A matchmaker making a marriage proposal to girl's family

A traditional Chinese wedding process all started with the man’s family sending a matchmaker to the girl’s household for a marriage proposal.

Man's family presenting betrothal gifts to girl's family

Once the verbal agreement from the girl’s parents was obtained, the man’s family would present betrothal gifts along with a formal written marriage proposal to the girl’s family.

The man went to the girl's residence to meet his fiancee for the first time in his life.

On the wedding day, the man went to the girl’s residence to meet his fiancee for the first time in his life.


Lawrence Kedz
I’m having a hard time understanding how intelligent people can get married like this?

All Things Chinese
In old China, marriage was not the union of love but the merge of two business entities. ~_^ .

However, on the other hand, for most humans, love is one of the least reliable emotional states, and if a marriage is solely based on love, it could be short-lived.

The girl got dressed up for the wedding

By then the girl got dressed up in her bedroom ready for the wedding.

The farewelled to her parents

Before leaving, she farewelled to her parents by presenting three kowtows, thanking them to bringing her up. Often the mother and the daughter would cuddle each crying.

The girl had her head covered with a red silk cloth

The girl had her head covered with a red silk cloth and step out of her parents’ home to ascend a sedan sent forth by her fiance’s family.

The man led his bride into his residence.

The man led his bride into his residence.

The groom and the bride bowed to each other

The groom and the bride bowed to Heaven and Earth, bowed to the man’s parents and bowed to each other.

The groom removed the bride's head cover to discover what his wife looked like.

The groom removed the bride’s head cover to discover what his wife looked like.


Aquil A Rahman

Being of the Western mindset …It’s incomprehensible to marry someone you never met and then lift the veil to meet her face to face for the first time.

What if you had met her somewhere years earlier, just never knowing that she was your future wife?

I guess it requires a lot of commitment to the specific culture and mindset.

Obviously it requires loyalty to deeper values and training in the same values

All Things Chinese

In old Chinese culture, marriage was not about the relationship between a man and a woman but a business between two families, therefore how two juniors, who personally handled the formation of So and So Partners Pty Ltd, felt their team member was less relevant.

However, since the junior staff members lacked experience in HR and often judged a person at face value (literally here), it would be wise to conceal the face of the new worker until the process of the merge was complete, otherwise what if one or both juniors rejected to accept to work with the new staff member and walked out on the ceremony?

Once the couple were safely locked in the wedding chamber after the ceremony and met each other face to face for the first time, it was all too late even if they disliked one another, as the formation of the Pty Ltd had already been signed for through three kowtows to Heaven, to parents and to each other and witnessed by all wedding guests.

All they could do was to make the situation workable and tried to find the positive aspects in each other. After all, business is business. You do not go to work to make a friend but to make a living. Thus as you can see, such arranged marriage is quite inhuman and should not be revived and inherited as part of the traditional Chinese culture.

Now they were formally husband and wife.

Now they were formally husband and wife.

The newlyweds were led to their wedding chamber.

The newlyweds were led to their wedding chamber.


Lawrence Kedz

Didn’t the husband know where the wedding chamber was?

>All Things Chinese

Good question :DDDDD. He must be too drunk to remember anything …..

But the same question can be asked about a classic Western wedding: Does the bride know in which church her wedding is held and who will be her husband? Why does she need her father to lead her way? ;D

Next day, the couple went to pay morning respect to the man's parents

The next day, the couple went to pay morning respect to the man’s parents, by then the old couple met their daughter-in-law for the first time.

By this time the wedding process was complete. The bride would have a three-day wedding holiday in her new home. After this short break, she was expected to share housework with other female members of the family, and her first project usually was to make soup, and her seniors would then assess her cooking skills.


Aquil A Rahman

Assess cooking skills???
In the west, that would be horrendous.
Women here have been trained to order food from restaurants.
Many don’t even know how to boil water.

All Things Chinese

I think many Chinese women today are the same, only knowing how to order meals online. The custom shown in the pictures was from the classic Chinese era.


Lawrence Kedz

Am I correct in assuming this will not be a marriage between peasants? Not that I’m privy to anything on these matters, but I just get a feeling about this one?

All Things Chinese

Actually this would be a typical wedding between two peasant families. On that day, the man would be dressed like a prized scholar (zhuangyuan) even if he was illiterate, and the bride dressed like a queen.

In traditional China, there were only two big occasions in the life of a man (or a woman): a wedding (a red occasion when everything is draped in red) and a funeral (a white occasion when everything is colourless).

