A Community for Brides Planning their Wedding in Australia

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Dandelion
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Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:47 am

A thread for Chinese wedding info :)

Wondering about tea ceremonies...I'm typically white aussie but FH is from a cantonese background. And his mum asked us (just in passing albeit!) if we would consider a tea ceremony...soo..what do I need to know? :D
Last edited by Dandelion on Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
 
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:58 am

Could you get FH to ask his mum for you? She would probably understand that you needed some assistance with the tea ceremony and be willing to help you arrange what you needed.
 
Dandelion
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:06 am

Asking FH to do anything related to the word 'traditional' can be like pulling teeth :lol: I knew more about the tea ceremony than he did because I was actually interested and he wasn't. I will get him to ask his mum, but I thought that the more answers the better would help!
 
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:23 am

Hi :) A close friend of mine just married a Chinese man, they had a tea ceremony as part of their ceremony which was in a botanic garden. She bought her own tea set and they set it up on the signing table and she wore a fairly traditional wedding dress. They had a Chinese banquet for their reception which was held on New Years Eve and she wore a traditional red Chinese dress for the reception.
 
SparklingFel
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 4:00 am

hi Dandelion,

I think I can help here...
I'm chinese and we're having a similar type wedding - ie, I'm having a western style ceremony/reception in Australia and then a more traditional 'chinese' reception in malaysia. I think I can help with what you might need to expect in a chinese ceremony:

I have read a lot of the tea ceremony tradtions on the net, but as a 'white' girl, what can I expect? I'll answer this one last...

Do I need to provide my own tea set? (Read that it is usually given by bride's family). Yes usually you should provide your own tea set - however if this is a hassle to carry to HK, I would also think that your FMIL would organise one for you. Speak to her and find out.

Do I need to organise an outfit? Would it be a traditional red chinese dress? you don't need to do this necessarily (my SIL did not wear a traditional red dress, she wore her normal white gown during the tea ceremony, HOWEVER, it shows respect to his family if you did buy a traditional gown. I think they would be really pleased if you did this! I ordered one off ebay which I was really happy with! There are a lot of traditional chinese gowns - from the normal 'cheong sum' to a 'chi pao' - this is more like a loose red shirt and shirt / pants. You don't have to wear a red one (heaps of people will also wear white cheong sums) but red is traditional and a sign of good luck - ie, you will 'attract' good luck.

Do I make plans to get my hair and make up done while over there? this is totally up to you - if you're comfortable doing it yourself, then you should be fine. My mum organised someone to do my hair and makeup and this is usually done in chinese culture but I'd expect that you don't know anyone in HK - so again probably best to get recommendations form your FMIL or anyone else you know who lives there?

What else do I need to organise for the day?
Do I expect to do something 'receptiony' afterwards, such as going to a restaurant? If we did this, do I organise bonbonerrie?
I would definitely be expecting a huge reception afterwards, this would include ALL of FH's extended family and friends. It is usually a grand affair in Asian customs, and would include as least 200 guests (i'm guessing). I don't think you would need to organise any of this stuff, as I'd imagine that FMIL would do everything (My mum is organising the M'sian reception- I have no input except to turn up) - this is really their day, their day to show off their son to all their guests. You don't need to provide bon bons, this is not an asian custom (more western) but it is becoming more common in Asian culture to provide them. I wouldn't worry about it if I were you.

Is your FH the oldest son in his family? If this is the case, he is the most important member of their family so I would imagine that his family would want to show off his success and marriage as much as possible. To be honest, I think your FMIL would have everything sussed out already - she would already have done all the organising and would probably arrange the usual Chinese customs. As a westerner, she probably wouldn't expct you to know anything but she would be really pleased and feel respected if you showed you know some stuff.

