Chinese Wedding Guide

Betrothal Gifts 过大礼 Guo Da Li

In Chinese culture, Guo Da Li (过大礼) is a significant event where the groom hands over a wedding present to the bride’s family on a designated auspicious day to demonstrate his sincerity in marrying their daughter. The family of the bride, in turn, will return the favor by providing presents. Guo Da Li is a very significant term and narrative that has a long history. In simple terms, you may describe it as a kind of blessing – for the Chinese, it has a deep symbolical meaning representing good luck and prosperity. Today’s contemporary couples are unlikely to be familiar with the term “traditional gift” or what things to buy as a part of the present. As a result, this comprehensive guide will address its history, meaning, and other goods available in different Chinese dialect communities.

Please note that this article is for educational purposes only; you are not required to follow everything written. You’ll still need to consult with your partner’s and your family’s preferences before deciding what else should be included or excluded. After all, each family may have a distinctive viewpoint toward their history. So go through the following list or choose a specific dialect group to view its own goods.

Which dialect group do you or your partner fall into?

Singapore has four major dialects: Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew, and Hakka. In this article, there are four different lists of Guo Da Li things to buy based on the dialect groups. You’ll notice that most goods are comparable, although they differ slightly among the four cultures. There will be basic and must-have items, as well as others that are optional. This is only a general guideline; each family should consult with the other party to determine whose culture they want to adopt (usually it’s the groom’s dialect group). It’s frequently a combination of items from both the bride and groom’s dialect groups. As a result, not every item you buy will match the recommendations below. If you’re unsure about your dialect group, stick to the basic goods listed further down. The following is the basic list of necessary items for your degree, Guo Da Li 过大礼 and Hui Li 回礼.

Standard Guo Da Li 过大礼 and Hui Li 回礼 items

If you are not sure of your dialect group, you can just purchase standard items in the list below. But do still discuss with your future in-laws to see what should be included or excluded.

过大礼 Gifts for Groom to prepare to

  1. Black Red or Straw Basket to carry items it’s a traditional practice to carry Guo Da Li items in a basket. These baskets can be rented from shops.
  2. 1 large red packet (Hong Bao 红包) with your betrothal gift money 聘金 (Pin Jin).For all dialect groups. Amount given must have numbers in 8
  3. 1 red packet (Hong Bao 红包) with “Diaper money” 洗屎喜包. This money is to thank the bride’s parents for their upbringing. This is optional for most dialect groups. Some dialects are compulsory. See individual dialect group for more info.
  4. 2 pairs of Chinese wedding candles – 龙凤烛 Long Feng Zhu (2 dragons, 2 phoenix wax candles)These Chinese wedding candles are meant to be lit during the process of Hair Combing Ritual 上头

Gift for Mother-in-law:

  1. Minimum 6 Pig trotter cansCommon gift for most dialect groups. Some dialect groups may request for roasted pig 烧猪 or roasted pork meat 烧肉. See individual dialect group for more info.

Gift for Father-in-law:

  1. 2x bottles of hard liquor or red/white wine common gift for most dialect groups.

Traditional wedding cakes

喜饼What kind of cakes/pastries will depend on the parent’s discussion. Cakes will be distributed to family and relatives.

  1. 8 to 12 oranges symbolize good luck.
  2. Charcoal 旺炭Symbolise a good life after marriage for the bride.
  3. Double Happiness Stickers 喜字貼紙For home decoration.
  4. 2 sets of red banners 红彩两套 to hang over the main door. 1 for the groom, 1 for bride9.9ft Red Cloth
  5. A pair of coconutsSymbolise a future with multi-generation 有爷有子2 cans of tea leaves and 2 packets of white sesame seeds to symbolize seeds growing into trees1 Gift Box 礼金盒: (that contains items for 安床 An Chuang process. These items are for presentation and are to be brought back to groom’s home.)
  6. Jewelry (For the bride): 4 pieces of gold jewelry 四点金 (ring, earrings, necklace, and bangle) or Gold Dragon and Phoenix Bangle 龙凤镯 (2 golden bangles)Which set of jewelry to buy will depend on dialect group. These pieces of jewelry will be presented during Guo Da Li but will only be given by the groom’s parents during the tea ceremony. Sharp comb, red string, and mirror seated during Hair Combing 上头 ceremony.
  7. Dried Longan
  8. Longan symbolizes blessings for a dragon boy 早生贵子.
  9. Red dates date symbolize good fortune 鸿运当头.
  10. Lotus seeds symbolize having many children 连连生子.
  11. Dried melon sliceDried melon slice symbolize sweet life together for the couple 甜甜蜜蜜.
  12. Lily bulbs symbolize harmonious union for years to come 百年好合.
  13. Walnut or PeanutWalnut or Peanut symbolize harmony between family 和和气气.
  14. Dried tangerineDried tangerine symbolizes great awesome luck 大吉大利.
  15. 2 boxes of 5 elements seeds symbolize blessings for the couple to have bountiful harvests 百年好合五谷. 5 element seeds are different grains like red beans, green beans, wheat, soybeans, barley, or rice. Other items that you will buy along with Guo Da Li items that are not part of Guo Da Li

