Saturday, 17 May 2014


Ting Hun is the traditional Chinese form of betrothal. It is a formal announcement and celebration of the engagement. In other countries, this ritual is called GUO DA LI. 

Traditionally, the groom's family presented gifts, jewelries and other items to acknowledge the effort of bride's parent in raising her. By accepting the gifts, the bride's family pledged her to the groom. The gifts in the ting hun stood for the assurances from the groom's family that they could provide for the bride.

During olden days, the value of the betrothal gifts determined the financial stability of the groom's family.

Nowadays, the reasons for doing Ting Huns vary per family.

The items given depend on the couple's dialect group and the demands of the parents. So the Hokkien group will have different items compared to the Cantonese, the Teo Chew or the Hakka.

But there are common items shared across the different groups:
Red Packets
Noodles for Longevity
Pork ( Roast for the Cantonese, canned pork legs for the Hokkien)

Here are the links to the items given here in the Philippines:

In the Philippines, based on our observation, the watch is the telltale sign of the couple's social status. And the most impressive one we have seen was set of PATEK PHILIPPE. The common watch being exchanged is a set of Rolex. Not all countries have watch as part of their betrothal requirements.

Ting Huns are very expensive for the groom and his family. As such, this is not really mandatory especially if the couple will be paying for their own wedding. I have many friends who opted not to do the Ting Hun. This is normal and acceptable.

The Ting Hun is really dependent on the generosity of the groom's parents and/or the groom. Hence, the bride should not ideally ask. Not unless, she and her family really want an assurance for whatever reason they see fit.

Allow me to share the history...

In the olden times, the couple met through a matchmaker. The first sets of gifts were given through the matchmaker, to encourage the bride's family to agree to the match. 

My Guakong  told my mom that in old China, the goal of every parent was to marry off their daughters into a more prosperous family (usually in another town).  The shape of her face, the smallness of her feet, her zodiac could be her ticket to marrying up.

So, because these 2 families only knew each other through the match maker, a display of wealth was necessary to assure the family of the girl that she would be in a good home. The Ke Tseng or Dowry were the stuff the bride's family would give her when she would go live with her new family.

These Chinese Traditions had a wonderful past and were actually based on something very functional in nature.

 Nowadays, people have forgotten the heart of why we do these things. Many, myself included, see these traditions as a way of showing off or as something troublesome.

My aunt in HK had this to say (in verabatim yan ha)

"The things on your list are not so modern! In HK we change already. Before in ancient time ladies are not easily to go out to buy their stuff that’s why need to do that like, but nowadays in hk, 1 min. we go downstairs already can find everything we need, what the tradition in before is changing according the step of society."

So for the Ting Hun, it's the same thing. Society now allows both couple to work and live away from their parents. If both are not financially connected to their families, the only assurance needed is the agreement between 2 consenting adults.

Ladies, It's ooookkkay to not have a big and traditional ting hun. The more I talk with my relatives in HK and the more I read, the more I realize that these gifts are not meant to define your worth. These are assurances from the groom's family or (even from the groom himself)  that they can give you a good life. 

In Indonesia, my friend and this parents went to Surabaya to formalize their engagement. He brought with him a couple of jewelries, sweets but there was no ritual and banquet.

It really depends on the couple. The most important thing is, the willingness to spend from both parties. Which is why, S asked me how much my budget was for the watch (I suppose that was a technically return gift) and not impose his favorite brand on me.

Yes, I did have a Ting Hun but I never asked for one. I am thankful for generosity albeit not necessary. 

To me, that day symbolized that I was welcomed into the family. And it wasn't the jewelries that made me feel welcomed or loved. It was the effort my inlaws put into preparing the banquet. They arranged it. And more importantly, I was so touched when S took care of the decorations because I was not inspired the first time I saw the venue.

He made it look like a Chinese Garden!

Then my relatives flew in and my friends came by. That to me, defined my worth. All these people giving me their time and effort 

It has been 7 months since that day and I can still recall the overwhelming  love I felt.

Still On Pause,


Note: I will have separate post to document the ceremony.


  1. HI! I hope you'll get to answer this asap. What's the difference between Kiu Hun or Kiu Tsin and Ting Hun? THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    1. Kiu hun is like the pamanhikan. Parents meet to discuss dates for engagement, wedding and other details like bongga ba or simple etc. Ting hun is the engagement party mismo. Kan Chiu is the wedding.

    2. Read this:

  2. Hi L! Who usually takes care of the expenses of a tinghun? Is it the bride's family or the groom's? Thanks a lot! PS. Your blog is really informative and helpful. :)