Traditional Chinese wedding

8 Betrothal Steps in Traditional Chinese Wedding Custom You Must Know

Traditional chinese wedding betrothal ceremonyThe betrothal process in Chinese(Guo Da Li 過大禮) is definitely one of the most important part in the Chinese wedding tradition.

During this exchange, the groom’s family presents the bride’s family with betrothal gifts (聘禮) to symbolise prosperity and good luck.

In this article, you will be introduced the 8 steps in the betrothal process and 23 items you will need to prepare for the betrothal ceremony as the Chinese wedding traditions gifts for the bride and her family.

8 Betrothal Steps In Traditional Chinese Wedding Custom

1. The betrothal should be done 14 to 60 days before the wedding ceremony. And a auspicious day should be selected by the groom’s side.

(Traditionally, the wedding invitations should be sent after the betrothal. This is because the bride’s family have to receive the betrothal gifts first, to accept this marriage proposal.)

2. As a kind of Chinese wedding superstitions, the number of red pocket money and gifts have to be in pair or in even numbers for the meaning of in couple and in pairs.

3. When the groom’s gifts are arrived, a Chinese Wedding Master(大妗姐) – a person who hold the Chinese wedding in reconciliation – will be responsible for opening the gifts and present it to the bride’s family.

This master will give all the betrothal wishes and blessings to the bride while she is handing the gifts to the bride.

The bride’s family will receive the bride price (聘金) in red envelopes. And then return a set of gifts to the groom’s side.

4. During the betrothal process, the bride and the groom must not attend.

The bride, the groom and parents-in-laws of both sides should not see each other during the process.

So, even if the groom is responsible to bring the gifts, he should wait outside the bride’s house and let the betrothal team do the job.

5. The person who is responsible to bring the groom’s gifts to the bride’s house, is better to be “The Most Fortunate”(which means her parents and children are still existing) Female relative of the groom.

6. Only “the most fortunate” female relative, “The Wedding Master”, relatives of the groom, groomsmen and the driver can be involved in the betrothal team.

And the betrothal team must be same age as or older than the groom.

And don’t forget, the number of people in the team is better to be an even number.

7. Only after the betrothal ceremony, the bride and the groom can see and meet each other.

8. And after the betrothal ceremony, the bride’s family have to return a set of the gifts to the groom’s family. And a set of gifts to the groom for good luck.

23 Betrothal Items in Traditional Chinese Wedding

過大禮用品1. Bride Price: Or Pin Jin(聘金), which is for showing the gratitude of the bride’s parents for raising her up from the groom.

Nowadays, the bride price is normally compromised long before the betrothal day.

The groom has to put the bride price into a big red pocket and gives it to the bride’s parents with the betrothal gifts.  

2. 2 Pairs of Dragon & Phoenix Candle(龍鳳燭): For the Hair Combing Ceremony.


過大禮 嫁女餅3. 2 Pairs of Dragon & Phoenix Pastry(龍鳳餅): It is only for the ceremony of Hair Combing, not for eating.

4. Betrothal Pastry: 50KG for one set.

And it all depends on how much the bride’s family wants. Nowadays, it can be replaced by 8 pieces of pastry to simplify in most of the cases.

Or, even number of pastry vouchers can be a replacement too.

5. Bride’s Pastry: There is no limitation on the number of Bride’s Pastry, and it can also be replaced by pastry vouchers.

6. Seafood: Black Moss(Fa Cai 发菜 – To strike rich), mushrooms, abalone, clams, prawns/shrimps, sea cucumber, fish maw, shark’s fin.


Except black moss, other items can be replaced by 2 red pocket money written as “Seafood Money”「海味金」.

7. Three Livestocks: A pair of chickens, a pair of pork meat and a pair of fish. Nowadays, people would use a red pocket written “Three Livestocks Money”「三牲金」as a replacement.

8. 4 Jewellery Pieces(四飾金): 4 pieces of gold jewellery including necklace, bracelet, ring and a pair of earrings.

It is given by the groom’s mother and the bride should wear in on the day of wedding.

9. 2 pairs of coconut: The pronunciation of coconut is similar to the word “grandfather” and “son” in Chinese.


It means the blessings for a complete and long lasting family.

10. 4 pieces of Betel Nuts(檳榔): In the betrothal process, the bride’s family will keep only one piece of betel nut. The other three will be returned to the groom’s side.

It symbolises the blessing of one marriage that last forever as the pronunciation of betel nut in Chinese is similar as husband.

11. 4  Colours Sweet Ending (四色糖): Rock Sugar Dried tangerine, Red Dates & Candied Winter-Melon Strips( 冰糖 、桔餅、金茦及蜜餞冬瓜條)


12. 4 Treasure Jin Guo (四京果): Dried Longans, Dried Litchis, Dried Walnuts and Peanuts (龍眼乾、 荔枝乾、 合桃乾和連殼花生)

過大禮用品13. 4 bottles of Wine or Brandy: Which symbolise the sweetness of marriage.

14. 2 basket of fruits: Any fruits EXCEPT orange, pear and mango as their pronunciation in Chinese represent bad luck, separate and death.

15. Tea leaves and sesame seeds: Which symbolise seeds growing in the tree.

16. 2 pieces of Red banner to hang over door

17. Incense and fireworks

18. Glutinous rice and sugar: For the bride’s family to make sweet dumplings, which symbolise union.

19. Gift Box: Containing Lotus seeds, Lily bulbs, Pine tree leafs

20. Betrothal red pocket

Gifts return to to groom

After the groom’s gifts are delivered to the bride’s family, the bride’s family have to return half of the gifts (except the betrothal pastry), in addition of the following items:

1. Plants for good luck: Yams, Ginger plants, lotus tuber with roots and pine tree leafs.

2. Wedding pastry for return : Fatt Koh 發糕

3. Gifts for the groom: Cash, Gold ring, or watch, or cufflinks, or belt, or wallet, A pair of pants and a pair of leather shoes.

Nowadays, couple may simplify it by giving the groom a “Clothes Red Pocket Money”(衣料金).

Morden Chinese Wedding Traditions – Simplified Betrothal Steps Nowadays

包羅萬有利是It is quite a lot of things to be prepared in traditional betrothal process.

Nowadays, if the couples want to make it simpler, normally they would purchase the betrothal set.

And they just need to prepare the bride price, “seafood red pocket money”(海味金) and “Three Livestocks Red Pocket Money”(三牲金).

Don’t forget that all the red pocket money should be in pairs or even number which symbolise in couple.

If you want to avoid anything missed, you can also add a pair of “Everything Red Pocket Money”(包羅萬有利是).

Chinese Wedding Superstitions In Betrothal Ceremony

1. During the ceremony, the bride’s family have to place the incenses in the incense container.

Please remember that even if the incenses are not placed probably, do not pull it up and place it again. This symbolises of having a second marriage.

2. During the betrothal process, the bride and the groom must not attend.

The bride, the groom and parents-in-laws of both sides should not see each other during the process.

3. The bride must not eat any pastries from the gift as those pastries represent her good luck.

Betrothal Item List

We know it is kind of overwhelming to prepare so many thing…

…so, we have made an item list for you so that you can print it out and have a checklist for yourself!!

Click here to download the Betrothal Item List


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