What To Prepare For Betrothal Or Pre-Wedding Gift Exchange (Guo Da Li)

The items to be exchanged in a betrothal gift exchange depend on the dialect group and in some instances, agreements between parents of the bride and groom. It is purely a customary practice and a form of Chinese culture and beliefs.

The main purpose of this process is for the groom to show the bride's family his financial stability and to reassure their future parents-in-law that the bride will be well taken care of after marriage. Normally, the bride's parents will return a portion of the gifts to avoid the impression that they are selling away their daughter.

So how is this process carried out? The couple should choose an auspicious date and timing. This day is normally around 2 weeks to 1 month before the actual customary wedding. On this day and time, the groom will bring with him all the bridal gifts that were previously discussed and decided amongst the elders. Traditionally, a matchmaker will follow the groom to the bride's house. However, with the modernization of society, a good friend or sibling can accompany the groom.

The number of gifts to be exchanged is not limited to the items below and can be substituted, reduced or increased accordingly.

1) Wedding cakes (to be distributed to relatives as part of the wedding invitation)
2) 2 bottles of Brandy or any other liquor. This is to celebrate the joyous occasion
3) 2 pairs of Dragon and Phoenix Candles
4) Even number of oranges in a wedding basket to signify good luck and fortune
5) Even number of cans of pork trotters to signify prosperity
6) 1 red packet with "Pin Jin", amount is normally requested by Bride's family
7) Even number of peanut candies to signify sweet beginning in marriage
8) jewellery for the Bride (4 piece jewellery for Teochew, dragon and phoenix bangle for Hokkien/Cantonese)
9) Six types of grains consisting of: red dates, red beans, green beans, dried longans, lotus seeds, lily bulbs. This is to signify abundant food for the couple.

The bride's family will return the following to the groom:

1) 2 bottles of orange syrup in exchange for the 2 bottles of Brandy/liquor
2) 2 Phoenix candles (The bride's family will keep their pair of Dragon candles and give back the Phoenix candles). Parents from both sides will light the candles on the customary wedding day morning together. No timing is required for this. However, ensure that both sides light at the same time.
3) Even number portion of gifts that the groom gave.
4) 2 red packets for the groom's parents to buy shoes, towels etc
5) Even numbered portion of the "Pin Jin" will be returned in a red packet.