There are only 40 days left before entering the Pig Year
on 18 February, and China is reportedly experiencing a
big surge in wedding-related business.
While under the western influence the white wedding becomes
quite popular in the urban areas, in China’s vast countryside,
traditional wedding in jubilant red still holds its sway,
along with many time-honoured customs.
When peasant worker Zhu returned to his home village in
Anhui Province in the central China to get married, he
found himself ill prepared for what he was going to face.
Instead of hiring a fleet of Mercedes-Benz to
take the bride and her family to the restaurant as he observed
when he attended his friends’ weddings in Nanjing,
he was offered a family cow wearing a red silk flower.
When he arrived at the bride’s home with the cow, he was
greeted by no one, and had been forced to wait in the freezing
cold weather outside the front door for three hours until
her family was fully satisfied with his sincerity and patience.
But what fascinated him most was the way the wedding hall
was decorated. The gifts of money were not placed in red
paper bags but stuck on the wall to help generating an
A money wallpaper wedding in Anhui
On the northern wall of the hall there was the central
deco theme, a Chinese character for "double happiness" (喜喜)
that is formed by 30 hundred-yuan notes from his father’s
brothers, considered the closest family members. In the
old less affluent days, the character would be made of
The fifty-yuan notes given by his mother’s brothers and
twenty-yuan notes from his best friends were displayed
on the sidewalls, all in the form of the double happiness
The traditional wedding reception taken place at groom’s
home is usually running like a soap opera, which includes
a warm up banquet (暖房酒) on the first day, a formal banquet
(正喜酒) on the second day, and then on the third day a homecoming
banquet (回门酒) by the visiting bride’s family. Accordingly,
the money deco must be kept for three days before taken
off from the walls. During this period, family members
would take turns playing mahjong in the hall throughout
the nights to guard their valuable wallpapers.
As the villagers have tried their best to preserve their
custom, some people in the modernised metropolitans would
even go further back in time to revive authentic Chinese
A few days ago in a county town in Chongqing, a wedding
presentation in a pre-Manchurian style attracted thousands
of onlookers. In the soothing melody by the ancient bamboo
instrument guzhen (古筝), the newlyweds draped in
Chinese clothes, han dress (汉服), were led by the wedding
conductor to perform three deep bows to the heaven and
earth (一拜天地), to the parents (二拜父母) and to each other (夫妻对拜).
Then the bride cut a few strands of hair from the groom’s
head and tied them to her own hair to symbolise their sacred
marriage bond (结发夫妻). Finally they locked each other’s
arms to drink wine from a pair of cups linked by a red
Another couple in Hangzhou, nevertheless, preferred neither
white nor red but a black wedding, a style that could be
traced back to the very root of the Chinese culture in
the classic Zhou Dynasty, a golden era keenly recommended
A Black-dressed Wedding in Hangzhou
While some Chinese find pride in the formality and substantiality
of the tradition, others secure convenience in the virtual
world created by the latest technologies. An IT couple
in Changchun spent less than two hours to get 200 wedding
invitations sent by email, which otherwise would take days,
if not weeks, to accomplish.
The exploitation of the modern high tech does not stop
at the invitation stage. In Jinan the actual wedding reception
at a restaurant was broadcastered online in real time and
the special occasion was attended electronically by the
relatives and friends all over the world.
As China gradually becomes a giant meeting place of the
past and the future, the East and the West, you never know
how many other coloured weddings may appear.
(References: Initial reports by 袁帅, 聂飞,
解璐, 李忠 and other journalists can be found on 新华网, 现代快报
and other Chinese media)