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.