Betrothal Gift Ceremony 过大礼 (Guo Da Li) for Teochew and Hokkien

In the past, Chinese, being a superstitious lot, believed the date and time you were born determine your character and future. Therefore it is very important for prospective couples’ eighth character 八字 to match before a wedding can take place. The Teochews are careful about avoiding a bad match.

During the search for a bride, the matchmakers introduce the eligible brides to the groom’s family with a profile card that contains details of the bride’s family background and eighth characters. The Teochew groom’s family would keep the profile card of the prospective bride for three days to see if anything bad happens. If none, both families would go consult a fortune teller to confirm if both parties are a good match. Of course nowadays such customs are rarely observed.

For Hokkiens and Teochews, the Betrothal Gift Ceremony proceeds the same way like other Chinese dialect group. Both families would meet up to select an auspicious wedding date, discuss about the wedding and to exchange gifts. The main distinction of the different dialect group is at the gift items. After the ceremony, the couple is considered to be betrothed to each other.

IMG_9746 Gifts for the Groom to bring over
• *Teochew Only * Straw Basket ( To carry the gifts over)
• *Hokkien Only* Black and Red Basket ( To carry the gifts over)
• 1 Ang Bao with betrothal gift money 聘金 (Typically an amount with 8)
• 2 pair of Double Happiness candles (2 dragon 2 phoenix, full wax)
• 6 Pig trotters minimum (Available in cans. Gift for Mother-In-law)
• Hard liquor or red/white wine (Gift for Father-in-Law)
• Traditional wedding cakes (For bride’s family to distribute to relatives)
• 8-12 Oranges ( Symbolize good luck)
• 12-16 Apples ( Symbolize peace)
• *Teochew Only* Peanut Candy ( To have off springs soon)
• *Teochew Only* Sesame candy ( To have many off springs)
• *Hokkien Only* Rice candy ( For prosperity)
• *Teochew Only* Lao Ma Gor 老嫲糕 (A type of wedding pastry. Skip if the bride’s grandma is not around)
• *Teochew Only* Banana 连招贵子 ( Homophone for ‘bring’ To bring in children )
• A pair of Coconut 有爷有子 (Homophone for Grandfather and Child. To have a family with multi-generation)
• Charcoal ( To symbolize the bride will have a good life after marriage)
• Black Moss, Fa Cai 发菜 ( To strike rich)
• Jewelry (For the bride)
• 1 Gift Box 礼金盒 containing
– Jewelry ( For the Bride)
– *Teochew Only* 4 pieces of gold jewelry 四点金 (Ring, earrings, necklace and bangle. Will be given by groom’s parents during tea ceremony but need to be presented during Betrothal Gift Ceremony)
– Dried Longan (Bless with a dragon boy)
– Red date 鸿运当头 (To have good fortune)
– Lily bulbs 百年好合 (A harmonious union) IMG_9731
– Walnut/ Peanut 和和气气 ( To have harmony)
– Lotus seeds 连连生子 (To have many children)
– Dried tangerine 大吉大利 (To have great luck)
– Pine tree leaf 长寿 (If bride’s family has grandparents. Symbolized longevity and health, health and vitality for couple),
– Dried melon slice 甜甜蜜蜜 ( Sweet life together)
– Different grains like red beans, green beans, wheat, soy beans, barley and rice. (To bless the couple to have bountiful harvests)
• Double Happiness Stickers
• Red banner to hang over door
• 2 cans of tea leaves and 2 packets of white sesame seeds (To symbolize seeds growing into trees)

Gifts for the Bride’s family to return
• Gold Ring, or watch, or cufflinks, or belt, or wallet with an Ang Bao inserted (For the groom)
• 2 bottles of orange juice or syrup (For good luck)
• Portion of the gift received from groom (Usually half will be returned)
• Huat kueh 发糕 (Symbolize prosperity)
Dowry from Bride’s family ( Groom to bring the items back to the bridal chamber)
• Furniture such as bed, mattress or dressing table
• 1 Sewing machine/Sewing kit (To be bound together) IMG_9806
• 1 Ruler 得寸进尺 (To have many children and grandchildren)
• *Hokkien Only* Sugar Cane 同甘共苦 ( To go through thick and thin together)
• Essentials 子孙三宝 ( To symbolize fertility)
– Bath Basin
– Wash basin
– Spittoon
– Mug
– Towel
– Toothpaste
– Toothbrush
• Linen (Pillow covers and bed sheet)
• Tea set (For tea ceremony at groom’s side)
• Bowl set
• 2 pair of Chopstick 早生贵子 (To have off springs soon)
• 1 pair of Bedside Lamp 添丁发财 (To symbolize fertility and wealth)
• 1 Red umbrella (To be left in bride’s home for use on wedding day)
• Fate coins 大缘小缘 (For setting up matrimonial bed 安床. Place some at 4 corners of the bed, of the room and in cupboards and drawers)
• Jewelry (optional)

Above information courtesy of House of Etiquette

Other Wedding Traditions for Teochew & Hokkien
Setting up Matrimonial Bed 安床 (An Chuang)
Hair Combing Ritual 上头 (Shang Tou)
Fetching the Bride 接新娘 (Jie Xin Niang)
Leaving the Bride’s House 出阁 (Chu Ge)
Entering the groom’s house 过门 (Guo Men)
Returning to bride’s home 三朝回门 (San Chao Hui Men)