In ancient times, the Chinese wedding ceremony is held to get recognition from society. It comprise of many ceremonial processes that include the wedding proposal, engagement and the actual wedding.
Today recognition is given by the Registry of Civil Marriages who issues the certificate of registration of marriage once they are satisfied that you have complied with the requirements. The couple is then considered legally married and come under the protection of the law.
Many people feel that the ancient style traditional wedding ceremony is complicated. In line with the times and to be practical, many of theses ceremonies are simplified or discarded.
Today’s Chinese Wedding traditions consist mainly of the wedding proposal and the actually wedding. Engagement has become less popular.
I will touch on the wedding proposal in another article. Meanwhile let’s focus on the actually wedding itself. It comprises of the taking of the bride, the prayer and tea ceremony, back to bride’s home tea ceremony and the wedding feast.
The day begins with the groom and friends arriving at the bride’s house at a designated auspicious hour. As a customary practice, the bride’s lady friends will put up some resistance to prevent the groom from taking the bride. This resistance is quickly overcome by giving a red packet and they are on their way back to the groom’s house.
When the bride arrives at the groom’s house, she is quickly taken in to perform the prayer ceremony. This is followed by the tea ceremony where the groom and bride serve tea to the groom’s family and friends as a sign of respect. The groom’s family and friends in turn shower her with gifts and red packet. Family members that are younger than the groom will in turn serve tea to the bride and groom as a sign of respect. This is quickly rewarded with red packets from the bride and groom.
The groom and bride then goes back to the brides family for a similar prayer and tea ceremony, this time for members of the bride’s family.
Then it is back to the groom’s house for some much needed rest before going to the restaurant or hotel for the multi-course wedding feast.
Finally it is time to get home and to bed where the marriage is consummated (at least this is how it is suppose to happen in the good old days!).
This brings us to a question from Chinese Astrology. When is a couple deemed to be married? Is it after the marriage ceremony or after signing the documents at the registry?
Many astrologers believe that it is after the couple has stayed together (as man and wife) for 100 days, certificate or not!