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Chinese engagements are not a binding commitment to marriage, but an indication that the couple intends to marry.Engaged couples may sometimes live together as man and wife (if their parents consent), but formal marriage is always preferred because of its (relative) permanency.Marriage customs and preparation In a culture where the perpetuation of family ancestral lineage and the family as a social institution are central, marriage is an important institution and has many intricate customs associated with it.In the Chinese family system the wife lives with the husband’s family and is deemed as no longer part of her own family, but the 'property' of the husband’s family.
In this section you will find brief descriptions of a selection of traditional customs in certain areas of life.
The family of the bride will use the opportunity to investigate the status and wealth of the groom’s family and ensure that their daughter is not likely to be maltreated: as noted before, after marriage the bride will become part of the groom’s family.
Negotiation period If both families are satisfied with each other, the groom’s parents will send their representative- always female and chosen from among his aunts or elderly relatives- to ask for the bride’s hand in marriage. The representative will discuss a suitable date, the amount of the dowry and the number of tables allocated to the bride’s family at the wedding banquet.
The process begins when the parents are informed of their son/daughter’s intentions and, if they are in agreement, a meeting between the two families is arranged.
Information gathering In Chinese culture, a marriage is not simply a love match between two people, but an establishing of a relationship between two families as well.
This is of great importance as the reputation of the groom’s family is at stake.