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?”

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.


How My Husband Embraced My Wedding Ring Tradition

Photo of a bride with a bouquet and her wedding ring
(photo by Crystal Jensen)

Ah, wedding rings. Whenever I see an ad for them on TV, I immediately shout out “Hūnjiè,” (婚戒), the Chinese word for this most intimate of all jewelry, and then shoot my husband a grin. He usually laughs and nods at what’s become our husband-wife running joke — that I still have no wedding ring, and John still “owes” me.

This isn’t some post-wedding inner Bridezilla of mine coming out, as if I enjoyed putting my husband on a guilt trip for all the ways our wedding never lived up to expectations. No, as weddings go, I’m pretty happy over how we tied the knot and wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve never even pressured him about buying things; if anything, I’m the one usually clamping down on our family budget, and he’s the one encouraging me to “reward myself” with something I really wanted. Still, behind this running joke of ours remains a real promise — that, someday, he hopes to buy me the perfect wedding ring. Continue reading “How My Husband Embraced My Wedding Ring Tradition”

2012 Blogs By Western Women Who Love Chinese Men

John and I kissing at our wedding
It's the 2012 list of China blogs by Western women who love Chinese men

It’s March and just days from International Women’s Day — time for an update to my list of blogs by Western women who love Chinese men.

Last year, I had over 30 on my list. This year, it’s over 40. I’m psyched to see the growing number of voices in the community. I also decided to take a stab at grouping the blogs this year — authors, let me know what you think.

So without further ado, here they are: Continue reading “2012 Blogs By Western Women Who Love Chinese Men”

Ask the Yangxifu: Big Fat Chinese Weddings Revisited

John and I standing before the "Double Happiness" banner at our wedding
(John and I at our wedding in China)


I’m 27 and I was born and raised in Europe but my fiancee is Shanghainese so we’re gonna have one of those Chinese super expensive weddings in a 5 stars hotel in Shanghai and I really dont know what to do. I really do not like the Chinese wedding style made up of performances, games and speech. Besides relatives, I invited around 20-30 friends to the wedding here and I’m gettin more and more nervous about what is going to happen during the feast. We have an MC that will entertain the guests and lead the night but both with him and the wedding planner I had a really hard time to plan everything and trying to make as nice and simple as possible but unfortunately there are some things such as exchange of vows and rings on the stage in front of everybody and organize some games for the guests, apparently Chinese people really appreciate and enjoy them. You went through this already so can you or anyone else who went through this and can give me some advises? Continue reading “Ask the Yangxifu: Big Fat Chinese Weddings Revisited”