Chinese Wedding Traditions: Checklist for Betrothal Ceremony

The Guo Da Li (過大禮)or the traditional betrothal ceremony is an important Chinese wedding custom that happens between fifteen to twenty days, or up to two months before the wedding. During this ceremony, the groom’s family presents the Pin Jin (聘金/ 禮金) and betrothal gifts to the bride’s family as a symbolism of the groom’s sincerity towards the marriage and assurance that he will care for his bride-to-be. The bride and her family’s acceptance of the Pin Jin and betrothal gifts means that the proposal is accepted, and the marriage, approved. Upon the acceptance of the Pin Jin and betrothal gifts, the bride’s family will also reciprocate the gesture by returning part of the Pin Jin and some gifts. This custom is known as Hui Li (回禮). What does the groom need to prepare for the Guo Da Li and what does the bride return during the Hui Li? Here’s a guide and checklist for you to make sure you don’t miss out on any item for your betrothal ceremony. You can also download a your own copy at the end of the article.

[Photo via yocosha]


Traditional Betrothal Ceremony


Here are the items the bride and her family returns.

  • Around half of the Betrothal Gift, including Coconuts, Sweet Beginnings, Jin Guo, Wine, Fruits and Tea Leaves
  • Part of the Pin Jin. Prepare an all-inclusive envelope with a certain amount of money and a red envelope for bride’s price with the number 9 in the balance amount, which means the their love will last forever.
  • A Red Envelope for the Son-in-law. Alongside this, a pair of shoes, a wallet, suit, and belt will be given.
  • Plants for good luck: Yams, Ginger plants, lotus tuber with roots and pine tree leafs
  • Wedding pastry for return: Fa Gao (發糕)


[Photo via rosalierosie]


Modern Betrothal Ceremony

Since there are quite a lot of things to be prepared in the traditional betrothal process, couples nowadays practice a simpler version wherein the groom purchases the betrothal set and just needs to prepare the bride’s price or Pin Jin, the “seafood red pocket money”(海味金), and “Three Livestocks Red Pocket Money”(三牲金). It’s important to note that all the red pocket money should be in pairs or even numbers to symbolize good luck and fortune for the  couple. Also, if the groom doesn’t want to miss anything, he can add a pair of “Everything All-in-one Red Pocket Money”(包羅萬有利是).


[Photo via mattaboutfood]




Here are the items for the Hui Li.

  • Around Half of the Betrothal Gift including Coconuts, Sweet Beginnings, Jin Guo, Wine, Fruits and Tea Leaves
  • Wedding Pastry for Return: Fa Gao (發糕)
  • Laisee for the Groom. This is given in replacement of his gifts.


Feel free to download the checklist in PDF version here: Betrothal Ceremony Checklist

Stay tuned for our next article. We will continue to explore more about the Betrothal Ceremony!

Tagged: / /

Leave a Reply