A mainstay in Chinese wedding traditions, Guo Da Li is an exchange of gifts where the groom delivers betrothal gifts to the bride’s family as a sign of sincerity and respect.
Get to know more about this fascinating ritual.
Guo Da Li, also known as the sending of formal gifts, is a tradition and custom that is widely practiced by the Chinese in Singapore. It is a process where the groom sends formal gifts as requested by the Bride’s family to the Bride’s home.
Symbolising the sincerity of the groom, it assures the Bride’s family that she will be well taken care of well after marriage. The financial dependability of the Groom is thus displayed through the amount of gifts that he sends on the day through this custom. It is also usually carried out one to three weeks before the wedding day, where a matchmaker, senior member of the family, or a good friend accompanies the groom.
Upon receiving the betrothal gifts from the groom, the bride’s family reciprocates the generous gesture by returning a portion of the gifts. This action suggests that the groom’s family is overly generous, that the bride’s family is not greedy, and most importantly, that the two families will share the good fortune.
Bridal cakes received from the groom’s family are usually distributed by the bride’s family to friends and relatives as a form of announcement and invitation to the upcoming wedding banquet.
On the actual day, both sides are required to light up the dragon and phoenix candles as a show of respect to ancestors, just before the groom sets out to fetch the bride. A dragon or phoenix tray filled with 12 oranges and red packets will be brought over as well for the auspicious event. This is because fetching the bride requires different red packets for different individuals, such as an ‘open-door’ red packet for the boy in charge of opening the car door (usually the bride’s younger brother) upon the groom’s arrival.
After successfully fetching the bride, the newly-weds will show appreciation to the elder relatives of both sides by offering tea to them. This is reciprocated by a good luck token in terms of red-packets or jewellery. The couple may also be served sweet soup with lotus seeds, red dates and dried longan as symbols of a sweet and harmonious marriage.
After the tea ceremony, celebrations with close friends and relatives follow with a wedding banquet. These are normally held at a hotel or restaurant until late, where the groom and bride will entertain their guest and express their gratitude to their parents and relatives.
Oriental baskets were widely used in the past to hold food and pastries for joyous occasions, such as weddings, birthdays and Chinese New Year. These are still commonly used today to represent happiness, abundance and prosperity.
These represent the Chinese version of unity candles. In most practices, the groom buys and brings over a pair of dragon and phoenix candles each to the bride’s house. The bride should accept the pair of dragon candles, representing the ‘man of the house’, to signify she agrees to ‘take’ her husband-to-be, and return the phoenix candles (‘lady of the house’) to him.
An amount of money to be offered by the groom to the parents of the Bride upon the consent of the marriage, otherwise known as a ‘bride price’. There is no amount that is deemed inappropriate for this, but most will favour amounts with the number eight as it is considered a lucky number.
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