The closest parallel to the modern bridal shower is the custom of delivering the bride’s dowry. While the groom’s family was expected to pay for the wedding, the bride’s family was expected to gift items for the new household. During the engagement ceremony or a few days before the wedding, the bride’s family traditionally provided the following items to the couple:
- new clothing for the bride, delivered in a suitcase or wooden chest
- tea set for the wedding tea ceremony
- a tub filled with baby items
- two pairs of red slippers
- a sewing basket
- gold jewelry for the bride to wear on the wedding day
A bridal shower is not a Chinese custom, but there are ways that you can incorporate Chinese traditions into one. Here’s the thing about bridal showers–people attend because they want to support the bride, but few people actually enjoy attending them. A Chinese themed shower would be a welcome variation from the usual finger foods, party games, and present opening that make up most showers. Here are some of our favorite ideas and supplies for a Chinese bridal shower:
A menu could include the following items: potstickers, spring rolls, Singapore street noodles, mini baked pork buns, mini egg tarts, and bride cookies.
We think it could be memorable to hold the hair combing ceremony (link to page) during the bridal shower.
You could also create a memory book by passing out note cards and ask each guest to write down their favorite memory with the bride, groom, or couple. Then save the note cards in an album.
It’s not customary in Chinese culture to open gifts in front of other people. But if you think your guests would enjoy watching you open their gifts, you can certainly do so. The couple can ask their cultural liaison to explain this custom to Chinese family members as an occasion to celebrate the bride and/or groom and give gifts. It is important that they are aware of the gift giving custom because it’s deeply embarrassing to show up empty handed when everyone else is bringing gifts. Don’t forget to have someone write down the presents and who they are from so you can write thank you notes. Because reciprocity is an important Chinese, you will want to give a similar valued present when it’s your turn to give gifts.