Wedding tease or taunt? Chinese father-in-law says ‘fake kiss’ of bride just traditional horseplay
But internet users say he crossed a line and it is time for an end to the local custom
Footage posted online of a bridegroom’s father appearing to forcibly kiss his new daughter-in-law at her wedding in eastern China has revived calls for outdated marriage ceremony customs to be abandoned.
But lawyers for the groom’s father, identified only by his surname Bian, said their client was simply engaging in traditional horseplay.
In the short clip, Bian grabs the shoulder of the bride as they walk down a stage at the reception before leaning over her and appearing to forcibly kiss her.
The incident occurred in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, according to local media reports.
On Tuesday, lawyers for Bian said he had only pretended to kiss her as part of a local wedding custom.
“In accordance with Yancheng customs of wedding horseplay, Mr Bian made an ‘act’ of appearing to kiss the bride,” lawyers at the Jiangsu Dazhi law firm said in a statement published on the Yangtse Evening Post’s microblog account.
“The move was purely meant to meet the expectations of the banquet guests and create a happy atmosphere instead of actually kissing her.”
Modern Express quoted He Linglong, an expert on Yancheng customs, as saying the tradition of teasing dated back to Ming dynasty emperor Wanli (1573-1620) and was an attempt to integrate the two families.
“The deeper reason for this custom is that in the past, the father of the groom enjoyed supreme authority, and the bride’s family often worried whether their daughter would have to submit to his authority,” He was quoted as saying.
“To allay their concerns, the families instituted practices such as teasing the bride and father-in-law to help the woman integrate into her new family by making her more familiar with her husband’s family and friends.”
But Wang Dengzuo, a library director and specialist in Yancheng culture, said traditions should adapt with the times and the public should drop outdated customs now deemed inappropriate.
“Wedding customs are constantly changing. We should only inherit the positive and good ones, and must abandon the bad ones,” Wang said.
Chinese internet users said the father-in-law’s actions had crossed the line.
“We Yancheng people admit that we have the wedding custom of teasing ... the bride but we do it lightly and definitely wouldn’t cross the line,” one microblogger claiming to be from the city said.
Another said: “The problem is not whether the kiss was real or fake, but that the whole thing is unacceptable.”
Wedding customs have ignited heated debate in recent years.
In January, a court in Anhui province ruled that three friends of a bridegroom pay 107,200 yuan (US$16,938) in compensation for injuries from a fall after the friends tied the groom’s hands and legs before his wedding ceremony in December 2016.
In 2016, a leaked video clip showed five groomsmen of Chinese actor Bao Beier trying to throw a screaming and struggling bridesmaid, actress Liu Yan, into a pool.