Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Installing the bridal bed is another important part of the Chinese wedding traditionals. The bridal bed has great significance in the Chinese Culture, as it is where the next generation of the family is made !!!. Hence, it needs to be properly done to ensure that the couple will be blessed with happiness in their marriage and fertility in producing many offspring.

It is traditionally done one to two weeks before the wedding day, as once the bed is installed, there are several taboos and customs associated with the couple lying on the bed before they are married ! Traditionally, the bridal bed is the one in the groom's house as most brides lived with the husband's family after marriage. Today, most couples have their own new home to move into after marriage and in the midst of setting up their home; can opt to do it earlier as long as they are not planning to sleep on the bed prior to the wedding.

Installing the bridal bed is often done according to the auspicious dates that suit the couples' zodiac signs.

Traditionally, the wedding bed was physically installed by the groom's parents as each bed was probably made new for the wedding. Today, the new bed that couples buy often comes readily installed from the stores. Symbolically, the groom's father will pushed slightly to the proper position and the mattress moved to represent the installing of the bed.

New and clean bed sheets will then be placed on by the couple. As red symbolizes happiness and auspiciousness, Chinese wedding bed sheets are usually red. Some traditional sheets come embroider with the Double Happiness or "Hei" symbol or the Dragon and Phoenix symbol to represent the yin and yang of the bridal couple. Couples today may choose to do away with the garish all red sheets. However, try to maintain some red on your bridal bed and do away with black, blue and green colors.

Then they will have to placed the following items on the bed to symbolize the happy marriage ahead. A traditional basket or tray is often used to place the items in.

> even number of tangerines or orange to symbolize gold and fortune in the marriage
> a charcoal to symbolize black gold and fortune for the couple (wrapped in auspicious red paper and decorated with the double happiness symbol.
> red dates, dried longan to bless the marriage with sweetness
> dried pak hup to a harmonious marriage for the coming hundred years
> dried lotus seed and pomegranate leaves to signify fertility and abundance of offspring.
(Pomegranate leaves are also believed to ward off evil that might destroy the marriage)
> green and red beans to represent fertlity and to ensure the roots of the family grow.
> 5 fortune coins are placed under the mattress -- (4 corner and 1 center) to ensure couple blessed with fortune.
> red packet filled with coins (destiny charm) are placed in the drawers of the dressing table and wardrobe to ensure the couple's life is always blessed with good fortune.

(depending on the dialect group of the couple, ie Hokkien, baby yams are sometimes used to represent fertility and to ensure the roots of the family grow as far-reaching as the roots of the yam !)

In line with modern times, these auspicious items can be substituted with red packets if they are unavailable. If using red packets, put a token sum in the packet and make a note on the packet what it is supposed to represent.

*** no adult is to sit or sleep on the wedding bed after it has been installed to avoid bringing bad luck to the bridal couple. (traditionally, only male children were allowed to sit or play on the bed to ensure the couple is blessed with male heirs)
*** for the Hokkiens -- the groom has to sleep with a young boy before the wedding
*** it is considered very bad luck to sleep on the installed bed alone and leave one side of the bed empty before the wedding as it means to curse death on either half of the new couple.
*** avoid sleeping under the same roof the night before the wedding

Many couples today opt to ignore these customs out of inconvenience or disbelief. The symbolism and meaning behind these items and actions are a beautiful gesture to ensure the couple have a wonderful marriage together in their new lives ahead.

If you can, try to have it. Its adds a lovely cultural touch to your wedding and abundance of blessing for your marriage ahead.


Chinese wedding traditions are not to be taken lightly, even in today's Westernized world. In Chinese wedding, the bride's family has the right to request for certain items which the groom's family has to comply to allow them to marry and "take away" the daughter from her family.

The bride's parents often request the wedding dowry or Ping Kam as part of the proposal or negotiation session between the two families.

The tradition of presenting the Ping Kam to the bride's family dates back to ancient China where the bride price was given as a token to the bride's family for taking her away from her family, as a sign of respect to the bride's parents for having raised her and to tell them that their daughter is worthy and to form a bond of goodwill between the two families.

In olden China where families were often poor, this bride price also served as financial aid to the bride's family to help them purchase essential items required for the wedding celebrations.

In today's more affluent society, "face" and reputation is often the reason behind the presentation of the token. The lack of a bride price or Ping Kam in the wedding proposal is often misinterpreted by society that the bride has no value and is not worthy of anything, which reflects badly on her family.

The amount is sometimes discussed during the negotiation sessions between the two families with the matchmaker or go-between. Otherwise, the bride's family may leave it to the groom's family to set a suitable token sum based on the "standard" rate in society, which may range from anything between a few thousand dollars to over tens of thousands.

The Ping Kam also often includes a certain number of tables at the wedding banquet for the bride's family. Setting aside tables for the bride's family essentially means that any ang pows or cash gifts from these tables belong the the bride and her family instead of the groom.

Ping Kam is often given on an auspicious day, (3 weeks or a month before the wedding day,) together with the bethothal Gift (guo ta lai items). Traditionally, it's cash, today, a cheque will do.

The family will return a portion of the bride price to the groom to show that the bride's family is not greedy in accepting all the money. Nowadays, the bride's parents often present the newlyweds with the money to help them start their new life together.

The presenting of the bride price is an aged-old Chinese Tradition that is rich in culture. Sometimes, it may be sensitive if not approached correctly so please do ensure proper discussions are held so neither party misunderstands the tradition behind it.

Groom - please remember to give an ang pow to the bride's mother for bringing her up and to her grandparents (both side).