So the way the Chinese wedding day would go soemthing like this:

In the morning of your day, FH will go to your house to pick you up - you will be with all your 'sisters' (ie, female relatives and friends) who will make it extremely difficult for FH to enter - he will have to play a series of games (ranging from drinking a bottle of chili sauce to getting his legs waxed etc) to prove his love to you. Youshould be wearing the traditional red dress at this time.

Once he is worthy of entering your house, you and FH will perform a tea ceremony - this is just you and FH pouring tea to your parents and relatives to show respect. You will kneel or bow whilst doing this whilst FH's parents will sit in a chair. In exchange, they will give you money in red packets and gifts of gold jewelery (traditionally this was to be your lifeline should you need to escape war etc - you can pawn your gold for an escape route). You would usually wear this gold on you the whole day. (It is now also more normal to give white gold rather than yellow gold). There is usually a designated person who organises the tea, changes the cups and calls each person to come and be poured tea to.... Once all the 'older generations' have been given tea, the roles are then reversed and the 'younger generations' - your cousins, anyone in your family who is younger will then bow/kneel and pour tea to you whilst you sit on the chair. You are then expected to to give them red packets of money in exchanged (about AUD10 to AUD20 equivalent is enough).

Depending on how chinese FH's family is - there are also exchange of gifts... FH's family will give you a whole roast pig (with legs and head and everything) - this sounds gross, but it symbolises your virginity - your pig in exchange for your virginity. :)
then there are the traditional chinese gifts like mushrooms, oranges etc (they all mean something but I'm not sure what!).

Then after all the tea pouring is done, you will then both go to FH's house, where the whole tea pouring thing takes place again with his side of the family.

Sometimes, there is also lion / dragon dances etc to symbolise good luck, prosperity and health.

There is no formal 'exchange of vows' in chinese ceremonies, this is it!!

Afterwards, you will go to the reception (if you are having htis).
The reception will be a 10 course chinese banquet, usually starting with shark fin soup. Then there will be mushroom dishes, quail, fish / lobster, rice, a variety of chinese delicacies (abalone, scallops, prawns) etc. Seafood is very highly respected and a sign of wealth, so expect plenty of this!

It is NORMAL for the bride to change dresses a few times during the reception - you may choose to enter the reception wearing your traditional white western gown, then change into your red chinese gown, then perhaps another western style evening dress. It is quite normal to choose different colours, different styles and change at least 3 times.

It is also normal during the night to go to each table and have a toast - you and FH and immediate family (usually FH's mum and dad) will go table to table with a glass of hard liquor (usually whisky of some sort) and the guests will all stand up and say at the top of their voices 'YUUUUM SENG!' (meaning 'cheers' - the word 'yum' is held as long as possible), the aim of this is to be the loudest table possible so this generally takes over the reception. You are also meant to down your whole glass at this time, so you can imagine being quite drunk if you had 20 tables to get through. Most girls only sip it nowadays. The boys are expected to drown their glass.

In terms of entertainment, there really isn't much in Chinese weddings - the general theme is to eat eat eat!
Some ppl will have karaoke, and some ppl will have a band similar to western weddings.

There are usually no garter or bouquet throws, BUT there might be some naughty games - you would think that Chinese culture is quite conservative but the games are not - some games to expect:
- perhaps they might blindfold FH and ask him to touch a series of womens' bums or hands (or mens!) and identify which one is yours
- roll an egg from one leg to another using your mouth

That's about it Dandelion!
Let me know if you want to know anything else! Good luck!!
 
MrsKo2b

Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:10 am

Here is a website for some inspirations & tips http://www.chineseweddingsbytheknot.com/
 
anica789
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:32 am

Dandelion wrote:
Asking FH to do anything related to the word 'traditional' can be like pulling teeth :lol: I knew more about the tea ceremony than he did because I was actually interested and he wasn't.


HAHAHAHAHAHA I so could've written that! I feel your pain.
I'm seeing FPIL tonight (going out for Chinese New Year) so I'm gonna be asking her as much stuff as I can. Hopefully I'll get some useful information and find out exactly what her expectations are.
 
