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Chinese Wedding Traditions
Honor your heritage by incorporating one (or all!) of these timeless Chinese wedding traditions.

Chinese Reception Decor
From origami cranes to hanging paper lanterns, get stylish Chinese wedding decor ideas.

Chinese Wedding Favors
Leave a great last impression on your guests with a wedding favor that fits your theme.

How to Make Your Chinese Wedding Unique

Incorporate these rituals and symbols into your day.

It goes without saying that weddings have changed a lot over the past 100 years or so. But that doesn't mean you have to do away with tradition. Here are three ancient Chinese wedding traditions you'll want to pay homage to on your wedding day.

The Hairdressing Ritual

The Way It Was
The hairdressing ritual took place the night before or at dawn on the wedding day. The bride would bathe in water infused with pumelo (a type of grapefruit) in order to rid herself of evil influences. Then, a "good luck woman" (one with many children, a good marriage, and financial stability) would speak good luck phrases to the bride as she styled her hair -- the married way -- into a traditional bun. The bride's hair was typically combed four times. The first time represents "from beginning to end;" the second, "harmony from youth through old age;" the third is a wish for many grandchildren; and the fourth offers hope for wealth and a long-lasting marriage.

Make It Your Own
Today, the ritual may be carried out in a more symbolic sense. The night before the wedding, the bride could sit by candlelight (with candles shaped like the symbolic phoenix or dragon) while her hair is combed. Her mother, sister, or other close female relative could do the combing as a meaningful bonding experience. The modern bride still usually wears her hair in a bun for the tea ceremony, but most have their hair professionally styled at a salon on the wedding day.

The Capping Ritual

The Way It Was
The groom, wearing a long gown, red shoes, and a red silk sash with a silk ball on his shoulder, would kneel at the family altar while his father placed a cap on his head. The cap would be decorated with cypress leaves. The groom would then bow: first to the tablets of Heaven and Earth, then to his ancestors, and last to his parents and other family members. Next, his father would remove the silk ball from the sash and place it on top of the bridal sedan chair.

Make It Your Own
Modern-day grooms can still follow this historic ritual closely, but may choose not to wear traditional Chinese attire. The groom might kneel in front of a family altar where his father would place a decorated cap on his head. Then he would bow to the altar and to his family members. He could also wear the same cap during the tea ceremony to show respect, much like the bride would wear her hair in a bun.

Installing the Bridal Bed

The Way It Was
For the groom, preparation for the wedding included installing a new bridal bed the day before the wedding. A propitious hour and a "good luck woman" or "good luck man" would be selected to install the new bed. Usually the installation ceremony consisted of merely moving the bed slightly -- servants or friends would have done the actual work. After the bed was put into place, children would be invited onto the bed as an omen of fertility -- the more the better. The bed would also be scattered with red dates, oranges, lotus seeds, peanuts, pomegranates, and other fruits for the same reason.

Make It Your Own
Consider registering for or purchasing new bed linens for your wedding night. In keeping with Chinese tradition, the linens should be accented in red, the color of happiness. They can be as simple as a new white silk sheet set with red piping, or as elaborate as a red quilt embroidered with the dragon and phoenix.

-- Anja Winikka

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