Derek Pan

Bride-fetching at a Chinese wedding

On the first Sunday of 2012 I attended a wedding ceremony of Tracy, one of my good friends in China. Different from previous weddings I had ever participated in, it was my first time to be present as a 'bridesmaid'.

There are so many details going into a typical traditional Chinese wedding that modern Chinese prefer to keep it as simple as possible. However one highlight would never be dismissed, that is the bride fetching by the groom. To claim the bride, the groom must go through many challenges with the help of his ‘brothers’, the purpose is to test how patient the groom is and how deeply he loves the bride. As the Chinese saying goes, the groom has to ‘fight his way through five passes and kill six enemy generals’.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bloody story but just a metaphor to show it is not an easy job. It is usually conducted at the bride’s house, and the youngest male in her family will keep the door closed until the groom gives a red envelope of money. But these rules are not as rigid as you might imagine. This time it was held in a hotel suite.

I and another male friend of the bride assumed the role of gatekeepers to who the groom must pay ‘bribes’. After we opened the entrance for the groom, he faced more well-prepared female bridesmaids. Instead of fighting alone, the groom had the full support from the troop of ‘brothers’ which consisted of his younger brother and some high-school friends. Actually all these games were completed by the brother troop, such as sucking up a bottle of milk without hand-holding, or doing push-up while eating a cake with a usable filling. Each test they accomplished advanced the groom one step closer to the bride.

Meanwhile the bride was waiting in the locked bedroom with the company of the maid of honor. When the groomsmen had swept all the obstacles aside the groom was asked to walk up to the door of the bedroom and sing a love song to the bride inside. What’s more, the maid of honor required the groom to submit all his ID-card, bank cards and even the wallet through the slot of the door, which was regarded as a symbol of commitment. When all the requirements were fulfilled, the groom was finally allowed to enter the room, lift the bridal veil, wear a ring for her and deliver a deep, deep kiss to his dream girl. The cheer and hurray spontaneously arose from the crowd around them.

Some other events followed, such as the wedding banquet, but in my view the bride-fetching was the most joyful moment of that day. Anyway it was my honor to witness my friend’s marriage. Let us ‘proost’ and wish them a lifelong happiness.

Vid of the week: A live scene at the wedding banquet

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