Dandelion
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Mon Jan 26, 2009 11:29 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHA I so could've written that! I feel your pain.


I am so insanely glad that I'm not the only one in this situation! I love him to death but he drives me mad sometimes. We were out for Chinese New Year today and he didn't ask anything. I know we have time to work with, but I am so naturally organised that I want to know now!! :lol:

Thanks for that website MrsKo2Be, I've bookmarked that one.

And SparklingFel, thank you so very much, I really appreciate that, I am probably going to bombard you with questions now though, I hope you don't mind!
Last edited by Dandelion on Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
SparklingFel
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:14 am

hey Dandelion! No worries at all, happy to answer your questions!

Yes, agree that teasets are a lot nicer in Hk - I really don't think your FMIL would mind buying one for you there.

Regarding your hair and makeup - ask your FMIL - I'm sure they can show you to some hairdressers who will do a good job! ;)

Congratulations on getting married to the eldest son of the fmaily! You have a respected position of the '1st wife' and everything you do and say will be respected by all without question!! hahaha!! That's the tradition, doesn't happen a lot nowadays though! :) you also have the coveted position of looking after the in-laws when they get old - to the extent that they might move in with you! hahah, sorry didn't mean to scare you - doesn't happen too much nowadays either.

Chinese weddings are really different, you can choose to follow some traditional things or all of it.... It sounds like perhaps your FMIL will only do bits and pieces. So for instance, if you are staying with FH together the night before the wedding (usually a huge no-no in chinese culture), then I doubt you will do any of the games on the morning of the wedding. Its more for your family's benefit anyway and as yo said, you won't have many family there anyway. (it's also traditional for the woman's family to ask the man's family for a 'dowry' - it is almost a sign of your family 'selling you' to your husband - completely crass but it still happens today. Usually the 'richer' the man's family, the larger the dowry).

Nowadays, chinese families will usually do just a small chinese tea ceremony - for instance, at my wedding in Melbourne, we are having a completely western wedding but an hour before the reception, we will do a tea ceremony with family. (we will skip the whole bit where FH picks you up at your house, and then you go to his house thing). This is quite normal and perhaps something you might want to incorporate in your Australia wedding too?

To answer your questions:

- Would there be someone there at the tea ceremony and reception taking photos? Doesn't have to be professional, but I'd really like some nice snaps. It's something I'd really love a momento of and also to share with my family and friends in Australia.

It really depends if your FMIL has arranged this... there usually isn't a professional photographer but I guess yo could easily ask someone to take happy snaps. Another question to ask your FMIL!
I have been to a few, but there has been no photographer.

-If I wear traditional dress, what should FH organise to wear? Just a nice shirt and pants, a western suit or something else?

Here's an example of something FH could wear - and this is a picture of the chi pao for the bride (loose shirt and skirt which I was referring to - notice that the bride is wearing all the traditional gold that was given to her) - its' a funny culture but boys can get away with NOT wearing a traditional outfit and jsut wear their suits. I have seen this often, the woman will wear their traditional chinese outfit but boys will only wear their suit. Something for your hair is quite important - a nice red comb or something will go nicely - (there is a culture where your own mother will comb your hair for you the night before and feed you traditional chinese dumplings soup - but you probably will not do this as your family isn't chinese!)

chinese weddings.jpg


-Would I wear the traditional dress to the reception and maybe a different evening/cocktail dress to change into at some stage? Would just one change of clothes be 'enough'?


Yes, that's fine - how little or how much you get changed is completely up to you. Does that mean you won't be wearing your wedding dress at all? It is quite normal to wear your wedding dress again (I will be bringing mine to M'sia) but I can undersatnd why you might not want to given that FH would not have seen you in it yet!

- Should I organise a signing silk for the Hong Kong reception, is it nessesary and would FMIL more than likely take care of it if it is?

