Marriage custom in Tiantai county | Updated: 2019-02-19

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Before Liberation (~1949), a marriage was arranged by parents' order and on the matchmaker's word. According to traditional marriage customs in Tiantai county of Taizhou, Zhejiang province, in the first step of a marriage, a boy's family and a girl's family, under the negotiation of a matchmaker, exchanged letters bearing the dates and hours of their births. If the birthdays and hours didn't conflict according to astrology, the marriage would proceed to the next stage. The bridegroom’s family would arrange for the matchmaker to present betrothal money to the bride's family, which was called a "betrothal present". Acceptance of the betrothal money was referred to as "betrothal acceptance". After determination of a wedding date, the bridegroom's family would formally send wedding gifts and wedding-date money to the bride's family, and money for preparing wedding candy and fruits when the date drew near.

Usually the bride's dowry was sent to the bridegroom's family no later than the day before the wedding day. Before sitting in a bridal sedan chair, the bride has to go through rites such as putting her hair in a bun, tidying her face and fixing hair with hairpin to declare her adulthood. Then the bride, sitting in the sedan chair, was carried to the bridegroom's family to conduct the wedding ceremony. After the ceremony, seniors presented the bride with red packets enclosing auspicious money. A teasing game in the bridal chamber began after a bridal chamber ceremony, in which the new couple ate Mishai Rice and drank Harmonious Soup. In the game, the bride distributed red eggs to guests. After the teasing game, the new couple ate "bridal chamber noodles".

Traditionally, on the third or fourth day after the wedding, the bride would cook "reunion wheat cake" for the whole family. Meanwhile, the bride's family came to see their daughter, bearing gifts. The newlyweds return to visit the bride's parents a month after the wedding.

After the Liberation, traditional marriage customs lost popularity due to their complexity. However, traditional marriage can still be seen in the countryside. In recent years, instead of selecting auspicious wedding dates, wedding ceremonies are generally held during Spring Festival, or on New Year's Day, Labor's Day, National Day or other special festival days. Today, in addition to the traditional wedding ceremony, wedding tours are attracting more and more couples.