If you’re incorporating Chinese traditions into your wedding, you’ll be pleased to discover that nearly everything, from the food to the venue decorations, can be chosen for its symbolic value of added luck. Pick and choose among the following traditional Chinese ways to add a little extra good fortune to your proceedings.
Auspicious Chinese Wedding Dates
If you think your days of nervously arranging dates are over, think again. Arranging your first date with your fiancé was nothing compared to the importance of choosing a date for your wedding day, which can involve lengthy consultations with a monk or other spiritual guide. Chinese culture places a huge emphasis on choosing significant calendar dates for important events. For example, May 20, 2012 was a popular nuptial date because of the similarity of the date, when spoken aloud, to the Chinese phrase, “I love you.”
Because of the importance of the date itself, not just any weekend with nice weather will do. Your auspicious date needs to coincide with the times when your preferred venue will be available, as well as your favorite caterers, beauticians, live bands, bakeries, and other wedding vendors. Because so much needs to come together for one specific date, a Chinese wedding takes meticulous planning. Give yourself plenty of time to be sure that everyone involved in the wedding has a free calendar for you.
You may also want to consider what Chinese zodiac year you would like your wedding to fall upon. Since the Chinese calendar assigns a rotation of animals, each with its own strengths and characteristics, to each year, you can match your wedding animal to your birth year or that of your soon-to-be spouse. If you have your heart set on rabbit, tiger, or ox, however, you may want to think again–those animals won’t come around again for nearly a decade! Dragon lovers, if you’re nearly done with your wedding planning you’re in luck; you still have until the end of this year to celebrate your Year of the Dragon festivities.
Lucky Symbols For Your Chinese Wedding
If you’re having a Chinese wedding, rejoice in red. The vibrant crimson color is a symbol of good luck, happiness, growth, and success. It’s also an excellent reason to stand out in your wedding photos with a resplendent red wedding gown. Wearing a white wedding dress? No problem. You can still incorporate red into your wedding with your bridesmaids’ dresses, your bouquet, red jewelry, a mani-pedi, or explore your Dorothy-like side with a pair of ruby slippers. Some couples are even lucky enough to find red limousines, horse carriages, or other ways to exit their wedding in brilliant red style.
Are your parents and in-laws already pestering you about when to expect their grandchildren? Find ways to incorporate peanuts and dried red dates into your table settings and décor. In Chinese, the words “date” and “early” share the same sound, as well as “peanut” and “birth,” so you can comfort your relatives and let them know you are doing everything you can to encourage a prompt arrival. It is also traditional to incorporate lotus pods and other types of seeds, as the word “seed” in Chinese can also refer to a child.
Both brides and grooms can enjoy a “hair combing ceremony” on the night before the wedding (traditionally conducted in their separate homes). First, infuse a large bowl or jug of water with sweet-smelling pomelo (a large citrus similar to a grapefruit). If your local grocery doesn’t carry pomelo, you may wish to use another type of citrus to symbolize the same idea. Wash your hair with the water, and change into new clothes. Sitting where you have a view of the moon, ask a woman who considers herself “lucky in life” to comb your hair four times. The first combing symbolizes a marriage that lasts a lifetime. The second combing symbolizes spousal harmony. The third symbolizes many descendants. The fourth symbolizes a long life.
Decorate as much as you can, from putting stickers on your wedding-day lipstick to embroidering the hem of your wedding gown, with the Chinese symbol “xǐ.” Using this symbol twice, for “double happiness,” is a way of encouraging extra joy on your wedding day.
Your Balanced Wedding Feast
To ensure good luck, serve eight main dishes, since the Chinese word for “eight” also sounds like “good luck.” Eight dishes also give you and your guests the opportunity to sample eight different tastes–and with the wealth of flavors Chinese cuisine provides, you’ll have a hard time choosing your favorites. You may wish to serve your wedding guests in dim sum style. Accompany your wedding feast with plenty of high-quality tea.
Begin your banquet by serving cold plates of delectables like jellyfish, sliced pork, and mixed nuts. You may want to serve foods that have associations with dragons (symbolizing male energy) and phoenixes (symbolizing female energy) to promote balance at your wedding. Don’t worry about how you’ll find dragon meat at your local corner store–lobsters are known as “dragon shrimp” while chickens are associated with phoenixes.
The next course is usually a soup course, followed by a meat course. Roast pork is a popular choice at weddings because of its connotations with maidenhood. (Careful when presenting a whole roast suckling pig, however; if the ears or tail are damaged, it’s considered a slight to the bride’s innocence!) Duck, crab, squab, quail, and lobster are also popular choices. The word “fish” sounds like “plentiful” in Chinese, so be sure to serve plenty of delicacies from the sea. Don’t forget the vegetables, rice dishes, and noodles! Chinese desserts, such as sweet buns and custards, are the perfect way to round out the meal with something sweet.
Although some old-fashioned traditions may be hard to duplicate in a modern setting and some Chinese ingredients are hard to come across in America, you can use your imagination to slightly alter whichever traditions you like. You may even want to create new traditions of your own. Your Chinese wedding will be full of luck and good fortune no matter which symbols you choose as representations. After all, you’ll leave the ceremony married to your beloved–how can you get luckier than that?
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.