When guests arrive at the hotel, the bride and groom are standing outside the door to welcome them. Family members or friends escort the guests to their table. On entrance to the room or just outside there is a table with the guest book being tended by friends or family members. After signing the guest book, the gift of cash in the little red packet envelopes will be given to the person tending the guest book. That person will then record the amount of the cash in the guest book. When all of the guests have arrived the bride and groom make their way to the back of the room somewhere then make a grand entrance together with someone, not usually a child, throwing rose petals in the air behind the bride and groom. There’s usually a one step up platform at the front of the room, complete with microphone and emcee and this is the destination of the bride and groom.
One of the first things to be done is the bride and groom must go to the table of the bride’s parents and bow three times and this is to show respect to the parents. Then, to the table of the parent’s of the groom and bow three times. Then, the emcee tells stories about the bride and groom and their relationship … how they met, etc.—just as is done at Western Wedding receptions with a lot of humor and joking and kidding.
At one wedding we attended in the northern part of the province, a flower had been placed high on the wall behind the platform on the right side and another high on the wall on the left side. The groom had to lift the bride high so she could get the flowers from the wall. Kissing is not part of a Chinese wedding. But with the modern generation becoming more “westernized,” the emcees try to work in a kiss for some couples and it is hilarious to watch for us true “westerners”! Some grooms blush, giggle, nearly drop dead from a spastic heart and finally give the bride a slight brush of his lips on her cheek and it sometimes appears as if they’ll both pass out! (I’ve been told that Chinese people feel that any type of bodily contact is like foreplay and shouldn’t be done in public! Thus, no hand holding, or arms around each other, or kissing in public! However, the younger generation is beginning to break these old taboos.)
When this is finished, the food is served. Sometimes the wedding cake is served first! The amount of food served, of course, depends on the affluence of the couple and the size of the wedding. If it is an affluent couple and a large wedding there is every kind of food you can imagine including fish, pork, beef, mutton, chicken, rice or noodles, ALL manner of vegetables and fruit. The wine flows freely. There’s always music, usually from CD’s but I’ve never seen dancing.
While the guests are eating, the bride may go and change her white gown for a red gown. When she returns, she and the groom, followed by a friend or two who will carry the wine and two tiny wine “glasses,” smaller than thimbles. They will go to each guest, individually, and toast them and thank them for coming to the wedding.
When all of this is over the bride and groom go to their new home with their close friends and family members and the party continues, sometimes all through the night.
(Part 1) | Part 2