Traditional Han weddings back in style

( China Daily ) Updated: 2017-08-12 09:04:56

Traditional Han weddings back in style

Han Wei Yang, an organization that promotes Han culture by organizing Han weddings, has seen a rising trend of holding traditional weddings in recent years. [Photo provided to China Daily]

One of the most common dilemmas soon-to-be married couples in China face these days is whether to hold a Western or Chinese wedding ceremony.

The issue is so prevalent that most wedding companies have started to offer packages catering to either options.

At the Shanghai Wedding Expo that took place from June 17 to 18, a couple could be heard squabbling about this issue with a wedding planner by their side. Song Lichuan, the groom-to-be, wanted his upcoming wedding in November to be a Western-style one.

His fiancee Wang Ningning, however, was more excited about the prospect of wearing a traditional red and gold Chinese wedding dress which she said seems "more joyous" than a white wedding gown. She added that a traditional Chinese theme would also help differentiate her wedding from those her friends had.

Song and Wang are currently trying to reach a compromise. They might hold their wedding on a cruise liner instead.

"It will be very strange if all the guests turn up wearing modern clothes at a traditional wedding," said Song.

According to Zhang Wenhao, an increasing number of couples today are choosing to have traditional Han weddings. Zhang is the deputy director of Han Wei Yang, an organization that promotes Han culture by organizing Han weddings that feature traditional clothing and activities.

He said that the organization used to help plan about 10 traditional weddings per year since 2006. Starting from 2013, however, Han Wei Yang has helped up to 30 traditional weddings annually, a clear indication of the rising trend.

The most recent wedding that Han Wei Yang held was for a Shanghainese couple who studied abroad in the United States. They returned to Shanghai just to hold the traditional wedding ceremony.

The couple explained that they chose the traditional Chinese ceremony because they preferred the solemnness involved. They noted that Western weddings in China are nothing like those in the US where there is still a strong sense of tradition and ceremony.

A traditional Chinese wedding in China differs greatly from a Western one in terms of budget, clothes, magnitude and customary protocols.

With regard to wedding customs, couples need to perform certain tasks, such as drink wine from a special container made of a bitter hyacinth. This symbolizes that the husband and wife will share in each other's joys and sorrows in future. Another task involves cutting a strand of hair from the bride and bridegroom and tying it into a knot to symbolize a lasting marriage.

Zhao Qianqian, a wedding planner from Marry Me Wedding Planning Company, said that traditional Han weddings are generally more expensive.

"We usually don't recommend Han weddings to couples who have a tight budget," said Zhao.

The Han wedding package by the company starts around 30,000 yuan ($4,391) and includes wedding decorations, costumes, a professional team to coordinate the event and a wedding emcee. In contrast, modern wedding packages range from 10,888 yuan to 25,888 yuan.

Zhao said a big budget is required for Han weddings because of the many specific requirements that need to be fulfilled. Traditional Han weddings often require elaborate decoration and settings such as palace lanterns, Chinese-style pavilion and chimes. There is also a need for a specialized emcee who has been trained for several years in the art of hosting such occasions.

According to customs, there needs to be at least six bridesmaids and six groomsmen. The wedding couple would usually pay for their costumes too. In addition, the parents from the two families will also need to be dressed in special attire.

He Qi contributed to this story.

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