The Next Big Thing: On “Red All Over,” My Forthcoming Memoir

(At my wedding banquet in China, posing with one of our guests)

I am thrilled that Susan Blumberg-Kason invited me to participate in the The Next Big Thing, an Internet meme where writers answer questions about their latest or forthcoming works.

Susan is the author of the forthcoming memoir Good Chinese Wife. This book traces the five years she spent trying to assimilate into a Chinese family, after jumping quickly into marriage with a Chinese man. But over time, she comes to reconsider what she thought it meant to be a wife, have a family, and raise a child — and faces the tough choice of whether or not to leave her Chinese family.

I’ve read portions of her memoir, and I can honestly say it’s a gripping story written from the heart. I loved Susan as a narrator because she shares so many of her vulnerabilities on the page. I liked the unusual, non-linear structure of her book as well, which really adds to the drama of her story and keeps you turning the pages.

And I’m sure many of you, like myself, can’t wait to get your hands on Susan’s book. To learn more, check out her Next Big Thing post from last week, or read the brief introduction to Good Chinese Wife on her website.

Now for my interview questions, which I’ll follow with introductions to several authors to watch for. Continue reading “The Next Big Thing: On “Red All Over,” My Forthcoming Memoir”

Ask the Yangxifu: How to Wear A Qipao In Your Western Wedding Ceremony

N asks:

I’m engaged and planning a wedding in the States w/ my Chinese-American fiancee. He suggested incorporating a qipao into the ceremony. But I already have wedding colors for my bridesmaids’ dresses (green) and don’t like wearing red. If I decide to wear a qipao, how should I incorporate it into my ceremony? Must I wear red? Also, I will be going to China later this year, should I consider buying one over there? Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: How to Wear A Qipao In Your Western Wedding Ceremony”

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

(photo by kanegen via

Grace asks:

I’m thinking of marrying my Chinese boyfriend. I don’t mind (except for the cost) of doing weddings in both the US and China. But which one for the “real” one?


When you ask about the “real” ceremony, I’m assuming you’re envisioning one big, official ceremony and a second smaller and more intimate affair. But here’s the deal — regardless of what you’re imagining, I can guarantee that “small” and “intimate” will NEVER apply to the ceremony in China. Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Why Your Chinese Wedding Ceremony Will Always Be Big, Fat and Loud”

Ember Swift Interview Part 2 – How China Changed Her Life

Ember Swift and Guo Jian, during one of their wedding ceremonies (photo courtesy of Ember Swift)

Last week, I introduced you to Canadian artist Ember Swift’s professional career — from how China changed her sound to what’s next for her as a musician/singer-songwriter and a writer. If you missed it, check out Part 1 of my Ember Swift interview. Also, you can purchase her music at iTunes and her website, peruse her must-read blogs, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Sina Weibo.

But when it comes to her writing, Ember isn’t afraid to get personal. She has written about her marriage to Guo Jian — the lead singer/bassist of Long Shen Dao — from the unique perspective of a queer woman. She has also shared her experience of being pregnant, giving birth and raising a baby in China, including navigating life with a Chinese mother-in-law who assists with child care.

In Part 2 of our interview, I asked Ember about her personal life — from how she met Guo Jian to what it’s like raising a baby in a Chinese family.  Continue reading “Ember Swift Interview Part 2 – How China Changed Her Life”

I’m a Feminist AND It’s Tradition in China? On Not Changing My Maiden Name

John and I holding a bouquet of flowers after our marriage registration“I am wondering why you have kept your maiden name?” wrote a reader. “When I married my Chinese husband [many] years ago, I was terribly proud to take his name, and still am.”

So I wrote back to her with my primary reasons. One that as a feminist, I’ve never felt comfortable with the idea that a woman must take on her husband’s name in marriage. And two, that in China, women traditionally keep their last names even after marrying.

When but I thought about my choices later on, I had to laugh. After all, isn’t it ironic that my feminist side finds refuge in China’s tradition? A tradition that, I’m certain, wasn’t created to accommodate feminists like me. Let’s just say I pretty much never expect “tradition” to agree with my feminist perspective on anything…and yet this time, it did. Sometimes, tradition — especially those of my husband’s country — will surprise me in unexpected ways.

But the best part of it all? No one in China ever raises an eyebrow at my surname, and then asks, “Why didn’t you change your name?”

Instead, the Chinese have other ways to put me on the spot, like, “So, do you have children?” But that’s another question for another day. 😉

P.S.: If you’re actually debating whether or not to change your name in marriage, see my post on this.

Are Yangxifu (The Western Wives of Chinese Men) More Difficult Wives?

