Chinese weddings, like western weddings, are all unique in their own ways. Some weddings tend to be more traditional with wedding parades and ceremonies, while some include more contemporary and westernized traditions. While Chinese weddings may be a little more complicated than traditional western weddings, they are still easy to navigate, even if it’s your first time! Here are a few do’s and don’ts when attending a Chinese wedding.
What to Wear
The most common question asked is what do you wear to a Chinese wedding. It’s safe to say don’t wear red. Most brides will have several outfit changes, with red being one of the dresses, if not the main one. Guests should avoid wearing red because this could be seen as upstaging the bride or competing for attention. You don’t want to come off as impolite to the bride!
Don’t wear white or black. These colors are often worn at Chinese funerals, and signify death and mourning. It’s considered bad luck, so it’s best to stay away from wearing these colors. However, black or white accents are just fine!
Purples, pinks, and warm tones are great options to wear, as these colors represent the new life the couple will embark on. If you can, check in with the couple to see how formal the wedding will be, before purchasing your dress or suit.
Some outfit ideas may include the Tammy Bespoke Dress, a classic silhouette which comes in several color options and styles to your choosing. Our bespoke dress collection lets you customize your dress in a variety of colors and cuts, so the options are endless! Another fan favorite is the Esmé Dress, perfect for weddings that are a little more casual, yet still elegant enough to wear to any formal occasion. Take a look at more ideas for traditional dresses that aren’t red.
What to Gift
As with any special occasion, it can be tricky to find the perfect gift. Here are a few things to avoid giving the newlywed couple:
- Anything in sets of 4
- The number 4 is considered unlucky because it’s name “si” sounds like the word for death. It is similar to the connotation of the number “13” in western society.
- Pear Fruit
- The word for pear “li” is the same as the word for separation. It is bad luck to share a pear, especially at a wedding, because it is believed to cause separation.
- Cut Flowers
- Though flowers are beautiful and thoughtful gifts, this could typically be seen as a symbol of death, especially for yellow chrysanthemums and white flowers. Cut flowers are usually presents for funerals.
Typically, gold jewelry or accessories are appropriate gifts to a newlywed couple. However, if you want to tread on the safe side, give cash instead of presents. It is common for guests to give money in red envelopes as gifts. Give what you feel comfortable, or what you would like to receive if it were your special day. For bonus points, give an amount that ends in eight for good luck and prosperity (and avoid amounts that include the number 4).
You should write your name on the red envelope so they know who the gift is from. It is said that the newlyweds will use that as a point of reference on how much they give to you when you get married - if you're not married, that is.
What to Expect
Prepare to see a lot of the color red, as it is considered one of the luckiest colors in traditional Chinese culture. It symbolizes happiness, joy and prosperity, so no wonder red is the most popular color of the day!
Most Chinese weddings are split into two parts: the tea ceremony and the banquet.
The morning of the wedding, it’s tradition for the groom and his entourage to pick up the bride at her parents house. This is where the fun starts! The groom and his groomsmen will have to succeed in a series of tasks set by the bridal party called “door games” -- a series of light hearted games for the groom to “prove his love to his bride.” After the games, the groom gives red envelopes of money to the bride's sisters and friends.
The couple then typically proceeds to the groom's house where the tea ceremony takes place. The tea ceremony is a common wedding tradition in Asian cultures when the bride and groom pay their respects and show their gratitude towards their parents, new in-laws, and elders by serving them tea. In turn, their families will give their blessings to the newlyweds by giving them red envelopes of money.
Chinese wedding banquets are held in the evening. You can expect a lot of food and entertainment! Most banquets will last at least two hours and include an 8-course meal (sometimes more) of delicious entrees and desserts, so come hungry! We suggest wearing something stretchy, you might regret wearing a skin tight dress after 8 courses! Of course, you can always dance it off. Expect to be fully entertained with a band or performers, lots of dancing, and most likely a lot of karaoke.
It is considered rude to leave before dinner is over, so avoid leaving before then if you can! As with any wedding, don’t forget to congratulate the bride and groom before leaving. If you are unable to make it to the wedding entirely, fear not! You can still mail the newlywed couple a red envelope as a token of your support.
Chinese weddings are a fun and celebratory day for everyone! As with any big event, it’s best to be prepared. The next time you’re at a Chinese wedding, take in all the colorful attire, delicious food, and enjoy all the festivities!
Here's a quick pinnable guide you can skim:
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