Singapore Wedding Rites and Rituals

Inter-racial marriages are on the rise, and with that, cross-cultural wedding ceremonies and practices are also gaining a foothold here in Singapore. This, on top of rapid globalisation, has given rise to the popularity of using traditional Eastern customs to spruce up a wedding while using a Western framework to create an experience that is both contemporary and unique.

Here is a brief list of some Chinese rituals practised here in the country.

1) “An Chuang”, the Setting of the Bed

Prior to the wedding, a man who is considered prosperous is usually called upon to help determine the placing of the marrying couples’ bed. After this, they invite a male child of a relative to roll and lie on the bed to bless the wedded couple with fertility and the hope of conceiving a son. Green beans, red beans, oranges, dates and various fruits may also be scattered on the bed for good luck.

2) “Guo Da Li”, Sending Formal Gifts

The direct family of the groom formally offers a set of gifts to their future in-laws. Often, the gifts include money, gold, and dried or canned food. A special rule: the quantity of the gifts should not come in odd numbers, which is considered inauspicious. Sometimes, the bride’s family may return a portion of the gifts in reciprocation or as a show of courtesy.

3) “Shang Tou”, Hair-Combing

On the eve of the wedding the hair of the marrying couple has to be combed four times through, usually by a female relative. The first round of combing represents the continuity of marriage; the following strokes represent a harmonious union ‘til old age; the third brushing is a blessing of fertility; and finally, the last is a wish for prosperity in a long-lasting marriage.

4) Fetching the Bride

Traditionally, the groom and his “xiong di dui” (literally a ‘band of brothers’) consisting of male friends and relatives, will go over to the bride’s house to fetch her. At her house the bridesmaids may put the groom in a trial of games before letting him in. The groom’s ‘brothers’ often step in to assist the groom in completing the bridesmaids’ challenges.

5) “Feng Cha”, Tea Ceremony

The couple first pays homage to their ancestors with a prayer. As a gesture of respect, they then present cups of tea to the groom’s parents, and then to his elders, starting with the most senior of them. In reciprocation, the marrying couple are offered red packets containing money to welcome them into the family.

6) The Banquet

The parents of the marrying couple usually throw a wedding feast on the day of the wedding to celebrate and commemorate the union.

7) “San Chao Hui Men”, the Homecoming

Three days after the wedding ceremony, it is customary for the newlyweds to pay a visit to the home of the bride’s parents. They would typically bring gifts on this occasion.

Given the rising popularity of fusion weddings, a lot of couples may wish to do away with traditional practices such as these. However, if you belong to this group of people, but your parents want otherwise, make sure you give your parents the due respect and at least let them have their say.

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