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As weddings get increasingly modern and influenced by western cultures, traditional elements tend to fade away at weddings. As Chinese, we wanted very much to recognize our tradition and heritage at our wedding. Hence, we included elements such as gate crashing and tea ceremony on our big day. Another important element that we were sure to include was the betrothal, otherwise known as “Guo Da Li” (betrothal ceremony).
What is the Guo Da Li?
The Guo Da Li is a formal meeting between both families and symbolizes the groom’s sincerity in wanting to marry the bride into his family. It signifies a formal state of engagement. Through formalities performed by the groom, the groom acknowledges the bride’s parents effort in raising their daughter, and gives the bride’s family assurance to take good care of their daughter after marriage. By receiving the gifts, the bride’s family pledges their daughter to the groom.
Our families both recognized the importance of the Guo Da Li, and knew that we wanted to perform this Betrothal Ceremony. However, we were all unfamiliar with procedure as well as what items to get.
Shuang Xi Le, Your One-Stop for your Guo Da Li
Thankfully, Shuang Xi Le guided us on the steps, procedure and provided us all the items in easy packages. Not only did it save us the trouble of having to shop for the individual items, their guidance made an otherwise complex process, very simple!
Their assistance allowed us to sit back and enjoy the ceremony’s purpose – which was to bind both families together in conversation and fun. The stress and worry free experience was wonderful, and we want the same for your Guo Da Li too!
Follow the steps below, and be assured of a fun betrothal ceremony.
Steps to the Guo Da Li
Disclaimer: Before we share the steps, I want to mention that though we did perform the Guo Da Li ceremony, our families did not strictly to adhere to every step. We share the steps advised by Shuang Xi Le, but below we share our own experience, which includes some tweaks for modern convenience.
The Guo Da Li is usually done about two to four weeks prior to the wedding day on an auspicious date. Our families were not too sensitive about the date, so we just picked a date when everyone was available.
During the Guo Da Li, the groom and a matchmaker, or an elder female relative would be present to present the bride’s family with gifts that represent prosperity and fertility. The items used in Guo Da Li usually come in pairs to represent good fortune and the items vary depending on the dialect group of the bride’s family. We selected the Guo Da Li package that were suitable for Teochew, Hokkien and Hainan dialect groups from Shuang Xi Le. For our Guo Da Li, both our parents were present instead of a matchmaker.
Items for Guo Da Li
Below are the items inside the Guo Da Li for the Teochew/Hokkien/Hainan package. Click here for the one for Cantonese/Hakka dialect.
- Four Treasure 四宝礼品
- 2 pairs of Dragon Phoenix Candles 双龙双凤蜡烛
- 2 sets of 9.9ft Red Cloth 红彩两套
- 2 boxes of Premium 5 Elements Seed 百年好合五谷
- 6 Pig Trotter Cans 猪脚罐
- 2 Wine Covers 酒瓶袋一对
- 2 Prosperous Red Basket 红喜礼篮
- Bride Price Red Packet 聘金喜包
- Diaper Money Red Packet 洗屎喜包
- Double Happiness Sticker 双喜贴纸
- A1: 2 x Hokkien Candies 福建红纸包
- A2: 2 x Teochew Biscuits 潮州伍色糖
- A3: Teochew Wax+Red Cloth 潮州蜡+红缎包聘
- A4: Usage of Traditional Teochew Basket 租用传统礼俗篮子
- A5: 1 pair of Hainanese Gin Tei 海南金堆
The Guo Da Li process kickstarts the unity of the two families by discussing wedding processes, procedures and items need from both sides. Having both families come to a consensus is key of the ceremony, rather than having either side be calculative and overly superstitious about procedures.
Hui Li, The Returning of Gifts
Upon accepting the gifts from the groom’s side, the bride’s family will reciprocate the generosity of the groom’s family by returning half of the gifts. This is called the Hui Li. This act signifies that the bride’s family appreciate the gifts and are willing to share the joy to symbolize the unity of one family.
