I thought a year was too long enough a time for me to plan... I guess it really is up to the couple's preferences and expectations that kind of changes what 'enough time' means. Despite drawing up several charts and timelines.... we still felt pretty overwhelmed, especially closer to the date.
A little voice (it's name is Lazy) will always chit chat with me, 'It's one year away, you can think about this next week....' or 'Things will fall in place when the time comes... don't worry too soon.' and most of the time it says "Plenty of time....." and many more statements/excuses.
"Marriages are made in Heaven,
but Solemnized on Earth."
In a Chinese Customary Wedding, there are 6 Etiquettes we have to observe:
Etiquette 1 - 提亲 Formal Proposal
Request/Proposal to bride-to-be's family to accept the match. The traditional Chinese way of asking the Bride's hand has been replaced with a 'Meet the Parent's' over lunch or dinner. Usually done during Food Tasting of the Banquet Menu.
Etiquette 2 - 問名 8 Characters
Request by groom's family for Bride-to-be's Bazi/8 characters to be given.
Etiquette 3 - 納吉 / 合对八字 Compatibility
In the olden days, the Bazi of the couple is placed on the ancestral altar to confirm the compatibility. An "initial gift" is sent to the bride-to-be upon the acceptance of the bride's birth date. This is no longer practised today however, Bear bought a symbolic gold bangle with a dragon and phoenix for me to symbolise the acceptance hehehe...
He bought this beautiful gold bangle at Poh Heng when the price of Gold was at its highest... on Valentine's Day. Thereafter, we spent a lot of time monitoring the price of gold. Needless to say, we went on a mad/insane gold spree when the price plummeted.
Right now, we are shopping around for a huge safe to keep all our treasures LOL!~
Etiquette 4 过大礼 / 下娉 / 纳彩 (Download the Essential Guidebooks -coming soon!)
The groom's family sends and presents the bride's family with formal betrothal gifts to seal the agreement of the marriage by both families. This is a symbolic gesture of sincerity by both families. The groom's family undertaking to take care of the bride, and the acknowledgement of the bride's family for raising the bride. The bride's family by accepting the gifts, pledges the bride to the groom.
On this day, the following symbolic events will take place:
A) Betrothal gifts 娉礼
∞ 娉金 the 'price' of the bride given in a red packet
∞ For the Cantonese - A pair of gold bangles featuring the dragon and phoenix
∞ For the Teochew (which is most commonly practised today even with the Hokkiens) - Four pieces of gold jewellery usually consisting of a necklace, a bangle, a ring and a pair of earrings (四点金 / 龙凤镯)
∞ 2 bottles of wine or liquor
∞ 2 pairs of the Dragon candles
∞ 2 pairs of the Phoenix candles
∞ 2 sets of Towels
∞ 2 boxes of vermicelli [Representing longevity]
∞ 12 oranges [Representing good luck]
∞ For the Cantonese - A single whole roasted pig
∞ For the Hokkiens - Pig trotters usually canned given in even numbers
∞ For the Cantonese, 8 types of seafood are presented - canned abalones, sea cucumbers, dried fish maw, oysters, shark’s fin, scallops, mushrooms and prawns
∞ Traditional wedding biscuits and cakes for the to distribute to both family's relatives - It is still a common practise today for relatives to receive this formal and courteous invitation to the wedding banquet
B) Returning some gifts 回礼 by the bride's family to groom’s family
The significance of the return of some items portrays the groom's family as very generous and that the bride's family is neither materialistic nor greedy.
The bride's family keeps a token of the bride’s price 娉金 and returns the rest to the groom's family
∞ 2 pairs of the Phoenix candles
∞ 2 bottles of orange juice with pulp (non-gassy)
∞ Towels for the groom’s parents, siblings, grandparents, and sometimes this is extended to the groom's parent's siblings
∞ A red packet for the groom’s parents to buy clothing and shoes
∞ For the Cantonese who sent a single whole roasted pig, the head, tail, feet and half of the roasted pig is returned, symbolising a good ending
∞ Chinese lettuce(生菜) symbolising an abundance of healthy children and grandchildren
∞ Chinese spring onion 葱 symbolising an abundance of wealth
C) Dowry for the Bride 嫁妆
The dowry from the bride's family is usually returned together with the gifts to the groom's family. The dowry is given to the bride as a gift signifying her family's love and blessings for the bride as well as the groom. The dowry item are unique, each with a symbolic meaning.
