Shu Tou (梳头) or Shang Tou (上头) the full version

The Chinese have a beautiful custom in which the parents of the bridge and groom combs their hair 3 to 4 times the night before the wedding, reciting words of blessings. It is often an intimate ceremony within the immediate family without the bustle and the fanfare of the wedding the next day. I have written a simplified version of Shu Tou . But if you are keen for the full version, please read on.

In terms of timing, the Groom usually starts in his or her own house first, followed by the bride, usually 30 mins to an hour later. This usually means the groom starts about 10pm and the bride about 11pm.

Set up: Usually a pair of dragon and phoenix candles are light. In some customs, glutinous rice balls (usually 9 small balls) or mee Sua are prepared to be eaten at the end of the ceremony. The comb is prepared together with a red string (the same thickness as the usual hairband)

When the candles are set up, the bride and groom baths with water soaked in Pomelo or pomegranate leaves Ian’s change into new Pyjamas.

The parents then comb the hair of the groom or bride and with each come, they recite the following blessings.
1) 一梳梳到尾
May the marriage be eternal
2) 二梳梳到白发齐眉
May you love each other till your hair turn white
May you have lots of children and grandchildren
4) 四梳白发齐眉
May you live a long life.

After the combing ends, the red string is used to tie the hair of the bride and to be placed in the pocket of the groom. This either signifies the end of the ceremony, or if there are glutinous rice ball or mee Sua prepared, then the groom and bridge eats those to signify the end of the ceremony.

That’s it, that’s the full version of Shu Tou or called Shang Tou by some. To me, this is a ceremony for the parents to bless the marriage in a small intimate setting before the actual wedding. This is often the time when the parents share some marriage tips and enjoy some family time together. Don’t let the small details stress you out, the intention of a loving intimate together is the most important. The steps and items are symbolic in nature.