A traditional Chinese wedding has several very memorable symbols and items which make it unique. If you’ve ever attended a Chinese wedding yourself, you will have noticed two things about the décor: a proliferation of the color red, and the ubiquity of the double happiness (囍) symbol. The color red is considered lucky in China because the ancients believed that it could exorcise ghosts and drive away demons and bad luck. The double happiness symbol is made up of two 喜 characters next to each other. 喜 (xĭ) means happiness, so placing two together means double happiness. The symbol is also known as “shuāng xĭ” or twin joy.
These days it is commonly accepted for the bride and groom to wear Westernized wedding outfits – white dresses for the bride and a suit for the groom. However, in some rural areas, historic rituals and modes of dress are still adhered to. The bridal outfit of antiquity consisted of a red robe, red shoes, and an elaborate headdress adorned with red pom-poms. The girl would wear either a red silk veil or a row of tassels hanging in front of her face to preserve her modesty. Bridal robes were beautifully embroidered with silk thread in dragon and phoenix patterns. These two creatures symbolize the balance between the masculine and feminine, or yin and yang.
Historically, the groom wore a black silk coat decorated with dragon motifs to signify his masculinity. When he arrived at the family altar for the marriage ceremony, his father would place a cap of cypress leaves on his head.
For modern Chinese weddings, the bride and groom often honor tradition by incorporating historic items into their outfits, such as a Western-style dress made from red silk or satin.