You can if you want... I think perhaps FMIL might already be taking care of this for you. You will find that most ppl will write it in Chinese so you might not be ablet o read it anyway! :) It's quite normal nowadays to have the western 'guest books' too nowadays - so it's up t you what you want!

I hope that helps!!
 
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:23 am

hahaha! I thinking Fel said it all!
 
Dandelion
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:27 am

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Last edited by Dandelion on Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
anica789
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:35 am

Wow- great info here- thanks Fel!
Dandelion DON'T wait for your FH to ask FMIL things- just do it yourself when you get the chance. If I kept waiting for FH to ask nothing would ever get done!
It looks like I'm getting let off easy after talking with FMIL last night. I asked her if she wanted a tea ceremony, and she said that if I wanted to do it that would be fine. Then she thought about it and said that if I do one tradition like that, people will expect me to do ALL of them, and it's a bit if a nightmare. She said that when she married FFIL she had several days of non-stop traditional stuff to do and she was utterly exhausted. Apparently FFIL's dad was a real stickler for following all the traditions. Not surprising really- this was back in China, and FFIL is the 1st born son of the 1st born son etc etc etc.
Seeing that FH is the next first born son in the chain it seems I'm really bl00dy lucky that they're not sticking to all the traditional things. I have a feeling that it's possible some of his relos might think it's a bit offensive to have a skippy chick do all this stuff though.
So that's sorted, but I'll still need to discuss the church ceremony with FMIL- the minister marrying us is more than happy to have Chinese and/or Buddhist decorations hung in the church (why we chose her!) so I need to see what FPIL would like. I was thinking of dragon/ phoenix/ double happiness etc as FPIL aren't really religious.
Fel/Jaybay do you have any ideas re this?
And Dandelion sorry I'm highjacking a bit....until we get our cultural weddings section I guess we're best off to try to keep the info together- makes it easier that way!
 
Dandelion
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 4:26 pm

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Last edited by Dandelion on Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:13 pm

My DH is Chinese too, and when we went back overseas to have the big "wedding celebration" for the family (and everyone they'd ever met :lol: ) we had a tea ceremony afterwards. I was still in my wedding dress, didn't wear a cheong sum or anything like that.
But it was organised by someone else. I don't even know who organised it-- I think it was MIL's friend. Someone else got the teaset and brewed the tea, and then this lady told me who was who and what I had to say to them when I offered them tea.

So maybe that's an option? There might be some auntie who could be given the responsibility?
 
Dandelion
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:18 pm

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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Jan 27, 2009 5:26 pm

Well, the tea ceremony we only did overseas not in Aus... and because of the crazy schedule, we only did the tea ceremony after the church wedding.

So, we had our second wedding in a big church... then went downstairs and mingled with everyone having an afternoon tea, and then all the family slipped back up into the church to do the tea ceremony. So I was still dressed exactly as I was for the wedding... my white dress (which had already been worn once in Aus) and my hair was done professionally.

I did wear a different dress for the reception there, but it was on a different day, and it wasn't traditional either (was a full-length alfred angelo BM dress). MIL seemed a bit embarrassed of us doing things too traditionally because it seems "old-fashioned" and I think that Western style was in fashion.. but I wouldn't have minded if I had a cheong sum... or one of those ones that's kind of like a fusion of cheong sam and western dress.
 
SparklingFel
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:36 am

anica789 wrote:
So that's sorted, but I'll still need to discuss the church ceremony with FMIL- the minister marrying us is more than happy to have Chinese and/or Buddhist decorations hung in the church (why we chose her!) so I need to see what FPIL would like. I was thinking of dragon/ phoenix/ double happiness etc as FPIL aren't really religious.
Fel/Jaybay do you have any ideas re this?


