Ask the Yangxifu: Why Your Chinese Wedding Ceremony Will Always Be Big, Fat and Loud | Speaking of China

23 Responses

  1. Drew
    Drew February 15, 2013 at 2:19 am | | Reply

    Sweet! My Chinese wedding rant got quoted!

  2. Barbara
    Barbara February 15, 2013 at 7:41 am | | Reply

    This year when my bf’s mom gave me the red envelope she said that we should get married quickly (she mentioned marriage for the first time cause they finally met my parents during this Spring Festival) and have a big house 😉 Later when we were counting the money we got this year my bf said that marriage sucks cause you don’t get the red envelope any more but you have to give it to everyone else so we shouldn’t get married 😉

  3. Barbara
    Barbara February 15, 2013 at 7:52 am | | Reply

    BTW, my bf’s sister got married last year and there was no ceremony, just a dinner in a restaurant and there were like ten people invited cause my bf’s sister and her husband prefered to save the money and go for a trip to Yunnan later.

  4. Bruce
    Bruce February 15, 2013 at 8:12 am | | Reply

    I think saving the money for a few trips is ideal.. I’ve been to big weddings before (700-800). If you don’t have money , don’t do a big wedding.

  5. David
    David February 15, 2013 at 8:47 am | | Reply

    there can’t possibly be that many people named “Lee” in the world, right?

    White Lees and Chinese Lees…most common surname in the world…although I doubt you will see many (any?) white Lees in a Chinese wedding even here in the US.

  6. Sbard
    Sbard February 15, 2013 at 11:32 am | | Reply

    Stuff like this is why my wife and I are glad we eloped, between the potential for extended family drama and the fact that my father-in-law would try to invite everyone in the neighborhood. I guess we’ll see what happens when I go to finally meet the in-laws in person next year.

  7. xl
    xl February 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm | | Reply

    I’ve noticed a difference in type of wedding among my own family and family friends pre-&post-2000. My relatives who got married in the 80s and 90s had smaller affairs, usually just a large dinner with family. But weddings in the last 10-15yrs are more like what you described. One thing I found particularly strange was the casualness of dress at several of the weddings I’ve seen. At my cousin’s wedding last year, her maid of honor wore jeans and a t-shirt. Same thing with alot of the other guests…only the parents of the bride was dressed up! I saw guests in jeans, sweatpants, and various states of casualness. Is this just my family or has anyone noticed that in other Chinese weddings? What happened to dress pants and formal ware in China!?!?

  8. Aurora
    Aurora February 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm | | Reply

    Sounds similar to Russian wedding, that is the tradition of paying money to the married couple. My parents threw a wedding party for family only, although my sister invited her friends and coworkers to come.

  9. centaur
    centaur February 16, 2013 at 3:57 am | | Reply

    In big cities people tend to have smaller and more western-style wedding banquets, where in the country side you get more big noisy banquets (with loud fire crackers). Compared with western weddings Chinese weddings don’t have the religion element, and are mostly for entertaining guests and less of a “ceremony.”

    And don’t forget to get a glamor shots album after the wedding ceremony!

  10. Bruce
    Bruce February 16, 2013 at 9:09 am | | Reply

    Yes, it is true that you can borrow money from relatives. The red envelopes are there for a reason ,but sometimes guests put less money in the red envelopes so you will have a deficit. That’s when borrowed money is used.

  11. Barbara
    Barbara February 16, 2013 at 11:32 am | | Reply

    Sometimes couples give money to their guests too. It’s rather symbolic than a large amount of money but still…
    I’ve been at one tibetan wedding and got some money from the bride’s family too. It made me feel a bit guilty cause I arrived there with empty hands… But anyway, to me it was the best wedding ever, I’ve spent there two days, the ceremony was very touching, the feast was humble if one would compare it to modern chinese weddings but I’ve never ate such a delicious yak meat in my entire life, even the yak butter tea tasted great in the morning 😉 The most wonderful thing was that it was so authentic, those people didn’t care about the “face”, what others will think about them, they didn’t pretend that they are someone else. That wedding always will be a great memory despite the hangover and altitude sickness on the next day 😉 Unfortunately, I recall chinese weddings with a slight disgust cause they often try to be whiter then whites, imitate foreign customs without understanding them and the guests seem to come there just because they want to stuff their bellies with food. Once I was sitting next to a girl who didn’t knew the couple at all (she was a girlfriend of the groom’s classmate from primary school or sth like that) but she arrived to the wedding well prepared – with a bag full of lunch boxes to pack the food and another bag to pack the fruits. We managed to eat one orange with my bf before that girl grasped all of them and left without even saying “goodbye” to the bride and groom.

