In ancient China, a bride was carried to her husband’s home on a red sedan that was carried by four men. The chair would be covered with red curtains so the bride would not see anything that might bring the marriage bad luck, such as a widow, a well, or a cat. Musicians, lanterns decorated with the names of the bride and groom, and fireworks celebrated the procession. Upon her arrival, the bride would be carried by the groom into the house under a red parasol.
Only the couple and their immediate families attended the ceremony, which was comparatively simple compared to the elaborate traditions surrounding the wedding. The ceremony consisted of the bride and groom bowing to the family altar, where they asked the blessings of Heaven, Earth, the Kitchen God, and their ancestors. Then the couple bowed to each other before the bride served tea to the groom’s parents.
The couple finished the ceremony by drinking wine and honey from two cups joined with a red string. It was believed that the God of Marriage matched couples from heaven and connected couples’ feet with an invisible red string so they could find each other.
These customs are rarely practiced today because most couples choose to have a religious or secular ceremony. But there are two details that would be charming to include in any kind of ceremony. The bride could carry a red parasol as she walks from her car into the wedding venue, which would make a beautiful photo opportunity.
The couple could also drink from two cups tied with red silk thread during the wedding as a nod to the ancient custom. Chinese tea cups do not have handles, so the thread would have to be attached to the bottom of the cup.
If it is important for you to have a bilingual ceremony, you can have an interpreter translate key parts of the ceremony. Some people choose to translate everything, so if you do, keep the ceremony on the shorter side so it doesn’t become boring.
If you choose to translate key parts, we suggest:
- the welcome
- the blessing of the couple
- one reading or song in Chinese
- instructions about the transition to the reception