Hi there Anica.. and no worries at all. I love talking about Chinese traditions! I actually don't consider myself very chinese at all, so I am quite surprised I know so much! hahah!! :)

Anyway, regarding decorations... I would say there is a fine line between buddhism and chinese culture and I'm surprised that your priest would also buddhist traditions as I would've thought that contradicts the church's teachings?
I mean it'll be weird to have say Jewish decorations in a Christian wedding right? I'm just guessing.... correct me if I'm wrong!

Chinese decorations for the church could definitely be dragon/phoneix/double happiness signs. Also, you can hang lanterns and cranes, and even upside-down parasols. You can have cherry blossoms or chinese plum plants (nots ure what they're called but they look like little oranges) as your 'flowery' decorations and hang little ornaments or 'red packets' off the leaves. Perhaps even have fortune cookies as a ceremony bon bon (if you want to give something - you don't have to!). Generally, anything in gold and red symbolise good luck so you can have ribbons and streamers and aisle decorations in these colours.

The things I'd probably AVOID at the church would be: incense, and any sort of 'offerings' to the gods (like 'Kuan Yin') - I would think that these are very 'buddhist' and not chinese and therefore contradicts the church's teachings. It is quite normal that there are offerings to Kuan Yin in Chinese tradition (she is like Virgin Mary I guess), but I would say that this is a no-no. The church of course has their own versions of 'incense' - ash on a chain thingie (sorry I have no idea what it's called) and wine/bread for eucharist.

Girls - don't forget that 'auspicious' dates should be chosen for your special day - Dandelion, it's likely that your HK reception is already on a good auspicious date (though not everyone cares about this!). Anica - I don't know when you're gettin gmarried,but generally the calendar is only out 1 year in advance so if you're getting married next year, we won't know yet which is an auspicious date.

I would strongly recommend that you check with your FMIL regarding whether or not you should kneel or bow when giving tea for the tea ceremony... this can be a note of contention - I know that my best friend - who strongly felt that it disrespected her christian beliefs to kneel - there was quite a big argument about it, whilst her FILs felt that it was disrespectful if she DIDN'T kneel. If you don't care either way, I guess it doesn't matter!

And yes, I reiterate rooftopbalcony's words: it's quite normal for someone to do all the organising for you! So I wouldn't worry about all the details! But how much / how little they organise is up to them, and if you're not fussed, leave it in their hands! :)
 
Dandelion
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Wed Jan 28, 2009 12:52 pm

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anica789
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Wed Jan 28, 2009 5:25 pm

Thanks Fel. :D My family are Uniting Church which means it's possible to incorporate some buddhist aspects into our ceremony. The minister we chose is all about respecting other cultures/ religions/ sexualities etc etc etc so it wouldn't be a problem. But, as I said, FPIL aren't really practising buddhists anyway. Hence the thought of using double happiness etc to add to the church decorations. Unfortunately, I chose a pink wedding dress so I can't go hell-for-leather with the red :lol: But I thought some of these traditional Chinese symbols/ characters hung up might make it more inclusive and repectful of FH's family. He's the first son of the first son etc etc so it's very important to me that I respect this heritage.
I didn't know it hanging these things in the church would be considered 'weird' by Chinese people, but it seems not so yay! :lol:
I'm just a clueless skippy :lol: :lol: :lol:
 
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Re: Chinese Weddings

Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:10 pm

We went with red for BMs and flowers and decos and stuff... we did like the colour anyway, but it was the only colour with meaning as we were trying to bring a Chinese flavour to the wedding, especially to show all our Australian friends our two different backgrounds, as well as to respect the Chinese side of the family that was there. But MIL actually protested at the beginning to us using red-- she said it was too "old fashioned" and that we didn't need to have such a traditional colour- why not have something more elegant like peach? :lol: (no offense to anyone, but peach is my least favourite colour in the world. But her whole house is peach so clearly she likes it)

But as soon as we went ahead with planning red she got over it and I think she even appreciated it in the end. I guess the point of my story is that it should be fine if you're in pink and don't have much red because even someone who likes to insist on things being done the Chinese way most of the time preferred us not to have red!
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