Wedding anniversaries in China are carefully chosen according to astrological signs. It is also customary for couples to be married on the half-hour or their wedding day rather than at the top of the hour. In this way, the couple begins their new lives together on an ‘upswing’, while the hands of the clock are moving up, rather than down. On the morning of his wedding day, the groom is symbolically dressed by his parents. The groom arrives at the house of his bride on the way to the wedding chapel. He brings gifts of cash, wrapped in red tissue, to give to his bride’s friends, in exchange for ‘letting her go’.
In some families, the wedding couple serves tea to both sets of parents while kneeling in front of them, a symbolic gesture of asking for permission. The bride and groom then leave for the wedding site together. Later, the wedding ceremony is usually attended only by the couples’ immediate families. Just after the ceremony and before the wedding reception, the bride who honors tradition will serve tea to her in-laws in a formal ceremony. The couple will usually go to a professional studio for wedding pictures before they proceed to their reception.
And then, a welcoming speech is usually performed by an MC who is hired for the occasion. The speech is followed by a cake cutting ceremony. The traditional wedding cake is immense, with many layers. The layers symbolize a ladder that they couple will ‘climb to success’, so couples will cut the cake from the bottom and work their way up. The cutting of the cake is the only event of the reception. The bride and groom feed each other a piece of cake with arms entwined, trying not to destroy the bride’s elaborate makeup.
A piece is then cut for each of the parents and for the grandparents, who are fed by the bride and groom holding the cake together. Sometimes a wedding toast is given and guests are invited to greet the newlyweds and their parents. Meanwhile, the musical entertainment, which ranges from a simple keyboard player to a symphony or orchestra, accompanies the receiving line. It is customary for guests to shake hands again before leaving the reception. At more elaborate Chinese weddings, a sit-down reception may feature a 9 or 10 course meal as well as musical entertainment.