weddings, urban


weddings, urban
A modern wedding celebration in urban China is a hybrid of traditions and new practices. A lucky day has to be chosen for the occasion. Next is to get the bridal chamber and the wedding ready. When the time comes, the groom’s envoys pick up the bride in a car procession, a practice institutionalized in the 1980s and a job mostly taken over by commercial fleets today. Upon her arrival, the groom will escort the bride home amid a salvo of festive firecrackers. At the ceremony, traditionally known as bai Tiandi, they must bow to Heaven and Earth, their parents and each other. Even though their marriage has already been legalized by government certificates, only the ceremony will make it official.
Then comes the feast, followed by a spree in which close friends participate. Most celebrations now occur in restaurants. Usually, the groom and his parents foot the bill for the wedding, furnishings and the couple’s daily necessities, if not luxuries. The amount of the bride’s dowry is decided by the bride’s family. The cost of weddings has risen constantly—around 10,000 yuan in the 1980s and triple that today. Local governments used to intervene by encouraging mass marriage ceremonies to help cut the cost. From the 1990s, most brides in China’s cities prefer wearing Western-style wedding gowns, though traditionally the Chinese consider white a colour of mourning. Now an expensive album of glamour shots in both Western and traditional Chinese wedding dresses has become an essential part of the urban wedding celebrations.
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.