Q: What are Chinese weddings like?
I have never been to one, but wish I was! Can anyone who's been to one before describe what's different from weddings as we know them?
Hopefully some of my Chinese friends will get married soon
I've been to about 7 or 8 (my wife is from a large complicated family) and in the main they are as boring as hell, especially if you don't understand the language, (Guangdonghua in the case of my wife's family). They are even worse if you are expecting a 'western' celebration with alcohol and dancing.
Usually the bride and groom meet everyone at the door of the hotel, with the best man and chief bridesmaid (or equivalents) they offer you candy and / or cigarettes and you give a red envelope with money in, (it is usual to make a 'profit' on a wedding). Then once everyone is seated the meal is served, once the meal is underway the bride and groom enter and a compere makes a humourous speech (if you understand it) they pour champagne into a tower of glasses and then they sit and join in the meal. After a short while they go around all the tables and offer a toast to the table which is returned (at my wedding my wife and I were told to toast in water to avoid getting drunk, I think this is normal). Then once they have done that a few minutes later they go around the tables again and offer everyone sweet tea or a carton of milk for which a small red envelope is usually offered. Once this is done, sometimes they throw sweets and nuts for the children as the guests leave (sometimes this is missed). That is usually it. If it starts at 2pm it will be over by 8pm. The closer to the family you are the more boring is is.
The best one I went to was just a friend of my wife and we were sat right on the outside and a steady flow of beer was forthcoming, after the wedding we all went to a KTV top night!
Of course going to one is worth it just for the experience, but if the ones I've been to are typical one is enough!
A typical Chinese wedding will basically be two separate activities. One will be the real wedding, done at the Marriage Bureau, with no exchange of vows or anything similar, just file application, documents, photo and pay fee, and you get back a Red Booklet that says you are married now.
And the other will be the Wedding Banquet, which is a dinner celebration with lots of drinking. The bride will change clothes a few times, the groom once at the end before departing. You as a guest should gibe a red envelope with money inside, at least 100 Rmb per person, depending on relationship with the celebrants. Speeches, toasts, and at least a five course meal sometimes as many as 10 different dishes will be served.
I have been to some weddings by myself, and I must say it was boring to a point, since I missed a lot of what was going on. But with a group of friends, and someone to help you understand what is going on and its significance, it could be quite interesting. Just make sure you do bring a bottle of water, or a Sprite, to control some of the alcohol intake.
I got married here back in 2006 and as an English guy really had very little idea of what was going to happen at the time.
It really starts a few days before with the photos. We spent a day at the studio having various pictures taken in various forms of clothing all supplied by the photography studio. Some photos are taken in house and others were outside at a couple of local parks. This was the first thing to strike me as different, there we were having our wedding photos taken and we were not even married yet.
Also prior to the wedding we had the marriage, and I am told that many Chinese view the marriage and the wedding as different things. The marriage is the formal part of having your paperwork checked and the marriage certificate issued, I remember coming out of the office thinking was that it? I remember someone saying that getting married here was akin to visiting your local tax office, very official.
The wedding however followed up three days later. Started after breakfast when I had to turn up at her parents apartment to collect my bride. Firstly I had to find her. she was "hidden" in one bedroom with some of her friends. I am not allowed to see her until I have answered some questions put to me by her friends through a closed door, each question accompanied by a red envelope containing a small amount of money. Once they considered I had answered enough questions correctly, there were only about six or seven, I was allowed in to see her. I then had to find her shoes which were hidden and put them on her feet. We then go back out into the living room where she makes a small thank-you speech to her parents for their care of her, and I have to give her father the bride price in another red envelope, this was really just a token amount of about 2,000 rmb.
Her mum then cooks some special noodles for the two of us and then we have to feed each other. Then I had to take her down to the wedding car, but her feet are not allowed to touch the ground between the front door of the apartment and the car and we are on the fourth floor. I carried her down on my back whilst people are scattering money on the floor which I am expected to tread on each note. The temperature that day was about 34c and for those of you who know Nanning and appreciate how high the humidity is here can appreciate how hot I felt by the time I put her down on the backseat of the car.
