A Chinese wedding, like many other traditional events in China, is accompanied by a procession of gifts called Guo Da Li (过大礼). The groom hands over the wedding presents to bride’s family on a specific auspicious day as proof of his sincerity in marrying their daughter. The Bride’s family will reciprocate by giving gifts in order to seal the deal. The Guo Da Li’ is a blessing that symbolizes good luck and prosperity in Chinese culture. It may appear to be easy, but it has a significant meaning and rich history. In layman’s terms, it can be described as a form of blessing; Today’s modern age couples are likely to be unfamiliar with the term “couples,” let alone what it implies or what items to purchase as a gift. This comprehensive tutorial will discuss the history, significance, and various goods available for each Chinese dialect group.
Please pay attention that this tutorial is for educational purposes only, and you are not required to do anything described. You’ll still need to hash out any last-minute additions or subtractions between your partner’s and your own family. After all, every family has its own take on their heritage. Check out the common goods below, or choose a specific dialect group to see their own items.
Which Dialect Group Does You or Your Partner Belong To?
If you’re not sure what dialect group you fall in, all you have to do is buy the regular goods listed below. However, before you start signing documents, discuss things with your future in-laws to see what should be included or excluded.
Standard Guo Da Li 过大礼 and Hui Li 回礼 items
过大礼 Gifts for Groom to prepare
|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.
|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
|1 red packet (Hong Bao 红包) with “Diaper money” 洗屎喜包.
|This money is to thank bride’s parents for her up bringing. This is optional for most dialect groups. Some dialects are compulsory. See individual dialect group for more info.
|2 pairs of Chinese wedding candles – 龙凤烛 Long Feng Zhu (2 dragon, 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: Minimum 6 Pig trotter cans
|Common 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: 2x bottles of hard liquor or red/white wine
|Common gift for most dialect group.
|Traditional wedding cakes 喜饼
|What kind of cakes / pastries will depend on parent’s discussion. Cakes will be distributed to family and relatives.
|8 to 12 oranges
|Symbolise good luck.
|Symbolise a good life after marriage for the bride.
|Double Happiness Stickers 喜字貼紙
|For home decoration.
|2 sets of red banners 红彩两套 to hang over main door. 1 for groom, 1 for bride
|9.9ft Red Cloth
|A pair of coconuts
|Symbolise a future with multi-generation 有爷有子
|2 cans of tea leaves and 2 packets of white sesame seeds
|To symbolise seeds growing into trees
回礼 Returning Gifts for Bride to prepare
1 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.)
|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 jewelries will be presented during Guo Da Li but will only be given by groom’s parents during tea ceremony.
|Longan symbolise blessings for a dragon boy 早生贵子.
|Red date symbolise good fortune 鸿运当头.
|Lotus seeds symbolise having many children 连连生子.
|Dried melon slice
|Dried melon slice symbolise sweet life together for the couple 甜甜蜜蜜.
|Lily bulbs symbolise harmonious union for years to come 百年好合.
|Walnut or Peanut
|Walnut or Peanut symbolise harmony between family 和和气气.
|2 boxes of 5 elements seeds
|Symbolise 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 r
Other items that you will buy along with Guo Da Li items that is not part of Guo Da Li
|Sharp comb, red string and mirror set
|Used during Hair Combing 上头 ceremony.
History and meaning behind Betrothal Gifts 过大礼 (Guo Da Li)
The return of the bride’s family’s presents to the groom is the second element of the betrothal tradition. The Hui Li gesture is a common one. It signifies her goodwill. The return presents may include two bottles of honey or orange syrup, in addition to the rest of the betrothal basket, with the exception of the jewellery and 1 pair of dragon candles.
The betrothal jewellery is made up of a pair of earrings, a ring, a necklace, and a bracelet. The Si Dian Jin or Long Feng Zhuo are named for gifts from the mother-in-law’s side. This shows the bride that she will have a pleasant existence with her spouse.