The worst part about planning your Chinese wedding is the budget–especially if this will be your second wedding ceremony after your American wedding. You have your Pinterest photos, your dream wedding cheongsam dress, but wait, how much did the Chinese wedding banquet menu cost per person again?!
But don’t worry, saving money doesn’t mean compromising on your tastes completely.
Here are some ideas on how to plan your Chinese-Amerian wedding on a budget:
1: CHINESE WEDDING INVITATIONS - GO DIGITAL.
There are many ways you can save on Chinese wedding invitations, while still staying creative and showing off your style. While there is no “save the date” in Chinese wedding traditions, Chinese wedding invitation cards are typically sent out 3 months in advance to announce the wedding to friends and families.
Depending on the size of your Chinese wedding banquet, sending these invitations can still end up being a bulk of your cost:
(Envelopes + paper + postage) x 100 guests = a lot of money.
Why not choose to send them online? It’s a great way to save a couple hundred dollars and some trees. Plus, most of us live our lives online now - why shouldn’t your wedding invitations too?
Paperless Post offers several Chinese wedding invitation templates to choose from. There are also many Etsy shops selling digital Chinese wedding invitation designs for you to customize. Or you can always put an Asian-inspired twist on a modern digital red wedding invitation.
OR make it a 2-in-1 deal.
If you definitely want to send physical wedding invitations for your Chinese wedding banquet or tea ceremony, why not send them as a postcard—you save not only on postage but also on the envelope. And you can still incorporate elements of your cultural heritage on postcards via red and gold colors, Chinese wedding symbols, etc.
And save on those thank you cards! There are apps now that send your family and friends a thank you as a digital postcard where you can even film a cute video to include.
2: WEDDING BANQUET & TEA CEREMONY VENUE - BE FLEXIBLE.
Not picky about having your tea ceremony or wedding banquet on a particular day or perhaps you’re open to multiple auspicious Chinese wedding days instead of just one? If you’re planning a Chinese wedding on a budget, another way to save is to choose an off-peak season or day like Sunday.
You can also host the banquet as a luncheon instead of dinner (dinner menus can be more expensive). Venues might offer discounts or cheaper packages if you go with a less popular time or date, and the difference varies from a few hundred to thousand dollars!
You can also try to find a venue that allows you to host your tea ceremony as well as your banquet there. You might be also able to save on tea ceremony cups and supplies by borrowing from the venue or from a relative. Many Chinese banquet venues have wedding decorations that you can repurpose so make sure you ask your venue.
3: CHINESE WEDDING DECOR - RENT OR DIY IT INSTEAD.
Some people might spend $1k plus just for a beautiful Chinese wedding backdrop (like this double happiness neon sign backdrop) with real flowers and the whole shabang. While that’s beautiful, you can still have gorgeous wedding decor and save money with some of these ideas instead:
Choose a simple double happiness wall decal or paper cut-out.
The double happiness symbol is a must-have for any Chinese wedding and there are many ways you can incorporate this into your decor. Most commonly, it’s used as the backdrop and if you’re on a budget, you can opt for a simple double happiness wall decal or paper print-outs that you can order on Amazon or Etsy. They’re also easy to apply and remove.
OR go green.
If you want a more three-dimensional double happiness backdrop, you can ask your florist to make one out of greenery. When in doubt, use greenery rather than real flowers since they are cheaper but still look great in photos.
Hang up red paper lanterns.
Lanterns throughout Chinese culture have been used in both festivals and weddings to symbolize joy and wishes for a bright future. Hanging up red paper lanterns is a great and cost-effective way to decorate a larger space and they typically come in multiple sets when you purchase them.
DIY your own decor.
If you love arts and crafts and DIY projects, then this is where you can shine and save money. One idea is to buy red and gold balloons and write Chinese love proverbs or wedding symbols on them. Here’s a quick guide on how to decorate a balloon.
Other things you can DIY are your table cards, table numbers, wine labels and even guest favors.
Remember that if you’re hosting your wedding at a venue that specifically caters Chinese wedding banquets, they might already have wedding decorations available that you can borrow and use, which would be one of the most budget-friendly methods.
Here’s a list of Chinese wedding decor ideas if you’re in need of more inspiration.
4: WEDDING BANQUET MENU - SKIP THE DELICACIES
While Chinese wedding banquets can get quite fancy and pricey given that you’re supposed to offer 8-9 courses, you still have a delicious and memorable banquet while on a budget. To start, for many of the meat and seafood dishes, go with options that are less costly (i.e. skip the abalone and shark fin). Instead of having multiple Chinese desserts and a wedding cake and other baked goods/treats, opt to stick with just a few of your favorites. Finally, you can discuss with your caterer if there is a possibility of going buffet-style instead of banquet style to help lower the cost per guest.
See our list of the most popular Chinese wedding foods to serve on your wedding day.
5: WEDDING CHEONGSAM - KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY WANT
For most brides, their wedding cheongsam (qipao) is often their second dress. While some brides will still want to go with a completely original design, you can rock a beautiful qipao while still on a budget.
At East Meets Dress, we offer a variety of wedding cheongsam styles from traditional sheaths to modern mermaids. For those who are more budget-conscious, our standard collection of dresses could be a great option to select from. At the end of the day, wearing red is the most important factor for your Chinese wedding so you can always find a nice red formal dress to wear.
See the pattern here when it comes to Chinese wedding planning on a budget?
Take a look at each expense and decide with your fiance what really matters to you both. It’s your Chinese wedding, so choose what cultural traditions you care about incorporating the most.
Don’t care for lion dancers? Skip it and have a family member or your emcee play traditional Chinese wedding games with the bride and groom for entertainment! It is your party, be creative and you’ll start to see your costs dramatically go down.
In the mood for more?
- If you're looking for cheongsam ideas but don't have any idea where to start, read our Chinese wedding dress guide to get some inspo.
- Pin your favorite ideas from our 30 of the Best Ideas for a Modern Asian Wedding.
- Check out our comprehensive guide to planning your Chinese wedding.
- Get creative with other unique cost-saving wedding ideas. Check out "The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Backyard Wedding".