Marriage Custom of Boatmen along the Grand Canal Hangzhou

Ever wonder what the traditional wedding of boatmen along the Grand Canal Hangzhou look like? On Apr, 26, 2014, a traditional wedding took place in Qiaoxi Historic Street off the Grand Canal Hangzhou. Many quaint and eye-opening novel wedding customs are brought to life.

From cradle to candle, the life and fate of boatmen of the Grand Canal are closely associated with the canal. They live on boat, work on boat and get around by boat. Their marriage also does without boat.

Boatmen along the Grand Canal usually plant some flowers, raise some chickens and keep birds in cage. During the past, the life of boatmen was so miserable that few girls will choose to marry them. Just as the folk song chants: “my fairy girl won’t marry boatmen, or she had to wait in vain most of time. When he returns one day finally, she has to repair his clothes deep into night.”

Many boatmen fell in love with the help of go-betweens or by daily encounter on their boat. The majority of marriage took place on boat.

In the wedding day, both the groom and bride’s families would dock on opposite bank of the Grand Canal. Girls from ashore would be escorted to the groom’s boat by bridal sedan, while the girls of boatmen’s family would join the groom by tiny boats. The bride would put on a stunning phoenix crown and dress an embroidered crimson red rope. She would be escorted to the groom’s home by an ornate boat, accompanied by the blessings from her family and friends. The groom’s family would usher the bride into the wedding suite, where she would meet her husband. A sumptuous and festive banquet would be hosted after the couple had bowed to heaven and earth, and the God of Boat.

In the following morning, families and friends would bless the newly-wed, enjoy a hearty meal and sail home, while the bride would start her new chapter of life, as the wife and a new family member.

Traditional Wedding Ceremony of the boatmen along the Grand Canal Hangzhou