回礼 To wrap up the event, you’ll need to return gifts for the bride.

The return of wedding presents is the second part of the betrothal ceremony. This also known as Hui Li 回礼, symbolizes her goodwill. The return gifts can include two bottles of honey or orange syrup, as well as the rest of the betrothal basket goods with the exception of the jewelry and one pair of dragon candles. Depending on dialect, betrothal jewelry may come in the form of earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets made out of gold or two golden bracelets. The jewelry is also considered as the Si Dian Jin 四点金 or Long Feng Zhuo 龙凤镯 respectively, which are gifts from the mother-in-law. This implies that the bride will always have a pleasant life with her spouse. Watch, cuffs, belts, gold ring, or wallet with ang bao 红包 are all popular gifts. These are the groom’s presents.

  1. 2 bottles of orange juice or syrup in exchange for liquorSymbolises good luck. Gift from groom’s family. Return of part of the presents received, such as wedding cakes and pastries. You usually have the option to return half. However, it is dependent on each family’s circumstances.

Huat kueh or Fatt koh 发糕Symbolises prosperityDowry items 嫁妆: (To be placed in couple’s bedroom or bridal chambers during 安床 An Chuang process) Furniture, such as a bed or mattress, is generally purchased ahead of time.

  1. 1 Dowry Sewing Box Set 嫁妆锦绣针线盒Symbolise being bounded together. Used during Hair Combing 上头 ceremony
  2. 1 RulerSymbolise to have many children and grandchildren 得寸进尺. Used during Hair Combing 上头 ceremony

Bridal essentials

– Descendant Pail Set 子孙宝桶

– Mug set 家翁家婆对杯

– Face Towel Set 家翁家婆面巾

– Washbasin

– Spittoon

– Toothpaste

– ToothbrushSymbolise fertility. You can also get a miniature set to replace the actual items.

  1. 2 pairs of slippers for wedding coupleNew set of house slippers 夫妻同鞋.
  2. Linen-covered set of pillow covers and bed sheets.
  3. Tea ceremony jin cha set 孝心茶具Used for 敬茶 tea ceremony at groom’s house during Actual Day.
  4. Dining set 丰衣足食碗: that includes 2 bowls and 2 pairs of spoons and chopsticks 家翁家婆对碗Chopsticks symbolize having offsprings soon 早生贵子.
  5. 1 pair of Prosperity Lamp 添丁灯Symbolise fertility and wealth 添丁发财.
  6. 1 red umbrella 红伞Used to shield bride during 出阁 Chu Ge to ward off any negative elements.
  7. Fate coins – Da Yuan Xiao Yuan 大缘小缘Used during matrimonial bed setting 安床. Place coins at 4 corners of the bed, corners of the room, and in cupboards, drawers.
  8. Charcoal 旺炭Symbolise a good life after marriage for the bride. Other items that you buy with Dowry set and are left in bride house
  9. Lady Fan 玉女扇Foldable fan use while driving off with groom during 出阁 (Leaving bride’s house).
  10. Round comb, red string, and mirror seated during Hair Combing 上头 ceremony.

What Are Betrothal Gifts and Why Do They Exist? The Definition and History of Betrothal Gifts 过大礼 (Guo Da Li)

Before the wedding ceremony, Chinese culture has frequently given presents to the bride as a gesture of betrothal. The first component is that the matchmaker will set up a date for the groom to come to the bride’s house two weeks before the wedding day to give gifts. This is also referred to as the Guo Da Li 过大礼, The porcelain figurines, also known as buttons, are arranged in a cake-style pattern of three rows on each side. The pair of turtle doves above the basket’s handle symbolize fidelity and marital happiness. A bamboo and ivory stockwhip (symbolizing an ancient Chinese instrument) is included among other items. Traditionally, if the bride and groom come from different dialect families, the bride’s family will adhere to her father’s traditions.