Chinese Wedding Customs

Wedding Accessories: Traditional Wedding Items

As one of life’s most important events, the wedding requires various items for traditional and symbolic purposes. The following are accessories commonly used in Chinese weddings, as well as items that have been incorporated into modern weddings in Singapore.
chinese tea set
Tea Set The tea ceremony is the most significant part in modern Chinese wedding. For this reason, the wedding tea set carries a very high value. A complete tea set includes one teapot and four teacups made of porcelain and designed with red Chinese motif, such as double happiness signs, flowers and phoenixes with gold trimmings. Some families believe it is best to borrow the tea set of a happily married couple (preferably either the bride or groom’s grandparents), while others believe it’s best to get a new tea to serve not only for the wedding but for the whole marriage of the couple. Lace Parasol The lace parasol is a wedding accessory that is popular among Chinese families. Lace parasols highlight the femininity of the bride, giving her a kind of dainty and classical beauty, as well as protecting her from the sun. Lace parasols have a wide, open dome, and are typically white with ornate lace designs. If the bride’s bridesmaids are also using parasols, theirs is often of a different colour or shade from the bride’s. The bride may hold her parasol herself or have it held for her by her maid of honour or groom.

Photo by Chris Ling Photography

Red Umbrella The red umbrella is another traditional Chinese wedding accessory, and like other Chinese bridal items, is believed to symbolize joy and prosperity. More than just protecting the bride from the sun or rain, Chinese lore says that the opening of the red umbrella will help the couple have many descendants, and that an open red umbrella protects the bride from harmful spirits. Modern brides who may not be inclined to superstitions may still find red umbrella favourable for its sheer beauty and design. Most red umbrellas are made of silk or satin fabric with a fiberglass frame and painted handle. Red Slippers Chinese brides who want to honour their heritage may choose to wear red slippers on their wedding day. These wedding slippers are made in rich red tones and elaborately designed to complement the traditional Chinese qun kua. It is accentuated with gold trimmings and green and blue embroidery. The slippers are often given to the bride by a relative, but she may also buy new ones for herself if she likes. Apart from its traditional purpose, brides may also wear these slippers for reasons of comfort or style. Red Bed Sheet Another traditional Chinese wedding item, the red bed sheet is believed to bring good fortune and a lasting marriage to the couple. In former times, the bed sheet is customarily designed with gold dragon or phoenix embroidery. However, it has become acceptable for modern brides to prefer less striking colours such as pink, lavender or cream and to put floral accents instead of traditional Chinese symbols. Printed bed sheets have also now become quite common. Thick fabrics used to be preferable, but more comfortable fabrics like cotton and polyester are now available today. Brides who prefer a sexier or more luscious bed sheet may also use satin or silk. Ang Pao Bird Cage The ang pao bird cage is a good substitute for the more traditional ang pao box. Like the ang pao box, the bird cage is used to hold the wedding ang pao envelopes which contain the wedding guests’ gifts, blessings and well wishes. The ang pao bird cage is normally white or gold with a pink or red base and decorated with flowers, crystals, and ribbons. Properly decorated, the ang pao bird cage can be an attraction by itself during the wedding banquet and something the wedding couple are sure to be excited to open come the end of the evening.

Photo by Avior Pictures

Ring Pillow The ring pillow is where the wedding rings are placed before they are worn by the bride and groom. It is typically white, made of satin or silk, and minimally decorated. At the centre of the pillow are the rings tied in a ribbon, which the couples untie just before they put the rings on each other’s fingers. The ring pillow is carried by the ringbearer, who is usually a young male relative of either the bride or groom, and handed at the appointed time. Some couples use imitation rings for the ceremony to avoid accidentally losing the original rings. Carriage Ring Holder Couples who want something more decorative to hold the rings may opt to use a carriage ring box instead of a ring pillow. This is a gold- or silver-toned box that usually has intricate detailings and a velvet cushion lining to hold and protect the rings. The carriage or box is placed on top of the ring pillow and delivered by the ringbearer. The carriage ring holder may be kept after the wedding and used as a permanent holder of the engagement ring or other valuable jewellery.

Photo by Kinici Photo

Guest Pens The wedding guest pens are special pens used to write on the guest book. Unlike ordinary pens, guest pens have an elegant, classic design to suit the importance of the occasion. Most guest pens have a metallic body that is normally made of ivory, silver or gold. Some guest pens have a more showy design, such as those attached with a large white feather (called a plume pen) or a clump of smaller feathers. Some couples in Singapore use the same pens they used in the ROM signing as the wedding guest pens. Pen Holders Like the pens, wedding pen holders are also specially made. However, pen holders have a more varied style. Many pen holders match the style of the pen, while others match that of the guest book. Some pen holders are also decorated to match the theme of the wedding. (For example, a holder may be decorated with seashells to match a beach themed wedding.) The base of a pen holder is most commonly made of metal, usually sporting filigree design and wrapped in satin. The items above are available in select shops and wedding merchants in the country. By using these items, couples will infuse tradition into their wedding and make it a richer, more meaningful affair.

Photo by Livesnapps

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