My cousin just got married and I got to experience my first wedding in China. The only other time I attended a wedding was when I was too young to remember anything. I believe it was in Pennsylvania? Anyway, it was pretty exciting to see what a Chinese wedding is like, from the early morning pick-up of the bride to the touring of their new place to the ceremony and meal.
Our day started around 4-4:30, when we got up to get dressed. By 5:30, we on the groom’s side were outside putting festive bows on the cars that would be caravaning to the bride’s. All sewage access points were covered with red paper and routes were chosen so the couple wouldn’t have to retrace their path (both traditions to ensure an auspicious day). We then headed over to the bride’s, where her bridesmaids had set up some obstacles for the groom to get to her, including agreeing to treat her well and take care of most chores. He also had to call her 10 terms of endearment and pick from a handful of ribbons, each tied to something. When he passed those tests, he shared a stack of hong bao (red envelopes) with everyone and was allowed to join his bride in her room.
From there, tons of traditions ensued, ranging from sharing a bowl of noodles for longevity in their marriage to officially addressing his new parents and receiving red envelopes from them. A lot of pictures were taken before they went downstairs and the groom carried the bride through the threshold into the waiting car adorned with flowers. Confetti was popped and glittered all about them to celebrate the event, and then we were off to their new home.
At the new place, guests explored the rooms and admired the dozens of pictures laid out from their engagement photo shoot. Once again, another round of pictures were taken and this time I got one in with our other cousin in attendance. After that, it was over to the hotel, where the ballroom on the third floor was reserved for our ceremony, slated to start at 9:58. A video played on the large screen, showcasing my cousin and new cousin-in-law in ancient Chinese times, destined for each other. After that, the couple made a quick appearance and then we saw another video, this time about how their relationship developed.
At that time, the bride and her parents were outside the ballroom and my cousin was inside on the podium, ready to receive her. Her father walked her in, handed her to my cousin, and they held a kiss as the podium rose and spun them around. Flowergirls and pageboys showered petals down the walkway and the newlyweds walked to the stage, where the host asked them some questions about their relationship history. An officiator was invited on stage to pronounce them husband and wife and another gentleman gave a speech wishing them the best.
Next up, the parents of the bride and groom made their way from the podium down the aisle to the stage to join the couple. Both fathers spoke to the guests and sent their well-wishes to the couple. I believe at this point, a video of a ring spinning played on screen and then my cousin picked up the two rings from the screen. They put the rings on each other and to wrap up, the groom made some drinks for himself and his new wife, which they drank with intertwined arms. Then it was time for lunch! While the guests ate, the newlyweds went around to everyone, accepting red envelopes and offering them cigarettes. Oh, and all the guests were given keychain coinpurses as a gift.
And that wraps up my experience at a Chinese wedding. Quite different from the American version you see on TV, but still with its similiarities. At the end of the year I’ll be attending an American wedding, so we’ll see how that one goes.« Prev：Beijing grocery shopping Health issues：Next »