In China, marriage is a matter closely tied to family and tradition. Originally, spouses could not meet until the day of their wedding, responsibility falling to the family heads for the arrangement of the wedding. Nowadays, the same customs are no longer observed, but some reminiscence of the family involvement has remained, especially for the parents, in all phases of the nuptial process.
The wedding: a representation of family wealth
It is the bride’s political family who funds the wedding and, therefore, who has the last say regarding the dresses used at the ceremony. The objective, just as in Japan, is to fully represent the economic power of the family, and that is why the models chosen are usually exuberant, especially rich in detail and elaborated with high quality fabrics.
Since 1950, the year when marriage law was published, the only legal process required to get married is the obtainment of a marriage licence from the Civil Registry. The subsequent rites and celebrations present in the vast majority of weddings have no legal validity.
According to tradition, the day of the wedding, the groom, accompanied by a group of friends, goes to the bride’s parents’ house to fetch her, symbolizing the transfer from one family to another. All this orchestrated by a great display of photographic media and strongly tied to symbolism. And thus, although nowadays the tradition to humbly kneel and greet the parents has mostly been lost, the tradition to serve them Chinese tea as a mark of respect is still upheld.
After the fact, the couple attends a second photographic report in a location usually outdoors and decorated where the bride wears a Western white dress.
The subsequent celebration is entirely secular. Normally located at a grand hotel, it combines nuptial customs that have been evolving over time with traditions imported from the West.
The dresses’ traits
This event is attended by many guests, normally around 400, a number that in some cases may rise to over 1.000 people. In this second part of the celebration, the bride may use up to three different dresses, added to the two used previously. It is at the hotel where the bride will wear the most important outfit: voluminous and with a train usually over three meters long. This may, in some cases, limit the bride’s movement.
An important moment during the celebration is the so called housting, which consists of toasting with each and every guest. For this more festive moment, the bride picks another dress that usually has a touch of color. The preferred hues are grey, beige, blush or blue. The dress will be elegant and feminine, always covering the chest and without many transparencies. The lining is, naturally, an essential element for these dresses.
1. The bride wears exuberant dresses, rich in detail and fashioned from luxurious and high quality fabrics.
2. The bride may wear up to five dresses the day of the celebration, the most eye-catching of which will be worn at the venue. For the important moment of the toast with guests, she will mainly opt for a design in grey, beige, blush or blue.
* Information shared by Elena Perrone and Anna Martínez Riba, from The Courtyard Consulting, consultant specialized in the bridal sector of the Asian market.