  12. Jean
    Jean February 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm | | Reply

    Maybe I’m getting abit old, but like other situations where the couple feels pressured to have a big/expensive wedding, hopefully the focus remains on the couple to enjoy their own wedding without anyone going into a financial hole.

    What I do like most about Chinese weddings (I’ve only been to North American ones.) the food and the fact that children are more often invited as part of the family at the banquets.

  13. forest
    forest February 16, 2013 at 9:28 pm | | Reply

    I don’t get the reason for big fat and loud wedding. I think it would be a family and close friends circle social event, plus couple get away for honeymoon. Why over spends for someone you barely know ?

  14. Bruce
    Bruce February 17, 2013 at 8:34 am | | Reply

    @Forest, let me answer your question. When each guest enters the restaurant, there will be people from the bride/groom’s side to drop down his/her name as record on a book. When the party is over, that book will be handed to the bride/groom’s family. When you or those guests who will have kids in the future and once they become adults and planning to get married , you will open that book to see who you are going to invite for your kid’s wedding.

  15. mira
    mira February 18, 2013 at 1:54 am | | Reply

    Remembering who gave what amount (hongbao) is also documented in the same way as mentioned above.

    At my friends brothers wedding, his father carried a note book and he’d document everyone’s name and the amount they gave.

    My question is in reciprocating do you give the same amount or more?
    Also more and more young Chinese (of marital age) don’t like giving hongbao due to the amount of money they have to give.

    It’s common for someone to give 1/2 their monthly wage to the bride and groom, they know they will “get it back” once they are married but even so they find it difficult; many say they’d prefer to give a gift as we do in Western weddings.

  16. Bruce
    Bruce February 18, 2013 at 8:20 am | | Reply


    You don’t have to give the same amount but within standard amount.

  17. Bruce
    Bruce February 20, 2013 at 2:28 pm | | Reply

    Most people will give the same and some people will give more. It all depends on how well they know you. Prepare for the deficit like always then you’ll be fine.

  18. Sara
    Sara February 20, 2013 at 10:16 pm | | Reply

    This matches my recent experience. My husband and I are visiting his parents for the Spring Festival, and we began to talk about when the Chinese wedding would be. We had registered earlier this year, and I was thinking that the wedding would be in the summer or fall… imagine my surprise when my mother-in-law said she was actually planning it for next year, just after the Spring Festival! ^^ Lots of reasons were given, including that it’s unlucky to have a wedding during the Year of the Snake, Horse being better, that the banquet rooms at good hotels are booked for about a year in advance anyway so we have to book now for next year, that they have to make a guest list of several hundred people and choose the best time when most of them would be available to come, that they have to make preparations for the ceremony and food, etc.

    Additionally, my husband is still working on his thesis for his master’s degree and he is only now beginning to search for jobs. They said that it would be very embarrassing for them to have a wedding in the summer right after he graduated if, for some reason, he still hadn’t found a job by that time. Their guests would look down on them for letting their son get married without a job to support me and possible children, etc. Making the wedding ceremony next year gives him enough time to find a job before then so that when their friends ask them what their son does they can name a job title and company.

    I don’t mind these various Chinese traditions or ideas about how to do a proper wedding and save face with their friends. It’s part of the family and culture I’ve married into. 🙂 We’re also going to do at least a reception, if not another entire wedding, in the states next year for my family and friends who can’t afford to come to China (and that’s pretty much everyone). We wondered what day we should choose for our anniversary, and decided to settle on the day we registered, not either of the ceremonies. Although having multiple weddings is actually a good reason to have multiple celebrations throughout the year, I think… ^^

  19. askdsk
    askdsk February 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm | | Reply

    Been to quite a few weddings both in states and China. Chinese weddings are much less meaningful for the couple. The whole thing is planned for someone else, the family and relatives. In China, you are afraid to be invited to a wedding as a guest. It is a really expensive meal with your hongbao. It makes you feel like being robbed.
    Chinese wedding is more practical in every aspect. Western weddings help to create your own memories. You need to do both for your own sake. Wedding with a foreigner is bigger for show and tell.

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