Whilst it is fun to begin planning your dream wedding, don't forget the Chinese traditions and rituals that need to be in place too. Guo Da Li is the main ceremony before the wedding - but many of you may ask - what is it?
Guo Da Li (過大禮) also known as the betrothal ceremony, which can be held from 2 weeks up to 3 months before the wedding, is when the groom delivers wedding gifts to the bride's family to show his sincerity in marrying their daughter and reassuring them that she will be well taken care of after marriage. The acceptance of the gifts will mean that the proposal is accepted. The custom is for the bride's family to also reciprocate the gesture by returning part of the gifts, known as Hui Li (回禮).
Below are a few tips on what to prepare for the ceremony.
1. Select a date for the betrothal ceremony but remember the date has to be auspicious.
2. Prepare the gifts. Each of the dowry items has its auspicious meaning. Items include dowry money, cakes, walnuts, seafood etc. but the gift items will differ based on the dialect group of the bride's family as each dialect has its own customs. Nowadays it is quite easy to purchase prepackaged Guo Da Li sets containing these gifts, but do remember that the gift items should always come in even numbers to represent good fortune.
As there is no strict rule for what to gift and how much to pay for the dowry money, there should be a mutual understanding between the families on the amount expected. To avoid arguments, we suggest this be clearly communicated prior to purchasing the betrothal presents.
Courtesy: Image of Guo Da Li gifts from Singapore Brides
3. Decide who you will bring. You can arrange for a dai kum jie (大妗姐), also known as a Chinese wedding chaperone, to help host the ceremony but it's not absolutely necessary. Usually, the groom will ask their groomsmen to help out. It's best for the number of attendees from the groom's side to be an even number. Whilst the tradition is for the groom's family to be there, this is not absolutely necessary.
So what happens at the ceremony? The ceremony is relatively straightforward. Upon arriving at the bride's house, the groom enters with the gifts while his family and other relatives wait outside until the ceremony finishes. The bride should remain in her room and wait until the ceremony is over. Like all joyous events in Chinese culture, there will be an abundant exchange of auspicious sayings and everyone should wear red or bright colors where possible.
Custom made qipao - our Calla Lily in white
Do let us know if you have any more tips to the betrothal ceremony. Hope this has helped!