Posted by: Lotus Light | March 26, 2011


The Bride

Chinese weddings are so much fun.  Firstly, they are pretty short – for the guests.  Mostly we spend one or two hours at the wedding, unlike Aussie weddings where they can start around midday and continue on until after midnight.  Chinese weddings are based around eating and drinking, and so for the guests, once that part is over, it is time to go back to work, or home or sleep.  Most weddings seem to take place just before lunch, and are over in plenty of time for an afternoon nap – soemthimes necessary because of the copious amounts of alcohol consumed.

For the wedding couple, weddings are much more drawn out affairs.  At any time over a fairly long period of time different parts happen.  Going to the ‘Wedding Bureau’ to formally sign takes half an hour or so.  That is the ‘official’ marriage in the eyes of the government.  BUT… family and friends don’t really believe the marriage has happened until the celebrations occur.  These too can be long drawn out affairs.  Some couples have three “weddings”. One at the groom’s home, for his family and friends; another at her home, for her family and friends, and; the third where they work for mutual friends and bosses.  I’ve had friends begin their we3ddings in September and have the final celebration the following May.  Some couples may not live together until they have had the family wedding celebrations – no matter how long before they were ‘officially’ married.


Wedding photos can be taken months before or after the wedding, depending on what season the bride feels will make the right look for her.  Most brides hire their wedding dresses – yes plural!  Western influence has invaded and many brides will dress in the big, white gowns loaded with glitter and furbelows for the early part of the wedding.  This is usually when the groom tries to steal the bride from her house, and is repulsed by her friends until he and his friends pay enough money to gain her release.  Then they will change into a traditional red qipao for the ceremony at the restaurant, and may even change again for the circuit amongst the guests, accepting their good luck toasts.

The wedding ceremony is shortish as well.  Official documents are produced to prove they have been married, the couple bow to the gods, family, guests and formally call each set of parents by ‘Mother’ and “Father’ titles.  After this, the poor young couple make a circuit of the room, being toasted by each person invited.  The toasts are in baijiu and it is not uncommon, especially for the groom, to be genuinely legless by the end.  The bride will have her bridesmaid fill her glass with water in self-protection.

The bridesmaid and groomsman wear normal street/work clothes, as do all of the guests.  So much easier for the guests!!  Gifts are beginning to be ‘things’, but are traditionally the ‘red envelopes’ stuffed with money.  How much depends on how close you are to the bride or groom.  Again, a nice simple process for a guest – no wandering the shops looking for something you hope will be useful that they don’t already have a dozen of. No staring at the wedding registry thinking how hopelessly expensive everything is.  Hand over the red envelope, and let the couple decide what to do with it.  🙂

Snacks before the start of the wedding

For the guests, the main part of the wedding is – the food.  Cold snacks first, followed by dish after dish of hot foods.  The table will have the bottle of baijiu as centrepiece, flanked by packets of cigarettes (!!) and further south in China, packets of betel nut to chew. If you leave a Chinese wedding hungry, then it is your own fault!

The bride and groom finally get to eat after the most important guests have left, and they can sit with a few stayers and eat the left -overs!

Then their mates will take them home for an afternoon of sleep, or more nibbling and drinking.




  1. I enjoy the Chinese way of taking care of wedding ceremonies – short and simple and to the point. 🙂 Thanks!

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