∞ A teapot and cup set - Used on the Wedding day and served to the couple's parents and elderly relatives with gratitude and respect
∞ 2 bowls, 2 spoons, 2 pairs of chopsticks and 2 mugs representing an abundance of food, good health, wealth and prosperity
∞ ‘Yuan Qian’ (also known as destiny charm) - Blessing the couple bliss
∞ A pair of bedside lamps in red 子孙登 - Blessing the couple with fertility and children
∞ A newborn set in red (子孙桶) - Consist of a baby bathtub, a potty, and a washbasin symbolising healthy children for the couple
∞ 2 pairs of wooden clogs symbolising success, career advancements and wealth
∞ Sewing kit - Signifying the Bride's capability of taking care of her household and her husband
∞ An auspicious ruler - Symbolising great wealth with good calculative judgement
∞ A red umbrella - The umbrella is used by the bride's father on the wedding day to shelter and protect her from inauspicious elements and bad spirits as she steps out of the house and into the car. This umbrella is also a reminder to the groom to Honor the wishes and hopes of the bride’s parents for their daughter to be well provided for and to live happily
∞ Other items include bed sheets, pillows, bolsters, comforter, blankets, toothpaste, toothbrushes, mirror, comb, towels and new clothing.
D) Wedding Decorations 大喜装饰
Usually done on the day of the 过大礼/下娉纳彩 Betrothal ceremony (Etiquette 4), a red banner (红彩帘) is hung across the front doors of the two households to announce the joyous event. The Chinese characters "double joy" (双喜) stickers and red paper cuts of dragon & phoenix, mandarin ducks are placed on all wedding items such as the betrothal gifts, dowry, and the couple's ceremonial items, walls, front doors, bedroom doors around the house.
Etiquette 5 - 择吉日／看日子 Auspicious Dates
It has been long said for decades, that the day and time a couple gets married, determines the marital relationship and future. Marriage is considered the most important life-changing event in a person's life. Therefore the Chinese pick only the auspicious dates and timings, calculated based on the couple's date and time of birth. The couple's birth dates are calculated for compatibility. Based on the birth dates and time of the couple (生辰八字), a set of important auspicious dates are calculated and decided for the Big Day. The chosen date will bring good luck, blessings to the marriage as well as minimise marital conflict and problems. If calculated carefully, an incompatible couple (based on the birth date/timings) may even 'reverse' or 'negate' this incompatibility, and enjoy a blissful marriage.
The Bazi Destiny Chart and Tong Shu are taken into consideration when calculating and deciding the auspicious date and time. This is also marked against both parent's Bazi to avoid a clash which may cause disharmony and discord. Other than choosing an auspicious date and time for the Traditional Wedding, an auspicious date and time for the Solemnisation (ROM) has to be calculated as well. Most couples forget that the actual legal and formal date of a marriage, is actually the day the couple sign the certificate of marriage. It is therefore really important to choose an experienced Geomancer.
Other Important Auspicious Dates to observe:
A) 过大礼 Betrothal Ceremony
An auspicious date is chosen for Etiquette 4 (read above).
B) 安床 Setting up the couple's new bed
An auspicious date and time (usually a week before the wedding) is chosen to set up the couple's new bed. This bed will be 'installed' by simply moving the bed slightly by a good fortune woman (an elderly woman whose husband is still alive, children are all alive, and she must have several grandchildren). She will also put on the new bed linen (red with dragon and phoenix), place new pillows and arrange the bridal bed properly. Thereafter, red Packets filled with destiny charms/coins (Yuan Qian) are placed at every corner of the bed.
The following items are placed on the bridal bed:
∞ A pair of Tangerines and 2 red packets symbolising good fortune and wealth Symbolising a sweet and happy marriage (甜甜蜜蜜)
∞ Dried longans Dried red dates Dried persimmons Symbolising everlasting harmony(百年好合)
∞ Dried lily bulbs Symbolising fertility Dried lotus seeds Sprigs of pomegranate leave (to also ward off negative energy)
∞ Young Virgin Children (especially boys) are usually invited to jump and play on the bed as a signify fertility.
∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞
"Etiquette 6 - The Wedding", will be updated soon.
Download Essential Guides in English and Chinese.
∞ Detailed Chinese Wedding Traditions Guide (For Hokkien)
a) Engagement / Betrothal / Dowry
b) Bed Setting
c) Hair Combing Ceremony
d) The Wedding Day
e) Bride Returns to her parents' after 3 Days
- Essential Items to Buy
- Step by Step instructions
∞ 下载传统婚姻手册 (福建礼俗) － Click to Download Chinese Version
a) 过大礼 / 纳彩 / 嫁妆 / 回礼