Fetch the bride -
your groom's quest of the day
To fetch the bride, your groom and his troop of brothers must remember to bring all necessary items for their quest and complete all the challenges.
Necessary items for the quest
Some family requires a matchmaker to accompany the groom when he arrives at their door to fetch the bride.
The matchmaker, or bestman if there is no matchmaker, will carry a red tray containing
- a piece of raw pork leg which is mum's reward for bringing up the bride,
- at least four or more, even number of tangerines or oranges for good fortune,
- some dried persimmons for prosperity,
- some dried longan in shells for sweetness in the marriage,
- some dried lotus seeds for having many children,
- some dried magnolia petals called “pak hup” to wish for hundred years of closeness and happiness in the marriage.
The red tray will be returned with tangerines or oranges replaced in even numbers to signify that the newly joined families will share their good fortune.
Even numbered cans of pork trotters or a red packet may be used instead of the raw pork leg.
If red packets are used for representing things, write down what they are. There will be a lot of red packets changing hands on the wedding day and mixed ups may lead to unhappiness or even conflicts.
Test of patience -
Waiting for the Bride's younger brother to open the bridal car door
The groom must not open the car door when he arrives to fetch his bride. He has to wait patiently for the bride's younger brother to open the bridal car door for him.
The younger brother will open the door and pass him two oranges. The two oranges will be left in the bridal car for good fortune.
The groom will give this younger brother a red packet for opening the car door. If the bride has no younger brother, a younger male relative or a younger male friend can play the role.
Facing the Bridesmaids' challenges-
Blocking the door and wedding games.
The bride's group of bridesmaids is also called the sisters’ troop or Ah Yees [阿姨]. They will test the groom's sincerity and love for her with a series of wedding games.
He has to complete all the challenges to their satisfaction before they let him fetch the bride.
This tradition of blocking the door demonstrates their unwillingness to marry off the bride because of their love for her.
Door blocking wedding games
The most popular game is to bargain for a red packet either of huge amount or of amounts that requires a difficult mixture of notes and coins. $999 or $99.99, as 9 has the same sound as long “jiu”, for a long marriage. Some may ask for $888 or $88.88 as 8 has the same sound as prosperous “fa” for a prosperous marriage.
Before they allow the groom to fetch the bride, the sisters may require him to
- answer obscure quizzes relating to the couple's courtship,
- enact the marriage proposal,
- sing love songs to the bride,
- praise the bride with chinese proverbs,
- complete physical tasks such as push-ups,etc.
The groom's brothers’ troop will help him complete the challenges. One brother will keep an eye on time if an auspicious time
has been set for the bride to enter the groom's family home.
If difficult challenges are anticipated, the brothers will help the groom prepare some items in advance. Hints from the bride are useful! Or a representative from the brothers’ troop can get close to one of the sisters to get clues!
Useful items to prepare in advance are
- a mixture of notes and coins,
- list of love songs,
- list of chinese proverbs praising a woman's virtue,
- list of possible questions and answers relating to their courtship or the bride, etc.
Objection to blocking the door
Very traditional teochew family will not allow blocking of the door when the groom comes to fetch the bride. Bargaining for a red packet to open the door is considered crass for teochew.
The teochew dad will walk the bride from her room to the living hall. He will then place her hand in the groom's hand. Given away! Just like in a church wedding!
Let your sisters troop know in advance if an elder in the family objects to this particular custom. The girls can have their fun with wedding games at the chinese wedding dinner or when they gate crash the bridal chamber.
Finally! Kiss the bride!
After completing the challenges the groom enter the bride's home to fetch the bride. The groom will enter the bride's room and lift her veil to kiss her.
The groom and the brothers’ troop will be served sweet desserts and snacks.
What about the tea ceremony for the bride's side?
The tea ceremony for the bride's family will only take place at the bride’s home visit.
If the bride and groom are ancestor worshipers, they will pray to the bride's ancestors and family gods before leaving the bride's home.
The sisters will assist the bride with her gown so that she does not trip. Some will carry her other clothing, shoes and jewellery required later in the day.
A good fortune woman or the matchmaker will shelter the bride with an umbrella while she is under the open sky. This is probably some form of protection against any evil influence.
In the past, the matchmaker will carry the bride on her back to board the red wedding sedan chair while another helper will hold the umbrella to shade the bride.
The bride's father or a good fortune woman will throw rice and pak hup (dried magnolia petals) at the bridal car before it drives off.
The teochew father will also splash water behind the car to bless the bride with an everlasting marriage as "spilt water will not return to the bowl".
The sisters’ troop will accompany the bride to the groom's home in cars driven by the brothers' troop.
Successful in their quest to fetch the bride, the bridal party returns to the groom's home in a convoy of decorated vehicles.
Where does "fetch the bride" fit on the chinese wedding day program?
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