A Big, Fat, Traditional Chinese Wedding? | Speaking of China

23 Responses

  1. melanie gao
    melanie gao February 12, 2010 at 5:14 am | | Reply

    That’s great advice about the wedding. I would add that as you do your wedding planning, don’t forget to clarify your expectations about the honeymoon.

    My Chinese husband and I planned a honeymoon and in my mind it was going to be a wonderful chance for the two of us to relax together after all the wedding hoopla.

    In his mind it was just another trip, and he invited his mom.

    By the time he told me it was too late to un-invite her so it was indeed the three of us. That was when I realized once and for all that when your partner and you don’t have mutual cultural norms, you have to talk through everything and don’t assume anything.

    Thankfully my mom-in-law is super and the three of us had fun. Maybe not the kind of fun I had initially envisioned but still fun. 🙂

  2. Jessica
    Jessica February 12, 2010 at 12:56 pm | | Reply

    Chinese weddings can be kind of fun too, if a bit exhausting. Although having a big banquet is important in order to give the family face, you really don’t have to worry about a lot of ceremony or formality — it is mostly eating and toasting. You will probably have to get up in front of the wedding banquet and perhaps say a few words. Traditionally you will pay respects to both sets of parents, to the ancestors, and to each other.

    We had our wedding in the village because my husband’s elderly father wouldn’t have made it to the city for the wedding and as far as I’m concerned country weddings are pretty fun! The food is great too, great homestyle country goodness. Of course Ana is in America so she won’t be having a wedding in China.

    For our wedding we incorporated some of our own traditions too. It is your big day also so I don’t think you should feel like you have to defer to the in laws about everything — if there are some traditions which you’d like to have at your wedding make your voice heard so you won’t feel like you’re just along for the ride at your own wedding. Or, like Jocelyn said, you could have your own smaller quieter ceremony after the big Chinese to-do.


  3. roueen
    roueen February 12, 2010 at 3:50 pm | | Reply

    I was not already in any wedding ceremony in china, but further to above post, I think Chinese ceremony is very similar with Persian Ceremony . Actually I hate very big wedding parties. but I have to see in Future, for sure , I have to follow up my wife family in china (my future Chinese wife :D) . this post was very useful for me, I hope i can get more experience from you.

  4. YZY
    YZY February 12, 2010 at 11:33 pm | | Reply

    haha, You guys are really really interesting. First of all, a little intro abt myself. I am in my early 20s, pure pure pure chinese man from beijing, studying in canada for almost 6 years. so yes, i kindda know both sides.

    For the wedding, girl, no worries at all!! we, chinese, have very very different wedding traditions depending on at where you hold the ceremony, what the chinese family background is, like education, job, and so on.

    My best advise is that ask ur husband every procedures in the party because every step has its story… such as calling ur mom-in-law actually “mother” to mark you and her become one family, then give them cups of tea to mark that they accept you as a member of their famiy, it goes on and on…..

    After all, what u gonna find out is that they are pretty much teaching you what they expect to do in that marriage. haha, weired huh? You are expected to have a baby(traditionally assumed a boy) as quick as possible while you guys are responsible for a “quality gurantee” of the baby.

    Yet, there is really no RULES for what you have to be done. So, just talk to the family, everything gonna be alrite.

    BTW, i really really enjoy in this blog cuz i really really experience in toronto that misunderstanding abt Asians, in china particular, is HHHHUUUUUGGGGGEEE!!

  5. RC
    RC February 15, 2010 at 11:28 pm | | Reply


    My experience is different since I am a foreign man that married a Chinese woman, but feel that since everyone’s wedding day is the most important day of their lives, it is necessary to repeatedly mention to your in-laws this point and make sure you are proactive in the planning and let them know (as well as your fiance) what YOU want. Bottom line is if your husband/wife loves you, you can both have the wedding you want.

    Each family is different just like in every country. When my wife and I were married, we compromised. I explained to my in-laws that their daughter was not marrying a Chinese man and we were getting married in China, not my home country (US), thus my parents and friends would need to travel. My wife and I also explained the wedding custom that usually occurs in my family and mentioned on numerous occasions what we want and expect. This allowed us to have the ceromonies we both wanted.

    My wife’s hometown is about an hour from the city we live in China, so my wife’s parents suggested that we have the lunch ceremony in her hometown and then the dinner closer to our home (which was a huge and pleasant surprise to me). This made the arrangement more convenient for my parents and friends from out of town and we were able to have the Chinese ceremony at lunch and the Western ceremony at dinner.

    Also, in regards to the drinking….I have lived in China for eleven years and do not know any bride/groom (ok, one Western groom) who drank alcohol during the ceremony (we used sprite and everyone knew it)……..but definitely when we were finished from going table to table.

