One of the most enjoyable part of the Chinese wedding ceremony is the traditional chu jia (or jip san liong) ceremony. Literally, chu jia means to leave the home, but in the context of the wedding, it is when the bride is picked up from her parents’ home and taken to her husband’s family home.
Then and now
Long ago, chu jia was the formalization of the marriage following the proposal between parents (tai chan) and exchange of gifts and dowry (gor tai lai). A procession will start from the groom’s house with the man of the hour accompanied by friends and relatives. Gongs will ring loudly and firecrackers are lit along the way or at the bride’s home. The bride will be taken in a sedan to her new home and family, and typically, she is not allowed to return to her home after that.
Today, this has evolved into a different ritual – more for fun than to seal the marriage contract. The highlight of this is definitely the groom ragging! Like the early days, the groom arrives at the bride’s house with a din of honking cars. Then to proof his love for his bride and to symbolize the parents’ sadness at ‘losing’ their daughter, the groom and his groomsmen (heng tai) have to overcome a series of obstacles put in place by the bridesmaids or ji mui. Most of them are fun, silly games or challenges, some can be borderline cruel (like eating chili!) and insane, but all are done in the name of fun.
Capturing the memories
While every part of a wedding is memorable, it is hard to deny the chu jia offers some of the best photos! Few things can top photos of men in lingerie doing push-ups or a grown men prancing about in tutus!
For this reason alone, we would vote for wedding day photography and videography as musts – firstly, for the bride to join in on the fun (remember she is ensconced in her room all this time waiting to be won!) and secondly, for years of laughs every time you pull out your wedding album. They also make great photos to entertain dinner guests during the banquet!
Here are our tips on how to get the best chu jia photos from your wedding day ceremony:
- Get your head ji mui to debrief the photographers on what games will be played. If the photographer knows what coming up, he and his team will be able to catch more action shots.
- Give the cameras space. Tell your friends to give up some prime space for the photography team especially when things heat up like negotiations at the door or when the groom first enters the bride’s room.
- Take time to pose. Don’t be in a hurry to rush through the games. The groom especially can control this; ensure you and your boys are providing enough trigger-happy moments for the cameras!
We wish you a blast on your wedding day and lots of funny, memorable photographs from the chu jia process.