Friday, October 3, 2008

Planning for a Traditional Chinese Singaporean Wedding

Traditional Chinese Wedding Customs & Practices

The modern ethnic Chinese Singaporean bride may not know the traditional Chinese wedding customs, as they are not always adhered to fully these days. So it was good when we came across this article while researching for information on traditional weddings. The article was originally published in the Straits Times, some of the excerpts are below.

In this article, you will find all you need to know on how to arrange for a perfect traditional Chinese wedding - an event that your elders will be proud of!

GUO DA LI or Betrothal

This is usually done one or two weeks before the wedding. Gifts and cash are delivered to the bride’s home by the groom’s family. The bride’s family will take some of the items and return the rest to avoid the impression that they are selling their daughter. The significance of GUO DA LI is to show the groom’s financial dependability and assure the bride’s family that she will be well taken care of after marriage.

Must-have items: Pin Jin (money in red packets), jewelry for Teochews (si dian jin), dried seafood for Cantonese, pig trotters for Hokkiens, oranges, liquor and dragon and phoenix candles.

Symbolism: Pin Jin is given to the bride’s family for taking care of her. Accepting the dragon candles signifies that her family accepts him as a son-in-law. Offering the phoenix candles to the groom’s family symbolises the giving of their daughter’s hand.


This is done on the same day after offering the GUO DA LI. Gifts are presented from the bride’s parents to their daughter and future son-in-law. The gifts are to bless the couple and to show that the bride is ready to take the new roles of wife and mum.

Must-have items: Baby bathtub, potty, basin, sewing kit, tea sets, bowl set, lamps and towels.

Symbolism: The baby bathtub, potty and basin are to encourage the couple to have children. The sewing kit signifies a capable wife, the wedding lamps a bright future and the bowls abundant food.

An Chuang or Bed Installation

This is done at 8.30pm on the eve of the wedding. Items are placed on the marriage bed and the couple is not allowed to enter the room until the wedding ceremony is over. This symbolises good health, abundance of fortune and offspring for the couple.

Must-have items: Eight types of auspicious sees and grains, oranges, red packets, metallic discs (da yuan and xiao yuan).

Symbolism: The discs signify a blissful marriage while the foodstuff is to bless the couple with children early.

Hair Combing

This is done after 11pm on the eve of the wedding. In the Chinese calendar, any time after 11pm denotes the next day. The bride and groom’s hair are combed by their parents. The father recites the blessing while the mother combs the hair three times. Each stroke holds an auspicious meaning for the various stages of life after marriage.

Must-have items: Combs, sewing kit, mirrors, red string and ruler.

Symbolism: The red string, which signifies a blessing, is used to tie the bride’s hair. The ruler is to remind the couple to cherish the relationship and take care of the family.

You didn't know about that before, now did you? Well, now you do!

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