    Good luck!

  6. Hao Hao Report February 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
  7. uberVU - social comments February 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  8. Joel
    Joel February 19, 2010 at 1:42 am | | Reply

    What kind of “slightly naughty wedding games” might she have to endure? I’ve only seen/specifically heard of a couple, though I know there’s a lot out here. What have you witnessed/heard of?

  9. Andrew
    Andrew February 21, 2010 at 10:00 pm | | Reply

    My parents dont really care too much about a huge wedding, but some do, however, being a non Chinese you have certain advantages, for example, the bride normally have to be a good hostess for the wedding. If your non Chinese you are not expected to do this, you can just sit there and look pretty, (note: ppl will stare at you, not because you are weird, because you are pretty and they rarely see non Chinese girls dressed up in the traditional wedding dress). Let the man do all the work I say, muhahahahahaha, and enjoy the experience.

  10. Jennie
    Jennie March 9, 2010 at 12:43 pm | | Reply

    My husband and I got engaged in a Suzhou garden last year and surprised his family with it 😉 Some celebration dinners were held after the engagement and my husband and I got married in my home village in Sweden in October last year. We’re planning to arrange some kind of wedding dinner for his family in China in June when we go to China again. And fortunately his parents are with us about keeping it quite simple so it will most likely just be a dinner somewhere nice with the closest family 🙂

  11. Michael
    Michael September 13, 2010 at 8:01 am | | Reply

    Jocelyn, I think its great you were brave and went ahead and appeased the cultural divide by participating in such a wedding. I’m sure your husband was appreciative. I would have been scared too. This type of thing always makes me wonder though about cultural traditions. Do we not have any in the U.S? Seems like we are always the ones conforming to appease a tradition that must be greater than our own? Is it because we just don’t value tradition as much?

    I’m not saying its bad, I still commend you but when I read the answer and they said its not about you, it’s about the family I know a lot of girls who would of said GTH. It’s my day. hmm

  12. Michael
    Michael September 14, 2010 at 10:23 pm | | Reply

    Ah, I would have left the Catholic Church too so I can’t blame you there. Of course I was raised in a Christian Church so my values were set early as happens in a lot of cases. Honestly being a guy, I would just conform with what the girl wanted and if my bride was Chinese I wouldn’t mind crossing over cultural traditions. I actually hesitate more when its crossing religious traditions, like if she was catholic and wanted to get married there.

  13. Michael
    Michael September 15, 2010 at 7:25 am | | Reply

    I look forward to reading it, you have a great blog here and interesting topics. Keep up the good work and I just followed you on twitter 🙂

  14. Lisa
    Lisa November 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm | | Reply

    This is a great blog and I thought I’ll chime in, coming from Singapore where there are quite a number of inter-racial marriages, and as an ethnic Chinese who married a white Canadian husband. I don’t think that there is any need for one culture to conform for the other. The wedding affords you a huge opportunity to show respect to and gain insights into the other culture that you are marrying into.

    With inter-racial marriages here, it is very common to have two types of ceremonies. A friend of mine got married first in a Hindu temple ceremony with a buffet reception at the temple, and then the next day had a Catholic ceremony and sit down dinner. So both cultures were embraced, which I think is what weddings are about! In my case, my husband was completely happy to have a Chinese wedding. I was happy to have another wedding in Canada for my husband’s family but as they are laidback folk, they said there was no need.

    Jocelyn is right that a Chinese wedding is a celebration, not just for the couple but the family. Ana, this is why your husband is reluctant to budge on the issue; it is an emotional issue. You’ll find that generally it comes down to the banquet itself. You can probably eliminate mostly everything but the tea ceremony and banquet. And with your husband’s support and his family’s understanding, I think you can make further adjustments. When I got married, we cut out all the traditional rituals and the rounds of drinking, and my girlfriends designed only very gentle games to put my husband through. Everyone is much kinder and more understanding to foreigners. I still remind my husband that he got off easy 🙂

    Ana, your wedding preparations are probably already underway, but I would encourage you to talk through it with your fiance, if you haven’t yet. I totally agree with Jocelyn that I think you should hold a simple, private ceremony _before_ your wedding banquet. This is so that you don’t feel like your wedding has been eaten up by the banquet. Also, you should know that a chinese banquet does not need to be held on the “wedding day” itself. It can be held the next day, or even months after the civil/church ceremony. So there is no need to stress yourself out packing it all in on one day.

    Lastly, I sense that a lot of it is fear of the unknown. It could just be that you don’t know what to expect. Get your fiance to take you to a couple of Chinese weddings so that you can get familiar with them. My husband had similar concerns, and he ended up really enjoying the day and having a lot of fun.

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