Ok, there is a third occasion when a son, the heir to the family lineage, was born, but it paled greatly when compared to the above two.

Aquil A Rahman

I have known several Chinese mothers (fortunately), and they are very committed to their husbands. I don’t know if any had traditional marriages, but they are very close to their husbands. As an outsider, I wouldn’t say that the husbands are dominant. There might be an arrangement, but I have seen moments where the women are running things.

I think in the west, marriage has been projected as some kind of contest between the two, instead of a union. As a result, it disrupts the dynamics of a good relationship.

Above the waist, man is physically stronger.
Below the waist, the woman is all powerful.
Two wise People must be wise enough to know how the merger can function.

All Things Chinese
Arranged marriage, along with poly marriage for men, has become illegal in Mainland China since 1949 when PRC was established, so unless they are in their advanced 80s or even 90s, there is little chance they would have an arranged marriage. 🙂

Lawrence Kedz

An excellent example in the dangers of indoctrination can be shown by having a woman’s feet bound. Sold to the woman as a sign of beauty and being at the height of fashion? In truth it was a bone breaking and torturous way to keep women from running away too quickly!
If you can, please let me know if my information is simply misguided or flagrantly in error?

All Things Chinese

Your information is by and largely accurate, except the purpose for binding feet was not to prevent women from running away but to make them look sexy when walking – they would sway like a pliable willow branch in a spring breeze. If you ever watched Chinese opera, you would notice how actresses walked on the stage: they basically mimic how Chinese women used to walk, of course, in a more theatrical manner.

Binding feet was not initiated by Chinese men but by Chinese women themselves (a royal consort and a professional dancer invented the fashion – just like French dancers invented the way to dance on toes – then her fashion was followed by millions of Chinese women), and enforced by the old women as well (mother-in-laws who insisted to find a daughter-in-law with feet bound as a sign of willingness to abide the order; and mothers who wished their daughters to be seen as the one with self-discipline).

It’s very much like female genital mutilation in some part of Africa – it’s usually not the men but the older ladies who insisted the young girls must do what they did before.

Aquil A Rahman

Spiritually, I can agree that a man not be attracted to the woman physically. Marriage takes on much more meaning than physical attraction.

Spiritual should come first. If she’s physically attractive, it’s a plus.
But being in the West, I already know I couldn’t take the chance ……There are just so many infidels to make that kind of commitment.

All Things Chinese

I think a marriage culture like this is one of the negative aspects of classic Chinese culture in the recent 2,000 years.

Before that, China was a loosely connected empire where each state and each individual placed their own rights ahead of the whole, particularly during the 600 years of the Shang Dynasty ruled by a group of financial tycoons.

Despite the following Zhou worked hard to hold the assorted states together, it however still ended up with centuries of wars when the empire disintegrated into a string of small kingdoms.

Confucius, although lived before China descended into a chaotic Warring States period, pinpointed the problem and tried to steer China towards the direction of centralization.

After the Han dynasty replaced Qin as a centralised empire with a unified written language, currency, measurement and road system, it installed Confuciusm as the state ideology and placed group interests ahead that of individuals.

But as you know, humans have difficulties holding the right balance between yin and yang, because we are emotional beings, and we are swayed by tidal waves in the emotional sea.

In the next 2,000 years, the emphasis on group interest went too far to the point that totally overpowered individual rights at all levels, including in marriage.

Feelings of attraction between a man and a woman were disregarded ruthlessly, and marriage was viewed as an amalgamation process between two family-run corporations, which was weighed based on capitalizations in family population growth, economic expansion and cultural development.

As for physical attraction between two individuals, it was often ignored, since such a subjective matter was considered as having very little effect on the two families’ overall strategic plan for the future.

Such a horrible marriage system became a hotbed for numerous tragic love stories.

It was only in the second half of the 20th century, a fundamental change took place in mainland China under the leadership of Chairman Mao, the greatest promoter of women’s liberation in Chinese history, when arranged marriages becomes unlawful and women are given equal rights in education and work.

Although in the 21st century, women’s rights have been compromised in some areas, thanks to the dominance of private business in China, and also due to some Chinese women’s own willingness to return to the old way of living in which they rely on men to support them financially, Chinese women in the mainland still enjoy more equal rights than most women in the world, including their counterparts in the US, UK and Australia, especially at the domestic level, given Chinese husbands doing more housework than husbands in any other country on the planet.

You are welcome to share your thoughts here