Believe me you really need the antiperspirant. We then drove around the city and stopped at another park for more photos. The photo studio is with us all day filming which will eventually be put onto DVD. We then get back to my hotel at around lunch time for rest. Late afternoon we kick off again with the wedding dinner. We have to be in the foyer of the hotel to welcome all the guests, accept their red envelopes and hand out the sweets and cigarettes, they also sign the guest book with suitable comments.
We finally get into the restaurant and we have to take the stage in front of the guests where we exchange rings and I give a speech, preceded by a speech from my now brother in law. The champagne is poured over the stack of glasses, we take a glass each and at last we get to sit down and eat, by now I am starving. After eating we then go to every table and toast everyone.
All in all a great day, and I enjoyed it.
China is a huge country with a lot of differences, which means that the weddings are very different from province to province and from city to city.
I got married in Denmark and all our pictures were taken there, then in China we had the celebration.
My marriage was a traditional village wedding in my wife's hometown. (near Yangzhou in Jiangsu)
It lasted 3 days, where the first day was not so important persons, the second day was important people and the 3rd day was to thank everyone who helped during the wedding.
I don't think there is any reason to go into details, but it was different than what others described in a lot of ways (heavy drinking as one thing) and similar in other ways (mainly the red envelope/money part).
If you have the chance to go to one, then you should do it, but expect it to be boring, especially if you don't understand the local dialect.
I have been to five or six in Shenyang and they were all OK. Slight differences from those described here but generally similar. First part is again the legal one. The photos are taken prior by a studio. They are quite expensive and consist of a number of large books, wall hangings and large glass or framed portraits that are usually hung on the wall of the marital home * (*expected to be provided by the groom's family). The wedding day starts early and can be proceeded by the letting off of fireworks on the night before at the brides parents house. The groom arrives and has to answer the questions and then a game is played where the groom and his mates have to act like they are pushing down the door while the brides friends resist. When he gets inside there is the proposal, noodles are eaten and the first red envelopes are exchanged. He then as said earlier carries the bride to the car(. The more cars in the procession and the better model of car the more face for the family. In the area of the brides house red paper squares are placed over all drainage pit covers as this is supposed to bring luck. On the the ceremony which can be late in the morning or early in the afternoon. Guests arrive and are seated with snacks, sweets and cigarettes supplied on each table. The bridal party arrives and the MC performs the ritual with speeches, pining red flowers on the others parents, the champaign tower thing and there may also be singers or musicians playing or at least a few songs played over the PA. Once that is done the eating a drinking starts. Plenty of beer and Chinese wine at each table and toasts a plenty. The couple then circulate offering a cigarette to every adult who then gives them the red envelope in return. The bride and groom give in turn red envelopes with smaller amounts of money to all the children present. Whole thing lasts about 2-3 hours and once the food is eaten and money exchanged the happy couple leave and in a few minutes everyone is gone. Quite different to the long night of drinking and dancing one finds at a wedding in Australia.
Unless it's a really good Chinese friend's wedding then being invited to a Chinese wedding is just asking you to take part in a financial transaction. If you only give several hundred then your basically risking losing some face and being considered cheap. I've been invited to several weddings. I was excited for the first couple then I realized nobody gave a shit if I attended. Of the six i've attended, 45 minutes to 1 hour ceremony. 30-45 minutes of eating and then over. People won't stick around and enjoy the entire meal (Odd, because Chinese generally take 1-2 hours to have a normal dinner). They prefer to leave as quickly as possible for some reason. I asked several people and they all had different reasons for this. Because I definitely wasn't buying that everybody had work or something to do on a Sunday afternoon. Depending on who the couple is getting married, your pretty much looking at 1.5 - 2 hours of boredom for at the very least 200 RMB. Not to mention, you won't have enough to get your fill of food or even get buzzed on bai jiu.
Also, from my experience, they are usually at around noon. So your looking at lunch instead of Dinner like Western weddings. No real social hour to speak of to get to know who is at the wedding. I think long and hard before accepting wedding invitations nowadays.