Asian culture is rich with various wedding traditions.
In Japan, weddings are normally held in spring and fall in chapels or shrines. It is interesting to note that unlike American weddings, the bride and groom do not choose the date of the ceremony; instead, it is scheduled on the Day of Fortune. Many marriages are arranged by a Nakodo, or a go-between.
During the ceremony, the families enter separately and approach the altar where there are offerings of rice water, sake, fruit and salt, which according to Japanese belief is everything necessary to sustain life.
Only family, the go-between and the couple themselves attend the wedding and as the ceremony begins, the priest performs a purification ritual for everyone present. After the priest has said a few words about marriage, he asks those in attendance to bestow favor upon the union.
The San San-Kudo ceremony is next. Shinto serving girls dressed in red and white, called Miko, serve sake (Japanese rice wine). Three stacked cups are set before the bride and she and the groom each take three sips from each cup, three times. It is at the end of this ritual that the couple is considered married.
The couple then steps forward and the groom reads an oath of faithfulness and obedience shared by the couple. Sake is then exchanged by the wedding attendees to signify the union and rings are exchanged between the bride and groom. The couple proceeds to the sanctuary to offer decorated twigs of Sakaki (a sacred tree used to worship the gods) and this ends the main part of the ceremony.
Chinese weddings are rich with culture, tradition and beauty. Typically, before the wedding, the bride goes into seclusion with her closest friends. This time is for the bride to spend time with those close to her before she assumes her new role as a wife. While in seclusion, it is customary for the groom’s family to carry gifts in red boxes and baskets to her home. These gifts include money and personal items. Three days before the wedding, the bride’s family does the same for the groom’s family.
On the day of his wedding, a groom is dressed by his parents and travels to the home of his bride. The bride normally dresses in red, which symbolizes luck and good fortune in Chinese culture. Often, a Chinese bride will change her dress two or three times before the end of her reception. The groom brings money, also wrapped in red, to give to her friends to thank them for allowing her to be his wife. Then the bride and groom leave for the chapel together.
Wedding days in China are chosen according to astrological signs and it is customary for the couple to be married on the half hour rather than the hour so that their life together begins as the hands of the clock are on an upturn rather than a downswing.
The ceremony is usually attended by immediate family only. After the service, the new bride serves tea to her in-laws during an elaborate ceremony. Professional pictures are taken and then the couple will attend their reception.
At the reception, there is normally a speech made by an emcee, and afterwards there is a cake-cutting ceremony. The cake is huge and has many layers, which symbolize the steps the couple will have to take as they climb to success.
Asian wedding traditions continue in Korea, where a wedding is considered a union of two families rather than the joining of two individuals. Often, professional matchmakers are used to pair couples. While arranged marriages still occur in Korea, it is no longer considered necessary.
On the night before the wedding, it is customary for the groom to travel to his bride’s home using a lantern to light his way. Traditionally, the groom would carry a wedding chest full of gifts for the bride’s family. It is interesting to note that in Korea, wedding gifts are never opened in front of those who gave them; instead, gifts are opened in private by the bride and groom.
These are only some of the many Asian wedding traditions practiced; there are many more, all of which add to the custom and rituals so important to the diverse cultures of Asia.