Wedding cars are an essential part of a Chinese wedding. If you see a procession of similar cars cruising down a main road, where some have bouquets of flowers placed on the hood or the roof, then you can say with certainty that you are witnessing one of the most important traditions when getting married in China: the wedding procession.
As a wedding ritual, the planning of the procession of wedding cars involves many superstitions. A few listed on Baidu Baike provide a glimpse into the complex planning. Most of the wedding cars are black, but the car leading the procession (头车 tóu chē) is preferably white or red. White symbolizes “白头偕老” báitóuxiélǎo, a Chinese idiom that is used to describe couples who grow old until their hair turns white. Red is the traditional festive color in China, as it bodes for a successful and positive life for the couple. Car logos are given symbolic meaning as well. The circles of Audi suggests that the family will be happy together, the two lions on the Roewe logo stand for couple themselves. Chevrolet’s logo on the other hand, reminds Chinese of hospitals, which are associated with misfortune. The number of cars in the procession should avoid odd numbers with the exception of 9 (九, jiǔ) as it has the same sound as 久, longevity.
According to tradition, the groom needs to send vehicles to the bride’s home to 迎亲 yíngqīn, escort the bride back to the groom’s house. Without 迎亲, no bride would 出嫁 chūjià, which means to marry out of her family and into his. In the past, grooms mostly escorted their brides with 花轿 (huājiào, wedding litter). As time went on, the wedding vehicles transformed, going through various stages- bikes, tractors, trucks, buses, minivans, Chinese sedans, right through to the luxury foreign cars of today. While large foreign cars are the mainstream choices for weddings, some couples choose to go for vintage vehicles to get creative and stand out among the crowd. You can find a few extravagant examples below:
A wedding procession of red Audis on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue.
A couple getting on one of only seven wedding helicopters in China. The rent is 20,000 RMB per hour.
A procession of cars that include four Lamborghinis, four Ferraris, eight Rolls-Royces, and ten Bentleys.
A procession of 21 wedding rickshaws in Wenzhou, Zhejiang.
A gay couple leads the wedding procession of electric motorbikes.
A young couple dressed in an Chinese old uniform and a Western wedding gown.
20 couples on boats instead of cars for their wedding procession
Image courtesy of Xinhua.