Chinese wedding traditions

A few weeks ago one of my colleagues at work got married. She’s from Britain, so the wedding tradition she followed, was the Western one with a white wedding and a ceremony with friends and family. During her months and months of preparations my Chinese colleagues shared some interesting details about Chinese wedding customs and were surprised about some of the Western ones. These are clearly two very different traditions. So what sets a Chinese wedding apart from a Western one? Here is what I’ve learned so far:

  • The colour of the wedding is red not white
  • The bride will change her dresses a few times during the day (to symbolize the travel to her new family) – so will the bridesmaids
  • The wedding will take place a whole day and include a tea ceremony at the in-laws. The bridesmaids and their partners will participate in different events all day long and even play little games with the bride and groom (this is much more German than British!)
  • Wedding pictures will be taken at the wedding – but more importantly before and afterwards. For months before/after the wedding the bride and groom will dress up and get pictures taken in different locations
  • A popular gift is gold jewellery. Not necessary something that is looking nice, but it is more important that it is of high value
  • The jewellery will not be worn – but placed into a bank safe for safekeeping. Getting a bank safe in Hong Kong seems to be one of the hardest tasks with long waiting lists, it will be easier to eat at Michelin star restaurants (I’ve been told)
  • Of course, all guests and relatives will give the wedding couple “Lai See” – the red envelopes filled with money. They intention is to give at least as much as the couple spent per person on organising the wedding – but of course, close friends and family members give more. This is the last time the wedding couple will receive the red envelopes, after that it will be expected that they hand out red envelopes at Chinese New Year to children and unmarried women and men
  • The wedding day is a day to thank the parents, not to celebrate the children who get married. The speeches will value the parents and will make the parents proud, more than the bride and groom
  • Also quite surprisingly, a married couple won’t go with the same surname. The women will keep her name, the men will keep his. So you won’t necessarily know who is married and who isn’t – at least not by just looking at a family’s different names. Once children are born, they will take the name of the husband


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