Chinese have been long living in separate regions; therefore, there is a difference in food, dialects, traditions and customs of each region. Beyond local differences, a Chinese traditional wedding is rather complicated, but a charming process, containing several must-follow sections.
It is interesting to note that Chinese have preserved almost all rituals of an ancient Chinese wedding until the present days with slight simplifications and modernizations.
What is a Chinese traditional wedding? First, there is a stage, known as a preparation for the wedding. If the groom and the bride's birthdates predict no disaster for the two to get married, the two families will exchange their family records/family tree. Chinese wedding traditions, prior to a wedding ceremony, can also comprise sending gifts to the bride's family, setting up a bridal bed, the bride's gifts for the groom and combing hair.
Although combing hair is often avoided today in China, we could not stand to describe it. The night before the wedding, both, the bride and the groom, should find a 'good fortune' woman and man to comb their hair in his (her) home respectively. The bride and the groom should take a shower before the event, change to some fresh new underwear and burn incense. The bride also should sit next to a window, where the moon can be seen. Their hair should be combed four times and each has a special meaning:
the first combing - from the beginning until the end,
the second combing - harmony from now till the old age,
the third combing - sons and grandsons all over the place,
the fourth combing is good wealth and a long-lasting marriage.
A Chinese traditional wedding day consists of the following: early in the morning, the groom and the groomsmen decorate cars and drive them over to the bride's home. At the door, the bridesmaids ask the groom many tricky questions, as well as make him pass many tests in strength and express his love to the bride. The groomsmen help the groom pass all these tests. The last test is a financial test. The groom has to pay the bridesmaids some 'red packets' (good fortune) as gifts, then the groom and his groomsmen can enter the house and greet the bride.
Later, the couple serves tea to the superior in the bride's family. The bride's parents are the first to be served, followed by the other relatives. Each one gives the couple a present in return, often red packets and jewelry for the bride (gold is often preferred in the Southern region).
After drinking tea, the bride and groom leave for the groom's home, where there is the same procedure of tea drinking and giving gifts. Then comes the time for the bride and broom to leave for the church or the Government's Marriage Registrar.
A wedding banquet is, perhaps, the most preserved part of a Chinese traditional wedding. A Chinese banquet includes about twelve courses, and since the Chinese pay much attention to food, only delicacies are served. Guests present the young couple with monetary gifts, which often overestimate the cost of the banquet. During the banquet, the groomsmen, bridesmaids and friends of the young couple play certain tricks on them with a goal to make the groom show his love in public.
As the time draws near for the guests to leave, the bride changes into a different gown and the young couple sees off the guests. This tradition can be described as "retrieving line", opposite to the receiving line in the Western culture.
A red color is predominant in the Chinese traditional wedding. The bride's dress is also of red color, which is the color of happiness, love and wealth. Probably, Chinese brides enjoy shopping for gowns, as the Chinese culture embraces a purchase of at least three dresses for the bride. A traditional red dress is worn for the tea ceremony, an ornate traditional dress for the ceremony and a white dress for the reception.