A Godzilla figurine dressed in a white wedding gown
(photo by theresa21)

“It’s hard to have a yangxifu [洋媳妇, the foreign wife of a Chinese man].” I know it seems strange, but every time my husband says this, we both bust up in laughter.

I don’t know when the phrase turned into our running joke, but I know why it makes us laugh. After all, I’ve never been the sort of woman who demanded a brand-spanking-new condo, car, and lots of cash; we’ve always rented, driven secondhand cars, and felt grateful just to pay our bills at the end of the month. I’ve never dragged John to the Apple store and begged him for an iPhone or any other status-gadget; instead I bought us dumb phones at the grocery store for a few bucks, and later lost mine somewhere in my car. And while I want a wedding ring someday from my husband, I’m content to wait for it until John graduates and lands his dream job. In short, if you looked up “demanding wife” or even “bridezilla” in the dictionary, you sure as hell wouldn’t find my photo there.

So today, I happened to nudge John with this phrase, how hard it is to have a yangxifu, while walking through the park. We laughed, as usual. But then I went off script, and asked him, “Do you think there’s any truth in it?” Continue reading “Are Yangxifu (The Western Wives of Chinese Men) More Difficult Wives?”

Ask the Yangxifu: Should I Wear a Qipao in My Chinese Wedding?

John and I wearing traditional red Chinese wedding clothing -- including my red qipao -- at our wedding
Should she also wear a qipao, just as I did in my wedding (shown here with John)?

Angie asks:

My fiancee is Chinese and we’ve been debating dresses in the process of planning our wedding. His family is bent on having me wear a red qipao, they say it is the tradition. I wouldn’t mind wearing a qipao, but then my family is Irish on my mother’s side and they told me that only sluts wear red on their wedding day. I am feeling so conflicted about this, and was wondering what you thought. Do you think I should wear a qipao? Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Should I Wear a Qipao in My Chinese Wedding?”

Double Happiness: Chinese Wedding Stories from Four Western Women

John and I kissing at our wedding
John and I, kissing at our wedding

I’m a sucker for Chinese weddings — especially when they involve my fellow yangxifu. Which is why I couldn’t help but put together a little compendium of wedding stories about Western women and Chinese men tying the knot, from getting the little red marriage books to slipping into those little red qipaos. I’ve included snippets of stories from Tianjin Shannon, Tales from Hebei’s Kelly Sandor-Yang, Ember Swift, and My Beijing Survival Diary’s Michelle Guo. Continue reading “Double Happiness: Chinese Wedding Stories from Four Western Women”

Double Happiness: Chinese Love Stories That End With Weddings

Samantha Mead and her Chinese husband
(photo from Samantha Mead)

I’m taking a break from posting from May 28 until June 8. But in the meantime, I’m sharing some of my classic content — which might either be new to you, or just a great read worth revisiting. Either way, hope you enjoy these, and I’ll see you June 11. 😉


As I said last week, it’s wedding season in the US. If you’re in the mood for weddings, enjoy these classic stories from the Double Happiness archives of love between Chinese men and Western women that ends with a wedding.

A Western Woman Walks Into a Bar. “A Western woman walks into a bar…” sounds like the start of a joke. But instead of coming back with a punchline, a number of Western women came back with Chinese men who they would eventually marry. Featuring stories from Jo Kelly-Bai, Kelly Sandor-Yang, and White Girl in a Chinese-American World.

The Accidental Online Dater. A white American woman tells the story of how a free online dating account she never intended to use led her to her future Chinese husband.

How a Chinese Man Found Love in Brazil. Fred, who was born in Hong Kong and primarily raised in the US, never expected he would marry a white woman, let alone one from Brazil.


Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Wedding Advice

A bride and groom running through a park in the summer
(photo by Fran Flores)

I’m taking a break from posting from May 28 until June 8. But in the meantime, I’m sharing some of my classic content — which might either be new to you, or just a great read worth another look. Either way, hope you enjoy these, and I’ll see you June 11. 😉


Here in the US, June means the beginning of the season of brides, bouquets and beautiful ceremonies — wedding time. If you have weddings on your mind, check out some of my past advice for Chinese weddings.

Ask the Yangxifu: A Big, Fat, Traditional Chinese Wedding? What if your Chinese boyfriend’s parents want the big, traditional Chinese wedding — and you don’t?

Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Wedding Gifts for the Parents. What gifts should you give to the parents for a Chinese wedding? I offer examples of wedding gifts in China, and suggestions on what to bring.

Ask the Yangxifu: Big Fat Chinese Weddings Revisited. She’s ready to marry her Shanghainese fiancee, but not ready to face the huge 5-star-hotel wedding his family wants. What should she do?