On top of returning half of the gifts from the groom’s family, the bride’s family will prepare a special gift (见面礼) for the bridegroom’s parents to show their respect and sincerity. Items such as a dining set, mug set and face towels are included in the Hui Li. This indicates that they look forward to good relationships between both families. The bride’s family will then also distribute the bridal cakes and candies received from the groom’s family to friends and relatives, announcing and inviting them to the wedding feast.
It was customary for the bride’s family to distribute the bridal cakes and candies they received from the groom’s family to friends and relatives as a form of announcement and invitation to the wedding feast.
Items for Hui Li （回礼/见面礼）:
- Face Towel Set 家翁家婆面巾
- Dining Set 家翁家婆对碗
- Mug Set 家翁家婆对杯
- Mini 5 Element Seeds 五谷
- Charcoal 旺炭
The bride’s dowry (嫁妆) will also be presented during the Hui Li ceremony, to symbolize the social status, wealth and prosperity of the bride’s family. It also signifies the love for their daughter and blessing to the couple for an everlasting marriage. The dowry consists of practical items for the household. Do note not to borrow any items for the dowry as it appears to be the need of the wedding couple to borrow money, which is inauspicious in Chinese belief. Do note that the bride’s dowry items should not be touched by pregnant ladies or children to avoid clashing of fortunes.
The Dowry includes:
- Dowry Sewing Box Set 嫁妆锦绣针线盒
- Descendant Pail Set 子孙宝桶
- Dining Set 丰衣足食碗
- Teaset 孝心茶具
- Mug Set 夫妻对杯
- Prosperity Lamp 添丁灯
- 2 pairs of Wedding Couple Slipper 夫妻同鞋
- 2 pairs of Chopstick 龙凤喜筷
- Lady Fan 玉女扇
- Xi Face Towel Set 喜字面巾
- Mini 5 Element Seeds 五谷
- Charcoal 旺炭
- Premium Dowry Bag 嫁妆袋
Shuang Xi Le has several dowry sets to choose from, such as the City Style Package and Traditional Package. For those who are not as particular, they also have simplified packages for both the City and Traditional.
My Favourites by Shuang Xi Le
Wide Range of Selection
We got all our Guo Da Li, Hui Li and Dowry items from Shuang Xi Le. They give the flexibility of picking out each loose item ala-carte, or opt to get their packages, which in my opinion is extremely convenient. A large range of items such as tea sets, ang baos, decorations are available on their website too.
Easy Ordering & Convenient Service
Shang Xi Le’s website is easy to use, making ordering very convenient. We ordered our packages via email and picked them up from their convenient location at Novena. Otherwise, you can arrange for them to deliver the items directly to your doorstep. I was very appreciative of the hassle-free experience as it freed up more time for other wedding preparations.
Comprehensive Guide & A Worry Free Experience
There is plenty of information on the Guo Da Li, Hui Li and Dowry – what is signifies and how to conduct it. Their packages also come with a mini guide so that you are not lost during the ceremony. Both our parents who were unfamiliar with the procedure was very happy that everything turned out so simple and easy to do, as Shuang Xi Le prepared all the items required to gift and exchange.
Shuang Xi Le made the entire process worry and stress-free as they have all the items available and they packaged them all neatly into bags for easy transportation. If you are looking to include the significance of Chinese customs in your wedding, be sure to check out Shuang Xi Le for their convenient one-stop services.
Square 2 #03-39
10 Sinaran Drive, Singapore 307506 (Above Novena MRT Station)
Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11am to 9:30pm (Including Public Holiday) & Sunday : 12pm-9:30pm
Tel: 6397 2018
Sun Plaza #01-21
30 Sembawang Drive, Singapore 757713 (Next to Sembawang MRT)
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 11am to 9:30pm (Including Public Holiday)
Tel: 6481 5301
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