GUO DA LI – all you need to know

Guo Da Li, also known as the Betrothal ceremony is an important event in the Chinese culture that takes place before the actual wedding day where your groom will present the betrothal money as well as other wedding gifts to the bride’s family as a token of gratitude and sincerity. By accepting the groom’s gifts, this shows the bride’s family’s acceptance of the groom. 


Do remember to contact Just Married Films for your wedding videography and wedding photography needs for your Guo Da Li.

What is Guo Da Li

Guo Da Li (过大礼) is a traditional Chinese wedding custom whereby the groom delivers elaborated wedding gifts to the bride’s family, as an act to acknowledge their effort in raising their daughter and to show his sincerity to marry her. As a formal engagement between both families, the groom officially asks for the bride’s hand in marriage and the bride’s family also properly hands their daughter over.

This might seem like a simple ceremony, but there is much more to know for Guo Da Li. Especially for different dialects, there are different customs to follow.

Why is it important to do Guo Da Li

In today’s modern time, many couples choose to skip over traditions and save hassles. As if planning a wedding is not already stressful right?

However, some families still hold on to these customs and do not acknowledge a Chinese wedding if certain customary rites have not been satisfied. As weddings not only involves the couples but also both side of the family members, it is important to make sure family members’ opinions are taken in too.

How do you do Guo Da Li

guo da li

Setting a Date 

Commonly known as “ Liu Li” ( 6 Ceremonies) in the past, this ceremony commemorates all the way from the proposal, to the actual wedding and even after. Most couples will plan their Guo Da Li two to a month’s time before the actual wedding day. But how do you choose the perfect date and time? 

For the superstitious, you can approach a Feng Shui (风水) master in finding your Ba Zhi (八字) compatibility to calculate your auspicious date and timing. You might also want to avoid inauspicious periods of the year such as Qingming dates and the 7th month. 


However, if you are not keen on using these methods in setting a date, or if the families are not date-sensitive, you can just choose a date when everyone is available. 


Prepare the Guo Da Li gifts (Groom’s side)

guo da li

There are different Guo Da Li items to get based on the different dialect groups. In Singapore, there are 4 main dialect groups – Cantonese, Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka.

In the event that the bride and groom are from different dialect groups, perishable gifts should be prepared in accordance with the bride’s dialect group customaries while non-perishables should be according to the groom’s.

Tip: Items should always come in pairs to symbolise good fortune.


Cantonese & Hakka


Hokkien & Teochew


Prepare the Hui Li (回礼) Gifts and Dowry (Bride’s side)

During the Ceremony

As all joyous occasions, there should be an abundant exchange of auspicious sayings. When the groom and the groom’s female relative/elder arrive at the bride’s doorstep:

Congratulate the bride’s parents on this joyous matrimonial match

Bestow blessings and well wishes to the couple

Once all the congratulatory sayings and introductions exchanged, the groom will present the Guo Da Li items to his future-in-laws.

Upon receiving the gifts, the bride’s family will reciprocate the generosity of the groom’s family by returning half of the gifts received. In addition, the bride’s family will also present their gifts prepared for hui li, as a significance of respect and sincerity to the groom’s family.

Important customs to follow 

Just like any other traditional ceremony, there are customs to follow and obey. Firstly, the receiving and returning of gifts is very important in tradition to show mutual respect and sincerity from both parties. 

For the “Diaper Money”, the bride’s parents would have to receive all, but for the Wedding dowry, the bride’s side must return some. 

After the Ceremony

Once all the formalities and exchanging of the gifts have been done, the bride’s family can put up the wedding decorations and distribute the wedding cakes/pastries to their family and relatives. Traditionally, wedding invites can only be given out after Guo Da Li. However, this practice is not strictly observed nowadays considering the ceremony is done only 2-4 weeks before the wedding.


Ultimately, the ceremony of Guo Da Li should be a joyous and meaningful one. Rather than stressing out over the formalities, what matters is that everyone is happy. As families are now less traditional, many practices are not followed as strictly and can be discussed between both parties. Therefore, communicate between one another and enjoy the process!


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