts by returning a portion of the gifts to the groom’s family, as well as other items. This ceremony is known as the Returning of Gifts, or ‘Hui Li’ in Chinese.

Items usually include:

  1. Half of the Guo Da Li package
  2. A portion of the dowry
  3. Gifts for the groom
  4. Accessories for the bride
  5. Tea set
  6. Bedsheets and more

Excluding the gifts for the groom, bridal accessories, and bedsheets, the Hui Li packages would usually cost from $60 to $190.

3. Tea Ceremony

Traditional Chinese wedding tea ceremony

Another important aspect of a Chinese wedding is the widely recognised tea ceremony. The ceremony is said to be the Chinese counterpart to the solemnisation ceremony.

In this ceremony, tea is offered by both the groom and the bride to their respective parents first, and subsequently to the other elders present during the ceremony. The elders would then each present red packets containing a monetary gift to the couple.

After that, the juniors and children in the extended family (such as younger cousins) will then take turns offering tea to the couple. In exchange, the couple would then gift red packets to the juniors as well.

Sweet tea which is brewed from red dates will be used in the ceremony. The sweet tea used carries a huge significance, as it symbolises a harmonious relationship between the newlyweds and both families. Longan or lotus seeds can also be added to the tea as these ingredients have an auspicious meaning.

There are many rules to abide by when serving tea. For example, the couple must address family members by their formal title when serving them tea. Teacups are also to be served and received with both hands.

The tea ceremony is usually either held at the groom’s home or at the hotel ballroom/restaurant where the wedding banquet would be held. This ceremony would take place before the wedding banquet.

This is usually not costly, as the tea would either be prepared by the groom’s family (if held in the groom’s home) or by the hotel/restaurant responsible for the couple’s wedding banquet.

4. Wedding Banquet

Chinese wedding banquet

The wedding banquet is the main and also the most elaborate ceremony. It is a grand affair that is usually held in a hotel ballroom or a restaurant.

The banquet usually consists of a meal that has 8 to 9 courses, traditionally starting with a cold savoury dish, soup, and subsequently other items such as chicken, fish, prawns or other seafood, vegetables, rice, and ending with dessert.

Emcees are also a part of the banquet and will help to ensure that the banquet runs smoothly and on schedule.

Banquets usually have the reputation of being very expensive affairs, and often, couples might have to pay for the banquet in instalments. However, red packets received during the banquet would usually cover a portion of the banquet costs.

A wedding banquet can cost $800-$2,000+ per table (for a table of 10) or even up to $3,000+ per table for some luxurious hotels.

Fund your wedding with peace of mind

We understand that weddings can be very expensive with so many ceremonies to take into consideration.

Although some families may take a less traditional approach and opt to skip certain aspects of some ceremonies, it is still inevitably costly, especially if the couple is also planning to take a pre-wedding photoshoot and a luxurious honeymoon overseas.

Many couples often end up becoming very stressed over their finances during this period. Sometimes, the bride and groom might also have different expectations of what they each want for their wedding ceremony, which can lead to strains in the relationship leading up to what should be a happy and joyous occasion.

If the couple is planning to purchase a marital home as well, it would also add to their financial strain.

Taking a low-interest wedding loan with a legitimate money lender can help ease the couple’s financial strain, so that the couple can repay the loan in comfortable instalments aligned with their budget.

At Soon Seng Credit, we want to help you enjoy your dream wedding without breaking the bank with our affordable interest rates and customisable loans.

We are a top licensed money lender in Chinatown with more than 2,000 5-star reviews on Google. Our loan officers will also be more than happy to share with you actionable loan repayment tips as well as simple tips to keep your finances healthy so you can manage your budget and repay your loans on time without needing to incur late fees.

Finance your wedding with ease through a simple loan application.

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