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The Couple’s Checklist for Guo Da Li

Here is a handy checklist of the gifts both families need. The items each symbolise luck for the couple.

Groom’s Family

Many stores in Hong Kong offer pre-packaged baskets and gift boxes for convenience. For the items numbered 7 to 18, it is acceptable to simply offer a lai see in lieu of presenting the gifts.

  1. Cash (in lai see). Often ends with the lucky number eight.
  2. Dragon and phoenix candles (2 pairs). For the hair combing ceremony.
  3. Chinese wedding cakes (4). Special pastries made for guo da li and available at traditional Chinese bakeries like Kee Wah.
  4. “Daughter marrying” cakes. Also special pastries made for guo da li. You can give cake vouchers from traditional bakeries instead.
  5. Dried seafood and ingredients. Should always include black moss, which rhymes with “strike it rich” in Chinese, as well as foods that symbolise happiness, prosperity, and desires for the couple to bear offspring. Create a selection of four, six or eight (all even numbers) from the following dried goods: abalone, bamboo, oysters, scallops, prawns, mushrooms, fish belly, fish bladder, octopus, sea cucumber. You can give a lai see instead of buying these items and indicate as such on the packet.
  6. Chicken, pork and fish (2 portions each). Prepare one rooster and one hen. The pork should weigh around 3 to 5 catty (1.8 to 3kg) total. The fish should be large in size (the mud carp is commonly used). You can give a lai see instead and indicate as such on the packet.
  7. Coconuts (2 pairs). Symbolises the couple bearing children.
  8. Areca nuts (4). The groom’s family will take away three of these, leaving the bride’s family with one. This act symbolises a long-lasting marriage.
  9. Candy (pre-packaged in 4 sections). Pre-packaged versions are available in stores. Symbolises sweetness and longevity of marriage.
  10. Dried fruits and nuts (pre-packaged in 4 sections). Pre-packaged versions are available in stores and feature four ingredients: lychees, longans, walnuts and peanuts. Symbolises a happy, large family for generations to come.
  11. Wine (4 bottles). Symbolises love and happiness.
  12. Fruit (2 baskets). Symbolises energy. Fill with “auspicious” fruits such as pomelo, peach, longan and grapes. Avoid melon, pear, mango and orange — in Chinese, their names variously rhyme with death, misfortune and separation.
  13. Tea leaves and sesame. Symbolises the bride’s promise to the marriage.
  14. Red cloth (2 pieces, 9.9 feet long each). For the bride’s family to decorate the exteriors of their home in the run-up to the wedding.
  15. Mini fireworks. Traditionally used to announce an impending marriage.
  16. Glutinous rice (12 catty, or 7.2kg) and sugar (3 catty and 2 tael, or around 3kg). For the bride’s family to prepare glutinous rice balls with, symbolising togetherness and happiness.
  17. Box containing lotus seeds, lilies, cypresses, pelican plant (2 pairs), red ropes, and more lai see. This box contains a separate lai see to number 1, which is considered the “main” lai see.
  18. Jewellery. Many elderly women gift their male offsprings’ future wives with gold jewellery. These include “dragon and phoenix” bangles, necklaces, earrings and bracelets — which the bride should wear on the wedding day.
Credits: Chow Sang Sang

Bride’s Family

A lai see can be given in lieu of the items numbered 4 to 6.

If the bride has unmarried siblings, shoes and dresses are gifted to them. Many people choose to give lai see instead of buying these items.

  1. Cash (in lai see). Often ends with the lucky number eight.
  2. Lucky plants. Choose from lotus root, pomegranate, kumquat, cypress, or hibiscus — all considered auspicious.
  3. “Return tea gift”. A collection of items to thank the groom’s family: sponge cakes, fried dumplings, more lai see.
  4. Scarf (1), men’s trousers (1 pair), men’s shoes (1 pair). Gifts for the groom symbolising luck, wealth and longevity of the marriage.
  5. Men’s belt (1). Symbolises the groom’s promise to marriage.
  6. Wallet (1). Contains two lai see within. Symbolises riches and prosperity.
Wedding Tea Ceremony