Preparing Chinese wedding invitations can be another stress-inducing task for many brides to be. After all the work you've put into nailing down your perfect wedding date and venue, you just want to take a break!
While the idea of making Chinese style wedding invitations might sound great, thinking about all the different styles, designs, and content of wedding invitation cards, especially if you're also trying to incorporate different Chinese wedding traditions, can be overwhelming
Where should you even begin and what are some etiquettes that you should be aware of?
We've put together a useful guide to help you with this step in planning your Chinese-American wedding!
What to Include in Chinese Wedding Invitations
If you are hosting a Chinese-American Wedding, besides the standard invitation card and RSVP card, here are a few things that should be included in Chinese style wedding invitations:
1. Red Invitation Envelopes
Unlike Western wedding invitations, which are usually stuffed in regular letter envelopes, Chinese wedding invitations are sent out in red envelopes. Moreover, the invitation envelopes are embossed with a “double happiness” “囍” sign to make a proud announcement of the upcoming wedding.
2. Wedding Cake Cards - For The Bride's Family
Wedding cake cards are essential in Chinese wedding invitations for the bride’s guests. Traditionally, wedding cakes were sent to the bride’s family from the groom’s as a part of the engagement gift.
The more wedding cakes the bride’s family received, the more it symbolized that the bride was marrying into an affluent family. The bride’s family would then distribute the wedding cakes to their friends and family to share the happiness.
However, in modern days, physical wedding cakes are usually replaced by wedding cake gift cards so that the guests can redeem the cakes whenever they want to. The Chinese wedding cake cards should be sent to the guests along with the wedding invitations to announce the marriage.
Note that only the bride’s family would need to send wedding cake cards to their guests.
3. Red Packets (optional) - For The Groom’s Family
While the bride’s family will typically include the wedding cake cards along with the invitations, the groom’s family will usually send a red packet to their guests.
The red packet is filled with cash as a gift to the guests. This unique custom originated from a Chinese virtue – ‘Courtesy demands reciprocity’. It means when someone receives kindness from others, they will return that kindness.
In Chinese culture, guests usually give red envelopes to the couple as their wedding gifts. Out of courtesy, the groom’s family would then return some of the money back to the guests.
However, the red packets are not mandatory to be included in the invitation. They can also be given out at the reception (i.e. the groom’s family could return the money back to the guests at the wedding reception when the guests give the red envelopes).
How to Write a Chinese Wedding Invitation Card
When having a Chinese-American wedding, writing a bilingual wedding invitation is a great way to announce your wedding to your guests. However, for those who are not familiar with Chinese wedding invitation formats, it might sound intimidating to write in both Chinese and English.
Here are some tips to guide you through the details of writing Chinese-English wedding invitations.
Addressing the Relatives and Guests
When writing Chinese wedding invitations, addressing the guests properly is the most important step, because it is the first thing that the guest will see on the invitation envelope.
In order to leave a good impression and show respect, especially to the elders, using honorifics is a good idea. For example, when addressing your uncle in the invitation, it’s better to add “伯父大人” - “Dear Uncle” before the full name.
In addition, the invitation should indicate if you are inviting their spouse or the whole family. If you are inviting their spouse, you should address both of their titles, names, and their relationship to each other.
For example, “夫妇“ or “伉俪“, in English, means “married couple”, but it could be translated as “together” on the bilingual invitation to be more natural. If you are inviting the whole family, you could add “阖府” – “whole family” or “all together” after the name of the invitation receiver.
Information to Include
Chinese wedding invitations should include the following information:
- The title and name of the guest
- The wedding date in both Gregorian Calendar and Lunar Calendar
- Names of the bride and groom
- The wedding and reception venue address
- Time of the wedding and reception
- The table number (optional)
- RSVP card and envelope (optional)
If your guests are a mix of Chinese and English speakers, writing the invitation in both Chinese and English can ensure the guests understand the information and feel respected.
Example of Wording in a Chinese Wedding invitation:
To: Name and title of the guest
谨定于农历 --年--月--日，即公历 --年--月--日（星期 -- ）为 新郎、新娘名字 举行婚宴
On Month, Date, Year, please join us for the wedding of (names of the couple)
恭请：邀请对象 光临 婚宴地址
We would love to invite you and your family to celebrate their marriage at (the venue name and address)
设席时间：-- 点 -- 分恭候
-- 点 -- 分入席
Cocktail hour: time
Reception dinner: time
Table number: --
Signature of the bride and groom
When To Send Chinese Wedding Invitations
Chinese wedding invitations can be sent out as early as right after the Chinese engagement ceremony called “过大礼”. It is customary for the groom’s family to send the betrothal gifts to the bride’s family to officiate the engagement. But if you need more time to prepare the invitations, it is a courtesy to send them out at least three months before the wedding day.
According to wedding planning site, ZOLA, for most Western-style weddings “save the dates” should be sent out 4-6 months before the wedding and wedding invitations are usually sent 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
However, unlike Western wedding traditions, there is no “save the date” in Chinese wedding traditions. Only the wedding invitation cards are sent to announce the wedding to friends and families.
Therefore, if you are following the Chinese tradition, wedding invitations should be sent three months before the wedding day, in order to leave enough time for your guests to make plans.
How to send the Chinese Wedding Invitations
Traditionally, Chinese wedding invitations to family members should be sent by the parents on behalf of the couple. This tradition was handed down from ancient times, as marriage was dictated by the parents. Only the invitations to friends or colleagues of the couple are sent by the groom and bride.
But nowadays, more and more couples choose to send all the invitations by themselves. Distributing the invitations to the guests in person, especially to the elders of the family, is highly recommended to show your respect. However, if your guests live out of state or overseas, sending the invitations by mail is acceptable as well.
Don't worry if you don't get every single detail/tradition right for your Chinese wedding invitations. The most important part is getting your family and loved ones to your wedding to celebrate.
More to Love:
- Attending a Chinese wedding as a guest? Check out our guide on Chinese Wedding Gift Traditions and Modern Gift Ideas
- For more inspo, here are 12 Beautiful Chinese Wedding Traditions To Inspire Your Asian-American Wedding
- Get the most comprehensive guide for planning your Chinese wedding here.