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Our Chinese wedding traditions 🧧

Married life for almost two years now. I have posted many content on my  Instagram, but not here on the blog. A big part of the Chinese rituals and traditions were not on the wedding day itself and therefore weren’t captured by the professionals. We went to city hall a week earlier, to make everything official first. Hence, most of the rituals and traditions were done privately at home. 

For full exclosure, I summed up all Chinese traditions and rituals we incorporated in our wedding. This is not everything nor completely correct sometimes.

Living in The Netherlands makes it hard to do it perfect. Also because my husband is not fully Chinese. For us it was important to do our best, to respect our parents, family, gods and ancestors.

Everyone does it in their own way. I am happy to share ours with you. To my fellow Asians: was or will yours be similar to all the things we did?

1. Wedding date

The date of the wedding ceremony is carefully calculated according to the Chinese calendar.
I have zero expertise in this subject, so I asked my mum to ask her uncle in Hong Kong to calculate a few auspicious wedding dates for us. It required our birthdays because your zodiac sign will play a part in this too.

If you want to learn more about this you can read an article I selected here

2. Dowry

Pin Jin, is a Chinese wedding tradition, in which the groom(‘s family) pays a bride’s price to the bride’s family like a dowry. Pin Jin is a symbol of respect.
Stemming from the belief that when a daughter is married, she will move to the in-laws. So basically it symbolizes the bride’s value to the groom’s family.

The amount of dowry varies, depending on which region or country you or your partner originates. Check out this blog, for a detailed table of rates.
Since the amount is not set in stone, you have to put some time in a special number, preferably something with an 8 and given in thousands. Most Pin Jin ranges from €1888 to €8888, but sometimes even a five-figure amount. So managing expectations beforehand is key to keep all parties happy. 

We asked around in the family about the specific sum beforehand, because my husband wanted to avoid unsatisfied inlaws. Advised by my family, he gave a sum of money ending with eights in envelopes to my parents before the wedding.

Chinese wedding traditions dowry

3. Returning gifts

After the dowry, it is common that the bride’s family will show their gratitude and acceptance with symbolic gifts. This varies depending on the region and family’s own traditions, from gold, money, cakes to suckling pig.

My parents gave my husband-to-be a wallet and a belt.
The wallet included a red envelope with money, symbolizes wealth and success and the belt is for health, as strong as a belt.

Chinese traditions groom gifts

4. Comb ceremony

The hair combing ceremony is a meaningful age-old wedding tradition. It represents the bride’s transition into adulthood as they leave their families and start one of their own. Oftentimes an emotional ritual for the mother and daughter. 

Again, we didn’t follow all the traditions here, I’m describing our version of the comb ceremony. 

It took place on the day before our official wedding ceremony at city hall at my parent’s home. It’s common to perform this ceremony at the bride’s (and groom can do this too) respective homes. I had to shower first and slip into a fresh new red pajama/ nightgown. 

It’s generally agreed upon that the bride and groom conduct their ceremonies separately and at their respective homes. It’s also standard for the ceremony to take place on the eve of the wedding. The times the ceremonies take place, however, will vary; this is usually dictated by the couple’s dialect group. Some may require the couple to perform their ceremonies simultaneously at midnight; some have the bride’s ceremony be one hour earlier than the groom’s. Some dialect groups even defy convention and require the couple to perform their ceremonies on the morning of the wedding day!

All my “sisters” (girlfriends) were gathered to witness this ceremony. My mum and aunt prepared some handmade glutinous balls for everyone to eat. 

The stickiness of the glutinous rice balls is a symbol of togetherness. On the plate for me they prepared leaves, rice and colors to symbolize a fruitful marriage. 

And then the ritual starts with these words:

May you be together all your lives from beginning till the end.
May you have a harmonious intimate marriage till old age.
May you fill your home with your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all over the place.
May you enjoy abundant wealth and an everlasting marriage.

Read all about the Chinese wedding combining ceremony tradition in this blog post.

Chinese wedding comb ceremony The Netherlands
Chinese wedding comb ceremony The Netherlands bride

5. Offers

In the morning there are offerings for the Gods and ancestors, to bless the couple with a long and happy marriage. This usually includes burning of joss sticks and offerings such as fruits and sweet treats.

Chinese wedding offers morning

6. Red umbrella

On the way to city hall, the bride will be escorted under a red umbrella while someone is throwing rice on top of it while reciting 4 lines. 

This ritual is to protect the bride from evil spirits that may be watching the house. 

needs to be protected from evil spirits with a red umbrella while someone is throwing rice on top of it while reciting 4 lines. 

During this time, the relatives will also throw rice on top of the umbrella. This ritual is meant to protect the bride from evil spirits that may be watching the house.

Chinese Wedding red umbrella tradition

7. Tea ceremony

It was time to slip on our Chinese wedding outfits. I was suppose to go to Hong Kong to buy me a red Cheongsam, but due to Covid I eventually ordered one from Ali Express (find the link here). Which fit me surprisingly perfect.

The bride and groom serves tea to their parents and older married relatives such as grandparents, uncles, aunts. It’s a symbol of love, respect and gratitude. 

After each takes a sip of their tea, the couple will be offered a red envelope with money or gold jewelry to bless the union, and as an official welcome to the family.

Chinese wedding tea ceremony
Chinese wedding tea ceremony gold gifts tradition


Watch the video version on my Instagram where I show you all these Chinese wedding traditions we did. 


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A post shared by Lily Tjon 張紫迎 (@hashtagbylily)


Lily Tjon Hashtagbylily

Chinese Dutchie sharing her love for Fashion, Beauty, Travel, Lifestyle & Culture.