ENGAGEMENT | A TRADITIONAL CHINESE PROPOSAL IN SURABAYA, INDONESIA

To ring in the Lunar New Year, Melissa Yasin is sharing the story behind her traditional Chinese proposal ceremony and celebration with fiancé, Tian Adhitya. It was nothing short of a gorgeous event filled with color, culture, and love! Happy Year of the Pig!

Photography: State Photography

In Chinese culture, proposals had to be done with the aid of a matchmaker 媒人 (méi ren), who would go with the man’s parents to ask the girl’s family permission. If both families agreed, the matchmaker was given gifts to show gratitude and to ensure the happiness of their children.

Once their match has been confirmed, the groom’s parents would send betrothal gifts to the girl’s family. These gifts would usually be items such as gold, jewelry, wine, tea, and foods with good symbolism. Giving wedding gifts was one of the most important ‘etiquettes,’ and it was meant to show respect towards the bride and her family.

The ceremony is usually done at the bride’s home; but since we both came from large families, we decided to do the traditional proposal at a hotel and decorate the ballroom to resemble the living room of a house, complete with a foyer at the front.

The proposal started with a tea ceremony to welcome the groom’s family, exchanging trays of wedding gifts (the bride’s family would give back less than the groom’s, but not giving back anything would mean the bride’s family can’t have anymore connection with the bride after she got married), and then the necklace ceremony, given by the groom, as a symbol that the bride has been proposed to.

It was a very festive party, combining many different cultures – traditional Chinese culture and also Indonesian culture. We did the traditional dance of Flores Island, Indonesia, since that’s where the groom’s family came from. The fabrics used to make the men's qipao (Chinese traditional attire) are native to the island of Flores as well.

We also made the décor very personal, with old family photos, some furniture directly from our home, and we avoided using stage (even though it was a ballroom) to ensure a warm and homey feeling as two families came together. I also designed the monogram myself, combining two Chinese characters of our surnames and the letters T & M, all stationeries (menu card, souvenir packaging, invitations), and the qipaos worn by our friends who helped carry each tray of wedding gifts.

My dress was also designed with a custom embroidery of mandarin ducks as a symbol of eternal love and loyalty.

>Written by: Melissa Yasin