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Getting married Chinese style




When coming to China, it is hard not to mention the significance Chinese people give to marriage - shopping malls, jewelry stores, movies and advertisements tell you that getting married is a “must do” for every single person. And, indeed, in China marriage is not only a great business for jewelry makers but also a crucial event that deserves undivided attention. While for most foreigners who come to China, marriage is associated with churches, white dresses, tuxedos and champagne or on the other hand with a crazy adventure for two, in China people love to follow a certain cultural protocol. 
Due to China’s great number of ethnicities, traditions may significantly vary from one area to another. So, in Northern China and in Tianjin, traditions for the wedding ceremony and for establishing a new family are what we are going to discover. 
Each wedding story of course starts with the marriage proposal. While in the West, not many couples follow the traditional “romance overloaded” proposals and try to make this moment more special by including something extraordinary, in China proposals are usually made with a ring and a hope that the woman says magical “Yes”. And the story begins right after this very moment…
Surprisingly, as a lot of foreigners might have already mentioned, wedding photographs can be taken way before the wedding ceremony, sometimes months prior to the “big day”. In Tianjin, Italian Style Town, bridges and Water Park are favorite locations for the future bride and groom to get this done. Usually in rented wedding gown and tuxedothe couple would pose for the photographer and pretend as if it was their wedding day. 
As in many countries, where the official part and the celebration are usually made all at the same time in one day, for Chinese people these are two absolutely different procedures. Once the paperwork is signed in the local government office, the couple dedicates all its attention to organizing the event where all their friends and relatives can honor and celebrate their union. 
Right before the wedding, the groom usually needs to come to the bride’s house or the hotel where she and her family are staying to collect her. However, traditionally girlfriends would surround the bride and would tease the groom. This little obstacle is overcome quite easily by simply bribing them and handling over some red envelopes with money. Only after financially satisfying bride’s friends can the groom “receive” his bride. 
Traditionally in China the bride is supposed to wear red gown for her wedding day. But, with the influence of Western culture and general globalization, more and more women choose to wear white wedding dresses. The bride usually prepares around 4-5 dresses and changes them during the wedding day. 
Decorating the wedding hall is very important and every family tries to make it as symbolic as possible. Firstly, during Chinese weddings, the character “鍥”, meaning “double happiness” is widely used. Traditionally, this character is used solely for weddings and brings the couple luck, wealth, joy and whole bunch of other positive things. Doors and windows are usually decorated with various wishes and printed in red and gold. Flowers, just like in Western tradition, are also commonly used to decorate the hall and tables. Especially welcomed flower during the wedding is the white lily, “鐧惧悎” which sounds similar to a common idiom that means 'happy union for a hundred years', bainian haohe 鐧惧勾濂藉悎. 
One of the most challenging parts of Chinese weddings is, of course, a tradition for the groom to take shots of baijiu - Chinese rice wine - with almost every male guest at the party. 
After the wedding ceremony, bride and groom will usually personally see every guest off and give them a little gift: candies, chocolates and even mini photographs of the bride and groom. 
Attending a Chinese wedding is a great way to experience and observe Chinese culture “in action”. Yet, don’t forget to honor the hosts with a heavy red envelop full of lucky money!
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