These days Chinese couples typically choose western-style weddings for their nuptials. The traditional weddings that impressed guests with elaborate rituals and celebrated symbols of luck, as signified by a profusion of red colors, are rarely held in today's China.
To revive the rituals that existed for hundreds of years in South China, Lingnan Tiandi (岭南天地) organized a group wedding for couples from the Pearl River Delta region and Hong Kong on October 4.
The location was in the Jia Qu Wu (嫁娶屋, literally meaning marriage house), a historically preserved architectural gem hidden in the Lingnan Tiandi complex in Foshan, where centuries-old homes have been converted into commercial venues.
The entrance of Jia Qu Wu
In the past, Foshan was populous and residents shared very limited space for living. Weddings, however, were of vital significance to big families who had to invite large numbers of guests. Thus, Jia Qu Wu became a special wedding venue, a place families could rent to hold marriage ceremonies. With a history of more than 300 years, these magnificent old south Chinese buildings host a ceiling-free atrium, a hall for witnessing and worship and several rooms for the preparation and rest.
Traditional Lingnan-style architecture perserved in the Lingnan Tiandi
Before the formal ritual, nine brides were carried to the hall by red sedans. This festive procession was filled with music and gifts, and it wound through streets with auspicious names at special time. When the sedans and the contingent arrived in front of the Jia Qu Wu, grooms welcomed them by opening the curtains of the sedans with their feet. Led by the elder females of the families, the brides crossed by fire basins that signified the driving away of bad luck.
The sedans and the contingent
Gifts accompanying with the contingent
A bride crosses by fire basins that signified the driving away of bad luck.
Then it came time for the formal rituals. After bowing to heaven, earth and each other, the grooms lifted their brides' veils, and the couples drank wine while crossing each others' cups. After that, they spoke out their marriage vows, with the guidance of wedding officials. At the end, they offered tea to their parents and elders as a respectful sign of their gratitude.
The couples bow to each other
A couple drink the crossing-cup wine
A couple offer tea to the parents
A marriage "certificate"
Lingnan Tiandi is a Foshan-based real estate program run by the Shuion Land Group. It renovated traditional buildings in Zumiao, a formerly wealthy community in Foshan, into a complex offering culture, travel, residences and commerce. The traditional-style group wedding is the second such event organized by Lingnan Tiandi since 2013.
(By Jessie Huang, Louis Berney)