Y. Wu – Week 3 – Description of a Ritual

I have been a best man in a Chinese wedding before, and it was really an eye opener for me. There are so many traditions involve that have no meaning to the younger society anymore, so there will be some mistake when I try to explain the ritual, but I will try my best to share this experience, and explain the ritual to you.

So I was the best man at that wedding, but it feels more like an assistant, also I’m from bride’s family. At morning, bridegroom came to the bride’s parent house riding a horse, (by the way, her parent’s house is in a community with lots apartment buildings. Try to picture that) and pick up the bride. Followed by a band of traditional Chinese traditional orchestra and a trail of firecracker, and all of them walking on a red carpet all the way from building’s door to the gate of that community. Because two people getting together is a celebration, so people in the neighborhood are gathered along the red carpet to witness this. There were some people hired by my relatives, passing out some candies to them. And then, we have a motorcade pick all the relative there, to the hotel, where the wedding took place. Every guest that been there gives a red envelope with money in it to bride and groom. And the wedding begins, the process of the wedding is really similar to the western wedding so I’m just going to skip that. After that, the feast begins, bride and groom went to every table, and toast to the guests. Then I was drunk after that, and have no memory left, but I think that’s most of that day.


At the night before the wedding, bride must sleep at her parent’s house, and bridegroom should sleep at the “new houses” that they will be live in after they married. At the morning, bridegroom need to go and pick up the bride, and go to the place the wedding actually took place. This symbolizes the bride married out of her previous family, from now on, she is married into groom’s family. I think this is Rites of passage: Closure. The part involve orchestra and firecracker, I got no explanations, I think Chinese people just enjoy noise, and want people to know this wedding is happening, it is a way of showing this wedding is happening publicly, not under any disgrace, and the horse and red carpet is just too much. But I think this can categorize as Rites of reversal, that at this day some rules are being broke and people are having fun watching. By passing out the candy to all the participants, no matter they are just passengers, relatives, or friends, parents are hoping they also bless this wedding and feel happy. I think this also is Rites of intensification: Activating Status relationships, because by telling people they are getting married, and passing candy hoping in return of blessing is a way to establish this marriage. Bride and groom toast to each table is Rites of passage: Promotion of familiarity by introduce each other to their families. For me as the best man, to be honest, there is no so call best man in Chinese traditional wedding, so my duty is really awkward and weird. I’m doing waiter’s work all day, things like pass the cigarette to guests, help bride and groom fill their wineglasses, standing outside the hall, and greeting all the guests, things like that, I have no idea why I’m doing this and probably why I got drunk later on.

5 thoughts on “Y. Wu – Week 3 – Description of a Ritual

  1. Do you think that a Maid of Honor’s experience would be similar? I can see why the wedding might have been awkward because if you’ve never experienced the role of a best man, it could be quite uncomfortable. I think its important to note the significance of being titled a “best man” and why that is such a vital role in traditional weddings. It really is a ritual when one thinks about it, with many characters involved in making the event possible. I find it very interesting that there were fireworks/firecrackers at the wedding (I’ve never seen that before, only sparklers). I like that you addressed what happens prior to the ceremony taking place (the bride not sleeping with her future husband the night before). Simple details like that enhance the significance of a wedding and just how transitional it is in one’s life. I envision a wedding as a right of passage, passage into adult married life. I enjoyed reading your description.

    • Yeah, she was standing right next of me the whole time. I think bride and groom’s parent misunderstand the part about the maid of honor and best man, and the reason why I feel awkward is that people actually think we are waiter and waitress from the hotel. (sorry didn’t bring that up in the post.)

  2. Hello Y.,

    I enjoyed hearing about the ritual of a Chinese wedding, especially since I have never experienced or seen one. It’s nice to know that in both American and Chinese wedding people get drunk! The symbolism of the bride leaving her family to join another is both sad and happy. I also like that the fireworks and instruments are to show pride and lack of shame in the wedding. It was interesting to note that you had to act similar to a waiter. Did you have to make a speech, like in American weddings? The wedding definitely seems like a rite of passage in both Chinese and American culture. The detail about the red envelopes were interesting. Are gifts also customary at Chinese weddings? Also I am curios as to what everyone was wearing? Was the bride in a western wedding dress, or a traditional Chinese one? Thanks for this very interesting ritual. I do not know if I will ever get the opportunity to see a Chinese wedding, especially one in China! Thanks for the post.

    • For your questions, first, no, I don’t get the chance give a speech.. Second, yes, the gift is customary, and also it feels like every participant give a little help for the wedding (cuz wedding is pricy you know..). Third, I’m sorry I miss this part out of the post, people were wearing things that casually but also respectfully, something like Polo shirt and stuff. The bride and groom are wearing traditional Chinese ones, because it is a traditional Chinese theme, normally people wear in western style now. I hope this help 🙂

  3. It is interesting to read your post. Like you, I am a Chinese and I went to a lot of weddings before. Therefore, I have many experiences and knowledge about Chinese weeding. Like you said, bride’s family will give participants candies. Because candies taste sweet, therefore, by eating candies, participants could taste the sweet of the candy. Sweet of the candy can bring participants happiness and make them enjoy the weeding. Also, as you said, Chinese people love noise. They want every people know there is a weeding taking place. In addition, they want all people can feel the joy of the weeding. Guests give red envelope to bride and groom is also a way to show their relationship. Many friend would give 666 CNY or 688 CNY because these number are good. Some close friends, important guests and rich people would give 888 CNY, 1088 CNY or even more.

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